Google Pixel 6a vs Pixel 6: what's different?
Amazing, affordable, awesome – no matter what the "a" in Pixel 6a stands for, chances are Google's latest phone will draw the attention of anyone with affinity for the company's products. It is adequately powerful, reasonably priced, and even though we've yet to review it, the recipe for success is present, at least on paper.
Pixel 6, meanwhile, can be yours in a couple of days. And with a price gap of just $150, one might wonder if the wait is worth it. Let's go over the differences between the Pixel 6 and 6a and try to find out.But there's this one critical detail – the Pixel 6a release date is set for July 28, which is over 2 months away from now. The
Pixel 6a vs Pixel 6 in a nutshell:
- Pixel 6a has a smaller screen (6.1 vs 6.4 inches)
- Pixel 6a has a 60Hz screen; Pixel 6 is smoother at 90Hz
- Pixel 6a has 6GB of RAM vs 8GB for Pixel 6
- Pixel 6a has a 12.2MP main camera vs 50MP on the Pixel 6
- No wireless charging on the Pixel 6a
- Pixel 6a is coming on July 28; Pixel 6 is available today
- Pixel 6a will cost $449, $150 less
Design and Display
Hardly a surprise, the Pixel 6a follows the same design language Google introduced with the Pixel 6 series. The two phones look nearly identical, with their signature rear camera strip stretching from side to side. Size, however, is a factor setting them apart. The Pixel 6a is the smaller phone, sporting a 6.1-inch display vs the Pixel 6's 6.4-inch one. It also appears that the Pixel 6a sports a "3D thermoformed composite" back, which is a fancy word for plastic. The Pixel 6 comes with a Gorilla Glass 6 back.
One more corner Google had to cut is the omission of a high-refresh-rate display – it's a 60Hz affair on the Pixel 6a. Not a dealbreaker, if you ask us, but it's a difference in smoothness you may notice if you're spoiled by screens like Pixel 6's 90Hz panel.
Performance and software
Tensor is the name of Google's custom SoC, which made its debut on the Pixel 6 series last year. It is the chip powering the Pixel 6a as well, which is great news – chips this powerful aren't common among phones at this price point. According to benchmarks, the Google Tensor is not as powerful as the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon chips, but it's optimized for AI and machine learning tasks like speech recognition.
Performance-wise, however, the chipset is where the similarities between the Pixel 6a and the regular Pixel 6 end. When it comes to memory, the 6a has 6GB RAM, while the Pixel 6 boasts 8GB in comparison. This shouldn't affect everyday tasks that much, but some slower loading times and background apps closing faster should be expected from the more affordable model. Another difference is that the Pixel 6a only comes in a single storage option, 128GB to be precise, while you can get the Pixel 6 in a 256GB version.
The camera system is usually one of the areas that companies start cutting corners first when making a more affordable model for its lineup. The same stands true when it comes to the Pixel 6a, which comes with the same main camera that's found on the Pixel 5a and even older models.
Despite using the same hardware for the main snapper, though, the inclusion of Google's own Tensor chipset gives it new life in the form of features like the Enhanced Magic Eraser tool for removing objects in photos, Real Tone for accurate skin tones, and Night Sight for better low-light performance. We can't wait to get a chance to review the Pixel 6a and see if Tensor contributes to some improvements in detail too. One feature from the more high-end variants that the Pixel 6a does lack is the Motion Mode that keeps a fast-moving subject in focus.
When it comes to the ultra-wide camera, the one on the Pixel 6a has the same exact specs on paper, as the one found on the Pixel 6. In other words, a 12MP ultrawide powered by the Sony IMX386 sensor, with 1.25 μm large pixels, an aperture ƒ/2.2, and a 114° field of view. Another shooter stolen from the $150 more expensive models is the front-facing one, which has 8MP and IMX355 sensor. Technically, both of these cameras should perform the same way on both phones, but we will let you know for sure once our review is live.
Battery life and charging
The Pixel 6a comes only with a slightly smaller battery than that of the Pixel 6—4410mAh vs 4614mAh. A more clear win for the more expensive option can be seen when look at the charging speeds for both devices, where the 6a is shown to support a maximum of 18W charging, while the Pixel 6 can go up to 30W.
What's more, Pixel 6a does not come with wireless charging, unlike the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro.
For now, the information we have on paper from Pixel 6a's official announcement paints a very clear picture of what we should expect when we get the chance to compare it to the Pixel 6.
The main camera, for example, would probably not perform as good as that of the more expensive model, but the rest of them should bare similar results. In terms of performance, have 6GB instead of 8GB of memory could result in some difference with daily use of the device but it shouldn't be too obvious.
Holding the 6a should also not feel that different when compared to the Pixel 6, other than the slightly smaller screen, body, and strip on the back. That said, we can't wait to see whether the slightly smaller form-factor does end up translating in a different real world feeling.