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Google Pixel 6a First Impressions: A New Beginning?

The Google Pixel 6a was launched as the successor to the Pixel 4a in India. There’s a rather unusual two-year gap between these phones, as Google hasn’t launched its Pixel 5 series or flagship Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro here. With the launch of the Pixel 6a, Google wants to pick up where it left off. However, during this time, the smartphone market has changed a lot. Will the Pixel 6a still offer a good enough price? I got to spend some time with the Pixel 6a and here are my first impressions.

The Google Pixel 6a costs Rs. 43,999 in India for a single configuration with 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage. Google runs on Rs. Instant cashback offer of 4,000 for Axis Bank cardholders and EMI transactions, bringing the effective price down to Rs. 39,999. Google offers the Pixel 6a in two color options: Chalk and Charcoal.

The youngest member of the Pixel family, the Pixel 6a shares many design similarities with the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. The Pixel 6a is the smallest of the bunch, sporting a 6.1-inch Full HD+ OLED display. It has a stock 60Hz refresh rate, which feels a little dated compared to the 120Hz refresh rate panels now available on phones in this price range. There is Corning Gorilla Glass 3 which should resist scratches to some extent. The Pixel 6a’s display has a center hole for the selfie camera at the top. It’s not too big to be distracting, but you’ll notice it when you start using this phone. Thin frames around the screen help to create the effect of presence. Google also added an in-display fingerprint scanner, which is conveniently located and unlocking the phone was easy.

The Pixel 6a has a different color finish on the back.

Pick up the Google Pixel 6a and you’ll notice that it fits nicely in your hand. The frame is made of metal, which gives it a premium look and feel of solidity. The phone weighs a reasonable 178g and I didn’t experience any fatigue while using it. My thumb, of course, rested on the power button while holding the smartphone. The SIM card tray is on the opposite side. On the Pixel 6a, you only get a USB Type-C port, and it lacks the 3.5mm headphone jack that the Pixel 4a had. This USB port is surrounded by speaker grilles.

The back of the Pixel 6a looks the same as the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. Google has used plastic, and while it may look a bit like glass, it doesn’t feel as premium. The Pixel 6a has a large camera module that spans the full width of the back. This causes the back to lift up a bit when placed on a flat surface, but the phone doesn’t wobble. The Pixel 6a also has an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance.

Google Pixel 6a box gadgets360 Google Pixel 6a First Impressions

A charging cable and a USB Type-C to Type-A adapter are all you get with the Pixel 6a.

The Pixel 6a has a dual camera setup on the back, consisting of a 12.2MP dual-pixel main camera and a 12MP ultra-wide camera with a 114-degree field of view. There is support for optical image stabilization (OIS) as well as electronic image stabilization (EIS). For selfies, it has an 8-megapixel fixed-focus front camera. Pixel smartphones are known for their camera prowess and I was able to capture some amazing shots in a short amount of time with the Pixel 6a. Google is using software features like Magic Eraser, Real Tone, and Night Sight to give the Pixel 6a an edge over the competition. I will be testing these and many more during the full review.

Low light photo taken with Night Sight (click to view full size image)

Daylight photo taken with Pixel 6a main camera (click to view full size image)

The Pixel 6a is powered by the Google Tensor SoC, just like the Google Pixel 6 Pro, meaning this phone has flagship hardware at a relatively affordable price. It also has a Google Titan M2 security co-processor. The Pixel 6a runs Android 12 out of the box and is guaranteed to receive three Android software updates and five years of Android security updates. Surprisingly, my device was running the April 2022 Android security patch, which is dated to this point. The software interface was clean and did not contain any malware.

google pixel 6a camera gadgets360 Google Pixel 6a first impressions

Google Pixel 6a has a dual camera.

Google put a 4410 mAh battery in the Pixel 6a and claims 24-hour battery life. There is support for 18W fast charging, but there is no charger included. Charging is slower than most competing smartphones. In contrast, the OnePlus 10R Endurance Edition (Review) supports 150W fast charging.

The Pixel 6a is an interesting smartphone with the powerful Google Tensor SoC, which is also used in Google’s flagship models. Google’s five-year security update commitment is also better than what the competition is offering. However, the Pixel 6a lacks features such as a high refresh rate display, fast charging, and wireless charging. Rival smartphones like the Xiaomi 11T Pro (Review), OnePlus 10R, and Oppo Reno 7 Pro 5G (Review) are some of the best options we’ve seen in this price range. Can the Google Pixel 6a handle them? I’ll be testing the Pixel 6a in a full review coming soon.

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