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Google Pixel 7a vs Pixel 6a: Which affordable Android phone is right for you?

Google's A-Series smartphones are known for being super affordable, but how do you know which one to get? We'll help you decide.
Written by Jason Cipriani, Contributing Writer
The home screen of the Google Pixel 7a.
June Wan/ZDNET

Google just announced the Pixel 7a, a $499 smartphone that punches above its price. But, perhaps more importantly, Google is keeping the Pixel 6a in the lineup, at the reduced price of $349. Some might even say it's the best smartphone deal available

Also: Forget the Pixel 7a: This $349 Google phone is secretly the best deal right now

And while both devices are attractively priced, there are some key differences between the two that will undoubtedly tip the scales in favor of one model over the other.


Pixel 7aPixel 6a
Display 6.1-inch FHD gOLED, up to 90Hz refresh rate6.1-inch FHD+, OLED, 60Hz
Processor Google Tensor G2Google Tensor
Memory and storage 8GB with 128GB6GB with 128GB or 256GB
Battery 4,385mAh with 18W fast charging, 7.5W wireless charging4,306mAh with 18W fast charging
Cameras 64MP main, 13MP ultra-wide, and 13MP frontDual 12-megapixel cameras and 8MP front
Connectivity Bluetooth 5.3, Wi-Fi 6E, 5G, USB-CBluetooth 5.2, Wi-Fi 6E, 5G, USB-C
Dimensions 72.9 x 152.4 x 9.0 mm, 193g71.8 x 152.2 x 8.9 mm, 178g
Colors Charcoal, Coral, Sea, SnowCharcoal, Sage, Chalk, 
Price $499$349

You should buy the Pixel 7a if...

Using the Google Pixel 7a in blue.
June Wan/ZDNET

1. You want wireless charging

There's a lot to like about the Pixel 7a, but one of the more notable changes it brings with it is the addition of wireless charging. Prior to the 7a, not a single one of the A-series phones had such a feature. Granted, the 7.5W charging speed isn't the fastest wireless charging you'll find in a smartphone, but it's a feature that Google's been knocked, year after year, for leaving out of its entry-level phone. 

Review: Google Pixel 7a: Meet the new best sub-$500 Android phone

Wireless charging is incredibly convenient to passively charge your phone while at your desk or on your nightstand while you sleep. 

Is it a good enough reason on its own to buy the 7a? Maybe not, but it's a compelling feature that's sure to get attention from potential buyers. 

2. You want the better camera experience

The Pixel 7a ups the A-series camera game over the 6a. Instead of two 12-megapixel rear cameras, you're getting a 64-megapixel main rear camera and a 13-megapixel ultra-wide camera. 

More megapixels don't always equate to a better camera experience, but in this case, the 7a's camera setup is certainly better than the 6a with photos I've captured being clear and crisp, with appropriate color saturation. 

Also: Google announces the Pixel Tablet, and it's not the iPad killer we hoped for

Along with better sensors, you're getting new features like 8x Super Res Zoom for those far-away shots, and for the first time on an A-series, Long Exposure is available in the camera app. 

Additionally, the front-facing camera now works with the Pixel's Face Unlock feature that uses facial recognition to unlock your phone just by looking at it. You won't be able to unlock password manager or banking apps, but getting into your phone with minimal effort is a huge bonus.

3. You want the latest Google has to offer

The combination of wireless charging and a new camera array is appealing on its own, but then you add improved performance thanks to Google's Tensor G2 processor and an increase of memory from 6GB to 8GB, and you're setting yourself up for a reliable phone experience for several years. 

Speaking of the future, both the 6a and 7a come with 5 years of Pixel software updates, but that's not from the date you purchase it. It's from its launch date.

Also: Patch your Pixel and Samsung phones immediately. Here's why

So, the Pixel 6a now has four years left on Google's commitment, while the 7a is starting with a fresh update clock. Plus, there's always something appealing about owning the latest version of a gadget, especially one that's as important as our phones.

You should buy the Pixel 6a if...

The display of the Google Pixel 6a
Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

1. You want to save some cash

Google's Pixel 6a was priced at $449 for nearly a full year, but the moment Google revealed the Pixel 7a and its slightly increased price of $499, the 6a was marked down to $349. That's, quite frankly, a steal. 

You're getting a whole lot of phone for $350. The Pixel 6a boasts a 6.1-inch display, has all-day battery life, and comes with a dual rear-facing camera setup that, while it can't compete with flagship caliber phones, it'll hold its own when taking everyday candid shots for sharing on social media or with family members. 

Review: Google Pixel 6a: Half the price of the Pixel 6 Pro, but just as good

It has the same basic design as the current generation Pixel lineup, complete with the camera bar on the back. Speaking of the back, one benefit of not having wireless charging on a phone is that the back is made of plastic instead of glass, and to some, the less breakable glass on a phone, the more appealing it is. 

2. You don't mind last year's tech

As nice as it is to have the latest and greatest tech, it's not always necessary. And Google's Pixel 6a isn't no longer relevant or outdated. It uses the original Google Tensor processor, 6GB of memory and either 128GB or 256GB of storage. 

The latter of which is something that isn't possible with the Pixel 7a due to its being limited to 128GB of storage (but bumped up to 8GB of memory). Battery life with the 6a is going to be on par with the 7a, so don't let that be a major deciding factor. 

Also: Best Google phones you can buy right now

The dual 12-megapixel camera setup still takes good, great even, pictures that you'll be just as proud of. And the odds of you having the same phone four or five years from now are very slim, so counting on software updates for that long may be a moot point.

Alternatives to consider

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