After customers in this country had to do without the Pixel 5a, Google is back in the mid-range smartphone segment with the Pixel 6a. For 459 euros, buyers get the same Tensor processor, the same design and the same support as the Pixel 6. The latest camera and more are only available for the slightly more expensive flagship.
Pixel 4a and Pixel 4a 5G were the last mid-range smartphones from Google that could be bought in this country in the summer of 2020. The Pixel 5a, presented a year later, was only available in the USA and Japan. After the major design change with the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro (test), Google’s first own chip, new camera hardware and extended software support, the Pixel 6a is now also breaking into a new era in Google’s middle class in Germany.
Pixel 6a specifications
As can be seen from the specifications, the Pixel 6a inherits the Tensor processor of the two flagships and thus also gets a significantly more powerful GPU and support for LPDDR5. However, 128 GB of storage was already standard in the days of the Pixel 4a, and there is no option for 256 or 512 GB in Google’s mid-range. The comparison also shows that the Pixel 6a for 469 euros is only 40 euros away from the Pixel 6, which is almost a year old. Google’s new mid-range smartphone thus has a lot of competition from its own camp.
Google’s middle class is getting bigger
The Pixel 6a is no longer necessarily the model for those looking for a compact Google smartphone. The Pixel 5 was the last really compact smartphone from Google, especially with the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, the devices have become significantly larger. The new Pixel 6a is still the smaller alternative at 71.8 × 152.2 × 8.90 mm, but the Pixel 4a only managed 69.4 × 144.0 × 8.20 mm. In absolute terms, the Pixel 6a has grown considerably, but in relation to the rest of the market it is still a comparatively compact smartphone. The handling is still good even considering the growth spurt.
Whether the Pixel 6a is a beautiful smartphone is in the eye of the beholder, but from the editorial point of view the two-tone design is an eye-catcher – maybe not in the disdainful “Charcoal” (test device) or “Chalk”, but certainly in “Sage”. A characteristic feature of the Pixel 6a in the middle class is the camera bar, which runs across the back and separates the two colors from each other. Because the Pixel 6a still uses the camera hardware of the Pixel 5, the bar does not reach the depth of the flagships.
Test device is not perfectly processed
In terms of material choice and workmanship, Google could get top marks if the test device didn’t have a not particularly precisely glued back, which leaves a narrow gap to the frame at the top and especially the bottom right protrudes slightly, so that this corner feels sharp-edged in the hand. A few tenths of a millimeter make the difference between a well-made and a very well-made device. There is nothing to complain about in other areas, such as the bezel or the well-clicking keys.
IP67 protects against dust and water
If you run through the rain with the Pixel 6a or accidentally jump into the water with the device, you don’t have to fear any immediate damage given the IP67 certification. Google introduced IP67 for the first time with the Pixel 5a in the middle class, but for German customers there is protection with the Pixel 6a for the first time ever in this price class from Google.
Bright 60Hz OLED screen
The 6.1-inch screen shows that the Pixel 6a is still one of the more compact smartphones. The OLED panel has 1,080 × 2,400 pixels in 20:9 format and works with classic 60 Hz. Where many Chinese competitors and recently also devices like the Nothing Phone (1) (test) in the 500 euro class 90 or 120 Hz, Google reserves this feature for the more expensive models.
Pixel 6a achieves almost 1,100 cd/m²
On the plus side compared to the phone (1), Google has a significantly higher brightness. While Nothing advertises up to 1,200 cd/m², but was only able to deliver 700 cd/m² in the test, the Pixel 6a climbs to almost 1,100 cd/m² depending on the “Average Picture Level”. The smartphone has a completely white screen with over 800 cd/m². The Pixel 6a even just overtakes the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro.
Display very well calibrated ex works
Google also scores with a very good factory calibration and hits the white point perfectly at 6,500 Kelvin, so that the screen is neither too cool nor too warm. By default, Google operates the panel in “Adaptive” mode, which corresponds to the Display P3 color space and colors according to the manufacturer “particularly radiant and with all the details“ represents. In the “Enhanced” mode, the sRGB profile with more intensive green and red is used, while in the “Natural” profile, normal sRGB is displayed.
Ergonomically well-placed fingerprint sensor
Unlike the phone (1), buyers of a Pixel 6a do not get a symmetrically framed panel, although the area below the screen is slightly wider even with the more expensive Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. On the Pixel 6a, this feature is slightly more noticeable, but the difference is only about 2mm. Google has done a great job integrating the fingerprint sensor, which is located on the upper edge of the lower third of the display and is therefore very ergonomic, so that the thumb can be placed in a natural position and does not have to be bent too much. After the sensor in the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro was comparatively slow and didn’t work particularly reliably at the beginning of delivery, the Pixel 6a has none of these problems and recognizes the finger noticeably faster.