Google Pixel 6A evaluate: Tensor makes it a sensible alternative for $449

Rate this post


For just a few years working, the Pixel A-series telephone was a no brainer: at all times the perfect Android telephone in its midrange class. With the Pixel 6A, issues are somewhat totally different. Google is shifting its priorities for its Pixel telephones, and rivals like Samsung have closed the hole. The 6A nonetheless has the perfect efficiency and digicam high quality at its value, nevertheless it’s not fairly the shoo-in that it as soon as was.

As is custom for the A-series, the 6A presents most of what the Pixel 6 does — and to a lesser extent, the Pixel 6 Professional — for a a lot decrease price: $449 as a substitute of the Pixel 6’s beginning value of $599. You don’t get wi-fi charging, a glass again panel, or a sooner display refresh fee. However you do get the identical core options because the flagship fashions. In earlier years, that meant the exact same class-leading digicam because the pricier fashions however normally a much less sturdy processor. That’s not the case this 12 months; as a substitute, you get Google’s custom-built processor, Tensor.

Tensor allows some AI and machine studying pushed options, like higher real-time transcription and HDR video recording on the digicam’s highest decision and body fee. However principally, the chipset enhances issues that Pixel telephones might already do, like dwell translation, by working them extra effectively so you should use them extra with out working your battery down.

Most significantly, it means you possibly can really hold utilizing this telephone for various years, which is a extra typical shelf life for a sub-$500 telephone. It presents the perfect longevity amongst midrange Android telephones, rivaled solely by the iPhone SE for pure return on funding worth. The SE could properly get software program updates a 12 months longer than the 6A, however the Pixel presents a significantly better display in comparison with the SE’s comparatively puny 4.7-inch show.

Preserving Tensor because the 6A’s core characteristic is a touch at the place Google is steering the Pixel collection for the longer term. As for the right here and now, it makes the 6A into a wonderful midrange telephone. It doesn’t provide the perfect display for the cash — that honor goes to the Samsung Galaxy A53 5G. However it’s the finest performer for underneath $500 (a minimum of amongst choices accessible within the US). On high of that, it’s a snug dimension with unfussy software program and a terrific digicam, and it ought to hold working properly for years to come back. That’s worthy of an A grade for positive.

Hero shot of the Google Pixel 6a on a grey background with some rocks

The 6A encompasses a moderately sized 6.1-inch display.

The Pixel 6A is the smallest of the three 6 collection telephones, however possibly the easiest way to explain it’s that it’s the least massive. Subsequent to the Pixel 6 Professional with its 6.7-inch display and the 6.4-inch Pixel 6, the Pixel 6A feels downright petite. I contest that its 6.1-inch display is the perfect compromise between a small (learn: moderately sized) telephone and the large telephones everybody else appears to need, however that’s simply my very own private hill to die on.

The display on the 6A is a 1080p OLED panel with a regular 60Hz refresh fee, a step down from the 6’s 90Hz display. After utilizing a 120Hz display for some time, I undoubtedly discover the distinction going again to 60Hz. I’d by no means see it with out having the sooner refresh fee to match it to, however movement appears to be like jerkier and it provides the telephone a lower than polished really feel. Nonetheless, LCD panels are fairly frequent within the $500 and beneath class, so the richer distinction of an OLED is welcome right here. It’s not terribly comfy to make use of exterior in direct daylight, both, nevertheless it will get vivid sufficient to be usable.

The Samsung Galaxy A53 5G, additionally $449, is the 6A’s closest competitor within the US. Its display can be a 1080p OLED however has a 120Hz refresh fee. It’s additionally greater, at 6.5 inches, which lots of people discover interesting. The 6A beats the A53 in just a few methods, however so far as the display goes, it’s all Samsung. So, do you have to take into account the A53 over the 6A? It relies upon.

Typically talking, the A53 prioritizes the surface-level specs, together with that fancy display, however its processor isn’t as snappy. It feels extra like a finances telephone with just a few elevated parts slightly than the opposite manner round. Day-to-day efficiency is just a bit extra sluggish, and that’s solely going to degrade over the subsequent three or extra years. For longevity and the perfect efficiency, the 6A is the way in which to go. But when an enormous display is vital to you and also you solely plan on protecting your telephone for just a few years anyway, then the A53 is the higher alternative.

Shot of Pixel 6A’s pronounced, horizontal camera bump.

The 6A’s horizontal digicam bump doesn’t protrude so far as the 6’s.

The Pixel 6A doesn’t simply borrow the 6’s processor; it carries over your complete design language Google launched with the 6 collection. The horizontal digicam bump on the again panel protrudes a bit much less, however in any other case, it’s the identical distinct design. I can’t say I like it. The black rails and digicam bar distinction so harshly with the soothing sage inexperienced on the again panel. I didn’t thoughts the design when it debuted on the 6 and 6 Professional. However I’ve been disliking it increasingly more over the previous 12 months, and I’ve a sense it’s not going to age properly.

