Google Pixel 6a review: This mid-range master is a real bargain

The Pixel 6a is Google’s latest mid-range smartphone offering the same chips and performance as its best phones, but in a new, smaller package for a cheaper price.

The phone costs £399 ($449 / AU$749), which is £200 less than the Pixel 6, but offers 80% of what you get with Google’s top models.

The 6a also resembles the Pixel 6 hit with a shrink ray. It has a flat glass front, stereo speakers, painted aluminum sides, and a two-tone back with a camera bar on top. The 6a is 29g lighter and the back is high-grade plastic instead of glass, but it still feels as solid and well-made as its bigger sibling.

The camera bar on the back of the Pixel 6a.
The camera bar on the back is still a distinctive design element, but it protrudes less than other Pixel phones, making it easier to sit on desks. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The smaller 6.1-inch OLED display lacks the fast refresh rate of the Pixel 6, which makes it slightly less fluid in operation, but it’s otherwise crisp, colorful and bright. The smaller screen makes the 6a about the size of an iPhone 13 and strikes a great balance between being big enough without being too big to comfortably hold.


  • Filter: 6.1-inch FHD+ OLED 60Hz (429ppi)

  • Processor: Google Tensor

  • RAM: 6 GB

  • Storage: 128 GB

  • Operating system: Android 12

  • Camera: 12.2MP + 12MP ultrawide, 8MP selfie

  • Connectivity: 5G, eSIM, Wi-Fi 6E, NFC, Bluetooth 5.2 and GNSS

  • Water resistance: IP67 (1m for 30 mins)

  • Dimensions: 152.2 x 71.8 x 8.9mm

  • Lester: 178g

Top Tensor chip

The USB-C charging port of the Google Pixel 6a.
The Pixel 6a takes 1 hour 45 minutes to fully charge, reaching 60% in 44 minutes using a USB-C adapter delivering 18W or more (not included). There is no wireless charging. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The Pixel 6a has the exact same Tensor processor as Google’s best 2021 phones with a bit less RAM, making it faster than almost any other midrange competitor and well optimized for Google’s various AI systems. Google.

Battery life is also quite good for a smaller phone, lasting around 34 hours between charges, which matches the larger Pixel 6 and puts it on par with many high-flying rivals. That was with the screen on for about five hours in various messaging, note-taking and utility apps, the browser, and taking about 20 photos, spending about two hours on 5G, the rest on wifi.


The logo highlighting the Pixel 6a's in-display fingerprint scanner.
The fingerprint scanner is faster and more reliable than the Pixel 6, but it’s still not as good as the best available. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

Google doesn’t provide an expected battery life, but it should last over 500 full charge cycles with at least 80% of its original capacity. The Pixel 6 is repairable by Google and third-party stores. Screen repairs cost £119 and battery replacements cost £69 out of warranty by Google.

The Pixel 6a is made with recycled glass, plastic, and aluminum, which makes up around 20% of the phone’s weight. The company publishes environmental impact reports for some of its products. Google will recycle old devices for free.

Android 12

Wallpaper customization options on the Pixel 6a.
Google’s version of Android is fast and full of fun color customization, although some of the many wallpaper options are a bit odd. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The Pixel 6a comes with Android 12, which includes a host of customization options, smart enhancements, and awesome local AI features. For more, check out the Pixel 6 Pro review. The 6a will be one of the first devices to receive the Android 13 update, which is expected to release soon.

Google will provide at least five years of software and security updates, including at least three major Android releases. Samsung supports many of its phones for five years, while Fairphone is targeting six years and Apple supports its iPhone for up to seven years.


The Camera app showing the viewfinder on the Pixel 6a.
The camera app is simple to use and has useful photography aids to help you get the best shot with little effort, but it lacks a dedicated macro photography mode. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The Pixel 6a has a pair of 12-megapixel cameras on the rear: one main and one ultrawide, but no telephoto for zooming. Google’s camera software is some of the best in the business and as a result the 6a takes photos that beat many phones costing twice as much.

The main camera produces very well-balanced photos that are rich in detail and dynamic range over a range of light levels. The ultrawide is also good if it’s slightly softer on fine detail, but it’s consistent in color and tone with the main camera, which most aren’t the case at this price. . The dedicated night vision mode produces great low-light images while the digital zoom is good enough at 2x but falls short by 7x.

Portrait mode is very good and works on objects and pets as well as people, while video quality up to 4K at 60fps is solid. The 8MP selfie camera is equally good at capturing a great amount of detail.

The camera app has many features like other Google phones, including object eraser or camouflage tools, which recolor distracting and unwanted elements in a photo to make them less obvious.

All in all, while the 6a can’t quite match the cameras of the Pixel 6, it really isn’t that far from beating smartphones costing more than double the price and beating the mid-range competition. .


The Google Pixel 6a costs £399 ($449 / AU$749) with 128GB of storage in a choice of three colors shipping on 28 July.

For comparison, the Pixel 6 costs £599, the Samsung Galaxy A53 costs £399, the Nothing Phone 1 costs £399, the Fairphone 4 costs £499 and the Apple iPhone SE costs £419.


Google is on a roll. After years of good but not good phones, the Pixel 6a is another great model that brings back the Android maker magic at a more affordable price.

It uses the same recipe that makes Apple’s iPhone SE so good: a mid-range phone with the company’s best chip. This makes the 6a faster than almost any other phone priced at £399 and gives it access to the same features as Google’s flagship phones. Battery life is also very good for a small phone.

The software is smart and polished, and will be updated for at least five years, which is longer than most rivals. The camera is far better than any mid-range model, competing with phones twice as expensive or more.

Although the back is less premium, the plastic isn’t glass, and the screen isn’t as smooth as its rivals, it still looks great. The small size also makes it easier to hold.

The Pixel 6a is the best mid-range phone you can buy and a fantastic option if you’re looking for a smaller Android.

Advantages: brilliant camera, good smaller screen, great performance, good battery life, recycled aluminum, five years of security updates, Android 12, smart software features, competitive price.

The inconvenients: quite slow charging, no optical zoom, no macro photo mode, no face unlock option, screen only 60Hz.

The back of the black Pixel 6a.
The two-tone black is a bit boring compared to some of the other color versions in the Pixel line. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

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