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The best Google Pixel 6a alternatives: 5 phones to consider before you buy

The Pixel 6a is Google's most feature-packed budget phone to date, but what else is out there?
By
May 15, 2022
Google IO 2022 pixel 6a green
Google

Google’s latest mid-range phone has arrived. The Pixel 6a sits as a successor to the Pixel 5a, and it’s now the smallest member of the Pixel 6 family. It brings the camera bar and Tensor SoC of the flagship Pixel 6 series to a more affordable price point, but is it the right phone for you? Whether you want a new Android device or you’re considering iOS, we have you covered. Let’s take a look at the best Pixel 6a alternatives.

Google Pixel 6a
Powerful Tensor chip • Compact design • Excellent image processing
See review
$449.00 at Amazon
See review

The best Google Pixel 6a alternatives

1. Google Pixel 6

Google Pixel 6 Pixel 6a alternatives
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

No question, the Pixel 6 is one of the best alternatives for Google’s budget phone. The two share much of the same DNA, while the flagship’s extra $150 cost brings you a few key upgrades.

For starters, the Pixel 6 offers 8GB of RAM to the Pixel 6a’s 6GB, a 90Hz display instead of 60Hz, and faster wired charging, as well as wireless charging support. You can also upgrade to 256GB of onboard storage.

However, no matter which way you lean, you’ll find the premium Tensor SoC under the hood. The camera bar is right at home on Google’s recent launches, and it carries a powerful pair of lenses. You’ll get a crisp 50MP primary camera on the Pixel 6, while the Pixel 6a returns to the 12.2MP shooter seen on previous Pixels. Both phones share a 12MP ultrawide lens, too.

Learn more: Google Pixel 6 review

While the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6a have similarities, the flagship model sports a fully Gorilla Glass Victus design compared to the 3D composite rear and Gorilla Glass 3 display panel of the Pixel 6a. The Pixel 6 also offers a slightly better IP68 rating instead of an IP67 option. Either way, Google offers five years of security updates, which should carry support through 2026 or 2027, depending on which phone you buy.

Google Pixel 6
Premium, unique design • Upgraded cameras • Competitive price
See review
MSRP
SAVE
$529.50
$69.50
$529.50 at Amazon
See review

2. Samsung Galaxy A53 5G

samsung galaxy a53 standing
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

The Galaxy A53 5G is one of the best Pixel 6a alternatives for the same stack of cash. Both devices will set you back $449, and they’re among the best affordable phones on the market right now.

Samsung is playing its own in-house chipset game, bringing the Exynos 1280 to its Galaxy A53 5G. This is the first time we’ve seen an Exynos chipset in the US in quite a while, and though it isn’t likely to hang with Google’s Tensor chip, it still delivers solid results. Although both mid-rangers offer smooth OLED panels, Samsung’s 120Hz refresh rate easily tops the 60Hz option of its Pixel rival.

Our thoughts: Samsung Galaxy A53 5G review

The Galaxy A53 5G also pushes its camera bump further than the Pixel 6a. You get four lenses to work with, capped off by a 64MP primary shooter. The 5MP macro may feel like a gimmick, but the 12MP ultrawide has plenty of uses. Samsung gives Google a run for its money with software updates — the Galaxy A53 5G is set for four full Android versions with five years of security patches.

Samsung Galaxy A53 5G
Flexible camera setup • Great battery life • Flagship-level update commitment
See review
$449.99 at Samsung
See review

3. Apple iPhone SE (2022)

Apple iPhone SE (2022) Pixel 6a alternatives
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

If you’re eyeing the Pixel 6a, there’s a good chance you’ve settled on the Android operating system. However, it’s important to remember that Apple has some tricks up its sleeve.

Apple’s iPhone SE (2022) hasn’t physically changed since the very first version. It’s still an iPhone 8 on the outside, complete with hefty top and bottom bezels and a round home button. Once you take a peek under the hood, you’ll see why it’s worth a look. The powerful A15 Bionic processor is the same as you’d find on the flagship iPhone 13 series, and it delivers benchmark results that are off the charts. It takes 4GB of RAM and its tiny battery further than they’d go on comparable Android devices, even if the tiny form factor underwhelms.

