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Pixel 6 vs Pixel 6a: Should You Buy the Cheapest Pixel?

Pixel phone is the best choice you can make when buying an Android for you. If you’re looking for a Pixel right now, there are 3 variants. The Pixel 6, Pixel 6 Pro and the new Pixel 6a. The Pixel 6 Pro is the flagship, and significantly more expensive than the 6 and 6a.

If you have a tighter budget, you’re probably weighing the Pixel 6 vs Pixel 6a. Should you though? Or is the Pixel 6a better, considering it’s also cheaper? Let’s find out.

Pixel 6 vs. Pixel 6a: A Quick Look

Pixel 6 Pro is the best choice if you don’t have a tight budget and really want a performing Android. That might change in a few months when the Pixel 7 Pro is released. It’s certainly not the best time to buy a Pixel 6 Pro, but if you really want a Google Pixel phone, here is a quick comparison between Pixel 6 and 6a before diving into detailed comparison.

Google Pixel 6Google Pixel 6a
Display6.4-inch AMOLED
2400×1080
411ppi
90Hz refresh rate
6.1-inch AMOLED
2400×1080
491ppi
60Hz refresh rate
ProcessorGoogle Tensor
Titan M2
Google Tensor
Titan M2
Memory8 GB6 GB
Storage128 GB128 GB
ProtectionIP67 water/dust resistance
Gorilla Glass Victus (front)
Gorilla Glass 6 (back)
IP67 water/dust resistance
Gorilla Glass 3 (front)
Camera 50MP main
12MP ultrawide
8MP front
12MP main
12MP ultrawide
8MP front
Battery4,614mAh4,410mAh
Charging30W wired
10W wireless
18W wired
ConnectivityWi-Fi 6/6E
Bluetooth 5.2
5G (sub-6, mmWave)
Wi-Fi 6
Bluetooth 5.2
5G (sub-6, mmWave)
Dimensions158.6 x 74.8 x 8.9 mm
207g
152.2 x 71.8 x 8.9 mm
178g

Related: Pixel 6 vs. Pixel 6 Pro: Should You Really Pay $300 More?

Design: Hard to Tell Apart

Both the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6a features an aluminum frame, while the glass sandwich design is limited to the former. The Pixel 6a drops the rear glass in favor of a 3D thermoformed composite back. It certainly does not look or feel like a $450 phone.

If you put the two phones side by side, and you don’t know which one is supposed to be bigger, it’s hard to tell them apart. The Pixel 6a adopts the bold and beautiful design of the Pixel 6 lineup, but with different materials.

Pixel 6 (Left) vs. Pixel 6a (Right) Dimensions Comparison

Those with a keen eye may notice a slight difference in the camera bar. Because Pixel 6a borrows that from the even newer design of the unreleased Pixel 7 lineup.

The Pixel 6 features a 90Hz display, while the Pixel 6a has the regular 60Hz.

Don’t be fooled, though. The Pixel 6a may look almost the same as the Pixel 6, but use them side by side and the difference is apparent. The Pixel 6 features a 90Hz display, while the Pixel 6a has the regular 60Hz. This wouldn’t be a problem, considering the price difference, if competitors of the Pixel 6a were not offering higher refresh rates.

Higher refresh rates result in a noticeably smoother, more fluid experience all around. If you have been using a phone with a 90Hz or 120Hz display, the slower 60Hz on the 6a is very noticeable.

Related: 14 Best Pixel 6A Accessories You Can Buy Right Now

Under the Display: What’s Changed?

The Pixel 6 lineup is the first in the Pixel series to feature an under the display fingerprint scanner. You may like or dislike that, but there’s no denying that the fingerprint scanner on the Pixel 6 was not great. Even with software updates, while the situation has improved, the Pixel 6 fingerprint scanner is not at par with the competition.

Pixel 6a gets a different scanner than the one of Pixel 6. This one is more reliable, even if it’s not the fastest.

This is where the Pixel 6a takes the cake because it uses a different scanner than the one of Pixel 6. This one is more reliable, even if it’s not the fastest. If you aren’t picky about every single millisecond you waste, that’s not a problem. And if you’ve used other devices with an in-screen fingerprint scanner, they’re never as fast as those on the back or the side.

Performance Comparison

When you go beyond the 6.4″ display on the Pixel 6, you’ll find Google’s first in-house chip called Tensor. It’s not like Apple’s, and is rather based on Samsung’s flagship Exynos with some Google modifications. Under the 6.1″ display of the Pixel 6a, you find this very same flagship processor.

Pixel 6a also supports the full 5G connectivity suite, including the mmWave

The 6a even has the Titan M2 chip, which has been a Pixel flagship exclusive until now. It adds an extra layer of security other Android phones don’t have. At this point, we should again remind you, the Pixel 6a costs $450. At this price point, the Pixel 6a also supports the full 5G connectivity suite, including the mmWave if you live in the US.

Having 6 GB of RAM vs 8 GB of RAM in a phone is a minor difference. You’re never going to notice it while using. What you will notice are the slower charging speeds. Despite having a nearly similarly sized battery, the Pixel 6a only supports 18W charging. Unlike some other areas where Pixel 6a cut corners, this one is actually bad.

Related: Wake Your Android Phone Without Touching the Screen Like Google Pixel

Camera: The Costlier the Better

Traditionally, the selling point of the Pixel-A phones had been the cameras. They’ve always featured the same cameras as the smaller flagship from last year. So, the Pixel 3a shared the same camera with the Pixel 3. Similarly, the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4a shared the same camera. This time around, though, things are a bit different.

Both the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6a have two cameras on the back. However, the Pixel 6 features the newer 50MP primary camera. The Pixel 6a, on the other hand, has the older 12MP sensor from previous generations. This gives the Pixel 6 access to even better low-light performance.

Pixel 6 features the newer 50MP primary camera. The Pixel 6a, on the other hand, has the older 12MP sensor

That’s not to say the Pixel 6a will not have the best camera $450 can buy. This 12MP sensor has been tried and tested and has consistently been crowned the best for a few years. Thanks to the Tensor chip, this old camera has learned some new tricks as well, including features like Face unblur. While it’s not as good as the flagships, the Pixel 6a cameras still blow away anything near its price point.

Related: How to Add Multiple Users and Work Profile on Android

Battery Life: Bigger Ain’t Worth It?

The higher refresh rate screens drain the battery faster. But the Pixel 6 gets a bigger battery thanks to its larger display that makes it bigger. If that’s not enough, you can still change the refresh rate on the Pixel 6 down to 60Hz.

Essentially, with the Pixel 6, you get the choice on refresh rates, essentially battery drain rate, whereas with the pixel 6a, you don’t. It is important to keep in mind that you’ll be paying $150 less for the Pixel 6a. Another shortcoming of the Pixel 6a is the lack of wireless charging. This is something that you can get on the even cheaper Nothing Phone 1.

Related: How to Check Battery Health On Android

Should You Buy Pixel 6 or Pixel 6a?

If it wasn’t obvious already, the Pixel 6a is clearly the better deal. It’s a bang for buck device (unless you live in India) just like previous Pixel-A devices have been. The Pixel 6, however, is no slouch and is overall a better phone. You do have to pay a hefty premium though for improvements that frankly aren’t worth the cost.

Then again, if you can afford the Pixel 6, why not? If you’re looking to get the most out of your money, nothing beats the Pixel 6a. In case the money is not bar for you, you can look for Pixel 6 Pro, which is considerably the best Android phone in 2022.

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