Google Pixel phones they have become synonymous with having excellent cameras; it’s in their DNA. Pixels have also long been some of the best devices for consistent software updates, from build updates and Pixel Drops that add new features to monthly security updates that keep phones safe. So it’s disappointing when those pillars start to crumble.
The Pixel 6A is the company’s latest. It’s a great smartphone and definitely the best value at $449. It has a large screen and offers fantastic performance. It also packs a pretty good camera, but gone are the days when the mid-range Pixel’s camera easily outperformed its peers. The same with software support: the new Pixel has a good level of support, but what’s on offer isn’t the best-in-class package it used to be. The competition in this mid-range price category is heating up, so while I normally wouldn’t like the small stuff, in this day and age I have to. Outside of the US, there are a dizzying number of great and affordable phones to choose from. And here in the U.S., companies like Samsung are giving Google a run for its money in the mid-priced Android market.
I must repeat that the Pixel 6A has one batch of strengths and I have really enjoyed using it over the last few weeks. Size is a big reason. The 6.1-inch screen is only slightly larger than the Pixel 5, which puts it on the smaller spectrum of most smartphones today. It’s very easy to hold and use, and the power and volume buttons on the recycled aluminum frame are satisfying.
Also coming to Sage! Forget monotonous black and white phones, opt for green. Phones that stand out with lovely designs are important, and Google is one of the few companies that doesn’t restrict good design to higher-priced phones. That said, keep in mind that the screen uses the older Gorilla Glass 3, which can be more prone to scratches than other phones. A screen protector is a good idea, though thankfully you won’t have to worry about cracking the back since it’s a plastic composite. (It doesn’t look at all like the cheap plastic on many budget and mid-range phones.)
A long-standing issue with Pixel phones has been screen brightness. It has always been difficult to see the screen clearly when you are under the sun, but here it is solved. The screen goes up to 800 nits in high brightness mode and I had no problem reading it on these hot days.
It’s a shame the display is stuck at a 60Hz refresh rate. Most phones in this price range have adopted 120Hz displays, such as the Nothing Phone (1) and Samsung’s Galaxy A53 5G. I noticed this immediately when I switched from the Nothing phone; Gone are the buttery smooth scrolling animations. But I reset to 60Hz pretty quickly and it totally is well. Again, I’m nitpicking here. On a similar note, the Pixel 6A doesn’t come with wireless charging, nor does it have a MicroSD card slot or a headphone jack, features that not everyone needs but would have been nice to have since they’re available on phones from similar prices
The Pixel 6A makes up for these shortcomings with a flagship-quality processor, the same Tensor chip found in the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, which means you’re getting the best-performing Android phone for the money (at least in US). I have yet to see this phone lag or stutter, and I can’t say the same for Samsung’s Galaxy A53 5G. This Pixel had no issues when I set it up and downloaded all my apps, a process that freezes many mid-range phones for a few minutes, nor did it slow down during intense games on Apex Legends Mobile.