The latest horse in Google’s Android stable is called the Pixel 6a. The group’s hardware department is actually continuing a successful series – but this time it’s getting lost in a strange way.

Compact, powerful and inexpensive: When Google launches the A series of the current Pixel model, fans and penny-pinchers alike are happy. Because for years, the inexpensive entry-level models have been promising surprisingly good equipment at fair conditions. This year it’s the turn of the Pixel 6a – and closes the gap between the Pixel 6, Pixel 6 Pro and the Pixel 7 announced for the fall. The test should show whether Google is expanding the success story by a chapter, or the device does not meet the usual requirements.

Pixel 6a isn’t much smaller than the Pixel 6

First the facts: The Google Pixel 6a uses a 6.1-inch screen and is, as usual, the smallest representative of the series. The OLED display has a resolution of 1080×2400 pixels and displays content in a 20:9 ratio. In contrast to the Pixel 6 or 6 Pro, it only offers a refresh rate of 60 Hertz, so it falls short when it comes to displaying fast film scenes or action-packed games.

Google’s homegrown Tensor is used as the processor, so it is in no way inferior to the larger models. The performance is completely sufficient for everyday use, the smartphone reacts as fast as an arrow and the menu navigation is smooth. The Pixel 6a also masters games and more complex applications in an exemplary manner. With 6 gigabytes of RAM and 128 gigabytes of storage space, the device offers everything that a middle class suitable for everyday use needs. Regrettable: The device is only available with this memory size and it cannot be expanded via an external card.

The Pixel 6a’s camera is old — very old

With the cameras, Google takes two steps back. Instead of giving the device the hardware of the larger models, the Pixel 6a only gets a 12.2-megapixel wide-angle camera and a 12-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera. Both cameras were already used in previous models and can be described as outdated – especially since Google has installed significantly better cameras in other devices. After all: 4K recordings with 60 frames per second are possible, which was not the case with this camera before. The selfie camera, which adorns the display in the form of a small recess, snaps with eight megapixels.

A few test shots follow, which show what is wrong with the cameras. Admittedly, the comparison between the Pixel 6a and the iPhone 13 Pro Max isn’t entirely fair, but the cameras on the larger Pixel models can easily keep up – so why not give it a try?

Convincing haptics, overall solid middle class

The performance of the hardware – including that of the camera – indicates good, if not perfect, suitability for everyday use. What about the device itself? The Google Pixel 6a is very handy with its 6.1 inches and very light due to the low weight of 178 grams. In terms of size, Google could have confidently based itself on the Pixel 4a with 5.8 inches – also to make the device more attractive for lovers of smaller smartphones.

The quality is consistently good, only fingerprints end up on the device very quickly. According to the comparison table on Google, this could be due to the apparently missing coating.

Speaking of fingerprints, the Pixel 6a’s unlock sensor is under the display. In the test, the system failed several times, especially outdoors, so the sensor does not appear to be really reliable.

On the other hand, the performance of the battery is good, which lasts the whole day thanks to its 4410 milliampere hours – which smartphone doesn’t do that. But here, too, buyers of the Pixel 6a have to make compromises. Firstly, both the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro have significantly more battery capacity on board, and secondly, the 6a lacks the option of being charged wirelessly. Actually, in 2022 there is hardly an excuse for that.

The Pixel’s controls were a bit annoying in the test, because the fact that the standby button and the volume buttons are on one side often meant that instead of switching off the display, only the sound setting was changed – that’s annoying, But that’s always the case with Pixel devices.

As far as the software is concerned, the Pixel 6a is also in the privileged position of always being able to access the latest Android software. After all, the device comes directly from the developers of the operating system. This usually entails a longer supply of updates, so you are on the safe side in this regard.

Google Pixel 6a in the test conclusion: There are no good arguments

Let’s conclude: The Pixel 6a is a solid mid-range device, but it lacks a raison d’être in some ways. There are various reasons for this: It is not significantly smaller than the Pixel 6, so it does not offer a tangible unique selling point. The hardware is slightly inferior in all respects to that of its 0.3-inch larger brother. The camera is very old.

But the main argument against the Pixel 6a is its price. Google is now selling the smartphone for 459 euros. The Pixel 6 is officially 649 euros, the Pixel 6 Pro at 899 euros. But: These are the prices that Google calls for direct sales. If you look at price comparison portals, the models are very close to each other. The Pixel 6 is around 515 euros, the Pro at 708 euros.

Especially in comparison with the Pixel 6, things get so tight that either the 0.3 inch smaller screen diagonal or the savings of 46 euros must be very important. Otherwise there is hardly any reason not to prefer the Pixel 6, which is better in almost every respect.

This article contains so-called affiliate links. There is more information here.