Google Pixel 6a vs Pixel 7: main differences to expect
Google's upcoming budget phone, the Pixel 6a, gets upgrades all around and now looks a lot like the flagship Pixel phones, but how does it actually compare to the top-of-the-line Google Pixel 7 that is coming later in 2022?
The big news with the Pixel 6a is that Google, for the first time, has given its budget phone a higher-end processor in the form of Tensor, the same one as we have in the 2021 flagship Pixel 6 series. The Pixel 7, on the other hand, is getting the even more powerful second generation of Tensor.
Both devices also come with a similar dual rear camera system, so there is no telephoto zoom lens on either one, a shared compromise. What else is different and new? Read on to find out, but first here are the...
Pixel 6a vs Pixel 7 in a nutshell:
- 6a is more compact
- Only the 7 has fast screen refresh rate
- Similar dual rear cameras
- Tensor Gen1 on 6a vs Gen2 on 7
- 6a is more affordable
Table of Contents:
Design and Display Quality
The Pixel 6a is more compact, but only runs at 60Hz
The Pixel 6a adopts the design styling of the Pixel 6 series with the camera bar on the back and the two-tone look, so it's no surprise that it also looks quite similar to the Pixel 7, which is merely an evolution of that design.
Both phones also use similar materials with a metal frame and Corning's Gorilla Glass on the back. The Pixel 6a admittedly does use the 3rd generation of the toughened glass, while the Pixel 7 uses a newer generation, but still. Both are also officially water and dust protected. The Pixel 6a comes with an IP67 certification, and we expect only a slight improvement with an even higher IP68 rating for the Pixel 7.
And here is how they compare in pure size:
Pixel 6a - 152.2 x 71.8 x 8.9mm
Pixel 7 - 155.6 x 73.1 x 8.7mm
Pixel 7 Pro - 163 x 76.6 x 8.7 mm
iPhone 13 - 146.7 x 71.5 x 7.65 mm
As you can see, the Pixel 6a is actually smaller than the Pixel 7, so for those looking for a compact phone this is an important advantage to consider. We have also put in the size of the iPhone 13 to illustrate that even if smaller, the 6a is not quite as compact as Apple's popular 6.1-incher.
When it comes to screens, the Pixel 6a has a 6.1" 1080p OLED display, while we would expect the Pixel 7 to feature a larger display at around 6.3" and it is also said to support 90Hz fast refresh rate, unlike the 6a.
As for biometrics, no surprises: both use an in-screen fingerprint scanner. We are yet to see if Google will support face recognition too, as the feature was actually abandoned for the Pixel 6 family.
Performance and Software
The Pixel 6a steps up to a high-end Tensor chip
Under the hood, both phones carry the same brands of processor: Google Tensor. However, the Pixel 6a uses the original Tensor chip, while the 7 has the Tensor v2, which will be more powerful, but no specifics on that just yet.
Also, expect to see more RAM on the Pixel 7, which will certainly help with faster and more efficient multitasking.
Being "Google phones", these two will have a squeaky clean Android build. The Pixel 6a will debut with Android 12, but it is expected to get Android 13 on day one when that new version launches in the fall, while the Pixel 7 being launched later on, will come pre-loaded with Android 13. This timing is interesting because the Pixel 6a will thus "burn" one of the three years of major Android updates Google promises, while the Pixel 7 will have one more major Android update and therefore will have extended lifespan.
Pixel 7 has a bigger sensor, but no zoom camera
So far, we do know that the camera systems on both these phones shape up to be very similar, with a single punch hole front camera and two cameras on the back, one a wide and a secondary, ultra-wide lens. Both are missing a dedicated telephoto zoom lens.
Of course, dig deeper and you'd find differences: the Pixel 7 is expected to use a much larger sensor for the main camera, while the Pixel 6a will stick with an older generation, smaller main camera sensor.
We wouldn't be surprised to see some camera features missing on the Pixel 6a, and some compromises made in terms of video recording, as this is usually one area where budget phones compromise to their flagship peers. We will be updating this section pretty soon when we have camera samples from the Pixel 6a.
Audio Quality and Haptics
The Pixel 6a does away with one feature that used to remain on Google's budget phones: the headphone jack. It is no longer here, and the Pixel 7 does not have one either.
Both phones come with dual loudspeakers, but it's still too early to comment on quality, so stay tuned for more on that soon.
And the same goes for the haptic feedback and vibration motor quality on these two phones, expect more comments closer towards their launch./
Battery Life and Charging
Pixel 7 has wireless charging and a slightly larger battery
So far, it's too early to compare the battery life between these two, as we only know the battery capacity on the Pixel 6a, while Google has kept the battery size of the Pixel 7 a secret.
The Pixel 6a, we know, ships with a 4,400mAh battery, a decent one for its size. In contrast, the Pixel 7 is expected to stick with a battery size similar to the 4,600mAh one on its predecessor.
Naturally, we will be updating this section as soon as we learn more about the battery sizes and life of the two phones.
While the Pixel 7 is expected to support wireless charging, the more affordable Pixel 6a can only be charged via a wire.
And just as many other modern phones, don't expect to see a charger in the box. Maximum charging speeds on the Pixel 6a are set at 18W, while the Pixel 7 family will top up a bit faster via a wire (expect to see up to 25W charging speeds).
And here is a quick overview of the specs of the Pixel 6a vs Pixel 7:
Don't forget that you can also see the Pixel 6a vs Pixel 7 full specs comparison on our website, where you can find a lot more details like cellular bands, etc.
Summary and Final Verdict
At the end of the day, it's clear that Google has really stepped up its game with the significantly faster processor on the Pixel 6a and we also appreciate that it's a bit more compact than the Pixel 7.
At the same time, there are some things missing, and we feel that having just a 60Hz screen refresh rate on the Pixel 6a is the biggest compromise in the experience. Still, we understand that some compromise had to be made to arrive at that very lucrative, $450 price.
On the other hand, the Pixel 7 looks just a bit more refined, with a sleeker look, faster chip, more powerful camera setup. The big mystery is the price tag that Google will associate with its 2022 flagship phones, and we don't yet know that. For what its worth though, we are really happy that Google now seems to have an incredibly solid budget offering that can rival even with the best phones out there.