With a 60Hz refresh rate, the Pixel 6a feels out of date, and it doesn’t match the 90Hz of the Pixel 6 or the 120Hz, 144Hz or even 165Hz we see loads in phones of all prices. Admittedly 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 point to pick out, but screen refresh rate is a huge selling point for many people, as it touches everything you do on your phone. A higher refresh rate means the display updates more times per second, and in practice this makes motion look a lot smoother.
To keep the price low, all inexpensive phones make compromises – that’s about as contentious as stating “water is wet.” However, there is one difference between the Google Pixel 6 and the Pixel 6a that may turn off phone aficionados. While the new affordable version of Google’s famous Android phone has flaws such as a lower-resolution main camera sensor, a smaller body size, and a plastic back, there is one feature that stands out like a sore thumb: the screen refresh rate.
Given the huge popularity of the Google Pixel 6 range, it’s possible that the 6a will survive with its limited screen refresh rate. But given that the mid-range and budget phone markets are far more competitive than the premium ones, this could be a rude awakening for Google that it can’t downgrade everything. Tom’s role in the TechRadar team is to specialize in phones and tablets, but he also takes on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK
It’s particularly an important factor for cheap phones. The Moto G200, which costs the same as the Pixel 6a, has a 144Hz display – many phones that are a lot cheaper have 120Hz ones, and even incredibly budget phones get 90Hz. So fans of budget mobiles might find this one questionable spec enough to write off the Pixel 6a. Having a low refresh rate is particularly a shame for the Pixel 6a – one of the benefits of the smooth motion of a high refresh rate, is that navigating menus feels quick and easy. High refresh displays therefore go hand-in-hand with the clean-looking interfaces of stock Android, that Pixel phones use.
He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working in TechRadar freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist. Outside of TechRadar he works in film as a screenwriter, director and producer.