After almost four years using the Pixel 3, I decided to pull the trigger and upgrade to the Pixel 6a. It was a tough decision. I’ve really liked the Pixel 3. It has been, by far, the best phone that I’ve ever owned. Unfortunately, it’s not scheduled to get any more Android updates, so I figured it was time to move on.
Here are my thoughts after one week with the Pixel 6a. Given how much I liked my Pixel 3, the new phone has some big shoes to fill.
We’ve reached “peak” phone size
I knew going in that the Pixel 6a was going to be bigger than the Pixel 3. It’s 0.3 inches longer and 0.1 inches wider. It doesn’t seem like much, but I can tell the difference when holding it. Since I typically carry my phone in my front pocket, I’ve reached my limit for phone size.
I stacked the phones in the image on the right so you can see that the phones are very close in size.
From a thickness perspective, the phones are the same for all intents and purposes. The Pixel 6a might be a little thicker, but its hardly noticeable.
Here is a side view of the phones stacked to compare thickness.
While the phone isn’t much bigger, the screen is noticeably larger. The Pixel 3 had bezels at the top and bottom to accommodate the cameras and speakers. The Pixel 6a has done away with those bezels. While I didn’t think it would matter much, the larger screen is a significant improvement over the old device. I’m really liking it. It’s the best part of the upgrade thus far.
I don’t push my phones very hard. I stick to the basics – calls, texting, web browsing, and basic productivity apps. The only major difference I’ve noticed in performance is that the phone seems to handle Bluetooth connections better. Otherwise, under light usage, there isn’t a significant difference in performance between the two devices.
Again, I don’t push the camera hard. I take very few pictures and videos with my phone. From the few pictures I’ve taken over the past week, the camera seems to be an improvement, but nothing that I would really notice.
One of my major concerns with the upgrade was online reports of poor battery life. I don’t use my phone a lot on a daily basis. The screen is probably active for 30 minutes on average, and there might be some background apps that are active for additional hour or two during the day. Under these conditions, I would easily get a full day from my Pixel 3, and most times I could easily go 2 days between a charge.
Initial reviews reported that the Pixel 6a was barely making it through a full day. Well, that has NOT been my experience. Under the usage conditions noted above, I am easily getting 2 days between a charge, and that’s without using any of the battery optimization features. Sure the first charge only lasted a day, but I’ve typically found that a new phone needs a charging cycle or two to condition the battery and break it in.
Bottom line, the battery life is the same, if not better, than the Pixel 3.
What’s the verdict after one week?
I’m very happy with my purchase. For anyone else out there who’s hesitant about upgrading from the Pixel 3, I’d recommend going for it. Yes, the phone is a touch bigger, but the benefits of the larger screen makes up for the size change. Otherwise, the Pixel 6a performs just as well, if not better, in all the other key areas. Plus, it’s expected to receive at least 3 Android OS updates and security updates for 5 years. For that reason alone, it’s worth making the leap.
My Pixel 3 has served me well, but it’s time. Time to move on. After one week with the Pixel 6a, I don’t expect I’ll be looking back. The new phone has shown it is more than capable of replacing its predecessor.
Thanks for this post, Gregg! I stumbled on it from a Google image search for pixel 3 Vs 6 side by side. I find my general phone usage to be very similar to what you have described, so hearing your thoughts is very useful to me. I think I will take the leap and go for the 6a.
I’m almost two months into using the Pixel 6a and still loving it. Even though the 6a is just a little bigger than the 3, the screen feels a lot larger. They did a great job with the design pulling the screen to the edges to expand the screen real estate. Highly recommend the upgrade from the Pixel 3 to the Pixel 6a for anyone on the fence.
Thank you for the comparison, I like Phil stumbled from a image search. I am upgrading from a 3 to a 6a. Almost all other comparisons are from newer pixels. Great to see a real world down to earth side by side comparison.