The Pixel 4a isn’t that old but it still might be worth considering an upgrade to the new Pixel 6a. The Pixel A-series is designed as a more affordable version of Google’s main Pixel lineup. In terms of appearance, they usually share the same design as their more expensive siblings. However, their lower price tag means there are usually tradeoffs in areas such as build quality, display, camera, and performance.
The Pixel 4a launched in 2020 as one of two budget Pixel smartphones from Google. A month after its launch, Google announced the Pixel 4a with 5G. The newer model not only came with a more powerful processor and a 5G modem but also a larger display, bigger battery, an additional camera, and of course, a higher price tag.
The Pixel 6a brings a fresh design to the Pixel A lineup. It isn’t as curved as its predecessors, swaps the top-left punch-hole for a centered one, and replaces the square camera housing with a horizontal camera bar on the back. Furthermore, the Pixel 6a has an aluminum frame and is rated IP67 for dust and water resistance. In comparison, the Pixel 4a has a plastic frame and doesn’t have any ingress protection. Google sells the Pixel 6a in Chalk, Charcoal, and Sage while the Pixel 4a launched in Just Black and Barely Blue.
There are a number of upgrades the Pixel 6a offers over the Pixel 4a, many of which are enough to warrant upgrading. For starters, the Google Tensor chip is miles ahead of the Snapdragon 730G chipset inside the Pixel 4a. However, both phones come with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, and the latter can’t be expanded as there’s no microSD card slot on either phone. It is important to mention that the Pixel 6a’s storage is UFS 3.1 which is faster than the Pixel 4a’s UFS 2.1 storage. The Pixel 6a also has better cameras than the Pixel 4a. Unlike the 2020 budget Pixel which has a single 12.2MP f/1.7 camera on the back, the Pixel 6a has a secondary 12MP ultrawide angle camera in addition to its primary camera (the same 12.2MP used in the Pixel 4a). It is also capable of recording in 4K at 60fps. Both phones have an 8MP front-facing camera.
Google has also equipped the Pixel 6a with a bigger 6.1-inch display which should appeal to those wanting more screen estate. This display also has a fingerprint scanner underneath, unlike the Pixel 4a whose fingerprint sensor is on the back. What’s disappointing is that the Pixel 6a’s screen is still a 60Hz OLED panel like the Pixel 4a’s 5.81-inch screen. Google has also stuck to Gorilla Glass 3 for the protection of the Pixel 6a’s display. When compared to the Pixel 4a’s 3140mAh capacity battery, the Pixel 6a’s 4410mAh battery should last much longer. However, fast charging still maxes out at 18W just like with the Pixel 4a. The Pixel 6a also doesn’t come with a charger in the box. While both phones have stereo speakers, the Pixel 6a is missing an audio jack which might be a deal-breaker for some. In terms of connectivity, the Pixel 6a has Bluetooth 5.2, NFC, dual SIM (nano and eSIM), Wi-Fi 6E support, and 5G (sub-6 GHz and mmWave).
Another reason why Pixel 4a owners may want to upgrade to the Pixel 6a is software support. Android version updates and security updates will cease by November 2023 for the Pixel 4a. This means there is just one year of software support left. In contrast, the Pixel 6a will receive Android version updates until 2025 and security updates until 2027. Overall, Pixel 4a owners upgrading to a Pixel 6 can expect improvements in performance, camera, and battery life, as well as longer software support and an overall stronger build.