The Best New Features Of The Google Pixel 6a

It's time for Google's big annual I/O event, and it has been quite a doozy so far despite the fact we had expected all but one of the devices that were announced or teased during the keynote. Although there have been rumors of Google's own take on the Android tablet, most probably didn't expect that the company would actually confirm the device's existence nearly a year before it hits the market. The slate will be called the Google Pixel Tablet, and it'll pack a Tensor processor.

While we keep an eye out for the future, we also stay grounded on the things that are sure to come — that is, the things that'll arrive in the next two or so months. While the Pixel Buds Pro is exciting, the Pixel 6a is the real star of the show, of course. Here are some of the best things about the new mid-range smartphone that will make it worth a lot more than its charitable price tag.

Cheaper model packs Tensor power

There are two major highlights of the Pixel 6 series. Although it will soon be a common trait among Pixel phones, at least hopefully, these are the first phones on the market to use Google's first-ever mobile processor designed for commercial use. Although the tech giant most likely has a lot of custom silicon for in-house applications and machines, the Google Tensor hardware brings the experience and expertise to Android smartphones. That very same chip that debuted last year on the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro will be available on the Pixel 6a, as well.

What that means in practice is this more affordable version of the Pixel 6 won't be left behind when it comes to processing power and AI-based capabilities. We can expect every feature that requires some machine learning muscle is going to be present on the Pixel 6a, especially those related to photography and imaging. Granted, there might still be some missing features like Motion Mode due to differences in other hardware components like the camera array, but for the most part, you will be getting nearly the same experience as the Pixel 6.

The iconic design remains

Just because the model is cheaper doesn't mean Google is skimping on details and quality. Google could have opted to make the Pixel 6a look more like the rather plain and dated Pixel 5a before it, but the company thankfully decided to aim for consistency. In other words, unless someone actually knows the subtle differences, they won't be able to tell the Pixel 6a apart from the Pixel 6 at a glance. That one difference is small: the camera bump is always black and won't match the color of the phone.

Nonetheless, that still means the Pixel 6a will have the same design and profile that has made the Pixel 6 series unique and allowed it to stand out among the crowd. In an age of bulging camera bumps confined in large boxes, the Pixel 6a lines up its ducks in a row, creating a visor-like structure that provides more balance compared to one-sided bumps. Based on Google's own teaser, this design will also be used on the Pixel 7, making it the signature look of the Pixel phones, at least for now.

Android as you want it

Being a Pixel phone, the Pixel 6a will naturally come with Google's special flavor of Android. It will ship with Android 12 since Android 13 is still a long way off and will be entitled to three Android upgrades and patches that will last until 2027. Except for Samsung, very few Android brands can boast that "feature" — that is, supporting their phones for more than just two or three years.

This advantage can't be stated enough these days. More than just getting the latest and greatest features, it also means you will be able to hold on to your phone a lot longer, provided the hardware doesn't break down on you. You are guaranteed to be updated and secured for three to five years, and you won't feel the pressing need to get something newer when your Pixel 6a still works perfectly fine in 2023, 2024, and beyond.

The Pixel 6a has an unbeatable price tag

Admittedly, almost all of the above is true for the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro models, but the real clincher is the price tag. Imagine having almost all the same features and benefits of Google's top-end phones but for only $449. That's exactly what the Pixel 6a is offering, making it almost too good to be true and too difficult to resist.

It's not the cheapest "mid-range" phone, mind, but it's difficult to put the Pixel 6a in that category anyway. After all, the Tensor chip is pretty high-end, and much of the Pixel 6a's features and design are similar to the more expensive Pixel 6 model. With very few compromises, this does almost undercut the base Pixel 6, making the Pixel 6a the phone to beat when it comes out in July. If you're not concerned about price, however, you may want to hold off and pick up the Pixel 7 flagship, which will be revealed later this year.