The 6A consists of 128GB of storage — with no card slot for enlargement — and 6GB of RAM. That’s the one variant, and it has 2GB much less RAM than the bottom mannequin Pixel 6. For day-to-day use, this doesn’t appear to affect efficiency. The system feels responsive as I soar between duties, and apps keep open within the background lengthy sufficient to not frustrate me.

It handles heavy duties properly, too — higher than the A53 5G does. The telephone runs graphics-intensive video games like Genshin Impression pretty easily, with some dropped frames right here and there. There’s additionally little or no lag within the digicam app, even firing off a number of portrait mode photographs again to again. Each the (pre-Tensor) Pixel 5A and the 6A let me take about 4 portrait mode photographs in fast succession earlier than they should buffer and lock out the shutter button. The 5A wants a full 4 to 5 seconds to course of the photographs, however with the 6A, I can begin taking pictures once more in a couple of second. That would imply the distinction between getting the shot you needed or watching the second go you by with a grayed-out shutter button. It’s additionally properly past what I’d anticipate of most midrange smartphones, and Tensor is definitely serving to to make the distinction right here.

The Pixel 6A’s fingerprint scanner has been the topic of numerous hypothesis — particularly alongside the strains of “possibly it gained’t be as horrible because the one within the 6 and 6 Professional.” I’m not satisfied that it’s any higher. Utilizing the 6A and the 6 facet by facet, I can see the 6A sensor responding faster typically. However, simply as typically, it’s the identical velocity because the Pixel 6. It additionally feels simply as susceptible to asking me to rescan my fingerprint or press my finger somewhat longer. In any case, the Galaxy S22’s sensor feels a contact sooner than both of the Pixels’ — and since Samsung’s sensor is ultrasonic slightly than optical, it doesn’t fill your darkish bed room with blinding mild once you use it. For those who have been hoping that the 6A would deal with that Pixel 6 shortcoming, then I’m sorry to say you’ll be disillusioned.

The 6A’s haptics are good. They’re delicate however reassuring as you’re typing and tapping. Nevertheless, one thing in regards to the telephone’s design (I strongly suspect the digicam bump) makes it sound as loud as a foghorn when it’s sitting on a wood desk and a notification units the vibration off. I can hear it throughout the home. I turned vibrations down a notch however that hasn’t actually helped. I suppose I’d simply get used to discovering one thing delicate to place the telephone down on after I wasn’t utilizing it. Or put a case on it like a smart individual.

There’s a comparatively small 4,410mAh battery powering the Pixel 6A, however the tight relationship between {hardware} and software program (presumably) contributes to its excellent battery efficiency. It bought me via a day and a half of average use, and it dealt with a full day of heavier use with a little bit of gaming and a convention name, no drawback. It’s massive battery power from somewhat battery.

The Pixel 6A carries an IP67 ranking for water resistance, making it rather less sturdy than the IP68-rated Pixel 6 and 6 Professional — however not a lot. That’s on par with the Galaxy A53 5G and higher than most telephones at this value. (Motorola’s Moto G Stylus 5G doesn’t provide any ranking for water resistance.) However the unhealthy information is that the headphone jack that held on for therefore lengthy within the Pixel A-series is now gone. There’s no charger included within the field, both. These have gotten simply as scarce as headphone jacks these days.

Close-up of 6A’s rear dual lenses.

There are two good cameras and 0 nonsense macro sensors on the 6A’s again panel.

The Pixel 6A’s 12-megapixel f/1.7 primary digicam is borrowed from the Pixel 5A, with a few Tensor-enabled advantages. The 12-megapixel ultrawide digicam is identical because the one on the Pixel 6 and 6 Professional, and it’s good however unremarkable.

It’s extra symbolic than something that the 6A doesn’t use the brand new 50-megapixel sensor from the Pixel 6 as a result of, in actuality, photographs from that new high-res sensor aren’t dramatically higher than that of the older digicam. Pictures from the 6A appear to be photographs from a Pixel digicam: contrasty with a barely cool white stability and vivid colours that don’t cross into oversaturated territory. For those who just like the Pixel photograph aesthetic, you then’ll just like the 6A’s digicam. For those who choose hotter tones, you then’ll be happier with the Samsung Galaxy A53 5G. Tensor allows just a few attention-grabbing digicam options on the 6A, that are typically good, however they’re not so good that they’ll change your thoughts about how you want your pictures processed.

Some of the spectacular of those options is named Face Unblur. In low mild, cameras want to make use of slower shutter speeds to get a vivid sufficient publicity. In case your topic is shifting even somewhat, then getting a pointy photograph of them turns into very difficult. Face Unblur makes use of data from the ultrawide digicam to complement the principle digicam’s brighter publicity, placing all of it along with somewhat machine studying magic to present you a closing picture with the proper brightness and — in concept — a pointy photograph of your topic’s face.

