Google Pixel 7 vs Google Pixel 6a: What should you buy?

Image of a comparison between the Google Pixel 6a vs Pixel 7
(Image credit: Tom's Guide/Google)

A Google Pixel 7 vs. Pixel 6a comparison could be very helpful for anyone considering which of Google's phones to buy. And with the release of the Pixel 7 by Google, we don't have to guess what upgrades and features you can expect from the latest flagship.

Even though the Pixel 6a and the Pixel 7 were launched this year, the two phones have some key differences including their prices. The Pixel 6a already gives users the Pixel experience for the cheapest-possible price, while also delivering an excellent photography experience with a 12.2MP main camera. It's no wonder we consider the Pixel 6a to be the best cheap phone

The Pixel 7 costs more — though not that much more — as a Google flagship device looking to rank among the best Android phones. Along with the larger Pixel 7 Pro, the Pixel 7 relies on a brand new Tensor chip to introduce some new software features. 

With the $599 (£599 / AU$999) Pixel 7 so close in price to the $449 Pixel 6a, it's natural to wonder what that extra $150 gets you. Read this Google Pixel 7 vs. Pixel 6a face-off for a look at how these phones compare on paper. In addition, our Pixel 7 vs Pixel 7 Pro and Pixel 7 vs Pixel 6 comparisons offer some further insight on what's new with Google's phones.

Google Pixel 6a vs. Pixel 7: specs

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Row 0 - Cell 0 Google Pixel 6aGoogle Pixel 7
Starting price$449$599
Display6.1-inch FHD+ OLED6.3-inch FHD+ OLED
Refresh rate60Hz90Hz
ChipsetGoogle TensorGoogle Tensor 2
Storage128GB128GB, 256GB
Rear cameras12.2MP main, 12MP ultrawide50MP wide, 12MP ultrawide
Front camera8MP10.8MP
Battery4,410 mAh4,355 mAh
Charging18W wired30W wired, Fast wireless charging, battery share

Google Pixel 6a vs. Pixel 7: Price

The Google 6a is priced costs $449 with a single model offering 128GB storage. The Pixel 7 starts at $599 (£599 / AU$999) for 128GB of storage and that goes up to $699 (£699 / AU$1,129) for the 256GB version.

The Pixel 6a has been shipping since the summer, while Pixel 7 preorders have just begun. The new flagship hits stores on October 13.

Google Pixel 6a vs. Pixel 7: Design

You'll spot some similarities between the look of the Pixel 6a and the Pixel 7, both of which follow the design introduced by the Pixel 6. That means a rear camera bar, splitting the main body of the phone. In the case of the Pixel 6a, the top section is a slightly brighter hue than the bottom of the panel.

Google Pixel 6a review

Pixel 6a (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Pixel 7 does away with a two-tone back with a consistent color across its back, save for that horizontal camera bar. Google uses aluminum for the camera bar, giving it a matte finish..

The Pixel 6a comes in Sage, Chalk and Charcoal colors while the Pixel 7 has been launched in Obsidian, Lemongrass and Snow colors. White and black are common to both the phones, so the biggest difference here is the shade of green used for the Sage and Lemongrass offers. The former is more minty, while the latter has a lime cast.

Google Event

Pixel 7 colors (Image credit: Google via YouTube)

For durability, the Pixel 6a is equipped with Gorilla Glass 3 and carries an IP67 rating for dust/water resistance. The Pixel 7 has Gorilla Glass Victus and has an IP68 rating, which makes it tougher and more likely to survive deeper plunges into water.

Google Pixel 6a vs. Pixel 7: Display

Google features a trio of phones in different sizes. The Pixel 7 Pro comes with a large 6.7-inch display, while the Pixel 7 offers a 6.3 inch screen. The Pixel 6a is the smallest of the group with its 6.1-inch display. 

Apart from the difference in size, the displays are very similar on the Pixel 7 and Pixel 6a. Both are OLED panels with Full HD+ resolution. But there's a key difference in refresh rates — the Pixel 6a screen can only refresh at 60Hz where the Pixel 7 goes up to 90Hz. That should make for smoother scrolling on the more expensive Pixel.

Google Pixel 6a review

Pixel 6a (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Since the Pixel 7 claims to be 25% brighter than the Pixel 6 for better outdoor viewing, we'll assume its display outshines the screen on the Pixel 6a as well.

Google Pixel 6a vs. Pixel 7: Cameras

Cameras are a key part of the Pixel experience, so it's not surprising to see these two phones have similar capabilities. Both feature the same two camera setup in back, although there's a difference when it comes to the main lens.

