As soon as Google announced the Pixel 6a, most tech blogs kicked off the inevitable spec comparisons between the Pixel 6a and the 2022 iPhone SE, asking which would “win” the budget battle. The Pixel gives you a bigger screen and an extra ultra-wide camera, while the iPhone offers incredible performance and longer software support for an average price.
But in my mind, this question doesn’t really matter unless you define your identity by supporting the “best” tech brand. Apple won’t lose sales to the Pixel 6a. There’s very little overlap between iPhone SE buyers who want a throwback to the home button and future Pixel 6a buyers looking for a simple stock experience and camera AI. redesigned from Google. The only guideline is the one-handed design and the similar price.
What Actually what matters in my opinion is that the Pixel 6a follows Apple’s playbook in putting uncompromising Pixel 6 hardware into a cheap phone, just like the iPhone 13 A15 Bionic chip was thrown into the SE 2022. The 6a makes compromises where necessary, but not in the area where it matters most.
Google even went a step further by mimicking the flagship Pixel design, so Pixel 6a buyers don’t feel like they’re getting a compromised experience. The iPhone SE, with its sturdy bezels, small display and single rear camera, looks like a budget phone even though it doesn’t act like one.
Google out-Appled Apple, in other words. And I hope Apple sees this as a chance to be less complacent with its budget phones.
Google is changing what “Pixel A” means
Until now, only Apple could achieve flagship speeds in a mid-range device, as it retains full control over its own production Bionic SoC. Android stays in step with all the mid-range chips that Qualcomm (or Mediatek) produces. You can’t just pair a flagship Snapdragon with 4 or 6 GB of RAM, as those chips are designed with specific memory configurations in mind, and Android is much more dependent on RAM than iOS.
But Tensor is a game-changer for midrange phones. Despite the Pixel 6a’s downgrades to cameras, RAM, and refresh rate, you’re essentially buying a Pixel 6, but cheaper.
The branded camera bar will return, nearly all Tensor-exclusive AI tools such as Magic Eraser and Live Translate work on the 6a, and leaked benchmarks show the Pixel 6a matches the 6 in CPU performance despite less RAM.
It won’t match the iPhone SE in performance, but that doesn’t have to be; it just needs to play to Google strengths like Google Assistant and camera processing, and it will “win” by being much better than what came before.
Google’s last two budget Pixels, the Pixel 5a and Pixel 4a 5G were competent, sure, but also utterly boring in appearance and priced so close to flagship phones that their compromises and flaws seemed worse. in comparison. And with the 5a in particular, it was clear that chip shortages were limiting its launch.
Now, Google’s partnership with Samsung LSI allows it to manufacture all the Tensor chips it needs. And now the Pixel A series, rather than being a “budget” range, looks more like a Special Edition or Fan Edition phone designed for loyal and frugal fans or as a gateway to new users.
We’ll have to wait until late July when the Pixel 6a launches to see if it actually lives up to our expectations. But the fact here is that we’ve already been testing Tensor in our Pixel 6s for months and have every reason to be optimistic. Yes, they’ve had their fair share of bugs, but the 6a will launch with most of them ironed out and an all-new fingerprint sensor that will hopefully avoid its predecessor’s most notorious issue.
Budget Apple phones don’t have to be vintage or old school
Apple reportedly had high expectations for the 2022 SE, which made sense given that the 2020 iPhone SE was among the top ten best-selling phones of 2021. But Apple quickly cut production estimates due to weak demand, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo saying he cut shipping estimates from 25-30 million to 15-20 million.
According to a 9to5Mac report from carriers and marketers, despite the hardware advantage of the iPhone 13, the iPhone SE 2022 looks so much like the latest model that no one realizes it’s different. And of those who are in the know and looking for a new phone, few are excited about a 4.7-inch phone based on the iPhone 8 design.
If you want a relatively affordable iPhone today, you can buy the iPhone SE for $429 (more likely $479 to get 128GB of RAM) or the iPhone 11 for $499. We have clear evidence that buyers are bored of the SE design; and even given Apple’s extended support for its devices, the iPhone 11 has outdated hardware and only a few OS updates left – nothing special for this price.
Part of that, of course, is down to design. Apple wants you to look askance at its cheaper offerings and sell yourself to its flagship devices. And given that Apple sold around 83 million iPhones in Q4 2021, mostly at premium prices, its strategy worked.
But even Apple can’t survive on flagships alone. The 2022 iPhone SE is apparently bombing, and the iPhone Mini series is dead after its own lackluster sales. apple now possesses to realize that he can’t just pop a new chip into an archaic or shrunken phone and expect people to find it compelling.
I hope Apple takes the time to pattern a budget phone similar to the main series but with key concessions to bring the price down. It is in a better position than everyone, even Google, to do this because it knows how to optimize performance, so even a little RAM will generate better performance than even the best Android phones. He just needs to stop being lazy and expect his fans to happily gobble up leftovers.
Google has learned from Apple’s example with the Pixel 6a, but that doesn’t mean the 6a will come close to the SE in terms of sales. Before the Pixel 6 – which outsold the Pixel 4 and 5 combined – Google’s best sales year was 2019, when it sold 7.2 million phones, most of them Pixel 3a units. . The 6a may beat those numbers thanks to Tensor, but it will fall short of Kuo’s downgraded 15-20 million SE sales estimate because Google Pixel simply doesn’t have the global presence, carrier partnerships, or technology. Apple brand recognition.
But even if Google doesn’t “win” the Pixel 6a vs. iPhone SE 2022 battle, Apple can still “lose” in many people’s eyes if it doesn’t start taking its frugal fans more seriously and continues insisting that cheap phones have to be tiny.