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  • eth = $3 133.41 49.32 (1.60 %)

  • ton = $7.36 0.02 (0.25 %)

1 May, 2023
8 min time to read

Last year, I set myself the task of finding an Android smartphone that I could use with the same comfort asan iPhone. And that's what they led to.

At some point, I began to get disappointed, because the search did not give any results. One way or another, the gadgets that seemed to be a great device pissed me off.

In late autumn, however, I was provided with a Pixel 6A to do a test-drive. I had heard and read a lot about the device up to this point. I knew more or less about all its disadvantages (and there are a bunch of them), but curiosity took its toll. Moreover, my last Android smartphones, with which I spent more than six months, were the Nexus 5 and Nexus 5X, which left behind a lot of pleasant memories.

I must say right away: Pixel 6A did not become the very find that solved my problem, after all, it does not reach the true flagship level. 

Of course, if the characteristics only are in focus, there is nothing remarkable about the Pixel 6A. However, innovations like 200-watt fast charging or a million points in AnTuTu are not the main point of the gadget, just like with the iPhone. Its biggest advantage is the impression that you get while using a thoughtful device with a beautiful OS,  as well as a bunch of utile little things you quickly get used to. I will focus on them as well.

However, I suggest starting with the disadvantages of the device, in order to immediately indicate that this is not a laudatory ode to the Pixel, but quite an objective material based on the results of long-term use. Let's go!

Cons of Pixel 6A, or where did the chinese do better

60 Hz Screen, PWM and autobrightness

The key drawback of the Pixel 6A is the refresh rate of the display. While 90-120 Hz has become the standard for  flagships and quite inexpensive smartphones as well, Google continues to put screens with a frequency of 60 Hz in its budget devices.

I will note, to stay impartial, that the pristine Android 13 is so smooth and nimble that the disadvantage can be neglected: using Pixel 6A in this regard is more pleasant than other Android devices with similar displays.

Probably, the same tricks with animations are involved here as in the latest iPhones without the Pro console, which make 60 Hz a little smoother than the average.

In addition, the Pixel 6A display will not appeal to PWM-sensitive users. Here it can reach 120% at a third of the brightness, which is a lot. I'm not sensitive to PWM, so I didn't experience any problems.

Another claim that I can relate to the display is the work of autobrightness. With enviable regularity, I want to turn up the brightness, especially with home lighting, although with the latest updates this problem has been partially fixed, I have become much less likely to pull the backlight slider.

Slow wired charge and no wireless one

Pixel 6A supports the USB Power Delivery standard with a power of only up to 18 watts, which is why it takes about two hours to fully charge the 4400 mAh battery. By today's standards, when a medium-budget "chinese" is charged in 30-60 minutes, it seems unacceptably long.

However, the autonomy did not disappoint me. The battery is stable and lastsfrom morning to late evening, sometimes it even remains for the morning of the next day.

Therefore, slow charging only disturbs when you forget to put the device to charge at night.

And there is also no charging unit in the kit — a sign of the time, anyways. Fortunately, you can buy a good 18-20 watt unit today. Pixel 6A wireless charging was also deprived, as well as reversible one, too.

Someone may experience memory shortage

Pixel 6A is available only in the 6 / 128 GB version, which in 2023 is the lower limit of the adequacy of the device. Traditionally, there is no slot for a memory card for Google smartphones. Therefore, when considering the Pixel 6A for purchase, it is important to take into account your appetites regarding memory and stock up on cloud gigabytes, if the need occurs.

No face ID, the scanner is situated under the display

The only biometric way to unlock the Pixel 6A is a fingerprint scanner built into the screen. In terms of accuracy and stability, according to my feelings, it loses to most modern Android smartphones in this price range, but in general you can use it.

Unlocking by face, however, cannot be turned on at all: in the sixth generation of "Googlophones" it does not exist in principle. As for me, this is a big omission, it would definitely not hurt to supplement an average fingerprint scanner.

Heating, sometimes for no apparent reason

The corporation used a chipset of its own design for the gadget, Google Tensor G1, based on the developments of Samsung Exynos. Despite the generally good performance and all the power in the field of neural computing, it likes heating up. Sometimes you just scroll through the settings or download apps from Google Play, and the device heats up, somehow randomly.

Pros of Pixel 6A, or where did the chinese lose the battle

Android 13 in its pristine: beautiful and smooth

I know that Android in the vision of its creator, Google Corporation, is not everyone’s favorite. However, all the claims that I heard about the system on Google phones concerned primarily the absence of any functions that are commonly seen in certain ways.

As for the appearance, animations, thoughtfulness in small things, then everyone else needs to learn from Google. The system feels solid, there is no impression that the interface is assembled from different pieces of code. There is also no Sino-Korean flair here, for which I have always appreciated the iPhone. And everything works fast and doesn't slow down anywhere at all. For me, Android in Google's vision is the only Android that my inner perfectionist is absolutely calm when using.

