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Dhaka Tribune

Pixel 6a, Google’s mid-range offering

The device does a few things well considering the price. The smartphone has a simple, uncluttered user interface and also has the appearance of a high-end item

Update : 11 Jan 2023, 08:21 PM

Google Pixel phones are some of the best phones in terms of camera and performance. 

In the beginning, Pixel phones were usually flagship phones. However, for the last couple of years, Google has been making A series phones with the same chipset as those flagships so that people can have a taste of the premium Pixel performance at a lower price. 

Google Pixel 6a, released in mid-2022, is no different. By spending Tk38,000 to Tk40,000, consumers will be able to get to have a taste of Google's premium chipset and performance. 

Please do keep in mind that all the Pixel 6a devices available in the country come through unofficial channels. So, you will not be able to get warranty services directly from Google. The versions available in Bangladesh are mostly 6GB RAM and 128GB storage.

Aesthetics

The Google Pixel 6a resembles the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro in terms of design, especially the former with its flat display and consistent bezel around the frame. 

The 6a's corners are a little bit tighter, giving it a more squarish appearance, in contrast to the 5a's, which were softer and curvier around the edges and corners. 

Overall, Pixel 6a succeeds in making itself appear more expensive than it is. 

With dimensions of 152.2 x 71.8 x 8.9 mm and a weight of 178g, the Pixel 6a is only marginally lighter than the slightly bigger Google Pixel 5a. The Pixel 6a also offers IP67 water and dust resistance.

The Pixel 6a's screen is more manageable for one-handed use compared to most devices, even those in the mid-range, though you may still need to perform some finger gymnastics to reach the status bar unless you have larger-than-average hands.

If you are a fan of compact phones and do not wish to spend a fortune, Pixel 6a might bring you that sweet spot between larger and compact phones without breaking the bank. 

Pixel 6a comes with an in-display fingerprint scanner and the placement of the scanner on the 6a is excellent. You don't have to grip the phone too deeply to reach it with your thumb.

Although the phone's back is identical to that of the Pixel 6, it is built differently in this case. 

The Pixel 6a's rear cover is made of a highly reflective plastic that closely resembles glass. Google even succeeded in recreating the camera bar with primarily plastic.

Aluminum was used to make the frame, which has a black anodized finish.

With physical buttons on the right side, a USB-C port at the bottom and a single nano SIM tray on the lower edge of the device, it has a number of antenna inlays running along its perimeter.

While things started looking too good to be true, Google brought us back to reality by not providing any headphone jacks with the phone. 

Display

The 6.1-inch OLED display on the Google Pixel 6a has a 60Hz refresh rate. We would have loved to see at least a 90Hz display on this phone. 

Even when used in direct sunlight, this screen is sufficiently bright. The Pixel 6a reached an impressive 876 nits of brightness when in adaptive mode, compared to the manual brightness slider's maximum brightness of 505 nits.

While comfortable in bright conditions, the display is also gentle in the dark with just 2 nits of minimum brightness for use at the bedside without being blinding. 

The colour accuracy of the display was also quite good.

Performance

The same Google Tensor chipset that came from a partnership between Google and Samsung powers the Google Pixel 6a. 

Its 2+2+4 core configuration is still distinct from other smartphones SoCs and uses a different method of task distribution.

Although not quite at the top of the charts, the Google Tensor chipset's CPU performance is excellent for the 6a's class and comparable to that of the Snapdragon 888. Additionally, you'll see the jump in performance from the Pixel 5a's Snapdragon 765.

Overall, for a mid-ranger, the performance of the Pixel 6a is excellent.

Coupled with the completely clean Android experience without any additional bloatware or pre-installed apps, the Google Pixel 6a performs extraordinarily well. 

As a plus point, since it is a Pixel phone, you will get major Android updates before smartphones from other brands. The Pixel 6a will be eligible to receive major Android OS updates through July 2025 and security updates until July 2027. After 2025, you will be easily able to install any custom ROM (UI) you like since there are hundreds of them available for Pixel devices. 

Camera

Google Pixel 6a has a dual camera setup on the back consisting of a 12.2 MP main care with optical image stabilization (OIS) support and a 12 MP ultrawide camera.

In front, it has an 8MP sensor. 

I don't know what's the case with this phone. But in a blind smartphone test conducted by popular YouTuber Marques Brownlee, Pixel 6a was the champion. Keep in mind that the photos were compared with all major flagship phones including the latest iPhones and Samsung Galaxy S series smartphones. 

Surprisingly enough, there is not much new with Pixel 6a's camera. It uses the same sensor — the IMX363 — Google has been using since Pixel 2. 

However, for a long time, Google kept optimizing their software to work well with that sensor that before, and that's clearly reflected in the photos captured with Pixel 6a. 

For starters, taking photos takes a lot less time with the Pixel 6a than it took in Pixel 5a. The processing time has been reduced by a lot and the photos turn out to be better detailed and crispier. 

The camera app is straightforward and simple to use. The app offers the standard modes of Camera, Portrait, Night Sight and Video in addition to Photo Sphere, Panorama and Lens.

In daylight photography, the main camera's images have low levels of noise and good levels of detail. The contrasty look and even exposure across the images are two traits that Pixel cameras are known for. What I'm trying to say is that images captured in Pixel 6a will be consistent. It's not a hit-or-miss situation like many other smartphones. 

The front camera also performs really well. The focus and depth of field turned out to be on point in every attempt. Both the rear and front cameras of Pixel 6a were able to separate the subject from its background quite well. Something most of the mid-rangers fail to do properly. 

In the video department, the rear camera allows video recording in 4K resolution at 60fps! There is definitely an option to record in 30fps. But 4K@60fps in a smartphone that costs 40k is very impressive. 

As usual, the front-facing camera locks video recording at 1080p.

Battery

Pixel 6a is powered by a 4,410 mAh battery. 

According to Google, the Pixel 6a's battery life is 24 hours, or up to 72 hours when using Extreme Battery Saver mode.

However, the charging speed is limited to 18 watts only, and the phone does not ship with a power brick. It doesn't have wireless charging either, which, if we look at it, would have been unwise to ask considering the phone's price. 

Using an 18 Watts power adapter, the phone charges 40% in 30 minutes. It should take around an hour and a half to two hours to fully charge. But the battery backup should be able to make it up. 

Verdict

The device does a few things well considering the price. The smartphone has a simple, uncluttered user interface and also has the appearance of a high-end item. 

Furthermore, while not the fastest, Google's Tensor chip is still quick enough for most workloads and the 6a offers a secure fit in the hand. 

However, a display with a high refresh rate would have improved the device. The smartphone also charges at a very slow rate.

The Pixel 6a won't let you down if you place the software and ergonomics of a phone above all else. Overall, it is a nice little package.


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