Pixel 6a: 3 reasons to buy Google's new Android phone – and 1 not to

Google has unveiled the Pixel 6a – a cheap Android phone with serious power and performance

Google Pixel 6a Android phones lying on blocks of marble
(Image credit: Google)

Google has announced the Pixel 6a, the successor to the excellent Google Pixel 5a, and it already looks like it will be one of the best cheap phones – or even one of the best Android phones – on the market when released on July 28, 2022.

We love what Google is doing with its Pixel smartphones, setting the standard for all other manufactures in terms of hardware and software. While Samsung is still indisputably top of the Android phone market, Google's Pixels are always asking key questions.

Unveiled at Google I/O, alongside a lot of cool hardware and software, the Pixel 6a is a pretty clear upgrade on the Pixel 5a.

In many ways, we already know what to expect from the Pixel 6a because it builds on the Google Pixel 6 and Google Pixel 6 Pro from late last year. 

There's a stunning 6.1-inch display, 12MP camera (more on that later), 6GB RAM, a large 4,410mAH battery, and, of course, a "pure" version of Android 12, soon to be Android 13.

But the raw specs alone aren't why we're so excited. Let's jump into three reasons the Pixel 6a is the next cheap Android hero.

Google Pixel 6

(Image credit: Google)

1. Google's Tensor chip 

You might have heard about Apple making its own chips but Google isn't far behind. 

Google's Tensor chips, designed by the company, offer upgraded security and performance over rivals, in a similar way to Apple's. 

The Pixel 5a came with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G chipset while the Pixel 6a comes with the Google Tensor Titan M2, a clear upgrade and one that makes the 6a very attractive straight out of the block. 

Beyond enhanced security, the Tensor chip also offers better battery life – Google says "all-day" and up to 72 hours in Extreme Battery Saver mode – and means the the Pixel 6a has the same architecture as the Pixel 6 Pro. 

Google guarantees five years of security updates, too, which is a pretty good standard for an Android smartphone. 

Google I/O

(Image credit: Google)

2. Incredible photography 

While Google's Pixel smartphones might be inferior to the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy devices in some ways, one area that has always been exceptional is the camera – and that ain't changing. 

"Pixel 6a helps capture your most important moments with a Camera Bar that includes dual rear cameras: a main lens and an ultrawide lens," says Google. 

The company has built in Real Tone, which helps accurately represent all skin tones, and Night Sight for low-light photography. And, of course, Magic Eraser – to help remove unwanted people or objects from photos – is there too. 

While it might be worth waiting for our full review, if you want an excellent camera without breaking the bank, the Pixel 6a is your best bet. 

Google I/O

(Image credit: Google)

3. Android on a budget 

One of the best things about Android, compared to iOS, is how cheap some of the best smartphones can be: Google has consistently released excellent smartphones for under $500, all of which run the latest version with no issues. 

The Pixel 6a looks set to continue this trend, with excellent hardware and a lovely version of Android that doesn't include an annoying skin. 

It doesn't really get much better than this. 

Google Pixel 7 screengrab from teaser video

(Image credit: Google)

But there's one big Google Pixel 6a purchase caveat

That big caveat is that the Google Pixel 7 is also coming this year. We now know, too, what it looks like (see above image) as well as that it is going to come rocking Google's brand new, state-of-the-art Tensor 2 chip, which is going to offer even greater performance than the first-gen Tensor loaded into the Pixel 6, Pixel 6 Pro and Pixel 6a.

As such, the price you're looking to pay for your next Android phone upgrade should largely dictate whether or not you bag Pixel 6a or not. The Pixel 7 will undoubtedly be hundreds of dollars/pounds more to buy when it launches later in the year, but it will deliver superior performance and features.

Max Slater-Robins has written for T3 now on and off for over half a decade, with him fitting in serious study at university in between. Max is a tech expert and as such you'll find his words throughout T3.com, appearing in everything from reviews and features, to news and deals. Max is specifically a veteran when it comes round to deal hunting, with him seeing out multiple Black Friday campaigns to date.