Baby holding a bee toy looking at camera

High-quality particulars are fairly delicate from noise discount, however Face Unblur helped take away apparent movement blur.

Face Unblur occurs routinely, and also you’ll solely realize it was in use after the actual fact. And it really works! The outcomes are nonetheless somewhat delicate and noisy in the event you look carefully however with out apparent movement blur. It’s a disgrace that it doesn’t seem to work with portrait mode, although, since that’s how I take footage of my child more often than not.

One other factor that Tensor allows is the power to make use of HDR throughout video recording, even on the highest body fee and determination setting: 4K / 60p, on this case. The distinction is delicate, although. I shot a backlit video with the Pixel 5A at 4K / 60p and in contrast it to the 6A with the identical settings. The 6A brings again somewhat extra element in highlights, and it appears to be like somewhat higher than the 5A’s footage, however I’m unsure I’d know the distinction with out seeing them facet by facet.

One Tensor characteristic that’s accessible on the 6 and 6 Professional however lacking from the 6A is Movement Mode. Google spokesperson Rebecca Pineiro says it isn’t enabled due to the 6A’s “{hardware} variations” from the 6 and 6 Professional. It is a characteristic that mimics the inventive blur results of lengthy publicity and panning images strategies — issues that usually take time, particular gear, and apply to good. The 6 and 6 Professional can do a convincing impression of each results with only one press of the shutter. It’s enjoyable, and it stinks that the 6A can’t use it.

Nonetheless, the 6A presents a complicated set of digicam options for a midrange telephone, and when it comes to uncooked capabilities, it’s nonetheless the perfect in its class. Tensor provides a few attention-grabbing new options, however the basis that the 6A’s digicam is constructed on was already a powerful one.

Pixel 6A’s app drawer with search bar.

Android 12 on the Pixel 6A is mercifully freed from main bugs.

The Pixel 6 and 6 Professional launched with Android 12, and it wasn’t precisely the perfect expertise for early adopters because the first variations of the software program have been buggy. With Android 13 across the nook, Google appears to have found out its Android 12 points, a minimum of on the Pixel 6A. I haven’t encountered any noticeable bugs or disruptive quirks utilizing the telephone as my every day driver for the previous couple of weeks. I made calls, listened to Spotify on Bluetooth earbuds, took footage and video, and navigated throughout city with out a drawback. And it’s, in fact, inventory Android, which means there’s no duplicate apps or undesirable options to litter up the UI. ( you, Samsung.)

The 6A will get 5 years of safety updates, the identical because the Pixel 6 and 6 Professional. Google wouldn’t verify to us what number of OS platform upgrades the 6A will get, however the 6 and 6 Professional are promised three. Samsung presents a really robust replace coverage for the A53, promising 4 OS upgrades and the identical 5 years of safety patches. It’s value noting that the Pixel ought to get month-to-month updates from Google all through its life span, however Samsung tends to place its telephones on a much less frequent replace schedule as they grow old — simply two safety updates a 12 months for the oldest supported units.

And, in fact, there’s 5G. Verizon will promote a model of the telephone with assist for superfast mmWave 5G for $50 extra. The model of the 6A bought straight from Google and at different retailers will simply assist sub-6GHz 5G, which is ok; that taste of 5G is bettering quick, and mmWave is sort of a sham anyway.

Pixel 6A home screen with an analogue clock widget.

Google is all-in on Tensor, and it makes the 6A the best choice underneath $500 on Android.

The Pixel 6A is a flagship telephone with among the nicer options stripped again — that’s one method to constructing a midrange telephone. The opposite method is to speculate somewhat extra in these nice-to-have options, like a quick refreshing display, however to incorporate a less expensive processor and sacrifice a bit on efficiency. That’s the route that Samsung took with the Galaxy A53.

The street that Google took is sensible to me, a minimum of. The Pixel 6 collection telephones make a daring assertion, from their uncommon design to the {custom} chipset. They’re telephones for individuals who need telephones that do actually cool stuff. The Galaxy A53 is somewhat totally different. It’s for somebody who desires the largest and finest show they will get for his or her cash and who doesn’t thoughts giving up somewhat little bit of processing energy to get it. I do know which class I fall into, and also you most likely know the place you stand, too.

So, if a extremely massive display isn’t a precedence and also you (like me) choose a sensibly sized telephone that may really slot in your pocket, then the 6A is straightforward to advocate. It presents wonderful efficiency, its digicam system is dependable, battery life is superb, and it’ll obtain frequent software program updates for a few years to come back. That’s onerous to beat for $449.

Images by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge


Supply hyperlink