three reasons to fall for Google’s “affordable” smartphone

Announced at the Google I/O 2022 conference last May, the Google Pixel 6a will be long-awaited. Now available for pre-order at the recommended price of 459 euros, this mid-range smartphone is positioned as a more affordable product than the Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, released at the end of 2021.

After a few days of testing at 01Lab, our test laboratory, we are able to share objective data on the performance of the Google Pixel 6a. We had fun comparing it to other smartphones in its category, and you’ll see that the latest addition to Google has some serious advantages.

Three reasons to choose the Pixel 6a over its competitors

As a reminder, the Google Pixel 6a is equipped with a 6.1-inch AMOLED screen with a Full HD+ definition of 2400 x 1800 pixels. The built-in chip is identical to its big brothers: a Google Tensor clocked at 2.8 GHz accompanied by the ARM Mali G78 MP20 GPU and 6 GB of RAM. Google’s latest smartphone also benefits from 5G compatibility, IP67 waterproof certification and a 4,410 mAh battery. All together for 178 grams on the scale. Now that the presentations are done, place our top 3.

For the excellent performance of Google Tensor

01net.com – Pixel 6a facing its elders and the competition

Google has pulled out all the stops by putting its internal processor, the famous “Tensor”, in its Pixel 6a. A high-end chip that might not have been the best in its class when it launched in 2021, but stands out today in this mid-range phone under 500 euros.

On AnTuTu benchmarks, it ranks above its direct competitors in this price range. To be precise, the Pixel 6a’s Google Tensor scores 188,500 points in CPU performance. That’s 32.2% more than the average of other phones between €400 and €500 that we’ve tested in the last 12 months. Same observation for the graphics part (GPU), which shows 280,185 points. Again, it is 76.4% stronger than the average for this price range and this period.

The average score on AnTuTu 9 places the Google Pixel 6a between the Sony Xperia 5 III and the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3, both equipped with the Snapdragon 888 processor from Qualcomm, and much more expensive. 6a even gives you the luxury of doing a little better benchmarks than its big brother Pixel 6, equipped with the same Tensor chip. We’ll also appreciate the real leap forward between the Pixel 6a and the Pixel 5.
Also, if you like smartphones that make buzz, take a look at the results of the Nothing Phone (1), which is sold around 100 euros more expensive. You will then discover that hype is not all, and that the Snapdragon 778G+, from Qualcomm, must logically bow to Tensor, from Google. This SoC is positioned in the mid-range, where Tensor aims higher. The only AnTuTu 9 score where the smartphone from the young company does nothing better than the Pixel 6a is the one related to memory. In this case, it’s quite normal, since the Nothing Phone (1) has 12 GB of ram, and the Pixel 6a, half as much… Nevertheless, it’s a safe bet that the optimization work in Android from Google is excellent…

Finally, when we turn to one of the best sellers in the mid-range, the Galaxy A53 5G, from Samsung, which disappointed us compared to the previous model, we see that the Pixel 6a again benefits from the presence of Tensor inside that. The Exynos 1280 that powers Samsung’s mid-range has no weapons to resist.

For its above average screen quality

google pixel 6a screen
© 01net.com

Another point where the Google Pixel 6a stands out: the quality of its screen. If its diagonal of 6.1 inches allows it to be a relatively compact phone, it is the fine tuning of the OLED panel that makes the difference. This technology gives him infinite contrast by default. So far nothing impressive. We can also blame this panel for only refreshing at 60 Hz when the competition aims for 120 Hz, but the Pixel 6a has other arguments to show.

Thus, we were very pleasantly surprised by its average brightness of 864 cd/m2. If this does not speak to you, know that the smartphones between 400 and 500 euros that we have tested in the last 12 months have an average brightness of 672 cd/m2. With such a brightness, you will be able to watch videos in direct sunlight without too much trouble, once you have managed to avoid direct glare. The Pixel 6a is therefore in the high bracket with an average score 28.5% higher. In HDR mode, Google’s phone reaches its peak brightness at 795 cd/m2, which is more than enough to watch this type of content.

Pixel 6a, a panel that holds...
01net.com – Pixel 6a, a panel that holds up…

But what about colorimetry and color fidelity? Again, Google has taken care of its copy. According to our measurements, the “natural” color display mode is the one that offers the fairest reproduction. With a Delta E of 2.68 (a number closer to zero is better, as it is a delta, a difference between the true value of a color and the one shown as measured), the Pixel 6a display is 36.3% more fairer than average smartphone between 400 and 500 euros that we have tested in the last 12 months. As for its display, the Google Pixel 6a does not have to be ashamed of high-end smartphones that are sold much more expensively. It even follows in the footsteps of its older Pixel 6, at least in terms of quality, since its diagonal is smaller, as we said.

For its excellent autonomy

google pixel 6a
© 01net.com

The 4,410 mAh battery is not impressive on paper. It’s even smaller than the Pixel 5a and its 4,680 mAh. But stopping at that number would be a mistake, as the Pixel 6a’s screen is smaller, the Tensor chip more energy efficient, and Google has obviously made some software optimizations with Android 12.

Let’s not beat around the bush anymore, the Pixel 6a has a very good endurance according to our tests carried out in the laboratory. If they are to be confirmed in real use in our complete tests, these results are no less encouraging. In all-round autonomy, the Pixel 6a is 7.8% more autonomous than the average smartphone between 400 and 500 euros that we tested over 12 rolling months. This average is 13:39, compared to 14:33 for the Google phone. This still represents a good extra hour which is always good to take.

Pixel 6a, Google offers it more than decent autonomy.
01net.com – Pixel 6a, Google offers it more than decent autonomy.

But it’s in streaming video playback that the Pixel 6a extends the distance. With the time of 15.12, it outclasses the competition, which lasts the distance on average at 11.45. This is a score 29.5% higher than the average, or almost 3.30 extra video playback to watch your favorite series and movies on Netflix. Note also that it can be placed in the middle class, it performs better than its big brother Pixel 6 both in versatile autonomy, which simulates daily use, and in video streaming. Count 1t12 more in versatile and 2t47 more in video. Not bad for a 459 euro smartphone.
If it largely dominates the Galaxy A53, from Samsung, it does less well than the Nothing Phone (1) in the field. We can probably see the price for the extra power…

Pixel 6a: Google’s future “bestseller”?

Google clearly has a card to play with its Pixel 6a. By offering its smartphone at a more affordable price than the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro, while making the right concessions, the American giant could hit the mark and find its audience. Autonomy is promising, the screen is superb, and the performance is beautiful and good for the meeting.

But if there’s one point where we’re expecting the Pixel 6a, it’s on the photography department. Google smartphones have always stood out in this area. On paper, the phone is less well equipped than its predecessor. But that’s without counting on Google’s software expertise, which has long made the difference in producing remarkable images.

We will also see what this Pixel 6a has to offer in terms of design, handling and of course software experience. We’ll spend a few more days with the phone before giving you our verdict in the full test, which will be read and re-read on 01net.com.

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