Google Pixel 6a review

The bare minimum

₹ 43,999

Google’s smartphone presence in India is often praised and heralded by its most loyal fans. The ones that usher in Google Pixel’s exceptional computational photography, its brilliant skin colour detection and yes, the stock Android experience. It’s these things that bring the nerds together to celebrate a Pixel device even if Google demands a price for its hardware that is frankly two steps back from the current generation smartphone standards.

So do you overlook the absence of adrenaline-injected refresh rates, multiple lenses, fast processing power, 100-something-watt charging speeds and the charging brick? If you’re one of the aforementioned hardcore fans, you’ve come here to know more about the camera performance so let’s jump right into that first. And for everyone else, stick around till the end of the review and decide for yourself.



The camera is one of the most used things on a smartphone and Google Pixel devices are good in that area. And by good, we mean, destroying the competition till Pixel becomes the benchmark of computation photography. The Pixel 6a here has all the AI camera smarts that you would find on the expensive – but non-existent (in India) – Pixel 6 devices. This is largely thanks to the custom processor; the Google Tensor which is exceptionally capable of pulling through anything that needs machine learning and AI gobbledygook. In short, the processor makes the 12.2MP main and the 12MP ultra-wide camera a beast. Even the front camera.


The main camera and the ultra-wide share almost a similar colour balance and exposure control which is very rare to find in smartphones that cost under ₹50k. The only other smartphone with the same colour science across the lenses is Apple, but that’s in a different price range altogether. The exposure control, scene recognition and colour accuracy are immaculate on the Pixel 6a but that’s not news, right? Everyone knows the Pixel smartphone, budget or otherwise, will have a brilliant smartphone camera and the Pixel 6a does live up to the expectations.

But the scene recognition in Pixel is particularly smarter than any smartphone we’ve used and it makes the Pixel 6a’s camera reassuringly predictable and consistent. Here’s an example. The teapot photo we took has plenty of dynamic range, colour accuracy and highlight control. The Oppo Reno8 Pro does a similar job (which is very commendable). In fact, many at the Stuff HQ liked the Oppo Reno8 Pro shot for its dramatic flavour and colour tone. Now if you point the camera at something extremely difficult for the AI to work with, something like a milk-white cat in a laundry basket then the Oppo Reno8 Pro starts to struggle. The Pixel 6a, however, takes the photo and then goes back to a ‘make-believe darkroom with AIs’ and conjures a photo quality that is unlike anything you see in the viewfinder, but the final result is a photo that is very, very accurate to real life.

These photography smarts don’t stop even after the sun’s down. The lowlight photos captured on the Pixel 6a are great too, but do you know which other phone has great low light photography? The Oppo Reno8 Pro. In our review, we did say that the Oppo is a better indoor low light performer than outdoor and in places with very dark areas. That is still true. The Pixel performs slightly better when there’s no light and your frame has more blacked-out areas. It handles noise and dark surfaces particularly well. However, we put a bike under a street light in the dark and both smartphones dished out similar photos. We purposefully didn’t put the name of the brand in the photo comparison shot with the bike because of how similar the camera quality is here and if you can tell which one is the Pixel 6a shot, we’ll give you a good pat on the back.

The front camera gets the Pixel software treatment as well. It’s particularly good at taking selfies even when the light is directly behind your face. The exposure control and facial brightness is top-notch. We particularly like Pixel 6a’s Real Tone feature that works with Indian skin too. The brown skin tones are not scrubbed white like most smartphone AIs tend to do these days. It's gotten better with time, but Android smartphones in the market right now still try to reshape, reskin and beautify your face and establish unnatural beauty standards. Thanks for attending our Ted Talk, time to move to the other features of the Google Pixel 6a smartphone.


The Google Pixel 6a has the same processor as the expensive Google Pixel 6, but that’s not a good thing because much of that processing grunt is focused on ML and AI-based tasks and that’s where the Pixel 6a flourishes. Things like converting speech-to-text, real-time translation and obviously its camera smarts are all well taken care of by the processor. It’s got enough juice to run the whole day with light multitasking, texting, watching videos and other basic stuff. 

But throw in video edits and some heavy-duty games, and the Pixel 6a will start to run out of breath. It’s not the fastest processor around and even for the aforementioned cat photo in the laundry, the Google Pixel 6a took about two to four seconds to process it while we stared at a pixelated thumbnail image. So when the going gets tough, you may feel the pinch from the Google Tensor.

Thankfully, for the folks looking to buy the fastest and meanest smartphone for the same price, there’s a buffet of Android smartphones that fit the bill. But try as they might, they just can’t match up to the clean OS, camera standards, timely Android updates and the dedicated Titan M2 security chip.


The 6.1in FHD+ OLED display is one of the best in terms of colour accuracy and saturation levels. It’s actually closer to the Apple iPhones than to any of its Android peers. The saturation is not blown out of proportion, and the blacks are deep as well. This is a well-calibrated display but it’s not the fastest one. 

The OLED display on the Pixel 6a is only 60Hz which might irk a few people who care about that extra smooth scrolling in the apps and swiftness in the OS. Although, we’ve met a few others who really don’t bother with these things even though they might sport a smartphone with a 90Hz or even 120Hz. Coming down from a high refresh rate display is a setback but if you never decided to join and chase refresh rates, then the Pixel 6a shouldn’t be a problem. The front display is only offering Gorilla Glass 3 protection so that’s also a few generations behind everyone else.

That said the Pixel 6a doesn’t support fast charging and doesn’t come with a charging brick in the box. This is one of the reasons where the hardware and the price really don’t add up and we’re left thinking that you’re paying the Google tax for its software smarts.



It’s very apparent that the Google Pixel 6a is more of a photography tool that only covers the basics of smartphone requirements. You’re very clearly paying that extra dosh for Google’s computational smarts when it comes to photography and the promise of security and Android updates.

Meanwhile, there’s very little reason to recommend the Pixel 6a. It’s a good smartphone for people who don’t interact with their smartphones a lot. Sort of like the same crowd that would opt in for an Apple iPhone Mini. It looks unique but boring in our opinion and there’s no wireless charging here either. 

The lack of fast charging, fast refresh rate, modest processor and only 128GB storage means that other Android smartphones have nothing to worry about here. In fact, the Oppo Reno8 Pro can go toe-to-toe in the photography smarts too, it's just up to you to frame it and compose your shot to get the best out of it.


Stuff Says

A great photography tool for camera nerds but rivals have almost caught up
Good stuff
Bad stuff
  1. The camera quality is exceptional

  1. Consistent camera quality

  1. Great display quality

  1. IP67 rating

  1. No high refresh rate

  1. The processor is slower than the competition

  1. Only 128GB of storage

  1. No fast charging

  1. No charging brick in the box

Display: 6.1in OLED HDR, Corning Gorilla Glass 3
Processor: Google Tensor
Storage: 128GB, UFS 3.1
Camera: 12.2MP, 12MP ultra-wide, 8MP front
Battery: 4,306mAh, 18W fast charging