The verdict: Apple iPhone SE (2022) review

The iPhone SE (2022) has its fair share of compromises, including its single rear camera, a cramped, low-res display, and its pitiful 64GB of storage on the base model. On the bright side, you should see software support for years to come, and it’s an easy way to dip your toe into iOS.

Apple iPhone SE (2022)

4. Motorola Moto G 5G (2022)

motorola moto g 5g home screen on step
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

The Moto G series has followed a reliable formula since what feels like the beginning of time. You mostly know exactly what you’re going to get, and Motorola always keeps its prices reasonable. The Moto G 5G (2022) might not top the Pixel 6a in many categories, but it looks like a reliable pick that can save you some money.

Motorola has been shifting towards a Mediatek future for much of 2022, and its Dimensity 700 chipset should deliver steady performance. The Moto G 5G also offers upgraded RAM and storage configurations, which now top out at 6GB and 256GB, respectively.

See also: The best Motorola phones you can get

That said, Motorola’s camera decisions often leave us scratching our heads. The 50MP primary sensor should hold its own, but Motorola ditched the ultrawide camera from the last Moto G 5G and kept the underpowered macro lens. We’ll be putting the Moto G 5G through its paces in a full review soon, but for now, it’s a fair option if you don’t fancy Google’s budget phone.

Motorola Moto G 5G (2022)

5. Poco F4 GT

Poco F4 GT Pixel 6a alternatives
Hadlee Simons / Android Authority

The last of our Pixel 6a alternatives might cost you a little more (and isn’t officially available in the US), but it’s definitely a good pick for mobile gamers. Poco decided to double-down on great gaming features, adding retractable shoulder keys, blistering 120W charging, and a powerful flagship processor. Sound like overkill? It is, but in the best way.

The flagship-grade Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor means that the Poco F4 GT performs with the best of them, and the large display keeps you right in the action. It features a 6.67-inch OLED panel, complete with a 120Hz refresh rate and a sharp Full HD+ resolution. The battery is bigger than the Pixel 6a’s at 4,700mAh, though the insane charging speed means you can fill it in just about 17 minutes.

Get in the game: The best gaming phones to buy

While the Poco F4 GT is probably the best bet for gamers, it does skip a few everyday comforts. You won’t find the strongest camera system — the ultrawide sensor particularly underwhelmed us in our review. Poco doesn’t offer a reliable update commitment either, which leaves the device with an uncertain future.

The best Google Pixel 6a alternatives: Honorable mentions

  • Google Pixel 5a ($449): If you’re not content to wait for the Pixel 6a’s official launch, the Pixel 5a might be a great way to fill the gap. It’s not as widely available — still limited to Japan and the US — but it offers a hefty battery and an aluminum design that can withstand some wear and tear. The Pixel 5a also carries the same Snapdragon 765G chipset found on Google’s much-loved Pixel 5.
  • OnePlus Nord N20 ($282): The OnePlus Nord N20 is the most affordable option among our Pixel 6a alternatives. It offers a clean and simple design with an excellent display for under $300. You also get solid battery life and charging, but the weak update commitment limits the long-term prospects, and bloatware weighs down the usually popular Oxygen OS experience.
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 FE ($549): The Galaxy S21 FE launched in early 2022 after a long delay, but it remains a great Pixel 6a alternative, especially after a price cut from its original $699 MSRP. It follows a similar formula, offering the best Galaxy S features at a lower price. For your money, you can pick up a Snapdragon 888 SoC, 120Hz OLED display, and a durable IP68 rating. The Galaxy S21 FE is also set for three years of OS updates with four years of security patches.

That’s it for our look at the best Google Pixel 6a alternatives. Did we miss one of your favorites? Let us know down below.