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Google Pixel 7 vs Pixel 6a: What's the difference and should you upgrade?

Which Google phone steals the show?
By

Published onDecember 23, 2023

Google Pixel 7
MSRP: $599.00
Check price
Positives
Long-term update pledge
Clean Pixel UI software and exclusive features
Unbeatable value for money
Negatives
Slow to charge
Tensor G2 can run hot
Middling speakers
Google Pixel 6a
MSRP: $449.00
Check price
Positives
Powerful Tensor chip
Easy to use in one hand
Excellent image processing
Great software
Long-term update commitment
Negatives
Worse than average battery life
Slow charging
Only 60Hz display
Tensor runs hot

Google has quickly become a top contender in the affordable flagship smartphone arena. In this Google Pixel 7 vs Pixel 6a showdown, we will look at what sets these two phones apart and see if the fancier Google Pixel 7 is worth the extra cash or if the budget-friendly Google Pixel 6a is the real star of the show. Let’s dive into the ins and outs of their design, how they perform, and the camera magic they’ve got going on to find out which Google smartphone is worth your money.

Google Pixel 7 vs Pixel 6a: At a glance

Here's a quick look at how the Google Pixel 7 vs Pixel 6a compare:

  • The Pixel 6a is cheaper than the Pixel 7, especially now
  • The Pixel 7 supports wireless charging. The Pixel 6a does not.
  • The Pixel 7 has higher RAM and storage options.
  • The Tensor G2 chipset in the Pixel 7 offers better performance than the Tensor chipset in the Pixel 6a.
  • The Pixel 7 has a better primary camera.

Google Pixel 7 vs Pixel 6a: Specs

Pixel 7Pixel 6a
Display
Pixel 7
6.32 inch OLED
2,400 x 1,080 pixels
90Hz refresh rate
Gorilla Glass Victus
Pixel 6a
6.1-inch OLED
2,400 x 1,080 pixels
60Hz refresh rate
Gorilla Glass 3
Processor
Pixel 7
Google Tensor G2
Pixel 6a
Google Tensor
Memory / Storage
Pixel 7
8GB RAM / 128GB
8GB RAM / 256GB
Pixel 6a
6GB RAM / 128GB
Battery
Pixel 7
4355 mAh
20W wired
20W wireless
Pixel 6a
4410 mAh
18W wired
Cameras
Pixel 7
Rear:
-50MP wide, f/1.9, 25mm
-12MP ultrawide, f/2.2, 114˚

Front:
-10.8MP, f/2.2, 21mm
Pixel 6a
Rear:
-12.2MP wide, f/1.7, 27mm
-12MP ultrawide, f/2.2, 17mm, 114˚

Front:
-8MP, f/2.0, 24mm
Connectivity
Pixel 7
5G, LTE
Bluetooth 5.2
NFC
Wi-Fi 6E
Pixel 6a
5G, LTE
Bluetooth 5.2
NFC
Wi-Fi 6E
Size and weight
Pixel 7
155.64 x 73.16 x 8.7mm
197 g
Pixel 6a
152.2 x 71.8 x 8.9mm
178g

The Pixel 7 and Pixel 6a have similar-sized displays with equal FHD+ resolution. However, the Pixel 7 has a faster refresh rate of 90Hz than the Pixel 6a’s 60Hz for smoother scrolling. The Pixel 7 also has two more gigabytes of RAM to manage apps quicker and an option for twice the storage space.

The Pixel 7 also houses the newer Google Tensor G2 chipset, which has better CPU and GPU performance than the first Tensor processor, but roughly the same battery efficiency. Google promises a not-quite industry-leading three OS upgrades and five years of security patches for the Pixel phones. The Pixel 7 shipped with Android 13 out of the box, while the Pixel 6a arrived with Android 12, giving the Pixel 7 more longevity.

In terms of durability, the Pixel 7 sports a Gorilla Glass Victus front and back for robust durability. The Pixel 6a has a slightly weaker Gorilla Glass 3 on the front and a plastic backside. Both phones have an aluminum frame. The Pixel 7 has an IP68 rating for dust and water resistance, though. The Pixel 6a follows closely behind with an IP67 rating. We have a dedicated guide on IP ratings, but the short summary is that the Pixel 7 is more resistant to water and dust.

