Pixel 6a review: Spending a week with Google’s latest mid-range smartphone
The phone will go on sale from Jul 28 and is priced at $749.
As someone who has been an Apple fanatic my whole life, I have never truly delved into the world of Android or had much experience with its smartphones (besides the occasional fiddling in random mobile stores).
So, when Youthopia was approached by Google to review the Pixel 6a, I decided to put it through its paces to see what the hype was all about.
The Pixel 6a is Google’s latest mid-range device which offers the same Tensor chip as the high-end Pixel 6 and 6 Pro, albeit at a much affordable price of $749.
Taking the phone out of the box, the first thing that caught my eye was the visor camera hump on the back of the device which is near-identical to the design offered on the rest of the Pixel 6 series.
While the bump protrudes slightly, it does look sleek and not having the phone rock when placed flat on a table is a neat little bonus as well.
However, the back of the phone was a fingerprint magnet; even a few minutes of casual handling produced large noticeable smudges. This shouldn’t be a deterrent for those of us who are getting a phone cover though.
Although the Pixel 6a sports an OLED panel with a Full HD+ resolution of 1080 x 2400 pixels, it does lack a high refresh rate with its 60Hz display.
As someone who has become accustomed to using devices with a high refresh rate, the difference was instantly visible, making the experience quite jarring for me.
While I did adapt to this change, the 60Hz refresh rate leaves much to be desired, particularly since its competition such as the Samsung Galaxy A53 5G offer much smoother 120HZ panels.
For the uninitiated, this means that running graphically demanding games like Apex Legends Mobile or Call of Duty Mobile may seem slightly sluggish and laggy on the Pixel 6a.
Of course, I was most eager to test the device’s camera capabilities seeing as how Google’s camera technology is arguably the Pixel phones’ most well-received feature.
The Pixel 6a is equipped with an 8-megapixel front camera along with two rear cameras — a 12.2 megapixel camera with an optically stabilised wide-angle lens and a 12-megapixel camera with ultra wide-angle optics.
Despite a downgrade from the Pixel 6’s 50-megapixel camera, the Pixel’s software processing ensured that the photos taken turned out well-balanced and rich in detail while looking natural and not overly saturated.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the phone’s front camera.
The selfies I took in my office appeared excessively processed; as though someone had gone into Lightroom and increased the sharpness and clarity tenfold.
The photos taken outdoors fared much better — though be warned that if you are having your seasonal acne outbreak, the front camera will significantly accentuate those features.
One upside is that there is almost no visible noise in the photos, allowing for a more high definition looking image.
Google’s Real Tone function also does a superb job of making sure that your skin tone in the pictures is true to life which is great if you take portraits incessantly like I do.
On that note, you may want to consider passing on the Pixel 6a if you require a lot of storage space as it only offers 128GB of internal storage with no microSD card for expandable memory.
Another feature that I was hyped about was the Magic Eraser tool which Google claims has the ability to remove background distractions in “just a few taps”.
Eliminating the distractions was a pretty straightforward process since the tool automatically detects them, allowing you to press on the objects to get rid of them.
In the instances where automatic detection fails, you will also have the option to circle the object you wish to take out.
After testing it out a few times, I noticed that even though the item was removed, it leaves behind a glitchy and pixelated mark which makes it look even more conspicuous.
That being said, there is an improvement when the tool is used with cleaner and less complex backgrounds.
While the feature isn’t perfect, it is a quick and nifty way to salvage photos with pesky photobombs and unwanted objects, especially for those who are not as proficient at Photoshop.
As for notable absences, the headphone jack which was available on its predecessor, the Pixel 5a has been removed.
Wireless charging capabilities that were present for the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro are also off the table.
Nevertheless, the Pixel 6a performed admirably in terms of battery life, decreasing only slightly in spite of me putting it through the wringer with my camera tests and gaming adventures.
For those seeking out a competitively-priced phone with a decent camera, reasonable processing speed and smart software features, the Google Pixel 6a is a true bargain.
The device will officially go on sale from Thursday (Jul 28) onwards on the Google Store and can also be purchased from retail partners Amazon, Courts, Challenger and Shopee.