Talk to most Android enthusiasts about their current reasons for excitement, and the odds are that the Pixel 6a will not be high on the list.
This is not really so strange: Pixel 6a – Google’s upcoming mid-range phone model, which the signs increasingly suggest should land around the time of the company’s I / O developer conference in May – will almost certainly just be a lower end- equivalent to the more premium Pixel 6 flagship released last fall.
And hey, the advanced flagship phones are truly where exciting things happen – right? Especially at a time when virtually all device manufacturers seem to be working on whiz-bang gadgets that bend, fold, and occasionally perform small jigs for your amusement, a decidedly worldly midrange model is hardly cause for excitement. RIGHT?!
Well, like that – in a way. But hold the phone: There’s more to this story than you see on the surface. While the Pixel 6a will undoubtedly lack the flash and pizza from its more expensive cousins, the look can be deceiving. And here in the country with Android it is often least exciting messages that end up being most important from a larger picture perspective.
Allow me to explain.
Before we get to the present and Google’s current Pixel ambitions, we need to rewind a bit in our nerdy Googley history.
We zoom back all the way to prehistoric times in 2013, in fact – a year in which Google actual first homemade Android phone came into the world.
That phone was none other than the original Moto X. It feels like an eternity since now, I realize, but remember: Google owned Motorola in that era. And the 2013 Moto X was our first glimpse of what a phone made by Google, from start to finish, would shape itself to be.
God, that was something. The first Moto X was the rare Android gadget that rejected the then standard focus on specs for specs and instead emphasized a uniquely versatile user experience – one that added thoughtful and truly valuable features to the existing Android framework without just arbitrarily. change things around for the sake of change itself.
Some of these features continue to have an impact on how we use our phones today. The first Moto X, for example, introduced the concept of always-on voice activation – long before Google Assistant was a thing at all. It had an early version of Android’s now-standard-always-on-screen system along with one of the platform’s first automatic driving detection capabilities. And all that was just the beginning.
And yet, despite all its positives and the abundant critical praise around them, the Moto X was, in the opinion of most, a commercial dud. It earned a lot of geekiness, no doubt – but one thing it never managed to earn was lots of money for Motorola. The phone was simply a flop.
Four months later that year, Motorola held an underplayed event in Brazil to announce another Google-made device. This second event lacked the glitter and glamor of the Moto X launch, and it did not even involve the United States or other major markets. Its focus was a little bit called the Moto G – a decidedly boring device that was basically just a lower end, less flashy version of the Moto X flagship.
There was not much excitement about the Moto G. It had a plain, muted look, ho-hum specifications and none of the fancy features or eye-catching designs from its more expensive X-branded siblings. And yet it followed the same basic design language as its advanced equivalent, packing all the same core concepts into a package that was virtually half price – $ 180 for a brand new Moto G compared to $ 380 (which, yes, seemed like a lot at the time ) for the more beautiful and expensive Moto X.
Do you remember what happened from there? No one made much sense of the Moto G. It was not buzzworthy, it was not the subject of endless hype and excitement, and it was certainly nothing to write home about. What that was, however, was an incredibly solid experience of high quality in an impossibly affordable form. And as its availability spread to more areas, it quickly became a massive hit – a device credited with single-handedly “reviving” Motorola, driving record-breaking phone sales across the globe and eventually becoming the company’s best-selling smartphone and its plan for the future. .
And that’s bringing us back to the present and what we’re seeing unfolding with Google’s Pixel devices right now.
Pixel 6a potential
From the start, Google’s Pixel phones have won the admiration of experience-focused Android geeks – including some humble (but extraordinarily beautiful) Android columnists. Pixels are the only phones I wholeheartedly recommend to most people these days, in fact, since the overall user experience with them is just in such a different league from everything else out there.
Take into account the devices’ unique promise of software update and all their privacy and security benefits, and there’s plenty of praise to be had for what a Pixel offers – especially from a business-minded phone owner’s perspective.
And yet, the best Pixel flagships have never been big sellers. Blame the blame on marketing, the blame on availability, or the blame on any other number of Google-associated variables, but the vast majority of Android-using organizations and organisms remain sadly unaware of what Pixel phones even is and how they differ from the more well-known and established Android brands.
The one area where Google has seen some sort of meaningful commercial success is in the middle class – with its Pixel “a” line of devices. But the latest Pixel “a” phone, the Pixel 5a, sells for $ 450. With the advanced Pixel 6 flagship currently costing only 600 smackers, $ 450 suddenly no longer seems like such a bargain anymore.
Now let’s zoom even further out to look at the wider smartphone image at this particular moment. The Pixel 6’s price represented a remarkable drop compared to the price of its Pixel flagship predecessor, $ 700 Pixel 5 – which in itself fell one hundred dollars from Earlier-gen Pixel flagship, $ 800 Pixel 4.
Pixel 6 also included a longer software support window than ever before – with three years of guaranteed timely OS updates and five years of monthly security patches. It actually cost the phone less annual advisable ownership than the significantly cheaper Pixel 5a, which is a pretty crazy interruption to consider.
Much of the Pixel 6’s advancement in both price and support life has to do with the fact that it’s the first Pixel phone powered by Google’s own homemade processor – a shift that opens the door to both cost savings, from Google’s perspective, and capability. to provide longer support without the stinging reliance on a third-party component manufacturer.
All indications are that the Pixel 6a will follow the same pattern and bring a Google-made processor into the mid-range Pixel range – which means that in theory we should see both a lower price and a longer support window for the phone. And especially with the break between Pixel 6 and Pixel 5a in terms of value, it would be a couple of very welcome fixes.
Now consider this: According to a recent analysis, the best-selling Android phone of 2021 was not a flashy flagship or a device that most of us have probably even thought about. No – it was the Samsung Galaxy A12, a budget-level phone you can buy almost anywhere for $ 180.
The Galaxy A12 is, to use the technical term, awful. That’s all we’re come to expect from budget-level Android devices over the years, with a potato-quality camera and a screen comparable in quality to gently heated waste. That does not mean anything about the slow and clumsy performance and operating system updates that come half a year late – if you are lucky. It’s a phone that’s aging youthfully ‘, as a recent review put it, and which is perhaps generous.
And yet the shitty old clunker sold all other Android phones in 2021. Wild, right?
The message here is simple: In the Android budget arena, the bar is almost ridiculously low. It would not take much for a phone to absolutely shatter the current ceiling and offer an experience so many times over the current expectation that it would be a total no-brainer for even the most cumbersome business to buy – from camera quality and other hardware basics to timely software support that would keep the phone up to date, safe and fully advisable to use for a significantly longer period than what is currently possible at that price point.
Oh, and one more thing: Samsung’s current Galaxy A12 successor, the Galaxy A13 5G, costs $ 250. It’s well within Pixel 6a’s striking range. Although the Pixel 6a sells for $ 350, its superior experience in every way and probably very longer period of active ongoing support would make it an easy step-up decision for any value-conscious buyer – provided, of course, that Google manages to market these benefits effectively and communicate the importance of long-term smartphone math.
In the end, I still suspect that an even more affordable Pixel “b” phone is inevitable at some point. But the Pixel 6a should represent a significant step in that direction – and a delayed redefinition of what a mid-range Android phone can be.
Just as the Moto G launch did for Motorola all the way back, the arrival of the Pixel 6a could be the moment that puts the Pixels on the map – which brings Google’s Android philosophy to the masses, helps turn the company into a serious smartphone player and ultimately forces Other things device manufacturers to keep up with the level of quality and longevity it offers at that price.
And toSuffice it to say, could easily end up being the year’s biggest Android story – even if it’s not the most exciting.
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