It’s been almost five years since we checked out the first Pixel phone that hit the Indian market – the Google Pixel 2, back in 2017. I remember dubbing it the ‘hipster phone’. While the attention seeker is likely to flaunt his or her phone, the modern hipster – the type who is a coffee snob, is likely to make a statement by breaking away from the pack. Not a lot has changed since 2017. The Pixel still enjoys a cult following but has irked some of its Indian fanboys and fangirls with a selective launch strategy for the country. The last Google Pixel to launch in India was the Pixel 5a, almost two years ago. That’s one reason we’re excited about the Pixel 6a’s India debut. Is this the Pixel device we’ve been waiting for?
We’ve grown accustomed to glossy textures and attention grabbing colours as smartphone manufacturers try really hard to lend their devices a distinct design edge. Google proves that you don’t need to go over the top for standout design. We dig the two-tone finish that plays out particularly well in the charcoal variant (the 6a is also available in a chalk colour option; Google has opted to skip the sage colour for India). At 178g, the Pixel 6a hits the sweet spot. I believe that a 6.1 to 6.4-inch display with a heft of 170-180 gm is the perfect balance of form and the Pixel 6a achieves this perfectly. It looks refined with an aluminium frame and can stand up to its pricier siblings like the Pixel 6 Pro on the design front.
That Pixel cam:
A pureplay Android experience has remained one of the biggest draws of Google’s Pixel line. We’ve come to expect the latest software and security updates and all the latest AI-driven Google innovations. While most of us expect this with the user interface it’s the camera that’s the true star. The rear cam combines a 12.2MP Primary lens and a 12MP ultra-wide lens, there’s also an 8MP selfie cam in the mix. If there’s one thing we’ve learnt over the years, it’s never to evaluate a Pixel cam based purely on its hardware. The 6a is a case in point. It’s the software optimisations and the advanced computational photography features that make this a formidable camera. Lowlight photography is one of the highlights, the newest iteration of Google’s Night Sight made a huge difference in our tests. The other handy tool we enjoyed using was Magic Eraser, that allows you to remove distractions or make objects blend right in.
The big story under the hood
Google achieves greater control on the overall user experience with the 6a. First, it was the blend of the hardware and the UI. Google takes it a step further with the 6a, thanks to the Google Tensor chip, the first mobile chipset designed by Google. This Tensor chip keeps things very zippy and it’s not just gaming we’re talking about. Web pages load faster, the camera is lightning quick and the chip powers cool features like Live Translate that enables you to chat in 11 languages in real time. The 6a comes in one variant – 6GB/128GB.
Should you Pixel?
The Pixel 6a may not have some of the features that some of its similarly-priced rivals offer. There’s no fast charger in the box and the 6.1-inch OLED display (1080 x 2400 pixels / 429 PPI) does not feature a 90Hz refresh rate. But then Pixel phones can’t be judged purely based on spec sheets. We think Google might have got its India smartphone strategy right with the Pixel 6a. It boasts of a refined design language, a crisp display, a great user experience and then there’s that Pixel cam with a whole bag of tricks.
The Google Pixel 6a costs Rs 43,999 and comes in Charcoal and Chalk colour options. There’s a Rs 4,000 instant discount on Axis bank debit and credit card transactions