Google Pixel 6a price shows Google making a classic cheap-phone mistake

Google Pixel 6a
(Image credit: Google)

The Google Pixel 6a release date is nearly upon us, as it'll go on sale at the end of July, and we already know lots about the phone thanks to Google announcing it months early.

We also know its price, though, and as the launch gets closer, that cost is starting to ring some alarm bells. 

The $449 / £399 / AU$749 you'll be paying for the budget cousin of the Pixel 6 would seem fair as the lower-cost alternative to a $599 / £599 / AU$999 flagship - except that's not how much the higher-price phone costs anymore, months on from its initial launch.

The cheaper Google Pixel 6

Phones get cheaper over time, especially Android ones, and the Google Pixel 6 has been no exception. We've seen it much cheaper than the launch price thanks to various deals and simply the nature of time.

That's especially true in the UK, where it's gone down to £499 before, but it's also seen sales in the US and Australia to make it more affordable.

The Google Pixel 6 facing away from the camera, stood up on a table.

A Google Pixel 6 (Image credit: Future)

Bear in mind that Amazon Prime Day is falling just two weeks before the Pixel 6a launch, and that'll almost definitely bring price cuts to the Pixel 6 family too. We'll probably see new-low prices on the months-old models.

So when you consider the Google Pixel 6a as a budget alternative to the Pixel 6, it's worth pointing out that it might not undercut it by that much.

Copying Samsung's mistake

Google's mistake here, in releasing a budget model after the original has already depreciated in price, is something that other companies seemingly haven't managed to grasp either.

A great example is Samsung, with the Galaxy S21 FE. This was meant to be a budget alternative to the Galaxy S21, but it arrived so late that it was actually pricier than its sibling in some regions. 

Plus, it came just before the Galaxy S22 line came out, somewhat confusing matters - something that the Google Pixel 6a could emulate with its proximity to the Pixel 7.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE

A Samsung Galaxy S21 FE (Image credit: Future)

As a result, the S21 FE was promptly forgotten by tech fans, and will likely only rear its head on sales days if it can sufficiently undercut the S21. And the Pixel 6a risks doing the same.

So what could Google do? Well, it's already made one misstep by unveiling the price, because now it can't exactly back down from that cost. And it's not a bad price for the phone by any means, just one that's been overshadowed by Pixel 6 discounts.

Google could try to make the 6a a more tempting prospect by throwing in some extras - perhaps a case and charger could encourage people to pick the phone, and maybe one of Google's many subscriptions, like One, Play Pass or YouTube Premium.

Or it could do something a little controversial, and stop cutting the price of the Pixel 6. But this could irk certain fans, and other retailers could discount it themselves.

Well, we're not business people, we're tech experts trying to give you good buying advice - and at the moment, our advice would be to find Pixel 6 deals rather than opt for the 6a.

Tom Bedford

Tom Bedford was deputy phones editor on TechRadar until late 2022, having worked his way up from staff writer. Though he specialized in phones and tablets, he also took on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK and now works for the entertainment site What To Watch.

He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working on TechRadar, he freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist. He also currently works in film as a screenwriter, director and producer.