Review: Google Pixel 6a Mid-Tier Android Smartphone with Tensor

The Google Pixel 6a (S$749) and Pixel Buds Pro (S$299) are now available for pre-orders in Singapore. Both will physically hit the shelves on 28 July 2022. Thanks to Google Singapore, I have been trying out the Pixel 6a for the past month. Here’s a quick 5-min review of its highlights.

The Google Pixel 6a and case freshly unboxed. I like the sage colour and glass back although none of that is visible once you slap on the phone case.

The Google Pixel 6a and case freshly unboxed. I like the sage colour and glass back although none of that is visible once you slap on the phone case.

The Google Pixel 6a ships with Android 12 and is positioned as a premium phone at a more affordable price.

It is priced higher than the previous mid-tier Pixel “a”-subseries phones (eg. the launch price for the Pixel 4a was only S$499) and sits at the top of the mid-range market in terms of price tag.

Google Pixel 6a coming to Singapore.

Google Pixel 6a coming to Singapore.

The Pixel 6a is powered by Google Tensor – the same chip behind Google’s flagship Pixel 6 phones.

Some of the features that the Pixel 6a shares with the flagship Pixel 6 Pro include Magic Eraser, Real Tone, Night Sight and live translation.

So in a sense the Pixel 6a can be also seen as Pixel 6 “Lite” ie. the starting model of a flagship model.

In reality, it straddles the gap between the flagship phone segment and the mid-range segment.

For those hesitant to purchase the Google 6 series, you can consider the Pixel 6a with slightly lower feature set, at a correspondingly lower price.

Competition to the Pixel 6a which are similarly priced? You can consider the current flagship models of the less expensive brands, or the previous flagship models of the market leaders eg. Samsung S21 Ultra.

Either way, being aware of the Pixel 6a’s positioning will allow you to compare the phone against more equivalent competitors, instead of pitting it against current market leading flagship models like the Samsung S22 (S$1,178), the Google 6 (S$999) and Google 6 Pro (S$1,299).

The Google Pixel 6a comes in three colours (Chalk, Charcoal, Sage), with 128GB storage and 6GB memory.

I like the understated Sage colour of the glass back although you can’t really see the colour nor the glass back once you slap on the phone case.

But I like that the phone case protects the protruding camera bar in a recess so there’s less chance of scratching the lenses.

My Take

The Google Pixel 6a is a great phone for those looking for premium features at an affordable price.

Although its pricing is at the top of the mid-range market, it offers features close to the low-end flagship segment.

With the powerful Google Tensor chip, I found the Pixel 6a to be really fast and responsive – apps launch fast, pages and images launch quickly and everything runs smoothly.

I like the Live Translate feature that the chip enables – it allows you to chat in messaging apps in real time in 11 languages.

Pixel 6a uses the same Material You user interface as the Pixel 6 flagship phones, with themed UI skins and widgets that allows me to customise the interface easily and extensively.

The two rear cameras include a 12.2-megapixel f/1.7 main camera and a 12MP f/2.2 camera; while the front camera has an 8MP sensor and f/2.0 lens.

Overall, the camera hardware is a step down from that of the Pixel 6 series but enjoys most of the computational photography smarts.

The computational photography algorithms of Pixel phones still churn out good photos that look great for sharing on social media platforms.

The Pixel 6a does inherit features like Magic Eraser, Real Tone and Night Sight from the Pixel 6 cameras (but not Motion Mode).

Face Unblur makes faces in motion sharper, by using information from the ultrawide camera to supplement the image from the main camera.

The feature works automatically in the background, so you might mistakenly think the feature is not available in the Pixel 6a.

It is also not available in Portrait Mode.

The Pixel 6a has a 6.1-inch Full HD+ (2,400 x 1,080, 24-bit colour) AMOLED display that’s smaller than those of the Pixel 6 (6.4”) and Pixel 6 Pro (6.7”) and has a screen refresh rate of 60Hz, which is fine by me since I don’t really do much gaming on the phone.

I’m impressed by the battery life of the Pixel 6a, which uses adaptive battery management to give more than 24hrs of typical usage even though its battery capacity is only 4,410mAh.

Turn on Extreme Battery Saver and the battery lasts up to 72 hours.

The under-display fingerprint sensor in the Pixel 6a is a first for the Pixel “a”-subseries and is similar to the responsiveness of those on the Pxiel 6 series.

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