The big picture: Months after introducing its machine learning Tensor chip in the flagship Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro phones, Google has unveiled the same technology in a cheaper package. While Google cut down all the Pixel 6a’s tech specs compared to its bigger brothers, all of Tensor’s features are still here.
To cut $150 off the Pixel 6, which Google introduced last October, the Pixel 6a sacrifices its memory, screen, camera, and charging functionality. It goes from the Pixel 6’s 6.4-inch 90Hz screen down to 6.1-inches and 60Hz with nearly the same FHD resolution. The always-on functionality and HDR with 24-bit color depth remain.
The Pixel 6a cuts memory down to 6GB from the 6’s 8GB and the 6 Pro’s 12GB. The cheaper model also only offers one storage tier — 128GB. Although the phone retains the same front camera as its brethren, its rear camera goes from 50 megapixels to 12MP. It also loses the laser detect autofocus sensor, optical image stabilization, the telephoto camera, and the motion mode.
In exchange, Google’s budget phone makes savings in battery life and cost. Battery-saving mode lasts the 6a three times as long as the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro, though it loses the wireless charging feature.
However, the Pixel 6 series’ headline feature — the Tensor SoC — is unchanged in the budget-minded device. It offers the same machine learning enhancements for quickly composing messages, transcribing speech, editing photos, and more.
Pixel 6a pre-orders open on July 21, starting at just $449. The phone ships to customers and stores on July 28.