With all this, there is always a fresh Android update on Pixel — specifically, Pixel 6A will receive system updates until July 2025, and security updates until July 2027.

Pixel features

It is impossible to ignore all kinds of features and embedded applications integrated into the system. Right on the desktop there is a compact widget "The most important". By default, it shows the current date and temperature outside the window. If you connect wireless headphones, it will indicate their charge level. A timer or stopwatch will also be displayed there if you run them through the watch app, or a reminder will appear to turn off the flashlight if it is turned on. And this widget based on your schedule at the end of the working day can tell you how much to go home according to Google Maps. Personally, this widget is useful to me from time to time, while I practically do not use others.

I also liked the feature of double tapping on the back of the gadget. My flashlight turns on this way, but other actions can be set in the settings, for example, opening the notification curtain, taking a screenshot or launching any application.

In the "Gestures" section, you can configure other features, for example, a quick launch of the camera by double-pressing the lock key or a double flip of the smartphone to switch from the main camera to the front. It seems like a trifle, but terribly convenient.

I liked the idea of identifying songs that are playing around (not on the smartphone itself). If music is playing somewhere nearby, Pixel indicates the artist and the name of the track in default mode. In order to find out which track was played in the bar last night, you can look into the history. Magic!

Pixel also knows how to monitor the position of the face when the display is rotated automatically. If, for example, you are reading something lying on your side, then the interface will not rotate - it is very convenient and it is unclear why other smartphone manufacturers did not think of this.

The system has a lot of different features for translation as well. For example, the auto-translation function in chats has been useful to me more than once, for example, while communicating with an Egyptian mobile operator.

Google Photos app has a number of exclusives available only on Google smartphones. For example, a "Personal folder" is protected by a fingerprint, and its content is not copied to the Cloud. The photo editor can remove background blur or add one, even if the photo itself is old. There is an "Eraser" that allows you to remove unnecessary objects or people from photos.

Multitasking menu in Pixel hides a lot of useful little things. For example, you can copy the link (if it is a browser), select the text on the screen and copy it, take a screenshot and then send it or edit it, as well as save any image, even if the application does not allow it.

This could have been the first time I enjoyed reading the manual with brief advices on the usage. It is highly recommended to learn for everyone who is new to the google phones world.

The last thing I would like to mention here is a cool widget of active playback, that fits perfectly to the notifications menu and blocked screen. There can be plenty of them, if you play content in several apps, and you can swipe between them.

Traditionally unsurpassed night mode in the camera

Pixel 6A has old, but time-tested cameras: the main Sony IMX363 module, which Google has been using since the Pixel 3, as well as the Sony IMX386 "ultrashire", which will turn 7 years old this year.

Google algorithms and a proprietary processor with a neural network chip pull everything possible out of this pack. Photos are excellent, especially at night, but you have to hold your smartphone motionless for a little longer. The result is worth it. Below are examples that we managed to capture on a short vacation.

One of the best linear vibration motors on the market

Few manufacturers of Android smartphones can match the vibration of the Taptic Engine on the iPhone. Google definitely can.

It is pleasant both during notifications and calls, and in the system service, where it is used quite actively. Vibration organically complements animations and the interface, as if it is a wholistic organism

By the way, the intensity of the motor can be customized in the accessibility menu — for example, I slightly lowered the vibration when touching and for notifications, so that it felt even a little more comfortable.

Design and ergonomics

Pixel 6A is a super-comfortable smartphone in terms of grip. Using it with one hand is a pleasure, taking into account a 6.1” diagonal.

At the same time, the combination of an almost rectangular shape, a two-tone glass back panel, a black matte aluminum frame and a striped camera unit give the Pixel 6A that individuality and recognition that 99% of other smartphones lack today.

The Pixel 6A doesn't look like anyone other than its line-mates, and no one looks like the Pixel 6A. Isn't this a victory for Google designers in 2023?

Excellent stereo speakers

The sound of the built-in speakers surprised me as well. It is no way inferior to the latest generations of the iPhone, which is rare for an Android. The sound is clear, voluminous, detailed. I really liked watching videos without headphones. Even in Pixel 7, it's not as cool as in Pixel 6A.

To sum it up

I got:

  • 90 Hz screen;
  • Slightly faster charger up to 30 Wt;
  • 8 Gb of RAM;
  • Face ID;
  • New main camera (50 Mp) and a better wide-angle;
  • A bit more productive chip Google Tensor G2.

However, my experience with Pixel 6A reopened the world of Google phones for me, and proved that there is an Android smartphone that I can use on daily basis.