Google’s Pixel 6a is a budget device with the heart of a flagship

To bring the price of the device well below $500, the company mostly made the right cuts.

To say that Google’s Pixel A smartphones kept the broader brand alive on their own during some undoubtedly difficult periods would be an exaggeration. Since Google has very vast finances, let’s face it: what is a little sunk-cost fallacy between friends when you’re one of the largest firms in the world?

However, the low-cost devices have saved the day, supporting the line when the Pixel division was still frantically trying to regain its footing. It’s safe to say that Google, after a number of failures, has achieved success with the Pixel 6. For the first time in the history of the line, the manufacturer could legitimately say that a flagship had been released.

The company’s first in-house Tensor chip, together with some excellent new camera technology, and a new hardware architecture worked well with several generations of software advancement. Happily, the Pixel 6a and Pixel 6 share more genetic material than the Pixel 5a does. The main factor linking the products together is Google’s larger overall plan, which calls for a release cycle of around six months. You release the flagship first, and then a budget version of it shows up six months later.

It’s a strategy that appears to be effective. With the initial product, you may placate the early adopters, and over time, some of the additional features will filter down into the product bearing its name. You’re prepared to start hearing about its successor by the time that happens. Of course, it’s no accident that the business teased the Pixel 7 at the same time as the 6a launch. It serves as a subliminal reminder that although the 6a now looks fine, something even better is in the works. It successfully monetizes the tyranny of choice.

It’s a crucial component of Google’s strategy because the 6a is a generally successful exercise in reducing the appropriate costs. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a midrange or cheap phone, but it’s a midrange or budget phone with a flagship’s heart.

The components used in construction are the most readily observable. More plasticky than its direct predecessor is the 6a. That’s primarily a problem if you carry your gadget about without a case. Such folks do exist. They exist, but I’ll never understand them. By switching from Gorilla Glass Victus to Gorilla Glass 3, the front of the device does lose some of its resilience.

The screen size has also been reduced from 6.4 inches to 6.1 inches (still a 1080p OLED, but with somewhat higher pixel density), and the refresh rate has been reduced from 90Hz on the 6 to 60Hz (neither goes up to 120, mind). In all honesty, the smaller screen is probably a slight gain for most people. It’s a large phone, the 6. This makes far more sense for a variety of hands.

The camera’s technology is noticeably downgraded, going from 50-megapixel wide and 12-megapixel ultrawide dual sensors to a pair of 12-megapixel wide/ultrawide sensors, and there is no wireless charging available.

For several generations, Google has maintained that when it comes to smartphone imaging, hardware is not nearly as important as software. However, the most recent Pixel devices disproved that hypothesis. Great smartphone photographs still require the proper marriage of the two, even though some could argue that it’s more true today than it was a few generations ago. However, you can still take good pictures with the 6a thanks to some incredible software advancements over the years, including tools like Magic Eraser. The Pixel 6’s Tensor chip, which provides many of those essential improvements, is also essential.

When compared to the 5a, the new (well, newish) processor offers considerable power gains. By midtier device standards, the 6a sings. Although the on-board 6GB of RAM is a decrease from the 6’s 8GB, it should be adequate. The amount of storage remains at 128GB, however there is no 256GB upgrade option. While the battery’s mAh somewhat drops from 4,614 to 4,410, it will still last you more than a day with no issues.

The Pixel 6a’s affordability, though, is its greatest strength. The business was able to cut another $150 off the 6’s already highly competitive $599 price. Good luck trying to get more value for your money.

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Google’s Pixel 6a is a budget device with the heart of a flagship

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