Technology

Google Pixel 6a test: our opinion –

Since the generation Pixel 3Google has committed to ditching its high-end Android smartphones in a more affordable version, offering very clear value for money. After Pixel 3a who corrected the defects of his elder’s youth, Pixel 4a convincing, and Pixel 5a which hit the mark, but which we, unfortunately, did not see in France due to the lack of sufficient production, here is the Pixel 6a. Younger brother Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, it inherits the distinctive design, Tensor processor, under-screen fingerprint reader, 8MP front camera, and 5G compatibility. Thanks to this DNA and a photo part that distinguishes high quality from its predecessors, the 6a is an alternative to the Pixel 6, more compact and 200 euros cheaper.

© Mark Zaffagni

Attributes of a premium smartphone

Filiation obliges, the Pixel 6a follows the design first seen on the Pixel 6, with a two-tone back panel split by a headband that spans the entire width of the smartphone and houses a dual photo module and flash. Our test copy of the Pixel 6a was painted black, like the Pixel 6 Pro, which looks like two peas in a smaller version. Sure, the 6a’s screen isn’t curved around the edges, and the back isn’t as silky (it’s plastic, the 6 Pro’s is glass), but plush feel. First good point. For those looking for more cheerful tones, the Pixel 6a is also available in Pebble White and pleasant Sage Green.

The Pixel 6 Pro (right) and Pixel 6a (left) look exactly the same. © Mark Zaffagni

In terms of size, Google opted for a more compact format than the Pixel 6, with a 6.1-inch screen versus 6.4 inches. As a result, using the Pixel 6a with one hand is a little easier, and it’s a little more discreet in your pocket.. Another positive point, certified water and dust resistance. IP67.

The Pixel 6a’s 6.1-inch FHD+ (2400 x 1080p) OLED display is pretty fast and responsive.but it lacks power compared to the Pixel 6. Galaxy A53 5Gwhich is considered one of its main opponents, offers a more spacious (6.5 inches) and smoother Super Amoled FHD+ screen thanks to a 120Hz refresh when the Google smartphone panel hits a maximum frequency of 60Hz. Nothing Phone (1) also uses a 6.5-inch FHD + Oled screen whose refresh rate can range from 60Hz to 120Hz. The fact remains that when used, The Pixel 6a’s display does the job well, being crisp and colorful enough to comfortably watch videos, photos, surf the Internet, play games and view beautiful wallpapers.

The Oled FHD+ Pixel 6a screen does credit to the superb James Webb image of the Carina Nebula that we made our wallpaper. © Mark Zaffagni

Performance and autonomy at the rendezvous

The Pixel 6a is capable of delivering smooth use for most everyday tasks. No delays when launching or launching apps, or when browsing the Android interface. Games like Call of Duty and Asphalt 9 run smoothly.

The Pixel 6 and 6 Pro’s in-display fingerprint sensor has been criticized for being unresponsive and even resisting. The software update is supposed to have improved things, but we have to admit that on the Pixel 6 Pro that we’ve been using since its launch, detecting our thumb is sometimes still tiring. The 6a’s fingerprint sensor is supposed to have solved this problem. We have actually seen that it is faster to unlock the screen. But we still had to try several times to get it to work when our finger was properly positioned.

Google touts over 24 hours of battery life and “up to 48 hours with Ultra Battery Saver.” Let’s say we can approach this with very moderate usage. On the other hand, when we use the Pixel 6a more regularly, with calls, music and video streaming, web browsing, and a bit of photos, we are safer. big day of autonomy, which is quite right. The small flat side of the “quick” reload that covers at 18 W vs. 30W for Pixel 6. Count 1h45 before refueling. Also, the AC adapter is not included with the smartphone. Sold separately for 29€.

Photo: link in its category

Pixel 6a is equipped with a dual rear photo module, with 12.2-megapixel ƒ/1.7 aperture wide-angle main sensor and 12-megapixel ƒ/2.2 ultra-wide-angle sensor with 114° field of view. This is the same configuration as last year’s Pixel 5a. However, the presence of SoC Tensor gives the Pixel 6a more sophisticated photographic capabilities. At the front we find 8-megapixel ƒ/2 sensor same as Pixel 6.

Overall, the Pixel 6a excellent photophone, probably the best in its class. We find all the know-how of Google in optimizing image processing, resulting in crisp and vibrant photos. The image sharpness of the main sensor is not enough to envy the Pixel 6’s 50-megapixel sensor..

The photo was taken using the main wide-angle sensor of the Pixel 6a. © Mark Zaffagni

The ultra-wide angle is the same as the Pixel 6, and an observation we made while testing this model applies here. During the day and in good light, it provides clear, detailed shots. On the other hand, this less and less comfortable as brightness decreaseswith great noise and smoothness.

The photo was taken with the Pixel 6a’s ultra wide-angle main sensor. © Mark Zaffagni

Night vision mode works with efficiency that never ceases to amaze us with the level of detail that can be achieved.

The photo was taken at dusk using the Pixel 6a’s night vision mode. © Mark Zaffagni

For selfies, the 8-megapixel sensor is identical to that of the Pixel 6. It delivers bright, colorful and detailed images. In video mode, the Pixel 6a shoots in 1080p or 4K up to 60fps from the rear module and 1080p at 30fps from the front module. Image stabilization is effective and videos are smooth and detailed.

The Pixel 6a’s portrait mode is just as effective as the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro. © Mark Zaffagni

The presence of the Tensor processor brings to the Pixel 6a several advanced features found in the 6 and 6 Pro. The most spectacular is undoubtedly Magic eraser. Integrated into the Google Photos app (Edit icon), it detects unwanted objects in the background of the photo and offers to erase them automatically. Very handy, for example, when you have photographed a monument and want the onlookers crowding around it to disappear. You can also perform the operation manually by surrounding objects or objects to be erased.

Also noteworthy are Real Tone (more accurate reproduction of skin tones) and Anti-Blur (freezes the subject’s face as it moves in the frame). And let’s not forget the astrophotography mode, which allows you to take beautiful pictures of the starry sky. So many options that make the Pixel line special, just like the premiere of new versions of Android. Pixel 6a comes with Android 12but he will be one of the first to receive Android 13 when the update becomes available this fall.

© Mark Zaffagni

Against the competition

In the Android galaxy we see the Galaxy A53 5G (459€) and Nothing Phone (1) (469€) as the two most dangerous competitors of the Pixel 6a. The former has a smoother and brighter screen for it, but its graphics performance is a bit worse. Phone Nothing (1) attracts with its novelty due to its original design and very good technical base. But it doesn’t have the photo versatility of the Pixel 6a.

Conclusion

From generation to generation, Google has perfected its recipe for its high-end smartphones. The inevitable compromises that have been made to make the Pixel 6a more affordable than its big brothers are absolutely no deal breaker. The level of finish is very good, as is the performance. Here are the main technical advantages and features that make the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro strong.

Cover image: Mark Zaffagni

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