After years as an Apple fan, is it time to trade my iPhone for the Google Pixel 6a?

Google Pixel Pro compared to an iPhone 12 on a blue background
(Image credit: Google/Apple)

In my household of two, there's a dividing line between us – when it comes to technology, anyway. One of us (spoiler, me) loves Apple products; clean, white and user-friendly, while the other is a keen Android/Google user.

I'm fairly sure that my love of Apple actually started with the iPod and spiraled out of control from there, rather than originally having anything to do with photography. The love affair continued when I needed a machine to start editing photos on, and then when the iPhone cameras started getting properly good camera-wise, splashing out for one as a photography enthusiast seemed inevitable.

As a rule I don't buy the latest products when they come out, and yet I still plumped for the Apple iMac 24-inch M1 (opens in new tab) after its release, enjoying hours of magic with Adobe Lightroom CC (opens in new tab). Today, I've got an iPhone 12, which, like the best camera phones (opens in new tab), I find myself using more and more instead of my actual camera. 

This whole article does actually have a point, I promise, more than just revisiting the age old debate of Apple vs Android (opens in new tab) or being one of those people who go on about Apple with an adoration that borders on worship. All I'm here to say is that my phone contract ends soon, and rather than do what I usually do and just upgrade blindly to the latest Apple device, for the first time I find myself considering other options.

There are so many other amazing camera phone makers on the market now. And given the chance, my android loving companion was quick to jump in and convince me why a Google phone (opens in new tab) makes sense instead of an iPhone. 

With the hype around the latest Google Pixel 6a (opens in new tab), let's start there...

Google Pixel 6a (Image credit: Google)

What are the Google Pixel 6a camera features

We've already written about the disappointing camera downgrade (opens in new tab) on the Google Pixel 6a. You get a 12.2MP f/1.7 main camera and 12MP ultra-wide angle, instead of the 50MP sensor packed into the Pixel 6 (opens in new tab) and Pixel 6 Pro (opens in new tab).

As it happens, my current iPhone 12 already has dual 12MP Ultra Wide and Wide cameras, and while I wouldn't be tempted to upgrade on the basis of megapixels alone, we know that all cameras are about so much more than resolution.

Google's cameras are meant to pack in plenty of clever computational wizardry, including Google's Super Res Zoom feature, Night Sight (for low light shooting), Face Unblur, Real Tone (for accurate skin tones) and Magic Eraser (for getting rid of annoying photo bombers).

I've not tested out any of these features so I can't comment on how good or gimmicky they are, but since reading about them, I certainly want to.

You get quick access to Android updates

Because Google oversees both the hardware and the software, you can access any Android updates very quickly after they are released. This is another argument that got thrown my way when considering the Google Pixel 6a, but of course it applies to all Google phones.

It's the same situation with Apple and iPhone updates, though, so I wasn't won over by this benefit.

Pricing and availability of the Google Pixel 6a

The Google Pixel 6a is available for pre-orders now (opens in new tab), and it's priced at a very tempting £399/$449/AU$749. My current iPhone is $729/£629, and that's for 64GB storage capacity against the Pixel 6a's standard 128GB – but it does (in my opinion) sport a much nicer design and use of premium materials. Style over substance?

Should you rush out to buy the Google Pixel 6a?

Pixel 6a

Google Pixel 6a (Image credit: Google)

Many of us no longer have the means or desire to spend thousands on a flagship camera phone, and fortunately, nor do we need to if we want the latest features. I can't deny that I love the iPhone operating system, the iconic design and the glass back, but Apple certainly needs to do more than change its colorways if it's going to keep up with the latest releases from the likes of Samsung, the Nothing 1 (opens in new tab) – and of course Google.

While I'm not going to rush out and pre-order the Google Pixel 6a, its release and subsequent hype (and affordable price) has convinced me to at least start looking at alternatives to the best iPhones for photography (opens in new tab) when I next upgrade. 

If you're a traditional Apple user looking for a new way of taking photos, and want to save money on your device at the same time, I think the Google Pixel 6a could convince you to as well. And if money is no object, there's always the Google Pixel 6 Pro (opens in new tab).

If you're looking for more of the latest phone cameras, check out our Apple iPhone 13 pro and review. 

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Lauren Scott
Managing Editor

Lauren is the Managing Editor of Digital Camera World, having previously served as Editor of Digital Photographer (opens in new tab) magazine, a practical-focused publication that inspires hobbyists and seasoned pros alike to take truly phenomenal shots and get the best results from their kit. 

An experienced photography journalist who has been covering the industry for over eight years, she has also served as technique editor for both PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine (opens in new tab)PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine and DCW's sister publication, Digital Camera Magazine (opens in new tab)

In addition to techniques and tutorials that enable you to achieve great results from your cameras, lenses, tripods and other photography equipment, Lauren can regularly be found interviewing some of the biggest names in the industry, sharing tips and guides on subjects like landscape and wildlife photography, and raising awareness for subjects such as mental health and women in photography.