Google Pixel 7a vs. Pixel 6a: All the differences

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

A Google Pixel 7a vs. Pixel 6a comparison shows off all the changes Google made to its budget phone this year — and there are a lot of changes to talk about. The latest version of Google's midrange phone has more in common with the Pixel 7 than it does with its predecessor, as Google hopes to still offer one of the best cheap phones around amid growing competition.

To that end, the Pixel 7a introduces a new fast-refreshing display, wireless charging support and an upgraded rear camera array. The biggest change, though, could be adding the Tensor G2 chipset, which introduces the same AI-powered features you'll find on board the Pixel 7. Our Pixel 7a review details the full impact of these improvements on Google's midrange phone.

The Pixel 7a may be the successor to the Pixel 6a, but it doesn't replace the phone entirely. Google has kept the Pixel 6a around, but lowered the price. Opt for the Pixel 6a and you're getting a phone with the same chipset found in the Pixel 6  but at a much lower price than before.

The Pixel 7a will be looking to top that while also fending off stepped up competition from the likes of the Samsung Galaxy A54. (For a look at how that confrontation is shaping up, checking out our Samsung Galaxy A54 vs. Google Pixel 7a comparison.) Here's what's changed for Google's phones, as detailed by our Pixel 7a vs. Pixel 6a face-off.

Google Pixel 7a vs. Pixel 6a: Specs

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Row 0 - Cell 0 Google Pixel 7a (rumored)Google Pixel 6a
Screen size6.1-inch OLED (2400 x 1080)6.1-inch OLED (2400 x 1080)
Refresh rate90Hz60Hz
CPUTensor G2Tensor G1
Rear cameras64MP, 13MP12.2MP main, 12MP ultrawide
Front camera13MP8MP
Battery size4,385 mAh4,410 mAH
Battery life (Hrs:Mins)10:05 (60Hz)6:29
Wireless chargingYesNo
Size6 x 2.8 x 0.4 inches6 x 2.8 x 0.4 inches
Weight6.8 ounces6.3 ounces
ColorsBlack, white, sky blue, orangeBlack, white, lemongrass

Google Pixel 7a vs. Pixel 6a: Price and availability

The Pixel 6a debuted at $449, but it's now a $349 phone after Google dropped the price by $100 to mark the launch of the Pixel 7a. It's possible the best Pixel 6a deals can lower the price further, as we had seen some retailers offering the 6a for less than $300. (That was just before the Pixel 7a launch, so it could be a case of retailers trying to clear out inventory.)

The Pixel 7a costs $499, which reflects a $50 price hike from the 6a's debut price a year ago, though as we'll see below, there are plenty of new features to justify that higher price. And while the Pixel 7a is a more expensive phone than its predecessor, it still gives you a top midrange phone for less than $500.

Still, the biggest challenge for the Pixel 7a is the price of rival phones. Besides the reduced price of the Pixel 6a, there's the Samsung Galaxy A54, which costs $50 less than the Pixel 7a. And the iPhone SE 2022 is available for $429.

Both the Pixel 6a and Pixel 7a ship with 128GB of storage with no microSD slot or expanding capacity. The Pixel 7a offers more RAM — 8GB to the Pixel 6a's 6GB.

Google Pixel 7a vs. Pixel 6a: Design 

The Pixel 7a essentially mirrors the Pixel 6a's appearance, with a horizontal camera bar stretching across the back of the phone housing two rear cameras. In contrast to Google's flagships, the A Series phones tend to have slightly thicker bezels around the display, and that's the case here.

Google Pixel 7a vs. Pixel 6a

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

Because the Pixel 7a more closely resembles the Pixel 7, the camera bar a little more polished, but apart from an aluminum frame, the 7a uses plastic  for its back. The Pixel 7a and Pixel 6a measure an identical 6 x 2.8 x 0.4 inches, though the newer phone weights half-an ounce more.

Three google pixel 7a phones at Google I/O

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

You'll get one additional color option with the Pixel 7a, which features a Coral color that's exclusive to Google's store. Otherwise, your Pixel 7a color choices are Snow, Charcoal and Sea (a light blue) compared to Charcoal, Chalk and Sage for the Pixel 6a.

Google Pixel 7a vs. Pixel 6a: Display

The Pixel 7a features the same screen size as its predecessor — a 6.1-inch OLED panel housed with 2400 x 1080 resolution. However, the Pixel 7a enjoys a big advantage over the Pixel 6a in the form of a faster refresh rate for its display.

Google Pixel 7a vs. Pixel 6a

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

The Pixel 6a is locked at a 60Hz rate no matter what's happening on the screen. However, you can change a Pixel 7a setting to let it ramp up its refresh rate to 90Hz for times when you'll benefit from smoother scrolling and more immersive graphics. When activated, the refresh rate on the Pixel 7a display automatically scales between 60Hz and 90Hz.

Google Pixel 7a

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Pixel 7a's display is brighter than what you get with the Pixel 6a — 931 nits compared to 778 nits. The two phones capture similar amounts of the sRGB color gamut — about 111% in Natural mode — though we found the colors to be a bit more accurate on the Pixel 7a panel.

