Pixel 6A

I have just bought a Pixel 6A [1] for my wife. It’s one of the latest Google phones that was released almost at the same time as the Pixel 7 series, so if you want to spend a lot of money on a phone that’s the latest and greatest then the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro are the options, but if you want to save some money and don’t need something really high end then the Pixel 6A is a good option.

The one I bought cost $550 when I bought it from Google which seemed like a good deal when it was advertised as being discounted from $750. Later I discovered that other retailers were selling it for $500 or for $550 when bundled with a Chromecast. Also one of the other retailers was a company that I could get discount gift cards for. So this is the type of item you should really shop around for. It doesn’t come with a charger so you don’t have the gray-market disadvantage of getting yet another charger that doesn’t fit the sockets in your country.

The main new feature of this phone is a fingerprint scanner built in to the screen. I don’t think this is a good thing, sure it’s neat technology to both display pictures and read fingerprints through the same piece of glass but there are benefits to using a different location. Huawei phones with a fingerprint reader at the rear of the phone allow the user to answer calls, drag down the notifications list, and scroll sideways via touching the fingerprint reader. So the Pixel 6A clearly gives less functionality than some Huawei phones in this regard.

One major annoyance with the phone is a combination of the phone hardware and Android 13 which gives no back arrow (swipe sideways) and no button to get the task list (swipe upwards at the correct speed from the bottom of the screen). The Android 12 way of swiping up from the bottom of the screen to get buttons for back, task-list, and home-screen is much better IMHO. Hopefully they will release a software update to make this a configuration option.

Generally this is a nice phone, but the lack of buttons for back and task-list is annoying. Maybe the lack of buttons is something you can get used to after using it for a while. But millions of people just taking whatever companies like Google offer isn’t what I imagined when I first hoped for a large portion of the world using Linux. On PCs we have a choice between KDE, GNOME, and other UIs. It would be nice if we had similar choices on phones.

7 comments to Pixel 6A

  • François

    To go back you swipe from the left side of the screen. It’s as fast as using a dedicated back button and doesn’t use screen real estate. I switched to this gesture navigation when it was introduced and never went back.

    BTW if you to parameters / system / gestures you can choose to use the three-button navigation instead of the gesture navigation. I’ve got a Pixel 6 and I imagine it’s the same for the 6a.

  • Johannes Berg

    Are you sure about the lack of UI choice wrt. the buttons? I’m running android 13 on a pixel 5 and have “system navigation” (under System > Gestures) set to “3-button navigation”

  • Thanks for your comments, I’ve done that and it’s great now!

    François: Your future comments should get approved automatically.

  • Kane

    Highly recommend looking into GrapheneOS –

  • Graphene sounds good, but it’s a major pain to install a new OS on a phone. I wish phones had been designed like PCs with a similar boot loader (MBR in the early days and UEFI now), that would make it a lot easier.

  • Dan

    I advice against grapheneos, the project is against the principles of free software and has a history of bullying other free software projects, it’s better than the completely proprietary stock OS though. I recommend trying DivestOS It’s a great OS that does things right.

  • The feature list of DivestOS looks good. Interesting that they allow relocking the boot process, a good feature for some use cases. But still has the pain to install issue.