All cheap phones have compromises to keep the price down – that’s about as controversial a statement as saying “the water is wet”. But the Google Pixel 6a has a Pixel 6 downgrade that might put off phone fans.
While Google’s new budget popular Android phone has drawbacks in a few areas, including a lower resolution primary camera sensor, smaller body size, and plastic back, there is one aspect that stands out as a sore thumb, and that’s the screen refresh rate.
With a refresh rate of 60Hz, the Pixel 6a looks outdated, and it doesn’t match the Pixel 6’s 90Hz or the 120Hz, 144Hz, or even 165Hz we’re seeing loads of in phones of all price points. Granted, Google has been slow to embrace high screen refresh rates, but that means it’s falling behind the competition.
This might seem like a small takeaway, but screen refresh rate is a huge selling point for many people because it affects everything you do on your phone. A higher refresh rate means the display updates more times per second, and in practice it makes motion much smoother.
This is especially an important factor for inexpensive phones. The Moto G200, which costs the same as the Pixel 6a, has a 144Hz display – plenty of much cheaper phones have 120Hz phones, and even incredibly budget phones get 90Hz.
So budget mobile fans might find this spec questionable enough to write off the Pixel 6a.
Having a low refresh rate is a particular shame for the Pixel 6a – one of the benefits of the smooth motion of a high refresh rate is that menu navigation is quick and easy. High-refresh screens therefore go hand-in-hand with the sleek interfaces of stock Android, which Pixel phones use.
Given the huge popularity of the Google Pixel 6 lineup, it’s possible the 6a will survive with its limited screen refresh rate. But given that midrange and budget phone markets are much more competitive than high-end ones, this could be a rude awakening for Google that it can’t downgrade everything.