Google Pixel 6a, review: the Pixel 6 to buy

If you are obsessed with data sheet and you think that a smartphone is judged only by that (mistake!) you could snub this Pixel 6a. Let’s see what is missing compared to the top of the range:

  • the display is only at 60 Hz and not at 90/120 Hz like most of today’s smartphones in the mid or high range. Do you lose a little in fluidity? Maybe, but it’s a vastly overrated specification, and the cleanup and optimization of the Google interface compensates adequately
  • no wireless charging, no fast charge (18 Watt): these are shortcomings of a certain weight, especially the slow charge (it takes 1 hour and 45 minutes to fully recharge the Pixel 6a, in 45 minutes you get to about 60%)
  • IP 67 and not IP68 certification (little changes)
  • camera department (more on that later)

What we like about the Pixel 6a (several things)

On the other hand, the advantages of the Pixel 6a are not lacking. The key is in the Google Tensor processor, the same as in the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro. If we take a look at the benchmarks as raw power it ranks roughly on the levels of a Snapdragon 865 (released in 2020) but the truth is that Tensor enables a whole range of Pixel-exclusive features. There is the live translation of the messages and the transcription of the recorded audio, also in Italian and both live and at a later time: essential for those who, like the writer, have to transcribe an interview, but also for a student who wants to review the lessons in the classroom. There is Now Playing which identifies the songs that the phone picks up, like Shazam but all automatically (for privacy it can be deactivated)
Then there is, and it looks like magic, the filter on the call operated by Google: if a nuisance contacts us (have you read the opposition register on mobile phones?) we can have the Pixel answer with a robotic voice that will ask the interlocutor why he is calling us. And then continue the conversation with short text messages, contextual to the caller’s words, always read by the assistant on our behalf. The result is a bit Black Mirror, vaguely disturbing, but useful (as well as definitely “wow”). In short: based on your personal use you can evaluate whether these goodies change your day or not, but certainly they are functions that impact much more than 2 GB of Ram more or a joke with an additional 30 HZ.
There is the graphic language of the Material You user interface, clean and at the same time a bit baroque.
There are 3 years of “major release” Android (starting from 12, it will arrive at 15) and 5 years of security updates.
There is an abundant battery life, even two days with average use.
Finally there is a solid camera.

Camera: old but golden

Google Pixel 6a uses the ancient 12 Megapixel sensor on the main camera Sony IMX363already seen for example on the Google Pixel 3 (model of 2018!), while the ultra-wide angle, also 12 Megapixel, is the same as Pixel 6. Stop, no telephoto optics, nor unnecessary additional sensors by number. No exorbitant resolutions of 100 and more megapixels. Said so it seems uninspiring. In truth Pixel 6a demonstrates how excellent algorithms and a sensible hardware choice can lead to more than interesting results in photos and videos. Between the two sensors there is a nice color uniformity and overall results, something that many famous smartphones lack. The main sensor will be old but it has consistent results, both during the day and in the evening, when you can even try your hand at astrophotography. The portraits are excellent, as per Pixel tradition. Equally well the videos, which enjoy a convincing stabilization. In short, promoted by a wide margin, despite the specifications.

Conclusions, prices and availability

Google Pixel 6a is not a premium phone but not a low cost one: it is offered at 459 euros but at the moment you will also get the excellent headphones in May Pixel Buds A (100 euros worth).
Pixel 6a is the Pixel to buy if you are attracted to the approach on Google smartphones, much more than the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro brothers, more complete and elegant but less practical, bigger (the 6a is almost a compact with its 152.1 mm tall) and excessively expensive.
The new Pixel 7 will arrive in a few months, while Google has just launched the Pixel Buds Pro headphones with noise cancellation in Italy.