The newest phone from Android HQ, the Google Pixel 6a, had plenty of features to recommend it but it just didn't blow us away. In fact, battery life was bad enough that we'd hold off recommending this phone, and might even steer you towards an older model instead. If you were thinking about buying the Pixel 6a but want to study the alternatives first, here are some phones you will want to consider.
You want something unique: Nothing Phone 1
Before you even turn it on, the Google Pixel 6a is a looker. Google has come up with some very unique colorways that you won’t see on other smartphones, and the back design won’t be mistaken for any old Apple iPhone or Samsung Galaxy. If you want a phone that stands out for its unique look, you might get on the queue for a Nothing Phone 1. The transparent back is functional, with a glowing alert, as well as stylish. Too bad it’s hard to buy.
You hoped it would be cheaper: OnePlus Nord 20
Google has wavered on whether the Pixel family is a bargain offering or a flagship lineup. Last year’s Pixel phones were cheaper, so if you were hoping for a less expensive device, something all-around solid but not too pricey, then maybe the OnePlus Nord 20 is for you. The Nord 20 can’t shoot photos on par with the Pixel 6a, but the price makes it such a bargain you might forgive the middling cameras and enjoy the bright display and speedy performance.
You just want a great camera: Samsung Galaxy A53
Sure, the Google Pixel 6a has some nifty tricks up its sleeve when it comes to computational photography, but the Samsung Galaxy A53 has a simply solid camera with features that you’ll actually use. The camera can recommend settings before you take a shot, and it has a useful Food Mode that makes your meals Insta-ready.
You like small but need power: Samsung Galaxy S22
If you like the Google Pixel 6a because it’s the smallest of this year’s crop of Pixel phones, you should check out the Samsung Galaxy S22. It’s even smaller than the Pixel 6a, and it blows that phone away in almost every way, especially in charging and battery life. It costs much more, but there’s no doubt you’ll love the smaller form factor and the flagship specs.
You need something mini: Apple iPhone 13 mini
Apple iPhones come in smaller sizes, and the powerful Apple iPhone 13 mini is the smallest of them all. Apple improved the battery life for its newest mini model, and the phone doesn’t skimp on power in the processors or the camera. You get dual cameras, including Apple’s great ultra-wide lens. You also get some niceties the Pixel 6a lacks, like wireless charging. The iPhone 13 mini can be more expensive, but if you love the small phone idea you won’t find more power in a small package.
You need more at that price: Motorola EDGE 5G UW
For a little bit less than you’ll pay for the Google Pixel 6a, you can have a monster phone like the Motorola Edge, available in a rare Ultra-Wideband (UW) 5G flavor on Verizon. It’s a bigger phone, and it certainly beats the Pixel 6a’s battery problems. The camera isn’t the best, but the screen refreshes at a stunning 144Hz, which gives the phone a dazzling, premium look when you use it. The design is a bit standard compared to the Pixel 6a, but we found the phone very easy to hold and manage for a larger device. The screen is taller but the Motorola Edge is barely wider than the svelte Pixel.
You just want the better Pixel: Google Pixel 6
Do you wish the Pixel 6a was just a little bit better in every way? Do you need many more megapixels on your camera sensor? Then the Google Pixel 6 has been waiting for you. Right now it only costs about $150 more than the Pixel 6a, and you get a better display, much better battery life, and the same high-performance Tensor chip that newer Pixel 6a uses. If it gets discounted on sale, it’s a no-brainer for sure.
The Google Pixel 6a will find plenty of fans, for sure, and when the price gets cut a bit we may even count ourselves among them. If you’re looking for an alternative to the newest Pixel, these offer a number of compelling options. If your favorite aspect of the new Google phone was its smaller size compared to the larger Pixel 6 family, you can also check out our round-up of the best small phones you can buy.
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Phil Berne is a preeminent voice in consumer electronics reviews, having reviewed his first device (the Sony D-EJ01 Discman) more than 20 years ago for eTown.com. He has been writing about phones and mobile technology, since before the iPhone, for a variety of sites including PCMag, infoSync, PhoneScoop, and Slashgear. He holds an M.A. in Cultural Theory from Carnegie Mellon University.
Phil was the internal reviewer for Samsung Mobile, writing opinions and review predictions about top secret new devices months before launch. He left in 2017. He worked at an Apple Store near Boston, MA, at the height of iPod popularity. He has been a High School English teacher at Title I schools, and is a certified Lifeguard. His passion is smartphones and wearables, and he is sure that the next big thing will be phones we wear on our faces.