This Black Friday, you've got a choice between two attractively priced phones that are an even better deal, thanks to discounts. The Samsung Galaxy A54 and the Google Pixel 6a are both midrange devices that cost even less than usual right now, so if you're trying to pick one as your own next phone, or somebody else's in your life, we can help you decide which model is the best one for your needs.
Both the Galaxy A54 and the Pixel 6a occupy a spot on our best cheap phones list, which is a good start. Samsung's handset is the newer phone of the two, and is larger as well, which helps its display and battery specs. The Pixel 6a is a 2022 phone you can still buy box-fresh, which means it's cheaper to begin with. Take all of Google's well-considered software and photography features into account as well, and you can see why this Pixel remains a contender more than a year after its debut.
Check out our Black Friday phone deals page if you want to see what's on offer in other corners of the smartphone market, but otherwise buckle in for a Galaxy vs. Pixel showdown.
Google Pixel 6a: was $449 now $49 with trade-in @ Best Buy
Why spend thousands on a phone when the Pixel 6a can be fetched for under $50? You will need to trade-in your current device for this discount, but in return, you'll get a midrange phone packed with strong features such as excellent dual cameras, Tensor-powered software features, and a premium design.
Samsung Galaxy A54 vs. Google Pixel 6a: Specs
|Row 0 - Cell 0
|Samsung Galaxy A54
|Google Pixel 6a
|6.4-inch AMOLED (2340 x 1080)
|6.1-inch OLED (2400 x1080)
|Yes, up to 1TB via microSD
|50MP main (f/1.8), 12MP ultrawide (f/2.2), 5MP macro (f/2.4)
|12.2MP main (f/1.7), 12MP ultrawide (f/2.2)
|6.2 x 3.0 x 0.32 inches (158.2 x 76.7 x 8.2mm)
|6 x 2.8 x 0.35 inches (152.2 x 71.8 x 8.9 mm)
|7.1 ounces (202 grams)
|6.3 ounces (178 grams)
|Awesome Graphite, Awesome White, Awesome Lime, Awesome Violet
|Sage, Charcoal, Chalk
Samsung Galaxy A54: Why you should get it
Although the Galaxy A54's a fair bit cheaper than Samsung's top-tier Galaxy S23 models, it actually features the same hi-resolution 50MP main camera. As a result, the Galaxy A54 shares the S23's strong performance in low-light conditions, visible in this comparison of a plate of tacos with the Pixel 6a.
There's also a 12MP ultrawide and 5MP macro camera on the back of the Galaxy A54, plus a 32MP selfie camera on the front.
Surrounding that front camera is another of the Galaxy A54's best features — a 6.4-inch, 120Hz OLED display that can get surprisingly bright and that offers richer, more accurate colors compared to the Pixel 6a. You can buy larger phones for less, but the A54 is a good size for most people, balancing the benefits of a large display but keeping pocket-friendliness in mind.
|Samsung Galaxy A54
In our testing, we found the 5,000 mAh battery inside the A54 offers impressive performance, lasting 11 hours and 46 minutes at 60Hz display refresh mode on our custom battery test. That's more than five hours longer than the Pixel 6a's 6 hours and 29 minutes results. With its 25W charging system, the Galaxy A54 refills faster too, although you need to buy the charger separately.
A further feature in the Samsung's cap is that it offers expandable storage via a microSD card slot. This is a rare feature on any phone these days, and a possibly invaluable one, allowing you to move files on and off your phone much more easily. You can even spec up to 256GB of on-board storage by default too, which should be plenty of room for most users by itself.
Galaxy A54: Why you should skip it
Let's talk about the most apparent downside to the Galaxy A54: it costs more than the Pixel 6a. Even if in the grand scheme of things it's a well-priced device, and there are some good deals going on, you'll still end up paying more if you pick the Galaxy A54 over the Pixel.
We also don't always find macro cameras like the one on the Galaxy A54 to be that useful. While taking extreme close-ups is an appealing idea, you have to get your phone so close to the subject to make it work that you block out most of the light, leading to some unpleasantly grainy photos.
Pixel 6a: Why you should get it
Photography is always a Google Pixel strong point, and that applies to the budget models like the Pixel 6a, too. Even with its 12.2MP main camera, 12MP ultrawide and 8MP selfie camera offering fewer megapixels than rival phones, Google's excellent software processing and editing tools make it very easy to get great photos from the Pixel 6a.
Standing at 6.1 inches, the Pixel 6a is quite small for a smartphone in this day and age, which may be welcome news for people who struggle to use or store larger phones. The OLED display's still fairly bright, too, and offers a slightly higher resolution than the Galaxy A54 despite its smaller overall size.
The Galaxy A54 runs on Android just like the Pixel 6a but the Pixel version of Android carries with it a lot of features that you don't get anywhere else. That includes the photo-related ones we mentioned before like Magic Eraser, but also an interpreter mode for translating a conversation in real time, plus the smorgasbord of new abilities added by Android 14, the most recent update.
|Row 0 - Cell 0
|Google Pixel 6a
|Geekbench 5 (single-core/multi-core score)
|781 / 2,664
|1,057 / 2,918
|3DMark Wild Life Unlimited (score/fps)
|2,828 / 16.9
|6,972 / 41.7
|Adobe Premiere Rush time to encode (mins:secs)
Google uses the same Tensor chips from its flagship Pixels in the Pixel A-series, and while it isn't super powerful compare to other premium phones' chips, it outperforms the Exynos 1380 found in the Galaxy A54. Whether you look at CPU or GPU benchmarks results, or our Adobe Premiere Rush video transcoding test, the Pixel comes out on top.
Pixel 6a: Why you should skip it
Not everyone wants a smaller display on their phone, and perhaps some users will find the Pixel 6a too small for drinking in every last detail of streaming content. What's also less encouraging is the 60Hz display refresh rate, which is outdated technology that makes scrolling through menus less pleasant and the display less power efficient.
Speaking of power efficiency, the Pixel 6a is very disappointing when it comes to battery life. Power users may need a power bank and USB-C cable handy to keep the Pixel 6a topped up, although if you don't use your phoen too intensely, you may still get a full day's use out of the Pixel 6a.
Then there's the fact that the Pixel 6a is over a year old. Google's latest cheaper Pixel is the Pixel 7a, which is more expensive but offers offers upgraded cameras, a better chipset, wireless charging and a 90Hz display. What's more, it's on sale for Black Friday, too, with Amazon selling the Pixel 7a for $374, a $125 discount.
Samsung Galaxy A54 vs. Google Pixel 6a: Verdict
The good news is that you can't really go wrong with picking either the Samsung Galaxy A54 or the Google Pixel 6a, especially with the Black Friday phone deals currently available. The Pixel 6a is the cheaper of the two, which is certainly an advantage during the current deals fest, and its Google-enhanced software gives your phone abilities that'll make other Android users jealous.
You do get more for your money with the Galaxy A54 though, thanks to its additional, higher-res cameras, larger and brighter display and great battery life. It would certainly be my pick if I was choosing between these two phones, although I'd certainly be looking at the Pixel 7a as an option too at this price point.
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Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.