Google’s Pixel 6a and Pixel Buds Pro have arrived, but do they do enough to make Apple fans consider making the leap to Android?
Google might be planning to woo you silly with its seventh entry in the Pixel family (presumably expected in the next few months), but before it does the tech giant has snuck out two new bits of gear into the market. So allow us to introduce you to the Pixel 6a and Pixel Buds Pro. We’ve been testing out both products for a few weeks now, but are they worth your hard earned cash?
Let’s kick things off with the Pixel 6a. Starting from $750, the phone is instantly a solid value proposition for Android owners and does well to compete with iPhone’s SE model (especially considering the 6a’s default model includes more storage capacity). Aesthetically, it looks the part right off the bat. We’ve been using the Sage colour model and have been big fans of its simple hues. It’s quietly confident and smartly taps into the popularity green seems to be enjoying in the design space.
As for the rest of the device, well it naturally follows the same basic layout as the Pixel 6 series, although it’s a touch smaller than the Pixel 6 – packing in a 6.1-inch display. You’ve still got a nice-looking OLED behind the scenes though, which helps the UI and videos pop. Flip to the backside and the camera bump has been shrunk down, meaning the Pixel 6a has a much smaller slant happening and is far less likely to slide on flat surfaces – a big win.
A large part of that size reduction is due to a slight pair down of the camera technology – the 6a utilising a 12.2 MP wide lens versus the 6’s 50 MP offering. For the average punter though the Pixel 6a still takes some stunning photos. Google’s post-processing software continues to feel leaps and bounds ahead of the competition, meaning images are rich with a great amount of detail and colour.
If we had to nit-pick the device, we’re still not huge fans of the under-screen fingerprint sensor, which much like the 6 Pro, has a bit of a delay to it, and Google’s OS does encounter the odd bug here and there (like not being able to access the Google Pixel Buds app for a couple of days), but both are easily fixed via future updates. The 60Hz screen might also be a bit of bummer for some users hoping for snappier scrolling, especially when compared to the 90Hz you can get on the Pixel 6 or 120 Hz on the 6 Pro.
But at the end of the day, it all comes down to price. If you want a pro-model Pixel, Google has you covered with the Pixel 6 Pro. But if you’re looking for an incredibly appealing price point that’s $250 cheaper than the baseline 6 model, the 6a is one of the best deals around.
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And with all that extra cash, you might want to also nab yourself a pair of the Pixel Buds Pro.
The first thing worth noting about these buds is their pure style factor. With a variety of colours to choose from (we once again went with the green-ish hues of Lemongrass), you can indulge in a bit of personality and they do well to not protrude too far out of your ear. Similarly, the egg-shaped charging case is impressively compact and should easily fit in your pocket. It measures in roughly around the same width of an AirPods case, but slightly taller.
Thankfully actually using the buds is a dream. Touch controls are surprisingly accurate, and we loved the ability to adjust volume (via a swipe) without having to whip out our phone. Connecting to both our Pixel 6a and iPhone devices was equally easy, although it’s worth noting that you’ll only be able to fine-tune settings and touch gestures on an Android device.
And no matter which device we listened on the sound quality was consistently admirable with a respectable amount of bass and an evenly balanced mid-range. Pair that with the new noise cancellation capabilities that did well to drown out most of the background noise during our lunchtime walks and Google’s got a serious contender on its hands.
Our only real gripe comes with the fit. Although the Pixel Buds Pro come with three different tip sizes, we never managed to get them to settle in just right. According to Google’s own app (which allows you do conduct a quick audio test) we had a decent seal in place, but the buds just never felt perfectly secure, meaning we were never truly confident enough to attempt a run in fear of them tumbling through a storm drain.
That said, every ear is different so that’s not to say everybody will have the same issue. It also never affected how comfortable they were to use, perhaps thanks to sensors designed to actively measure the pressure in your ear canal. While we can’t say we actively noticed that happening we’ve kept them in for large portions of a workday and never felt the need to pull them out, so Google is doing something right there.
If you’ve just picked up a Pixel 6a or are an Android user looking for new buds, the Pixel Buds Pro are a stellar choice. They look great, sound great, and at $299 should have Apple looking over its shoulder.