Good, cheap smartphone: The Google Pixel 6a has everything you need

Equipped with the same Tensor chip, the Google Pixel 6a offers almost the same advantages as its much more expensive smartphone brothers and many other high-end devices for 460 euros.

Good, cheap smartphone: The Google Pixel 6a has everything you need

Equipped with the same Tensor chip, the Google Pixel 6a offers almost the same advantages as its much more expensive smartphone brothers and many other high-end devices for 460 euros. You really don't need more, especially if you like it a little more compact.

Google is still a long way from being anywhere near as successful as Apple or Samsung with its own smartphones, but the company has taken an important step forward with the Pixel 6 duo. In North America, according to the Canalys report, Google was able to increase its market share by almost 400 percent in the first quarter of the year, which means that it is now in 5th place there with 1 percent and is a statistical figure for the first time. According to IDC, the company in Great Britain has even reached 3.3 percent, which is only one percentage point behind third-placed Nokia.

Google does not yet appear in the Canalys statistics on the European market, which could be due, among other things, to the fact that since the Pixel 4a there has not been a cheap mid-range device in the race here. But now the Pixel 6a is here, which has what it takes to become a small hit.

Not only the design with the wide camera bar on the back corresponds to that of the two cars presented last autumn. With Google's tensor chip and Titan M2 security chip, the same powerful heart beats inside the Pixel 6a. This means that buyers get most of the functions that the more expensive devices also have to offer without major restrictions.

These are primarily AI skills for speech and image recognition, which the Tensor chip masters offline, i.e. without a connection to Google's cloud server.

Among other things, the recorder app can convert recorded conversations or dictations to text offline. Because even punctuation marks are set automatically and usually in the right place, the post-processing is kept within narrow limits - especially if you speak clearly.

Another highlight is the interpreter function, which can translate conversations into two languages ​​almost in real time. This currently only works offline with English, German and Japanese, but more are to be added. You can start a conversation from the translator app or you can ask the assistant to do so with a voice command.

The text translation already masters eleven languages ​​without an internet connection, and not only in Google apps, but also in Whatsapp, Signal or Facebook. If the corresponding language is installed, a translate button will appear above a chat or post and with a tap of your finger everything in the visible area will be translated.

You can also have individual messages translated after copying them to the clipboard. Everything works best if you choose to express yourself in complete sentences. Common chat slang occasionally leads to funny but absurd results.

The Pixel 6a can also translate photographed text offline into 55 languages, which is particularly useful for billboards. With menus, on the other hand, you cannot always rely 100 percent on the result.

In the camera app, buyers of a Pixel 6a do not get all the AI ​​functions that the other two Pixel 6 models have. Among other things, the motion mode, with which you can make a moving object or its background sharp or blurred, is missing.

But at least the magic eraser is on board in the photo app. It automatically detects disturbing objects in a recording and removes them with a tap of your finger. However, you can also mark image elements yourself and then "erase them out".

Google has mainly saved where most users can afford it. The 6.1-inch display does not offer a higher refresh rate of 90 or 120 Hertz (Hz), but works at a constant 60 Hz. With a pixel density of 429 ppi, it is even sharper than the Pixel 6 screen and the OLED panel delivers the same beautiful colors and strong contrasts. There is also nothing to complain about in terms of brightness.

The same fingerprint sensor is also integrated into the display, which is not necessarily a plus point. As with the larger models, it is occasionally a bit bitchy, especially if your fingers are wet.

Users also need to be a bit more careful as the display is only protected by the older Gorilla Glass 3 and the Pixel 6a is only IP67 water and dust resistant. Otherwise, the workmanship is excellent and the device is very comfortable to hold with its matte metal frame.

The RAM is 6 gigabytes (GB) smaller than the Pixel 6, whose processor can access 8 GB. In the everyday test, however, this difference was not noticeable. The fact that there are no options larger than 128 GB for flash memory also hardly matters. Photos and videos should always be backed up regularly on external media if you don't want to risk losing them.

The Pixel 6a battery has a capacity of 4410 mAh. This not only makes it easy to get through the day, but even with more intensive use you usually still have some reserves before going to sleep. This is due in large part to the Tensor chip, which uses resources intelligently. However, the battery drains faster in 5G operation.

A power adapter is not included and buyers have to do without inductive charging. These are also cost-cutting measures that most users shrug off.

Users have to swallow a larger toad for the main camera. It is apparently the optically stabilized snap of the Pixel 5, which shoots at 12 megapixels (MP) with an aperture of f/1.7. It's not as powerful as the 50MP camera on the two larger devices, but the Pixel 6a still produces better photos and videos than most other mid-range phones.

The 12 MP ultra-wide-angle camera with an aperture of F/2.2, on the other hand, is the same as in the Pixel 6. It also delivers surprisingly good results at night and convinces with sharp, largely undistorted peripheral areas. The 8 MP front camera (f/2.0) is also identical to that of the Pixel 6.

One advantage that the 6a shares with the 6 duo is Google's Android 12. It not only offers a pretty user interface whose colors automatically adapt to background images. Above all, Google guarantees at least three version updates and five years of security updates.

All in all, the Pixel 6 for just under 460 euros is a very attractive smartphone that has a lot to offer. Above all, the Tensor chip with its AI capabilities makes the device something special in this price category. However, there are also increasingly other powerful mid-range androids at similar prices that also have their merits. A good example of this is the Nothing Phone (1), with an exciting LED back and 120Hz display.

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