Google Pixel 7a vs. Pixel 6a: Cameras

One of the biggest Pixel 7a vs. Pixel 6a differences involves the rear camera setup. While the Pixel 6a managed to produce some pretty impressive pictures with a 12.2MP main lens and a 12MP ultrawide shooter, the Pixel 7a enjoys more megapixels.

Specifically, the Pixel 7a offers a 64MP main camera with a larger sensor than what you get from the Pixel 6a. The result is that the Pixel 7a can let in more light, which should enhance the details of its photos. The ultrawide camera gets a boost to a 13MP sensor.

Google Pixel 7a

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

Up front, the selfie cam is now a 13MP shooter on the Pixel 7a, compared to the Pixel 7a's 8MP front camera.

We haven't compared photos from the Pixel 7a to what the Pixel 6a has captured yet — our focus has been on comparisons to the Galaxy A54 camera setup. But our assumption is that Pixel 7a photos will look a lot more detailed than what the Pixel 6a was able to produce — and we considered the Pixel 6a to be one of the best camera phones. We do know that the Super Res Zoom feature on the Pixel 7a now supports an 8x zoom, compared to 7x for the Pixel 6a.

Google Pixel 7a vs. Pixel 6a: Performance

It's a tale of two Tensors for the Pixel 7a and Pixel 6a. The new phone gets the Tensor G2 found in the Pixel 7 lineup, while the Pixel 6a runs on an older Tensor G1.

Performance isn't the key driver behind Tensor — Google's chip is more about the AI-driven experiences the chipset enables. And indeed, benchmarks are pretty identical between the Pixel A series phones, even with the Pixel 7a's extra RAM.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Google Pixel 7aGoogle Pixel 6a
CPUTensor G2Tensor G1
Geekbench 5 (single core/multicore)1018/30651057/2918
3DMark Wild Life Unlimited (fps)41.141
Adobe Premiere Rush (Mins:Secs)0:560:49

The Pixel 7a improves upon the Pixel 6a's multicore score in Geekbench 5, though the older phone has the better single-core results. The two phones both produced about 41 frames per second in 3DMark's Wild Life Unlimited graphics benchmark.

The test that has us scratching our heads is our Adobe Premiere Rush test in which we transcode a video and time the results. The Pixel 7a took 7 seconds longer than the 6a to complete the task despite its newer processor. While these numbers aren't very encouraging from a Pixel 7 standpoint, if you decide that the cheaper Pixel 6a is right for you, at least you know you're not sacrificing much in the way of performance gains.

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

Battery life hasn't been a strong point for recent Pixel phones, but at least the Pixel 7a takes a modest step toward righting the course. Despite a slightly smaller battery than the Pixel 6a — 4,385 mAh versus 4,410 mAh — the Pixel 7a lasted longer on our battery test, in which we have phones surf the web until they run out power.

Google Pixel 7a

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

The Pixel 7a lasted 10 hours and 5 minutes on our battery test, handily beating out the Pixel 6a's disappointing 6 hour and 29 minute time. Even better, the Pixel 7a's result beats the average smartphone time on our test, if only be about 10 minutes or so.

There is a caveat to the Pixel 7a's result — we recorded that with the faster refresh rate disabled. We're still running tests to see how the Pixel 7a performs when its screen can ramp up to 90Hz, but generally that feature tends to put a hit on battery life. Even so, we'd expect its time to still be better than the Pixel 6a.

There's no change to the 18W wired charging speed both Pixel A series phone supports, but the Pixel 7a does enjoy one advantage over the 6a. Google's new phone now supports wireless charging, just like Google's pricier flagship phones do.

Google Pixel 7a vs. Pixel 6a: Software

Both phones are currently running Android 13 and will be able to upgrade to Android 14 in the fall. That'll be the second of three promised OS updates for the Pixel 6a, though, since the phone debuted with Android 12. That means Android 15 in 2024 should be the last supported update for the Pixel 6a. The Pixel 7a, in contrast, can count on updates through 2025.

Pixel 7a review photo unblur

Photo Unblur on the Pixel 7a (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The big story here is what the Tensor G2 chip inside the Pixel 7a enables. Features like Photo Unblur, speaker labels in the Recorder app and more advanced call management tools that debuted with the Pixel 7 are all available to the Pixel 7a.

Google Pixel 7a vs. Pixel 6a: Verdict

A Pixel 7a vs. Pixel 6a comparison isn't merely about detailing the differences. Since you can still buy a discounted Pixel 6a, knowing how the phones compare can help you decide whether to get the $499 Pixel 7a or the $349 Pixel 6a.

It's clear that the Pixel 7a is the more fully featured phone. With its faster refresh rate, improved cameras and Tensor G2 chip, the Pixel 7a is a more capable phone — pretty much the equal to the Pixel 7. The Pixel 6a is still a formidable budget phone in its own right, but it can't match the Pixel 7a's capabilities. This new phone is a big leap forward for Google's midrange models.

More from Tom's Guide

Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.