Google hasn't paid much attention to the Indian market when it comes to hardware releases, with the Pixel 4a being the last big launch. That phone debuted in October 2020, a few months after its global launch.
That's thankfully changing this year, as the Pixel 6a is confirmed to make its way to India. The phone is launching in 12 global markets in July and coming to India at a later date (Google didn't share a timeline), but the fact that it is coming to the country is exciting in and of itself.
What's particularly interesting about the Pixel 6a is the hardware on offer. The phone features the same 5nm Tensor platform as the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro, and that makes it one of the fastest phones in the mid-range category.
That's in stark contrast to earlier phones in the Pixel A series. The Pixel 5a and 4a weren't slow by any measure, but it was clear that they were designed for routine day-to-day use — they didn't handle gaming or intensive tasks well.
The Pixel 6a doesn't have that issue. I used the Pixel 6 Pro for a while now, and the custom Tensor platform is on par with the best Android phones powered by Qualcomm and Samsung for just about any use case, including gaming.
Combine that hardware prowess with Google's camera wizardry and you get a phone that ticks a lot of the right boxes. The main draw with Pixels has been the camera, and Google is building on that with the Pixel 6a, offering a lot of the exclusive features that debuted on the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro.
Then there's the software. There's a dearth of phones with clean software in this category, and the Pixel 6a doesn't have any bloatware, gets updates on time, and Google guarantees three Android version updates and five years of security patches — second only to Samsung.
What makes the Pixel 6a that much more alluring in India is the fact that it doesn't miss out in any key areas. You get an IP67 rating, fast wired charging, all-day battery life, and 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage as standard.
Pixels haven't fared well in India because of the lackluster hardware, and while they made up for it with standout cameras, clean software, and fast updates, convincing customers to pick up a Pixel in lieu of a similarly-priced alternative from Samsung, Xiaomi, or Realme proved to be a challenge for Google.
Thankfully, the Pixel 6a should be easier to market given the caliber of hardware. The last piece puzzle is the price; Google isn't going to beat Xiaomi or other Chinese brands when it comes to value, but if the phone comes in at under ₹40,000 ($518), it has a real chance of gaining momentum in the country.
Of course, that's considering if Google doesn't delay the Pixel 6a by too much in India, and if it can launch the phone for ₹40,000 or less. That's a big ask of Google, but there has never been a better time for the search giant to make meaningful inroads in one of the world's largest handset markets.
Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.
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