Google Pixel 6a is basically a Pixel 6, minus the 50MP camera sensor

The Pixel Xa is traditionally Google's value for money offering – but can it beat the Pixel 6 at this game? We're not exactly sure.

by Justin Choo

The long-awaited Google Pixel 6a is now a thing.

In many ways, the Pixel 6a has a lot in common with the Pixel 6 and the Pixel 6 Pro. It sports the same Google Tensor SoC found in the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, though there is only one option for 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. The Pixel 6 has 5G capabilities and uses the Titan M2 security chip like its siblings. It will also receive five years of security updates.

Google’s latest offering also shares the same design language, including the extended camera bar. The back of the phone is also made from a thermoformed composite plastic back as opposed to Gorilla Glass, which is presumably one of the ways they save on material costs.

In the same vein, the Pixel 6a sports a slightly smaller 6.1″ OLED display with a modest 60Hz refresh rate compared to 90Hz on the Pixel 6 and 120Hz on the Pixel 6 Pro.

The main camera is probably the most noticeable difference between the two, as you no longer have a camera with a 50 MP sensor. The camera module on the Pixel 6a carries a wide-angle lens on a 12.2MP sensor and a secondary ultrawide lens (12MP), though it shares the same 8MP front camera as the Pixel 6.

One key component that they didn’t ‘downgrade’ is the Tensor SoC. And as such the Pixel 6a also enjoys the benefits of Google’s machine learning AI – features like Real Tone and Magic Eraser are available on the Pixel 6a as well and it makes taking pictures a near point-and-shoot-and-maybe-a-slight-tweak-here affair.

Other differences are fairly minor: battery-wise, it’s 18W fast charging vs 21W fast charging on the Pixel 6, and 4,410mAh battery versus 4,614mAh on the Pixel 6. Google says that the battery can last up to 72 hours in Extreme Battery Saver mode, which is significantly longer than the rated 48 hours on the Pixel 6. The Pixel 6 does not support wireless charging, but I suppose you already half-expected that.

The Pixel 6a will be available for pre-order on Jul 21 and will go on shelves on July 28, 2022. Priced at $749, the Pixel 6a is a tough one to call. The Pixel 6 right now is priced at $849, which is crazy value. While I feel that most of the ‘downgrades’ don’t look like real downers, the biggest question mark is centred on the camera, which we haven’t had a look at yet. If the Pixel 6a camera is only ‘$50 worse’, I suppose it’s a fair purchase. But at the same time, I’d urge you to pay that extra $100 to buy the Pixel 6. Either way, keep an eye on the prices of both phones before you buy either one of them.