The Google Pixel 6a has a big problem

Google Pixel 6a reveal at IO 2022
(Image credit: Google)

We’re big fans of Google’s Pixel a-series phones here at Tom’s Guide. The combination of stunning smartphone photography, decent performance, solid design and a top-notch Android experience — all for a budget price — make them easy entries into our best cheap phones list. But this might not be the case for the new Google Pixel 6a

With a fresh design, the Tensor chip, and a pair of rear cameras, the Pixel 6a looks like a contender on paper. And at $449/£399, it's priced well, much like the Google Pixel 5a. But unlike its predecessor, there’s only $150/£200 gap between it and the $599/£599 Google Pixel 6

And that's a problem. 

A survey carried out by Android Authority found that out of 1,031 of its readers, 58% would choose to fork over the extra $150 for a Pixel 6 than get the cheaper Pixel 6a. 

For the extra chunk of cash, the Pixel 6 offers a larger display (6.4 inches compared to 6.1 inches), a 90Hz refresh rate (compared to 60Hz), 8GB or RAM rather than 6GB, as well as a larger battery: 4,614 mAh compared to the 6a’s 4,410 mAh pack. 

Like Android Authority's readers, we feel that the extra specs the Pixel 6 offers makes it worth the extra expense, in the U.S. at least. A 90Hz display can provide a notably smoother experience than a 60Hz panel. And extra RAM and battery is always appreciated, especially if you play games or do a lot of multitasking on your phone. 

So there's a chance Google may have priced the Pixel 6a a little too high, to the extent it could be cannibalized by its larger sibling. 

If we were to think cynically, we might say this could be part of Google’s plan to get people to pay that bit extra for the Pixel 6. But the Pixel a-series phones have proven to be popular, so we do not place too much stock in that theory. 

Equally, there’s a very good chance the Pixel 6a could drop in price rather quickly after it’s released on July 28. We’ve seen some good deals on Pixel a-series phones in the past, after all. If the Pixel 6a drops to $400 or below, then it’ll be that bit more attractive to prospective buyers, especially given it’s still got a lot of the core features one would want from a Pixel phone. 

And one advantage the Pixel 6a could have over the Pixel 6 is it uses a new in-display fingerprint sensor, which could end up being a lot more responsive and reliable than the somewhat fussy under-display sensors on the Pixel 6 and Google Pixel 6 Pro

We'll need to review the Pixel 6a before we pass full judgement here. But if you want a new phone right now, then check out our best phones list, as all the entries there are well worth your consideration. 

Roland Moore-Colyer

Roland Moore-Colyer a Managing Editor at Tom’s Guide with a focus on news, features and opinion articles. He often writes about gaming, phones, laptops and other bits of hardware; he’s also got an interest in cars. When not at his desk Roland can be found wandering around London, often with a look of curiosity on his face.