The Pixel 6a challenges Samsung for the default Android crown

mobtkr17 May 2022Last Update : 1 month ago
The Pixel 6a challenges Samsung for the default Android crown

2022 has heralded a strong resurgence for Samsung, thanks to compelling devices and an unbeatable software update cycle, a combination that earns them Android status by default. But it looks like Google’s Pixel 6a is about to derail this hype train.

In fact, Google is continuing the same formula that made the iPhone SE a popular choice – a fast processor, reliable camera, and polished software – all at half the price of its entry-level flagships. Despite some glaring omissions and feature downgrades compared to rivals, Apple still managed to move millions of units, especially in a segment of users looking for the much-vaunted iPhone ecosystem experience. with a limited budget.

With the Pixel 6a, Google aims to deliver a similar concoction of a flagship-grade processor, a reliable pair of cameras, speedy mmWave 5G connectivity, and clean software that will receive software updates for at least the next five years. All this, at just $450. Of course, concessions were made. The 3.5mm headphone jack is gone and there’s no option for storage expansion either.

This time, Google isn’t carrying Pixel’s flagship camera hardware to budget A-series phones like it has in the past, so there’s that too. But the rough consensus so far, at least among experts and keen buyers in Google’s home market, is that the Pixel 6a is a winner from the get-go, and that doesn’t bode well for the Samsung phone juggernaut. in the American market.

Aim for Samsung’s crown

It’s obvious that Google is aiming for iPhone SE-like glory, but the real threat comes from Samsung. Take for example Samsung’s own $450 midrange champion, the Galaxy A53 5G, which is almost the antithesis of what the Pixel 6a and what it may or may not offer.

The Galaxy A53 5G beats its Google rival by offering a 120Hz OLED display, a versatile quad-camera array led by a high-resolution 64-megapixel main sensor, a larger 5,000mAh battery that supports faster charging and possibility of storage expansion up to 1 terabyte. Most, if not all, are crucial features that smartphone buyers are genuinely interested in. Additionally, Samsung’s promise to deliver five years of software updates matches what Google is aiming to do with its latest phone.

Samsung Galaxy A53 5G in blue.
Samsung Galaxy A53 in Impressive Blue Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

But Pixel 6a bets more on the muscles offered by the Tensor chip inside, modest camera hardware backed by Pixel heritage, a slightly smaller footprint with a sleeker design, and a clean Android experience with features significant exclusives. But at the end of the day, the question is, which Android phone is the best choice for $450? Well, in 2022 the Pixel 6a seems to be the better choice.

Sure, aggressive carrier deals and discounts will still allow Samsung to sell a good number of Galaxy A53 5G units, but it won’t be the default $450 Android phone on the shelf anymore. This is a strong statement in itself. If the Pixel 6a can save itself from the bug-ridden software legacy of its more expensive siblings, there’s hardly any reason for buyers to look elsewhere.

This is the maximum pixel energy.

Yes, Motorola and TCL are also trying to leave a mark, but they’re nowhere near the reputation commanded by the two $450 big boys this year. It’s a shame the Pixel 6a isn’t hitting shelves soon, giving rivals plenty of time to come up with even more powerful rivals to squeeze Google’s headroom in the budget smartphone segment.

But more than toppling its rivals and grabbing a nice market share, the Pixel 6a is also trying to serve as a springboard for a nascent ecosystem of connected products. It’s a long plan, but the time seems right and Google isn’t playing shy either, revealing 2023 hardware plans in 2022 itself to give the faithful a taste of what it has in the pipeline. of Android and potential converts in the immediate future.

Filling the void to build an ecosystem

Google’s budget phones have historically made big concessions to control the asking price. Take for example recent releases such as the Pixel 5a and 4a, both of which had disappointing screen specs, bland plastic build, slow charging, and a handful of bugs. The Pixel 6a improves on almost all of these shortcomings. But more than iterative upgrades, it fills that gap for a satisfying phone at an acceptable price.

Pixel watch rendering

So far, the “good Pixel” experience has only hovered around the $800 mark and beyond, but the Pixel 6 has almost halved that financial demand. And at the center of it all is the Tensor chip. Google is tapping into the oversupply of its Tensor chip that not only pushes the Pixel 6a squarely into flagship performance territory, but also unlocks a ton of new capabilities that have remained exclusive to high-end Pixel phones.

But the cost savings the Pixel 6a offers is letting shoppers turn to Google’s budding product ecosystem that now includes headphones, an upcoming smartwatch and a tablet that’s expected to arrive next year. It also helps that the sacrifices made by the Pixel 6a don’t have a major impact on the performance of connected ecosystem products in terms of responsiveness or functionality.

For potential Pixel 6 or Pro buyers who don’t really care about high-megapixel cameras, the Pixel 6a offers a fantastic avenue to save some cash and invest the rest in Google’s other products and services. Google’s strategy is almost as incisive as Apple’s, and if the products in the ecosystem actually prove to be good, the one-two punch delivered by the Pixel 6a can really propel Google’s hardware ambitions.

Sure, that’s easier said than done, but the opportunity is there. All Google needs is to step up, and not squander it all again, as it has abandoned the cause of the Android tablet and continues to revisit it with lukewarm ambitions from time to time.

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