If the sales of Google smartphones lived up to their quality, the American would probably be in the top 3 in the world. Unfortunately, Google knows how to make good products, but not to sell them.
Between the questionable strategic choices (limited colors, models not distributed, only one storage available, few partners) and communication that has been reduced to almost nothing, the Pixels don’t have the look they deserve.
As proof, Google is launching the Pixel 6a this year after opting not to market the Pixel 5a in France. The reason ? Still unknown.
The Pixel 6a thus completes the 2022 range of Google-stamped smartphones. Marketed for 459 euros, it embodies a cheap alternative to the excellent Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro.
Google uses the ingredients of Pixels’ success: original design, exceptional photo quality and an incomparable software experience. Enough to establish itself as the best smartphone under 500 euros? Response after a few days of testing.
How to test a Pixel smartphone without tackling the “photography” part first? Google has never played the material one-upmanship card. software specialist, the American chose instead to work on processing algorithms. A choice that has paid off since his Pixels have always risen to the references of photography.
Because you don’t change a winning team, Google therefore used the same ingredients to design its Pixel 6a. The manufacturer therefore opts for two modest optics, namely:
- a wide angle lens (f/1.7) with 12.2MP sensor
- an ultra-wide angle lens (f/2.2 – 114° field of view) with 12 Mpxl sensor
- on the front a wide-angle lens with 8 Mpxl sensor
As we mentioned above, the magic of Pixels works thanks to algorithms. With the integration of the Google Tensor chip (see box), the Pixel 6a has a component designed to improve image processing.
He also inherits the same features as Pixel 6 and 6 Proin particular the still amazing magic eraser.
So it won’t surprise you that the Pixel 6a takes the photo reference place in this price segment. He even allows himself to come along with certain premium models.
Sometimes criticized for a choice of saturated colors, Google corrects the situation with the Pixel 6a. The shots are more natural, closer to what you can get with an iPhone. The sharpness is excellent, the contrasts mastered, in short, the Pixel 6a does not disappoint if the best conditions are met.
Some will say that it is not difficult to take beautiful daytime photos, outside the 200 euro models are already doing very well. It is normal.
The Pixel 6a stands out in several ways. First, the portrait, an exercise that Google now masters to perfection. Not only is the clipping alarmingly accurate, but the background blur can be adjusted during and after shooting.
Night mode (called Night Vision) is also formidable. The longer exposure time captures more light and retrieves more information. The algorithms do the rest. Result: the night photos are detailed, the color rendering convincing.
Finally, the ultra-wide angle lens. Last asset of the Pixel 6a, it necessarily shows less detail than the main lens but remains convincing. At night, the algorithms manage to compensate for the lack of light. And if the periphery sometimes suffers from a few defects (a bit aggressive vignetting, loss of detail), the whole remains much better than what we find with competitors.
We quickly move on to the front sensor, which is good but not excellent (beware of backlighting). Portrait mode remains a reference.
As one might suspect, and like its predecessors, the Pixel 6a therefore stands out as the benchmark for photography in the category smartphones under 500 euros.
So of course, one could blame him for the absence of a telephoto lens limit the capture of distant photos to a convincing 2x zoom and to 7x (much less attractive). But Google has always prioritized photo quality over versatility. The next version will allow us to take advantage of both.
Nice screen, but…
More compact than its brothers, the Pixel 6a includes a 6.1” panel. Google doesn’t sacrifice display quality: on the program, an OLED display with HDR-compatible Full HD+ definitionexcellent clarity and controlled calibration.
However, Google opts for a less flashy colorimetry than its competitors. The result is a display with realistic tones, the antithesis of what Samsung or Xiaomi offer with their very bright colors. The “enhanced” mode won’t change much. The worse for the followers of bright colors, the better for the others.
If the question of colorimetry is everyone’s business, that of fluidity is universal. Unfortunately, Google is playing the small arms and offers a panel with a refresh rate of 60 Hz. The screen is therefore not as smooth as that of competing models that benefit from a refresh rate of 90 or even 120 Hz.
Still rings if you’ve never had the opportunity to use a panel higher than 60 Hz, for the others the difference is obvious. You have been warned.
Good stamina, poor recovery
Historically, one of their biggest weaknesses has been the autonomy of high-end Pixels. But thanks to the integration of less energy-consuming chips, the American had spared the ‘a’ versions that performed quite well.
By integrating the same high-end chip into the Pixel 6a, does Google weaken it? The answer is no”. If it does not rise below the market references, the Pixel 6a shows a very correct autonomy.
For versatile use, count a good day before you need to plug in the smartphone. It is good, but far behind what the competition can offer with models that reach up to two days of autonomy.
Google could have made up for it with an interesting charging proposal. It’s not. Pixel 6a is only compatible with 18W charging that requires almost two hours to fully charge the battery of 4410mAh. And as a bonus, the charger is not included.
We can’t even console ourselves with a wireless charge that would make up for this weakness, as Google has chosen to reserve this technology for premium models. Unfortunately.
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Our take on the Pixel 6a
Is the Pixel 6a the perfect smartphone for under 500 euros? No. To get this title, it needed better autonomy, a faster charging system, wireless charging, a little more power or even a screen refresh rate of at least 90 Hz.
Still, in our opinion, it remains the most attractive smartphone under 500 euros. First, because it offers a photo experience worthy of a high-end smartphone. Then because the software experience remains the most enjoyable in the Android universe. Finally, because it is the “affordable” smartphone that benefits from the best software monitoring, which promises a much longer life than its competitors.
Add to that an original design, a comfortable grip and an excellent screen quality. For less than 500 euros, and despite some flaws, the Pixel 6a experience remains the most balanced on the market. A safe bet.
Google Pixel 6a
Autonomy and charging
Value for your money
- Photo quality worthy of premium models
- Neat design and finish
- Beautiful OLED screen
- Good autonomy
- Content price
We like less
- 60 Hz display only
- Slow charging and charger not included
- No telephoto lens
- Fairly poor performance