I’ll cut to the chase – the Pixel 6a is my favourite of the Pixel 6 series. If you want a reasonably small phone with flagship-level performance, good cameras, solid battery life, and clean Android at a decent price, the Pixel 6a is not a bad choice.
The Pixel 6a is basically a Pixel 6, but:
- Costs S$250 less
- Has the Pixel 5’s main camera instead of the new Pixel 6’s
- Has a 60Hz display vs 90Hz
- Has 6GB RAM vs 8GB
- Has no wireless charging
- Is much smaller and lighter
The full list of specs can be found here. You can check out my Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro reviews for full deep-dives into those phones. For this review, I’ll keep it simple by listing out what I like and don’t like, comparing it to the Pixel 6 and the Pixel 5, which is my current daily driver.
What I liked
Form factor — This is perhaps my favourite “feature” of the Pixel 6a. I like small phones, which is a bummer because most phones these days are too large and heavy for my taste. My ideal size and weight are that of the Pixel 5 or the Samsung Galaxy S10e — around 70mm wide, 145mm tall, and 150g. While the Pixel 6a isn’t exactly a tiny phone — it’s a little too tall (152mm) and heavy (178g) for my liking — it’s on the border of what I would deem acceptable. It’s also IP67 water and dust resistant for extra peace of mind.
Tensor chip — You’re getting the same flagship performance as the more expensive Pixel 6 or Pixel 6 Pro at a lower price point. This also means that you’ll get all of Google’s fancy new AI features like Magic Eraser. However, it is worth noting that this processor is soon to be surpassed by the next generation Tensor chip in the Pixel 7 which is releasing in a couple of months.
Cameras — The cameras on the Pixel 6a are great, even though they are a step down from the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro’s camera on paper. The Pixel 6a still uses the Pixel 5’s primary sensor, and the same ultrawide sensor as the Pixel 6.
Battery life — Battery life on the Pixel 6a is excellent. I was often pushing 7-9 hours of screen on time, and consistently reached the end of the day without having to plug in. This is even after a lot of photo-taking, navigation, and video-watching.
What I didn’t like
Fingerprint reader — It’s bad. I’ve noted the poor fingerprint performance in the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, and it seems like Google is using the exact same sensor here. It’s slow and unreliable. It often refuses to read my fingerprint and I have to resort to keying in my PIN instead. Overall just a frustrating experience.
Limited RAM — 6GB is perhaps the lower limit of what is acceptable in 2022. It’s fine if you don’t switch between many apps often, but I noticed app reloads happening a lot more often on the Pixel 6a than on my Pixel 5. Switching out of a game to Chrome, for instance, would remove the game from memory and it would have to be reloaded.
What I’m on the fence about
Display — Colours are nice and accurate and the display gets plenty bright outdoors and dim enough at night. It even supports HDR content in apps such as Netflix. I have no issues with the resolution — 1080p is plenty sharp at this screen size. The only thing lacking is a high refresh rate; it’s 60Hz compared to the 90Hz on the Pixel 6 and the 120Hz on the Pixel 6 Pro. It’s a great display, but the lack of high refresh rate is a bummer albeit not quite a dealbreaker for me.
Price — At S$749, it is S$250 cheaper than the original retail price of the Pixel 6. The problem is that the Pixel 6 launched nearly a year ago now, and you can probably find it for huge discounts. S$749 sits in this weird zone where it’s significantly more expensive than the Pixel 4a was at S$499, yet cheaper than most flagship devices. If the Pixel 6a were a little cheaper, say S$699 or S$649, I’d recommend it in a heartbeat.
Software support — Google is still sticking to its software support policy of 3 years of OS upgrades. The Pixel 6a launches with Android 12, so that means that it will be updated to Android 15. With Samsung promising 4 years of OS upgrades, Google is ironically falling behind. 3 years is not terrible but it’s not great either. The good news is that Google will keep the Pixel 6a updated with security patches for a further 2 years, so you’ll be able to use the phone for longer without worrying about security vulnerabilities, albeit without any new software features.
- No wireless charging
- No charging brick provided
- Charging limited to 18W
- No headphone jack
On the whole, the differences actually make me prefer the Pixel 6a to the Pixel 6. My main complaint with the Pixel 6 was that it was too large and heavy – that’s resolved with the Pixel 6a, which isn’t much larger than my Pixel 5.
You still get the same processor as its more expensive siblings, solid cameras, great battery life, and clean software with decent software support. But you lose the high refresh rate display and some RAM.
If you’re in the market for a new small-ish Android phone, the Pixel 6a is one to consider. However, if you are willing to look around the used market, you can find great deals on previous generations of Pixels. The Pixel 5 can be found for around S$500 or less, while the Pixel 5a is going for around S$400.
I personally bought a used Pixel 5 for S$550 back in January. I still prefer it to the 6a thanks to the 90Hz display, lighter form factor, and extra 2GB RAM, despite the poorer performance from the Snapdragon 765G. Battery life has been similar to the 6a as well. And of course, the fingerprint reader which is much faster and more reliable than the Pixel 6a’s.
Google is currently offering a sale for the Pixel 6 series. The Pixel 6 is going for S$849 and the Pixel 6 Pro for S$1,099. If size and weight doesn’t bother you, the Pixel 6 appears to be a better deal than the 6a for just S$100 more.
If you do decide to get the Pixel 6a, you can pre-order it from Google’s official online store, Shopee, Lazada, or even physical retailers like Courts and Challenger. Google is still running pre-order promotions for the Pixel 6a, and you’ll be able to snag yourself a free Pixel Buds A-Series with your pre-order. The Pixel 6a will go on sale in Singapore on 28 Jul.
As always, when purchasing online, check if you can get additional cashback on your purchase with ShopBack. You can also check out our deals page for more Singapore deals.
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