Google Pixel 6a review

Pixel 6a (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Pixel 6a is equipped with a 12.2MP main camera with a f/1.7 aperture and a 12MP ultrawide camera. The Pixel 7 uses a 50MP main lens with a f/1.8 aperture and a 12MP ultrawide lens combination. 

The Pixel 6a's main 12.2MP camera has a smaller field of view — 77° to the Pixel 7's 82° field of view. The field of view is also wider on the Pixel 7's 10.8MP front camera, which is up to 92.8°; it's just 84° on the Pixel 6a 8MP selfie cam. 

Pixel 7 hands-on

Pixel 7 cameras (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Hardware only tells part of the story. Thanks to the newer Tensor chip in the Pixel 7 — the Tensor G2 replaces the first generation Tensor powering the Pixel 6a — the flagship supports new camera features like an improved Super Res Zoom capability that can support an 8X digital zoom. The Pixel 7 also introduces some new modes like Photo Unblur and a faster Night Sight mode for producing sharper shots. 

On the video front, the Pixel 7 gets a new Cinematic Blur feature that blurs the background when you’re capturing video for a more professional-looking shot; a new Motion Mode for more steady videos taken on-the-go. Opt for the Pixel 6a, and you won't get either capability since they're tied to the new Tensor chipset.

Google Pixel 6a vs. Pixel 7: Performance

As we've mentioned, the Pixel 6a is powered by the same Google Tensor processor that debuted in the Pixel 6 series. But the Pixel 7 uses the second-gen chipset from Google.

In addition to camera capabilities, a new Tensor chip means new AI-driven features on the Pixel 7. Voice typing gives the Google Assistant the ability to suggest emoji, and the messages app can transcribe audio messages on the fly. Like the Pixel 6a, there's a Direct My Call feature that gives you an on-screen listing of your directory options, though it appears right away on the Pixel 7.

While the Tensor G2 is supposed to be more power efficient than its predecessor — more on that momentarily — Google hasn't gone into what type of performance boost to expect. That was a weak area for the original Tensor compared to powerful chipsets like the A15 Bionic and Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, so we're interested to see if Tensor G2 can close the performance gap. Testing will tell the tale.

Google Tensor SoC

(Image credit: Google)

In terms of storage, the Pixel 6a gets 128GB, no more, no less. The Pixel 7 comes with a 256GB storage option as well in addition to a 128GB one.  

The phones have a difference in RAM's as well  —  Pixel 7 has a 8GB RAM, while the Pixel 6a has a 6GB RAM.

The Tensor G2 also powers a face unlock feature for unlocking the Pixel 7 in addition to using an under-display fingerprint sensor like the one on the Pixel 6a. Google's promising faster unlocking from the Pixel series.

Google Pixel 6a vs. Pixel 7: Battery life and charging

The Pixel 7 packs in a 4,355mAh battery, while the 6a's cell has a 4,410 mAh battery capacity. In our tests, the Pixel 6a failed to impress us with a 6 hour, 29 minute result on the Tom's Guide custom battery test. With a smaller battery and bigger screen, you might how the Pixel 7 can improve on that result, but perhaps Google is counting on the better power efficiency of the new Tensor chipset to help out its new phone.

Google promises battery to last up to 72 hours with an Extreme Battery Saver option enabled on both the Pixel 6a and the new Pixel 7. We will have to see how the Pixel 7 fares with its battery life.

Google Pixel 6a review

Pixel 6a (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Pixel 6a charges at 18W, which gets a drained phone up to 29% after charging for 30 minutes. The Pixel 7 can charge at 30W and has fast wireless charging, which the Pixel 6a misses out on. Google also believes that wireless charging should only be a feature for its flagships, as there's no such capability on the Pixel 6a.

Google Pixel 6a vs. Pixel 7: Outlook

As it stands, a Pixel 7 vs. Pixel 6a showdown reveals a few similarities between displays and some software features. And while the Pixel 6a remains the best-value Pixel, the Pixel 7 looks like it's going to improve upon what's come before it. A more powerful 50MP camera, a second gen Tensor chip that powers some new camera and voice assistant smarts, a larger battery and features like face unlock all help this new phone stand out.

With a $150 price difference between the phones, you might be better off going for the latest Pixel 7. But check back for our battery and performance results to see which phone really is the winner on value.

Richard Priday
Assistant Phones Editor

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.