Pixel 6a review: The best Android phone under $500

Pixel 6a review

Bottom line

Although it’s hardly perfect, the Pixel 6a offers a great camera, display, and performance – effectively making it the best mid-range Android phone for under $500.

Overall

4.3

Pros

  • Excellent camera for the price
  • Beautiful display
  • Performance
  • Compact size
  • Solid battery life

Cons

  • No wireless or (true) fast charging
  • 60Hz refresh rate

The Pixel 6a is Google’s latest foray into the competitive mid-range smartphone market. Pixel has had a pretty great track record when it comes to offering value-packed, budget-friendly phones – but the competition in the mid-range Android smartphone market is intense in 2022. So how does the Pixel 6a fair against the competition? Read on to find out.

We’ve already talked at length about the Pixel 6a’s feature set, so we’re going to primarily delve into its standout features, as well as our thoughts about the Pixel 6a.

How much does the Pixel 6a cost? Does Pixel 6a have 5G? Does the Pixel 6a come with a charger? How big is the Google Pixel 6a? Does Pixel 6a have a headphone jack? Does Google Pixel 6 come with headphones? Is the Pixel 6a smaller than the Pixel 6?

Design

The design of the Pixel 6a is a BIG improvement over the bland Pixel 5a. However, while it’s pretty sleek, its charcoal (dark grey/black) color is a bit drab and its glass backside is prone to fingerprints. Fortunately, there are two other color choices this time around – Sage (light mint green) and Chalk (white tinted with grey).

We’re also not crazy about its somewhat thick display bezel with its 83% screen-to-body ratio. Yet at the same time, we find the Pixel 6a to be quite charming and just the right size to hold. That’s because despite packing in a nicely sized 6.1-inch display, measuring 5.99 × 2.83 inches, it’s quite petite and comfortable to hold in your hand.

Unfortunately, our Pixel 6a’s display and backside ended up getting lightly scuffed and scratched up within our first date of using it – and we’re not quite sure how this happened since we carried it around in an empty denim pocket and kept it away from other items. So needless to say, we highly recommend getting a case and screen protector.

Display

The Pixel 6a’s 6.1-inch display is a fullHD+ OLED panel which is far superior to the likes of the competing iPhone SE’s LCD display in terms of both size and quality.

The Pixel 6a sports a 6.1-inch fullHD+ OLED panel

On one hand, the Pixel 6a’s display is a very good display in that it offers sharp and vibrant visuals that are well balanced and not overly saturated.

On the other hand, its display’s refresh rate is a mediocre 60Hz, which is quite poor by 2022 standards. To that effect, there are many other mid-range phones you can find that offer a 120Hz refresh for under $500. That said, unless you’re a gamer, most users will be more than satisfied with the quality of the Pixel 6a’s display.

Performance

When it comes to performance, the Pixel 6a runs on Google’s new Tensor chip and performance does not disappoint. Day-to-day tasks are smooth and stress-free. Performance is on par with the capable Snapdragon 888 chipset.

As with its predecessors, we appreciate the clean, stock Android experience that comes running on the Pixel 6a. Pixel is almost always the first to get Android updates and the latest Android features. We also appreciate that the Pixel 6a supports both a physical sim and an eSIM.

Battery life and charging

The battery life on the Pixel 6a is good and will get you a full day of regular use. However, while we wouldn’t expect support for fast wireless charging in this price range, we’re disappointed that the Pixel 6a doesn’t support wireless charging at all. Thich is borderline disappointing for a phone costing over $400 in 2022. Also, the Pixel 6a lacks (true) fast charging – it takes about two and half hours to charge to full.

These omissions are, however, forgivable because the Pixel 6a makes up for them where it matters most – in areas like display, performance, and camera.

Pixel 6a vs Pixel 6 Pro: Which is better?

Pixel 6 Pro (left) Pixel 6a (right)

We prefer the Pixel 6a to their flagship Pixel 6 Pro. That’s because for nearly half the price you get a device with a camera that’s nearly as good as the Pixel 6 Pro. We also appreciate that the Pixel 6a is lighter and easier to handle than the hefty and somewhat bulky 6 Pro.

Is the Pixel 6a worth buying?

Absolutely. The Pixel 6a is currently the best Android value you can get in the U.S. for under $500.

While the Pixel 6a’s build quality and design are not going to dazzle you, the Pixel 6a still manages to impress in terms of value by offering a well-rounded feature set, including an excellent camera, and a great user experience for under $500. So unless you absolutely must have a larger, faster display, or a flashier design, the Pixel 6a is suitable for the majority of users out there. Which really begs the question – who needs to spend money on a flagship in 2022 anyway?

Ultimately, the Pixel 6a is the best mid-range Android phone for under $500 right now – at least in the U.S.

However, if you’re overseas, there are plenty of other exceptional mid-range worth considering from the likes of Oppo and Realme.

Pixel 6a faqs

How much does the Pixel 6a cost?

The Pixel 6a retails for $449.

Does Pixel 6a have 5G?

Yes, the Pixel 6a supports 5G on most carriers, including AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon. Be careful to choose the compatible model for your carrier.

Does the Pixel 6a come with a charger?

The Pixel 6a doesn’t come with a charger in its box. This is not surprising given that many smartphone manufacturers are no longer including chargers with their phones.

How big is the Google Pixel 6a?

The Pixels 6a packs in a 6.1 inch 1080p OLED display and measures 5.99 × 2.83 inches. Its display is significantly larger than the likes of the iPhone SE (2022), yet it’s still a pretty petite phone. It also offers superior display technology to the new iPhone SE.

Does Pixel 6a have a headphone jack?

The Pixel 6a does not have a headphone jack.

Does Google Pixel 6 come with headphones?

The Pixel 6a does not come with headphones.

Is the Pixel 6a smaller than the Pixel 6?

Yes, the Pixel 6A packs in a 6.1-inch display, while the Pixel 6 offers a larger 6.4-inch display

The Pixel 6a was gifted to us by Google. All thoughts and opinions are 100% our own

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