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What is the most affordable Google phone?

Google has just released the latest budget device in its eye-catching A-series, but is it a quality improvement over its predecessor?

Now that the Pixel 6a has been unveiled at Google I/O, is it the best discounted Google phone you can buy now, or is last year’s Pixel 5a a better deal?

In this article, we’ll detail the newly announced Pixel 6a specs and our hands-on experience with the Pixel 5a in order to best answer that question.

Design

The Pixel 5a had an unadventurous design that closely resembled its predecessor, the Pixel 4a. The plastic case certainly didn’t look very premium, but it was at least durable and offered a reassuring IP67 rating against water or dust ingress.

Rear holder for Pixel 5a
Pixel 5a

On the other hand, the Pixel 6a is much more reminiscent of the premium phones of the Pixel 6 series, with a large camera bezel spanning the back, and it’s definitely more interesting to look at because of that. What’s more, it has a metal frame, not just plastic. Three color shades are available for this device; chalk, charcoal and sage.

Line-up Pixel 6a colors: chalk, green and black
Pixel 6a

Overall, the premium build and wider color gamut make us big fans of the new Pixel 6a’s design.

Screen

The Pixel 5a’s OLED screen measures 6.34 inches and has 1080p resolution. In our review, we found it to be bright, responsive, and vibrant, with HDR support that makes colors more vibrant, and brightness increases effectively in direct sunlight. However, the refresh rate is stuck at a measly 60Hz rather than the boosted rates offered by many other midrange devices, so scrolling may not feel as smooth as competing screens.

Pixel 5a app screen outdoors
Pixel 5a

The Pixel 6a’s OLED screen is slightly smaller at 6.1 inches, but otherwise it’s very similar to its predecessor, with the same 1080p resolution and the same 60Hz refresh rate. Size is the only real discrepancy, but the 0.24-inch difference is unlikely to be a major selling point if you’re choosing between the two.

Camera

The camera is very often the highlight of every Pixel phone, and that certainly applies to the Pixel 5a. It shares the same camera specs as the Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G, with a 12.2MP main sensor and a 16MP ultra-wide sensor, and delivers excellent all-round performance, which is especially good when shooting in low light. The front camera also took very nice bokeh selfies.

Pixel 6a rear camera back panel
Pixel 6a

The Pixel 6a also has an impressive camera system with a 12.2MP main lens and a 12MP ultra-wide lens on the back, along with the same selfie settings as the premium Pixel 6. Plus, it also adds some great software options. . , including Real Tone for authentically capturing skin tones and Magic Eraser for removing unwanted objects from your shots. These are awesome features that could make the Pixel 6a stand out from the competition, but we’ll have to try out the cameras in a full review before we give our opinion.

Spectacle

The Pixel 5a is powered by the Snapdragon 765G chipset, which was a little dated even at the time of release, but still performs well enough, especially since it’s backed by 6GB of RAM. Gaming performance was good, but not great, although if you’re not a power user, you’ll probably find that this phone is adequate for your needs.

On the other hand, the Pixel 6a uses the Tensor chip, which was Google’s first foray into mobile silicon and is the same top-tier processor as the Pixel 6 Pro. When testing this phone, we found that “apps open instantly, games run smoothly even at maximum graphics settings, and I can edit images with Photoshop Express without any problems.” We hope to see similar performance from the Pixel 6a, in which case it will be hard to beat on price.

Battery

The Pixel 5a’s battery has a healthy 4,680mAh capacity, and it was enough to get us through the day with normal use. However, it drains particularly quickly when playing video games; after just an hour of play, the charge dropped by 12%. This cell is supported by 18W charging that fully charges the battery in less than two hours.

The Pixel 6a has a slightly smaller 4410mAh capacity, but Google has high expectations, saying “the battery lasts a very, very long time.” Specifically, the manufacturer claims that Adaptive Battery can last over 24 hours, prioritizing your favorite apps over those you rarely use. In terms of charging, you’ll obviously get “hours of use” from just a few minutes of charging.

Price and availability

The Pixel 5a has a suggested retail price of $339, which puts it firmly in the mid-range smartphone ranks. However, unfortunately, most customers around the world will not be able to get it at any cost; it can only be purchased in the US and Japan.

The Pixel 6a has a significantly higher starting price than its predecessor, at $449 (£399). That’s understandable given the premium chipset, for example, but it makes it hard to sell if you’re on a tight budget. It will be available for pre-order on July 21st and in stores on July 28th.

Early verdict

Overall, it seems that the Pixel 6a is likely to be a more capable phone, and its key feature is possibly the same Tensor chipset as the Pixel 6 Pro. It also has a more attractive design and we’re excited to see how the camera performs in action. However, it costs significantly more money than the Pixel 5a ever did, so if you count the pennies, you’ll find that the Pixel 5a is still a very promising package.


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