Google Pixel 6a vs Google Pixel 5a: What’s new?

The Google Pixel 6a is here and it looks just as good as we expected

Google I/O
(Image credit: Google)

Google’s massively anticipated I/O event has kicked off in California and one of the announcements had us shaking with excitement - you can see how things are progressing in T3's Google IO 2022 live blog.

Earlier today, Google announced a cheaper Pixel 6 alternative, the Google Pixel 6a. And no wonder when Google Pixel 6 was the fastest-selling Pixel ever, according to their keynote, and they’ve already managed to sell more of those handsets than they did of the Pixel 4 and 5 series combined. It’s a no-brainer to extend it into the affordable end of the market. 

Everything that made the Google Pixel 6 and the Google Pixel 6 Pro two of the best phones released in 2021 has been packed into a much more affordable device - the Google Pixel 6a will only cost $449 in the US and A$749 in Australia. But how is it different to the last generation, the Google Pixel 5a? 

Well firstly, it's worth mentioning that the Google Pixel 5a was only available in the US and Japan, it never came to the UK but we should see the handset land in more countries this time around. 

Google Pixel 6a vs Google Pixel 5a: design 

Like its pricier siblings, the new Google Pixel 6a has had a huge design refresh with the same iconic strip across the back that houses the camera system. That in itself had me sold. It looks seriously smart with a recycled aluminium frame, slim bezels and sleek two-tone colourways including black, green and white.

When it comes to the screen, the Google Pixel 6a has a 6.1-inch OLED 1080p display which is a little smaller than the Google Pixel 5a, although both devices are limited to a 60Hz refresh rate. 

Google I/O

(Image credit: Google)

Google Pixel 6a vs Google Pixel 5a: camera system

The Google Pixel 6a has a similar camera setup to the Google Pixel 5a, in that it uses a dual 12MP main lens and ultra-wide angle camera with an 8MP selfie snapper, but you’ll actually be able to capture much more professional-looking photos on the latest device thanks to new features that Google has added to the mix.

The first camera feature worth talking about is real-tone which allows you to capture images that reflect true-to-life skin tones and better represent their nuances across a much wider scale. 

Google’s latest Night Sight mode has been added here too which improves the camera's low light photography. But it's the Magic Eraser that is perhaps the most popular camera feature to be included. I tried out the Magic Eraser on the Google Pixel 6 Pro and it is amazing. If there’s an object or person in the background of your shot ruining the scene, you can simply erase them. And Google has just improved it because you can now change the colours in the image too, blending them in to look natural. I can’t wait to try it out!

Google I/O

(Image credit: Google)

Google Pixel 6a vs Google Pixel 5a: performance and features

All of those camera features are made possible by the upgraded hardware. The Google Pixel 5a used a Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G chipset but the Google Pixel 6a uses its own Google Tensor Titan M2, which is actually the exact same processor used in the Google Pixel 6 Pro. That in itself is a reason to pick this over most of the best cheap phones, not many devices below US$500 can claim to have a flagship-level CPU. What it is able to provide, according to Google, is 5x faster machine learning than you get with the Google Pixel 5a as well as better overall performance.

Like the Google Pixel 5a, the new Pixel 6a has super-fast 5G connectivity and the same security architecture with an under-display fingerprint sensor to keep the device secure.

The battery size has dropped this year from a 4,680mAh in the Pixel 5a to a 4,400mAh battery in the Google Pixel 6a, but Google claims the new phone will last a day longer - the proof will be in the pudding there. 

Straight out of the box, the phone will run on the latest Android 12 software with all of the trimmings, unlike the 5a which came with Android 11 as standard. You’ll also get 5 years of security updates. 

Google I/O

(Image credit: Google)

Liking the look of the Google Pixel 6a? You’ll be able to buy it from the 21st June 2022 starting from $449 in the US, prices elsewhere in the world haven't been released yet.

If you just can’t wait that long and you don't mind spending a little extra, take a look at the best deals on the Google Pixel 6 right now in the widget below.

Yasmine Crossland
Freelance Tech Expert

Yasmine is the former Reviews Writer for T3, so she's been knee-deep in the latest tech products for reviewing and curating into the best buying guides since she started in 2019. She keeps a finger on the pulse when it comes to the most exciting and innovative tech and is happy to tell you exactly what she thinks about it too. In her free time, you'll catch her travelling the globe – the perks of being a freelance tech expert – tending to her plants when at home and, but of course, planning her next big trip.