Absence makes the heart grow fonder is possibly what Google may have been thinking when they decided to take almost two years to officially launch a new smartphone in the Indian market. The last lineup - Google Pixel 6 and Google Pixel 6 Pro - were never officially launched in India, and now the younger, sleeker cousin - the Pixel 6a has landed on Indian shores. Here’s what stands out about the latest Pixel 6a, and a couple of aspects you might have to consider if this smartphone is on your wishlist.    

Understated appeal

The design of the Pixel 6a is quite sleek - the 6.1-inch OLED touchscreen is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3. The back panel looks uncannily like glass too, but is just built with a thermoformed composite panel, basically fancy plastic.

Inside the box, apart from the handset, there’s the charging cable (USB-C cable), a quick switch adapter to transfer data using a USB port, the SIM tool, and the Quick Start Guide. Much to the annoyance of some users, there’s no charging head in the box - which is increasingly the case with Android phones as well, after Apple set the not-so-popular precedent.

The device overall looks quite attractive but the back panel especially is a bit of a smudge magnet, so be prepared to keep that microfiber wipe handy.

The touchscreen is smooth as butter, and swiping through the fairly vivid OLED screen feels great. The refresh rate is up to 60 Hz and it doesn’t significantly take away from how smooth and snappy content looks on the smartphone. You might notice it initially only if you’re switching from a smartphone with 90 Hz or 120 Hz refresh rates.

There’s no 3.5 mm jack in the smartphone - similar to older Pixels phones - but unfortunately there’s no bundled earbuds either as used to be the case till the Pixel 4a - Google’s last smartphone launched in India. Hence, you either use a set of wireless buds or invest in a USB-C to 3.5mm headphone jack adapter for your wired headsets.

Snazzy snapper

One of the highlights of the Pixel 6a is its camera features. The rear panel houses two lenses - a 12.2 MP dual pixel wide camera and a 12 MP ultrawide camera.

The spotlight is definitely on the Magic Eraser feature, which easily lets you “scratch” out anything you don’t want from a photograph, once clicked and saved. A cool party trick, it does blend out objects quite effectively from the frame.

There’s also Night Sight which is designed to brighten up pictures taken in low-light conditions, and works fairly well to reduce grains.

The front camera makes people look like a million bucks, even without the filters. It definitely looks like the Real Tone feature that Google started integrating into the Pixel 6 series (Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro) is doing its job quite well in retaining the accuracy of skin tones, and it neither ends up whitewashing me nor over-exposes the background in an attempt to capture my skin tone accurately.

Another impressive bit is while you’re capturing photos, you can adjust the colour temperature, highlights and shadows in real-time instead of tweaking all of these while post-processing. Definitely a win, overall.

Google has built in an Extreme Battery Saver feature which keeps running for almost 72 hours, if a situation ever demands that. The handset comes with a 4410 mAh battery. With general usage, the Pixel 6a lasts for a little more than a day’s functional usage - with taking intermittent calls, browsing the web, clicking photos, and watching a few YouTube videos. So the battery life is not something that has been a cause of worry so far.

Elegant UI

One thing that I personally love about the Pixel 6a - as with all other Pixel phones - is the minimally elegant Android experience. Absolutely zero bloatware is always such a joy to use. The built-in gestures are intuitive - swipe left to go back, pull up from the bottom to get on the homescreen, pull up and hold to access all apps currently open. Google’s proprietary processor, the Google Tensor, seems to be doing well in managing multi-tasking. The Pixel 6a operates quite smoothly, without any lags so far. The Material You user interface is also quite elegantly designed, and is intuitive to use.

The Google Pixel 6a is a good choice for those who have used and loved the Google Android experience and may be looking to level up from their older Pixel smartphones, especially among the choices officially available in India. If you’re looking for a smartphone that’s compact and lets you take impressive photos, while not having to worry too much about battery life, the Pixel 6a might be a good fit for you. The challenging bit is, at the price tag it comes with, it’s not exactly a mid-ranger in the Indian market. Its competitors might already have an edge when it comes to offering higher refresh rates, storage capacity and RAM, at a similar price, so this one might just be for the loyalists. Starting today, the Google Pixel 6a is available on Flipkart for Rs 43,999.