Google Pixel 6a, the mid-range smartphone par excellence

Google Pixel 6a: In a smartphone market that is struggling, people are increasingly turning to mid and low-end models. We don’t say that, but analysts do. Indeed, in their latest report, the gentlemen from Canalys point out that in the quarter between April and June 2022, consumers ‘demanded’ 9% fewer smartphones than in the same period in 2021. This is indicative of a new economic difficulty and an excessive boom twelve months ago compared to the tightness of 2020, but also of the re-emergence of the middle-range, precisely, models that do not cost an arm and a leg for cutting-edge performance.

Google fits perfectly into this scenario with its Pixel 6a. Traditionally, the range is a transition point from one top of the range to the next, in our case, the current Pixel 6 Pro and the next Pixel 7 Pro, expected in the autumn. Let’s certainly not forget the smaller Pixel 6 and Pixel 7 siblings, which, don’t mind Big G, lose some interest precisely because of the existence of the ‘a’ family.

What it looks like

Aesthetically, it changes little from the previous model. Unlike its premium big brother, here the display is not curved, more flat, and the sides are made of hard plastic instead of an aluminum continuation. It retains the same two-tone design as the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro with a photo configuration, this time reduced to two sensors: 12 MP + 12 MP. Obviously, the photos are not at the level of the 6 Pro, but we are still talking about a very good performance for a phone that, we anticipate, costs 459 euros in the single configuration with 128 GB of storage and 6 GB of RAM.

Google Pixel 6a: The solution makes the phone less slippery without losing aesthetic beauty—the usual volume rocker under the power button and lower USB-C input. The screen diagonal is 6.1 inches with a refresh rate limited to 60 Hz. If we consider the Pixel 6a the first phone, it may not be much, but whoever is content enjoys it. In case we already have a premium specimen with us, then the Mountain View newborn will be a luxury follower.

Google Pixel 6a

The camera

As mentioned, don’t expect the results of Google’s top end, but this Pixel 6a performs more than well when it comes to shooting and video recording. Much of the credit goes to the Sony IMX363 DP module with optical stabilization, which is flanked by a Sony IMX386 that, combined with the Tensor processor’s graphics post-processing, makes for better photos than expected.

Night Sight, Face Deblur, and Real Tone are the effects to try out, but only after testing Magic Eraser, the magic ‘eraser’ that removes (REALLY!) unwanted elements in photos, occupying the space left empty by these with details consistent with the rest of the image. Here it is artificial intelligence that puts itself at the user’s service.

Pixel 6a, performance

The Google Tensor does the dirty work of managing app opening and multitasking. And it does it to perfection, never wavering for a moment. At its side is the additional Titan M2 chip, which protects the user’s data by dedicating a protected portion of the hardware to them, effectively inaccessible via software. A bit like what Apple did years ago when it debuted Secure Enclave, which was based on a similar concept to that of Big G.

A big miss compared to the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro, but it fits. The battery is 4,400 mAh and recharges not quickly, at 18 watts, and not wirelessly. But there is 5G on board, the 6a, as well as Wi-Fi 6E, NFC, and the very recent Google Wallet, which replaces Google Pay and will hopefully also accommodate IDs and driving licenses in the future. On this last point, the moves of the European Union and the Member States to define compatibility standards are awaited.

Pixel 6a, is it worth it?

At this price, today, yes. Forget the competition of frills, marketing buzzwords, and little substance. On the Pixel 6a, there is everything a consumer could want on a phone that, let it be understood, is mid-range. Photos and video above the industry standard (mid-range indeed), a design that stands out but without falling into burlesque (as some do), excellent performance and autonomy, data security, and frequent software updates directly from the parent company, which is also the developer of Android. It lacks a few goodies, such as wireless charging and a greater choice of storage, but if you have to make compromises, the Pixel 6a is the best compromise the smartphone segment can offer today. At least for the next few months.

Antonino Caffo has been involved in journalism, particularly technology, for fifteen years. He is interested in topics related to the world of IT security but also consumer electronics. Antonino writes for the most important Italian generalist and trade publications. You can see him, sometimes, on television explaining how technology works, which is not as trivial for everyone as it seems.