Google Pixel 7 vs Pixel 6a: Size comparison

The Pixel 7 and Pixel 6a are similar in a compact size (6.32-inch vs. 6.2-inch displays). They are easy to hold and navigate on screen with one hand and comfortably pocketable. The Pixel 7 weighs a little more at 197g than the Pixel 6a at 178g, primarily due to the materials.

In terms of actual size, both devices are very similarly sized. The Pixel 7 is only taller and wider by a few millimeters. It is 0.2mm thinner, too. You will hardly notice a size difference.

Google Pixel 7 vs Pixel 6a: Camera

The Pixel 7 and Pixel 6a benefit from Google’s image processing powered by the Tensor chips, resulting in consistent point-and-shoot photography. The Pixel 7’s primary 50MP camera allows it to capture more detailed images, while the Pixel 6a relies on its 12.2MP primary camera, which doesn’t disappoint either. The only real complaint on the latter came up when cropping in.

No matter how smart Google’s processing is, a camera with a lower megapixel sensor just doesn’t capture as much definition as the 50MP shooter. We’ve taken many full-res samples with the Pixel 7, which you can browse in this Google Drive folder.

Both phones utilize a 12MP ultrawide shooter, ensuring consistent performance, even if the 114-degree field of view has the occasional focus issues. Neither phone has a telephoto lens, meaning all zoom is digital, and the finer details start to suffer at longer focal lengths. Zoom quality will only hold up to around 3x on either phone, which isn’t anything to be ashamed of, given the lack of dedicated hardware.

Google has several shooting modes available on either device. Night Sight mode delivers impressive low-light images and even supports the ultrawide camera, which you wouldn’t see from most mid-range rivals. Magic Eraser is onboard to eliminate any accidental (or deliberate) photobombers. That said, Magic Eraser came to all Google One paid subscribers earlier in 2023, so it’s no longer a Pixel-only feature. The Pixel 7 also packs a Cinematic Blur to add an artificial bokeh blur to video recording. Both phones support 4K recording at up to 60fps, with 1080p at up to 240fps as an alternative option. However, the front-facing camera on the Pixel 6a is limited to 1080p at 30fps, which may be a factor to consider for users who prioritize selfie video quality.

The Pixel 6a’s 8MP selfie camera delivers impressive results for a mid-range device, capturing detailed images and accurate colors. Its portrait mode is also effective, though it may occasionally miss a few hairs or finer details. The Pixel 7 has a slightly higher-definition 10.8MP selfie shooter, which performs similarly and is a bit softer, which helps even out the Pixel’s oversharpening, resulting in marginally better-looking portraits.

The Pixel 7’s camera setup offers better performance and image quality due to its higher-resolution primary sensor. However, the Pixel 6a still holds its own in the mid-range segment, delivering consistent results and leveraging the Tensor chip’s image processing capabilities.

Google Pixel 7 vs Pixel 6a: Battery and charging

google pixel 6a battery preferences
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

The Pixel 7 saw a slight downsizing in the battery from the Pixel 6 (4,355mAh, down from 4,614mAh). Despite that, there was no noticeable downgrade in terms of battery life. We found the Pixel 7 can survive a day of heavy gaming, web browsing, and video watching late into the night with 15% to spare. You can comfortably make it through a day and a half on a single charge with lighter, everyday use.

That’s good news because wired charging can be slow. The 20W wired charging takes a painstaking hour and 40 minutes to complete. You can hit 50% in 30 minutes, but that won’t be enough juice to take you through an entire day. There is support for wireless charging, but the times will be a little slower.

The Pixel 6a has worse-than-average battery life. That’s primarily due to its smaller 4,410mAh cell and hardware that chugs through power rather than sipping it. In our testing, we rarely achieved more than a day’s worth of energy, which is behind most mid-rangers. If you are going with the Pixel 6a, Power Saver mode is a must-use to overcome the Tensor’s appetite to chew through the battery.

The wired charging is also a little slower, limited to 18W, and takes an hour and 45 minutes to fill. There’s no wireless option to take advantage of, either.

