Pixel 6a challenges Samsung for the default Android crown |  digital trends

Pixel 6a challenges Samsung for the default Android crown | digital trends

2022 saw a strong revival for Samsung, thanks to its attractive hardware and unbeatable software update cycle, a combination that gives it the default status of Android. But Google’s Pixel 6a appears to be designed to derail that train of hype.

In fact, Google is chasing the same formula that makes the iPhone SE such a popular choice — a fast processor, reliable camera, and polished software — all at half the price of the main entry points. Despite some glaring omissions and feature cuts compared to competitors, Apple still managed to move millions of units, especially in a segment of users who are chasing to experience the burgeoning iPhone ecosystem on a budget.

With the Pixel 6a, Google aims to offer a similar combination of a flagship processor, a trusty pair of cameras, fast mmWave 5G connectivity, and clean software that will receive software updates for at least the next five years. All for just $450. Of course, concessions were made. The 3.5mm headphone jack is gone, and there’s no room for storage expansion either.

This time around, Google isn’t bringing flagship camera hardware from the Pixel to budget A series phones, as it has in the past, so there’s that too. But the rough consensus so far, at least among experts and enthusiastic buyers in the local Google market, is that the Pixel 6a is a winner from the start, and that doesn’t bode well for Samsung’s phones giant in the US market.

Aiming at the Samsung crown

Google is clearly pursuing an iPhone SE-like glory, but the real threat comes from Samsung. Take, for example, Samsung’s $450 mid-range champ, the Galaxy A53 5G, which is almost the antithesis of what it can or can’t offer.

The Galaxy A53 5G outperforms its Google rival by offering a 120Hz OLED display, a variety of quad cameras led by a 64MP high-resolution primary sensor, a larger 5,000mAh battery that supports faster charging, and a range to expand storage up to 1TB. Most, if not all, of them are important features that smartphone buyers actually care about. Additionally, Samsung’s promise to provide five years of s0ftware updates matches what Google aims to do with its latest phones.

Samsung Galaxy A53 5G phone in blue color.
Samsung Galaxy A53 in gorgeous blue Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

But the Pixel 6a builds more on the muscle of the Tensor chip inside, humble camera hardware backed by the Pixel’s legacy, a slightly smaller footprint with a sleeker design, and a clean Android experience with meaningful exclusives. But in the end, the question is which Android phone is the best option for $450? Well, in 2022, the Pixel 6a seems to be the best option.

Of course, strong carrier deals and discounts will still allow Samsung to sell a healthy number of Galaxy A53 5G units, but it won’t be the default $450 Android phone off the shelf. This is a powerful statement in and of itself. If the Pixel 6a can salvage itself from the bug-ridden software legacy of its more expensive siblings and predecessors, there’s no reason for buyers to look elsewhere.

This is the peak pixel power.

Yes, Motorola and TCL are also trying to make their mark, but they haven’t come close to the reputation that the $450 big boys are ruling this year. It’s a shame the Pixel 6a won’t hit shelves anytime soon, giving rivals plenty of time to come up with stronger rivals to cut back on Google’s breathing space in the budget smartphone segment.

But more than defeating competitors and capturing some nice market share, the Pixel 6a is also trying to serve as a springboard to an emerging ecosystem of connected products. It’s a long shot, but it looks like it’s time and Google isn’t playing timid either, revealing its 2023 hardware plans in 2022 to make some sense for Android loyalists and potential converts in the near future.

Bridging the gap to build an ecosystem

Historically, Google’s budget phones have made some big concessions to keep asking price in check. Take for example recent flights like the Pixel 5a and 4a, both of which have disappointing screen specs, a nice plastic chassis, slow charging, and a handful of bugs. Pixel 6a improves on almost all of these shortcomings. But more than frequent upgrades, it fills that gap for a satisfactory phone at an affordable price.

pixel clock display

So far, the “good Pixel” experience has only hovered around the $800 mark and beyond, but the Pixel 6a almost cuts that financial demand in half. And in the middle of it all is the Tensor chip. Google is indulging in an oversupply of the Tensor chip that not only pushes the Pixel 6a squarely into the key performance area but also unlocks a lot of new capabilities that have remained exclusive to high-end Pixel phones.

But the cost savings the Pixel 6a offers is allowing buyers toward Google’s fledgling ecosystem of products that now include earbuds, an upcoming smartwatch, and a tablet set to arrive next year. It also helps that the sacrifices made by the Pixel 6a don’t have any significant impact on how products of the connected ecosystem perform in terms of responsiveness or functionality.

For potential Pixel 6 or Pro buyers who don’t really care about high-resolution cameras, the Pixel 6a offers a great path to save money and invest the rest in other Google products and services. Google’s strategy is almost as decisive as Apple’s, and if the ecosystem’s products turn out to be really good, the first and second hole punches offered by the Pixel 6a could indeed drive Google’s hardware ambitions.

Of course, it’s easier said than done, but the opportunity is here. All Google needs is commitment, not squandered again, the way it has given up on the Android tablet issue and keeps revisiting it with half-hearted ambitions from time to time.

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2022-05-17 20:04:34

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