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Google Pixel 6a review: Smaller and cheaper

Google Pixel 6a review: Smaller and cheaper

Google Pixel 6a

The Google Pixel 6a is basically a down-sized mid-range version of the Pixel 6 phones launched in Singapore earlier this year. Almost everything on the 6a is a bit smaller, reduced in size or power. The price tag (S$749) is also more palatable, though it's still not that competitive. But you're mostly getting a similar experience as the higher-end models, from the bloatware-free, minimalist interface to the five years of software updates.

Quick specs

  • 6.1-inch OLED screen (2,400 x 1,080 pixels, 60Hz)
  • Google Tensor chip with 6GB RAM and 128GB storage
  • 12MP main camera, 12MP ultra-wide
  • 4,410mAh battery

The Pixel 6a shares the same design as the higher-end models. So you'll get that same unique-looking camera bar running across its “3D thermoformed composite back” (aka plastic back). The 6.1-inch OLED screen is smaller than I would have liked. This 1080p display, unlike the other Pixel 6 phones, has a fixed 60Hz refresh rate. But this shouldn't be an issue for most users. It's bright with HDR support, and colours look good. Perhaps because of this smaller display, the Pixel 6a lasted a good 14hr 17min in our video playback test. The Pixel 6 Pro managed about 13 hours, though the Google Pixel 6 hit 15 hours. Other slight downgrades from the other Pixel 6 phones: Gorilla Glass 3 cover glass (not Victus) and IP67 (instead of IP68) water and dust resistance.

Google Pixel 6a
Credit: Vincent Chang/Can Buy or Not

One of my favourite things about the Pixel phones is the haptic feedback. The Pixel 6a offers tight, almost punchy vibration that enhances the typing experience. I'm less enamoured about the in-display fingerprint sensor. While accurate, it isn't the fastest. The default screen animation — can be turned off but not recommended — when you tap your finger also adds to the delay. As you'd expect, the cameras fall short of the ones in the Pixel 6 Pro and Pixel 6. Unlike the 50MP shooter in those models, the Pixel 6a uses the same 12MP dual-pixel main camera from the Pixel 5 and Pixel 4. There's no telephoto lens. The camera is snappy, and generally produces pleasant-looking photos. But there's more noise than expected. Portrait shots have that contrasty, Pixel-like appearance. Low-light performance was better than most mid-range phones.

Google Pixel 6a
Credit: Vincent Chang/Can Buy or Not

The one thing that's the same across all the Pixel 6 models is its Google Tensor chip. It's a decent first attempt at an SoC by Google, but it's slower than the latest Qualcomm flagship Snapdragon chip. But this isn't a big deal. After all, the Pixel 6a is competing with the likes of the S$698 Samsung Galaxy A73 5G (with a slower, mid-range Snapdragon 778 chip). For everyday tasks, the Pixel 6a certainly didn't feel slow, despite its relatively modest 6GB of RAM. The back of the phone did warm up — but never got close to uncomfortable — while running Diablo Immortal set to Very High and 60fps. The stereo speakers also sound very decent in games. But the Pixel 6a's 128GB internal storage (no microSD card, of course) could be a concern for heavy users.

It is painfully slow to charge the Google Pixel 6a, especially compared to a China-brand phone. It does support fast charging — 50% in 30mins. But this declines as the battery gets topped up. The last 40% takes over an hour, though this glacial rate may help lengthen the battery's lifespan. Google doesn't include any charger, just a USB-C charging cable. Overall, the Pixel 6a offers a similar user experience (e.g. Magic Eraser and Live Translate) as its more powerful siblings. But there are better phones for the price and specs, if Google's software isn't your thing. In fact, I would say that the Pixel 6, if you can get it for under S$800, looks like a better deal. The Pixel 6a is available now on the Google Store, Amazon SG, and Shopee.

See Also
Creative Zen Air Plus

Note: Review unit provided by Google.

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Same Google Pixel experience, but in a smaller, more affordable form.

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