Quick Links — Essentials
The Pixel 6a review begins below these quick links.
- Best Buy – Pixel 6 Series Phones [View] and Pixel Cases [View]
- Google Store – Pixel 6a Cases [View]
- Google Store – Pixel 6a Product Page [View]
- Google Store – Pixel 6 Product Page [View]
- Google Store – Pixel 6 Pro Product Page [View]
The “a” designation of the Pixel 6a is to convey that it is an economical and affordable alternative to the more costly standard and pro versions of the Pixel. The 6a is $450. The 6 is $600. The 6 Pro is $900.
The Google brand case for the Pixel 6a looks really nice in seafoam to match the “Sorta Seafoam” Pixel 6a phone.
Pixel 6a Pre-Order Special Pricing July 2022
I became aware of a special pre-order at the end of July where Google was offering their Pixel 6a phone in a bundle that included some Pixel A-Series earphones. That’s about $550 in products. Google was offering these as a $10 monthly add-on subscription for Google Fi customers. So, $10 monthly and after two years another phone would be shipped — presumably by then the Pixel 8a. The plan allows you to keep the Pixel 6a and earphones. So, $240 paid out over two years for $550 in tech devices.
Google Pixel Marketing Strategy
Google has a timed released staging of phone sales. The expensive high quality Pixel phones are released in the the Fall of each year. Those with sufficient desire and budget will buy at that time. Perhaps those who are impatient, or needing to replace a broken or outdated phone will pay the additional cost to get a premium phone.
Those who can wait, and perhaps don’t feel a need to have the premium devices, will wait until the following year, in the summer, when the “a” series device will be released.
Instead of just having a launch date when devices become available, Google first sends out evaluation phones to people who create product review videos on YouTube. While they may be impartial in their reviews, it’s hard not to feel some pressure from Google to provide a positive review if you want the honor and enjoyment of future evaluation products. So, the initial reviews will typically be positive.
The second significant wave of marketing distribution is the pre-order period where the devices are available for purchase at a significant price reduction. In the case of the Pixel 6a, the $10 monthly phone subscription results in a price reduction from $450 down to $240, or $550 down to $240 if you include the $100 earphones. I received one of those units. I’ll try to be impartial, but my personal experience of paying $10 last month and receiving $550 in devices will undoubtedly skew my view of the value.
These two waves of positive reviews, and people talking to friends will help “prime the pump” and produce more sales at the full retail price.
I can try to imagine what it would be like to spend $450 for the phone instead of $240 over two years, but that’s not exactly the same as taking that amount of your paycheck and spending it on a device.
If you are a lawyer, that $450 might represent an hour of billable time. If you are a tech consultant, it might represent a busy two or three days. If you work for minimum wage, that $450 might be your after-tax weekly paycheck. So, each person will feel a different level of financial sacrifice on a purchase. This needs to be considered as a factor in how a reviewer feels about the value.
Someone using the device exclusively for their business can consider it a business expense to receive a tax deduction.
Cost of Google Products
I’ve avoided Google products in the past because despite their reputation as an economic alternative to Apple products, they are still fairly expensive at normal retail prices.
To me, the most compelling smartphones are from Motorola. The Moto G series (about $160 on sale) and Moto X series (around $240 on sale) have worked wonderfully for me. Combined with the Google Fi cell phone service, it’s an economical alternative that I’ve wanted to be familiar with for supporting my customers who use Android phones and those needing a low-cost cell phone.
By comparison, it’s not uncommon for people to spend $800 to $1,200 on an iPhone and $180 per month on a group cell phone plan.
So, from this context one can see that the Google phones fall into the middle range of phone prices.
Motivation for Purchase
Everyone has a unique motivation for purchasing a new tech device. Perhaps their needs have changed and they require a more advanced device, or they realize a simpler device would serve their evolving needs. When a device is lost or broken, that’s another motivation, and usually there’s a sense of urgency if a person is suddenly without a working phone.
This year, on 7 March 2022, security updates for my 2017-model Moto X4 phone were no longer available due to the outdated Android 9 operating system. I was hesitant to continue using a non-secure device given the many security breaches in the news recently. So, that was my motivation.
Planned to get a Motorola Phone
I was planning to get another Motorola phone, either a Moto G series or Moto X series. I ended up having a need to buy a loaner phone for my tech library, so I purchased a Moto G Power 2022 for about $200 and that went out on loan right away. It lacks NFC (Near-field communication) for tap-to-pay purchases, but otherwise is a very nice smartphone with 3-day battery. I’ve seen it occasionally go on sale at about $160 on Amazon. I’ll get a chance to review that later upon its return to the tech library later this year. One of my first smaller cell phones about 20 years ago was a Motorola flip-phone. That one served me well, and I’ve had positive experiences with Motorola radios and their other devices.
The Ideal Pixel 6a User
The Pixel 6a is not for everyone. Those wanting a budget phone should definitely consider a Moto device. Those wanting a high-end phone will probably choose the fancier Pixel 6 or Pixel 6 Pro. Apple enthusiasts would want to consider the large-screen fancy iPhones.
Midrange phones typically have a random offering of features and specifications. A person satisfied with a budget phone may want to setup up to a midrange phone for a specific feature, like more storage, a better camera, fast 5G service, a larger screen, etc.
Special Offer from Google
The Pixel 6a is considered a mid-range phone. No wireless charging. No fast screen refresh rate. No glass covered phone back. These things don’t really matter for most people’s daily use, but for some those features would be a deal breaker.
I actually like the smaller screen size of the Pixel 6a. It’s easier to use with one hand. It’s thin and light, making it easier to handle. The appearance of the design with the “Sorta Seafoam” color would be something you might see in a museum.
Shown below is the Pixel 6a in the “Sorta Seafoam” color and then the same photo through a special filter that produces an artistic paining effect.
Earlier this year, I had signed up for advanced notification and news about the Pixel 6a release because it was supposed to offer some of the features found in the standard Pixel 6 at a lower price. I thought it might be good to have a “pure Android” device without the additional layer of manufacturer software.
The Fall 2021 announcement of the Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro phones was significant for a variety of reasons. Of greatest interest to me was the introduction of the Google Tensor Chip at a time when the global chip shortage had limited access to products. About a year earlier, Apple announced their M1 Apple Silicon chip, as their own manufactured replacement for Intel processors. These new chips are more powerful and more energy efficient.
So, I’m happy to have a replacement for my 5-year old Motorola phone, and thankful to try out Google’s latest technology to experience how Google envisions a pure form of Android. It’s similar to having a computer from Microsoft with only Windows installed and no other layers of software or customization.
I’ll now be able to support Google’s products better. I’m planning to continue supporting the Moto phones. I have many people using them based on my recommendation and they look to me for answers to common questions. I’m still using and supporting Apple iPhones, Samsung phones, and many other products.
For computing, I use Apple, Chrome, Linux, and Windows. This helps me stay proficient with each system in the same way people like to learn and use many languages. It’s a good mental exercise.