3 reasons why Google Pixel 6a is a better budget phone than iPhone SE (2022)

Google Pixel 6a
(Image credit: TechRadar / Stephen Lambrechts)

When pitted against each other in a direct comparison, it's easy to see a number of similarities between Google's new Pixel 6a and Apple's iPhone SE (2022)

They're both the most affordable handset in their respective manufacturer's 2022 range, they both offer an appealing compact design, and each phone also boasts the same advanced chipset that powers its flagship bigger brother (that's the A15 Bionic chip on Apple's newest iPhone SE and the Google-designed Tensor chip on the Pixel 6a).

However, there are a few areas where Google's budget handset has the clear advantage over its Apple-made rival, making it feel slightly more premium as a result. 

Of course, it's also worth pointing out that there are a couple of other areas where Apple's entry-level iPhone continues to outshine its new Google counterpart.

With those things in mind, here are three reasons why the new Google Pixel 6a is a better budget phone than Apple's iPhone SE (2022), along with two reasons it isn't.

1. It has a bigger, better display

With all due respect to the iPhone SE (2022)'s vibrant True Tone display, the Pixel 6a's screen is superior in every conceivable way. 

For starters, it's much larger at 6.1 inches (the iPhone SE's is just 4.7 inches) thanks to its minimal bezels and non-existent forehead and chin. 

And while the iPhone SE (2022) sports an older LCD screen, the Pixel 6a boasts OLED display technology, allowing for far greater contrast and vibrancy at an individual pixel-level.

Which brings us to each phone's display resolution – despite offering a less-premium LCD display, the iPhone SE (2022)'s resolution maxes out at just 1334 x 750 with a 326 ppi (pixels per inch) density. Compare this to the Pixel 6a's 1080 x 2400 resolution and 429 ppi density, and the winner of this category just ain't up for debate.

That's not to say the Pixel 6a's display is perfect – we're disappointed that Google wasn't able to improve upon the iPhone SE (2020)'s 60Hz refresh rate, especially when there are cheaper Android phones out there which offer 120Hz support, such as Samsung's Galaxy A53.

Additionally, the Pixel 6a's in-display fingerprint scanner is so slow that it makes us see the wisdom in Apple's decision to keep its Touch ID sensor separate from the iPhone SE (2020)'s display.

2. It has a better camera array

Google's Pixel handsets are known for their excellent photographic prowess, and the Pixel 6a is no exception. And while the iPhone SE (2020)'s single-lens camera is no slouch, it struggles to compete in a few key areas.

Although Google's newest budget handset sports older camera sensors which are technically inferior to the ones featured in the more premium Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, the 6a is still able to produce excellent results thanks to the search giant's unmatched AI-based image processing. 

And while the iPhone SE (2022) offers a range of portrait modes with advanced lighting effects, it lacks a dedicated mode for night photography, giving the Pixel 6a a clear advantage in low-light situations.

Both phones offer a 12MP primary camera, however, the Pixel 6a scores another win by offering a dual camera setup that includes an additional 12MP ultra-wide sensor which allows you to capture more in a frame.

3. Twice the storage at a similar price point

Apple's iPhone SE (2022) starts at $429 / £419 / AU$719 for a model which comes with a meagre 64GB of storage, while the Google Pixel 6a offers a single 128GB option at $449 / £399 / AU$749.

That means that for just a little bit more money (or a little bit less if you live in the UK), you can store twice as much stuff on a Google Pixel 6a than on the entry-level iPhone SE (2022). Handy, when you consider that neither phone offers the option for expandable storage.


Of course, not everything about the Google Pixel 6a makes it a better budget phone than the iPhone SE (2022). In fact, there are at least two areas where we think Google could stand to take a page out of Apple's playbook. 

Here are two ways in which the iPhone SE (2022) has the upper hand over the Google Pixel 6a.

1. Battery life isn't the greatest

Despite being a very good phone with a premium-feeling compact design, an excellent screen and flagship-level performance, the Google Pixel 6a was found to have one particular drawback in our in depth review: it suffered from surprisingly poor battery life.

That's rather disappointing when you take into consideration that its predecessor, the Pixel 5a, offered impressive battery life. While it's true that the Pixel 5a had a slightly larger 4,680mAh battery compared to the Pixel 6a's 4,410mAh offering, we didn't expect so much of a drop-off, especially when the Tensor chip is designed to be more efficient. 

We hope this turns out to be a firmware issue, meaning Google will be able to resolve it via an update, because right now the iPhone SE (2022) will definitely last longer on a single charge.

2. It lacks wireless charging

While many of you won't consider this one a deal-breaker, it's admittedly disappointing to see that the Google Pixel 6a lacks wireless charging functionality when the similarly-priced iPhone SE (2022) is able to offer it.

Given that the Pixel 6a has a glass back, which makes it ideal for wireless charging capability, it's odd that Google wouldn't make it compatible with its own Pixel Stand wireless charger.

Stephen Lambrechts
Senior Journalist, Phones and Entertainment

Stephen primarily covers phones and entertainment for TechRadar's Australian team, and has written professionally across the categories of tech, film, television and gaming in both print and online for over a decade. He's obsessed with smartphones, televisions, consoles and gaming PCs, and has a deep-seated desire to consume all forms of media at the highest quality possible. 

He's also likely to talk a person’s ear off at the mere mention of Android, cats, retro sneaker releases, travelling and physical media, such as vinyl and boutique Blu-ray releases. Right now, he's most excited about QD-OLED technology, The Batman and Hellblade 2: Senua's Saga.