Google Pixel 7 vs Pixel 6a: Price

  • Google Pixel 7 (8GB/128GB): $599
  • Google Pixel 7 (8GB/256GB): $699
  • Google Pixel 6a (6GB/128GB): $449

The Pixel 6a launched in the spring of 2022 and was followed soon after by the Pixel 7, which launched in the fall of the same year. The Pixel 6a was priced neck and neck with its competitors, such as the Samsung Galaxy A53 5G. Still, the Pixel 7 does undercut its competition in the flagship market. Both phones were widely available unlocked directly from Google, or with a plan from most cellular providers. That said, it’s now getting pretty hard to get them.

The Google Pixel 7a is already out, and so is the Google Pixel 8 series. This technically makes both the Pixel 7 and Pixel 6a previous-generation handsets. Interestingly enough, both of them can now be found for about $300 to $350, so you might be better off just getting the Pixel 7. Look into current deals before making a decision.

By the way, we also have comparisons between the Pixel 6a vs Pixel 7a and the Pixel 7 vs Pixel 8. You know, just in case you want to go with one of the newer handsets.

Google Pixel 7 vs Pixel 6a: Which phone should you buy?

The Google Pixel 7 and Pixel 6a offer impressive features in their respective price segments. The Pixel 7 has a better primary camera, more RAM and storage options, a faster refresh rate, and longer software support. It also supports wireless charging and has better build quality with its Gorilla Glass Victus and an IP68 rating. On the other hand, the Pixel 6a is a more budget-friendly option that still delivers excellent camera performance thanks to Google’s image processing capabilities.

If you're in the market for a new phone, the Pixel 7 won't disappoint.

For those looking for a well-rounded flagship device at a competitive price, the Pixel 7 is the clear winner. However, for bargain hunters who don’t need the extra bells and whistles, the Pixel 6a still pulls some of the best Pixel 7 features into a more affordable package. If you already have the Pixel 6a and are satisfied, you can make due holding onto it.

Overall, both phones deliver a smooth Pixel UI experience, enjoyable Material You customizations, and clever imaging algorithms. You won’t regret upgrading to the Pixel 7 if you have an older phone. Whether you’re looking for a phone to take you through a busy work day, handle gaming sessions, or snap great-looking pictures, Google’s affordable flagship can do it all.

Not convinced about which phone to get yet? Take a look at our Google Pixel 6a review and Pixel 7 review to dig deeper into each phone.

Which phone would you rather buy?

22 votes
Google Pixel 7Google Pixel 7
AA Editors Choice
Google Pixel 7
Tensor G2 processor • Upgraded camera • Low price
MSRP: $599.00
Value for money like no other
The Pixel 7 is a flagship Pixel for everyone. It offers the next-gen Google processor, some terrific specs, and a reasonable price. You can upgrade to the Pixel 7 Pro if you want a larger display and even better cameras.
Google Pixel 6aGoogle Pixel 6a
AA Recommended
Google Pixel 6a
Powerful Tensor chip • Excellent cameras • Great software
MSRP: $449.00
The cameras and software make the Pixel 6a stand out
This affordable phone has everything most people need: A great design, fantastic cameras, an outstanding software experience, and a long-term update commitment.

FAQs

No, the Pixel 6a does not support wireless charging. However, the Pixel 7a has wireless charging.

No, neither the Pixel 7 nor the Pixel 6a have a headphone jack. Here’s our list of the best devices with a headphone jack, if that’s an important feature for you.

The Pixel 7 has an IP68 rating for dust and water resistance (up to 1.5m for 30 min), and the Pixel 6a has an IP67 rating for dust and water resistant (up to 1m for 30 min).

Yes, the Pixel 6a has Google’s Magic Eraser features to identify and remove any imperfections in your photos automatically. Additionally, Magic Eraser is now available in other Pixel phones, as well as any Google One paid subscriber, through Google Photos.

Yes, the Pixel 7 in all regions supports a single-nano SIM and an eSIM.

No, the Pixel 7 and Pixel 6a do not have an SD card or microSD slot. You’ll have to rely on cloud storage if you need more than the onboard storage.

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