How the awesome Pixel 6a tells Google's compelling Android story

How the awesome Pixel 6a tells Google’s compelling Android story

With the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro set for a full launch in October, the July reveal of the Pixel 6a (about nine months after the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro) may seem like a belated addition to last year’s portfolio. Where does the Pixel 6a fit into Google’s smartphone plans for the next few years? How do you tell the story that Google wants to portray? And how can it make the device that consumers will want to buy?

The Pixel 6A is not suitable for the Six Family, but the Seven Family

First of all, this is clearly one of the Google smartphones. With the launch of the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, Google has been able to define a unique physical look for its smartphones. The camera strap offered both consistency in the build, eye-catching design of camera lenses and offering a simple solution to both the “desk shake” seen in phones with camera lens islands, and a ergonomic physical edge to help grip the large camera. Checked devices.

Google leaned heavily on the Pixel’s camera capabilities at the launch of the device, and the camera bar made sure that there was a message that “this camera is different.” However, the Camera Bar’s biggest advantage is that it identifies the Pixel in popular culture, in the same way that the iPhone acquired from Apple was a notable silhouette.

Which leads to the Pixel 6A. While it’s noticeably late for the Pixel 6 family, arriving in late July compared to the launch of the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro nine months ago, it will go on sale as the Pixel 7 Pro and Pixel 7 fully launch and hit shelves. With the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro likely retired from the production line, Google will have a strong “graded” profile for the smaller device in the 6a, the regular device in the Pixel 7, and the flagship in the Pixel 7 Pro.

This brings a better combination of the discounted Pixel 6 Pro and Pixel 6 to near the end of the retail life that it price-competitively rivals the Pixel 6a.

Pixel 6a is part of six successes

However, the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro are an important part of the Pixel 6a story. There was a feeling that the Pixel 6 and especially the Pixel 6 Pro broke the roof when it was released last year. There was more public recognition, there were more network shows, and there was more coverage in the mainstream press; In some cases, the Pixel 6 pro has become the natural comparison with the iPhone instead of Samsung’s Galaxy S21.

Those Pixels also saw Google roll out its Tensor mobile chip for the first time, giving Google a silicon platform on which it can run in a way much like Apple. It can customize the inner workings of chips to allow for more efficient processing in a number of areas such as machine learning. One of the obvious areas where this had a positive impact was camera processing and post-production photo editing — and yes, we’re back to the value of that camera bar as a difference identifier for a phone.

The Pixel brand over the past year has been well established in a number of areas. The Pixel 6a is taking that success and looking to translate it to the mid-range market. Previously, the mid-range market was where the Pixel 4 and Pixel 5 phones would sit. That wasn’t the case with the Pixel 6 family… until now.

The Pixel 6a established new smartphones in one of the most competitive places.

Pixel 6a as a signal

Unlike Apple’s iPhone team, which only has to justify any changes to the board, Android is a much more interesting sight. It is not as broken as many make it; The vast majority of manufacturers are turning to additional Google services to complement their Android Open Source offering before adding their own user interface layer, apps, and services to their own devices.

But the space is mainly overseen by Google. This is not strange, because the PC space has a similar relationship with Microsoft and Windows … The basic operating system is presented, some services that manufacturers have to take are compiled, and the rest is a process of design and innovation. decisions and interaction.

Of course, the past few years have seen Microsoft put its own vision of Windows through the Surface hardware platform with a sense of “we think this works very well…” hanging in the air.

Now translate this on the Pixel platform, and you can see Google using the Pixel to indirectly talk to manufacturers about what they think the smartphone should be. The Pixel 6 Pro marked last year’s flagship, the Pixel 6 in the so-called “flagship killer” space, and now with the Pixel 6a, Google has the definition of “mid-range” in the market as well.

Notably, the Pixel 6a retains the same high-end processor as the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro… although Google has the advantage that it uses its own chip design and doesn’t have a large SKU to choose from. However, the idea of ​​keeping the most processing power on the phone — useful for intensive machine learning-based tasks — is front and center.

After the September update, the Pixel 6a comes with Android 13, promising three years of OS support, and five years of continuous security updates. Google wants the Pixel 6a to show that long-term support, especially on security issues, should be the rule rather than the exception, even at this price point.

It is also worth noting the areas in which Google has sacrificed. The screen avoids the rush towards fast refresh technology rather than sticking to a 60Hz refresh, and the RAM drops to 6GB.

The camera has also been physically lowered, leaving the 50MP sensor for larger phones instead with the same 12MP sensor found on the Pixel 3, 4, and 5 phones. Google, of course, tends to post-process, thus keeping the more powerful chip for photo-enhancement rather than the physical options.

I wonder if Android 13 is biased towards these options…

Searching for a home

Google’s Pixel 6a is more than just a mid-range smartphone, it’s probably the best smartphone under $399 this year and challenges the competition to match.

It certainly offers a lot of value for money for consumers, who are choosing a phone that is the clearest Google Vision app for Android. Of course each manufacturer will take their own hardware in their own directions, but they can’t stray too far from the path set by the Mountain View team.

The Pixel 6a is just as important for the signal as it is for a smartphone.

Now read how Google’s Pixel Watch will help redefine the smartwatch space…

Disclaimer: Google UK provided the Pixel 6a for review purposes.

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