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Google Pixel 6a vs. Apple iPhone 13 Mini

Unlike older Pixel A-series phones, the Pixel 6a comes with Google’s flagship Tensor chip, which catapults it into the same segment as flagship smartphones, including the iPhone 13 series. Price-wise, the iPhone SE (2022) is a worthy competitor to the Pixel 6a. But outside its price range, the flagship chipset and the unbeatable cameras help the Pixel 6a stand firm against other more expensive smartphones such as the iPhone 13 Mini.

Google has always prided itself on the exceptional photography skills the Pixel series offers. While the company’s enthusiasm hasn’t translated to better sales of its flagship Pixel series, the Pixel A-series has aided in filling the gap. Apple launched the iPhone 13 Mini in September 2021, but it could be the last compact iPhone in Apple’s brief time with the form factor. Despite its size, the iPhone 13 Mini features the mighty A15 chip, which can be anointed as the most powerful mobile phone chip yet.

There’s quite the price difference between these two devices, but they’re still competitors in some ways. If you have doubts about which phone to choose between the Pixel 6a and the iPhone 13 Mini, we compare the two phones to show which suits your needs better.

Specifications

Google Pixel 6a Apple iPhone 13 Mini
Size 152.2 x 71.8 x 8.9mm (5.99 x 2.83 x 0.35 inches) 131.5 x 64.2 x 7.7mm (5.18 x 2.53 x 0.30 inches)
Weight 178 grams (6.3 ounces) 141 grams (4.97 ounces)
Screen size 6.1-inch OLED display 5.4-inch Super Retina XDR OLED
Screen resolution 2400 x 1080 pixels (429 pixels per inch) 2340 x 1080 pixels (476 ppi)
Operating system Android 12 iOS 15
Storage 128GB 128GB, 256GB, 512GB
MicroSD card slot No No
Tap-to-pay services Google Pay Apple Pay
Processor Google Tensor with Titan M2 Apple A15 bionic
RAM 6GB 6GB
Camera 12.2-megapixel wide and 12MP ultrawide cameras on the back
8MP on the front
12MP wide and 12MP ultrawide rear cameras
7MP front
Video

4K and 1080p at up to 60 frames per second
Slow-mo at up to 240 fps

4K Cinematic Pan video stabilization

4K at up to 60 fps, 1080p at up to 240 fps
Dolby Vision HDR at 60 fps
Bluetooth version 5.2 5.0
Ports USB Type-C Lightning
Security Under display fingerprint Face ID
Water resistance IP67 IP68
Battery 4,410mAh

18W charging

2,438mAh

18W charging

Qi and MagSafe wireless charging

App marketplace Google Play Store Apple App Store
Network support Most major U.S. carriers All major U.S. carriers
Colors Sage, Chalk, Charcoal Starlight, Midnight, blue, pink, red, green
Prices From $449 From $699
Review score 4 out of 5 stars Hands-on review

Design, display, and durability

Despite its sleek and compact design, Apple doesn’t compromise on the build quality of the iPhone 13 Mini, which comes with a similar glass back and aluminum frame design as the bigger iPhones while also offering protection against dust and water damage, thanks to an IP68 rating.

The Pixel 6a, on the other hand, also borrows the design from its more premium sibling, the Pixel 6. But instead of using the same glass back panel, the Pixel 6a features what Google calls a “3D thermoformed composite” material, a sophisticated way of saying plastic. In addition to its relatively less premium design, the Pixel 6a also lags behind IP ratings with an IP67 certification. While both IP67 and IP68 offer similar protection against dust, IP68 means the device can be submerged in freshwater for more than a meter.

In terms of durability, the iPhone 13 Mini has Ceramic Shield protection made by Corning — the same company that makes Gorilla Glass — on the front and an unspecified version of Gorilla Glass on the back. Apple claims this is stronger than the latest Gorilla Glass versions. In contrast, the Pixel 6a features much older and less durable Gorilla Glass 3 on the front.

The Pixel 6a might be a better bet despite less durability if you’re someone with butter fingers and tend to drop your smartphone often. You can also be relatively less tense about carrying the Pixel 6a without a case.

Finally, when it comes to displays, the Pixel 6a rocks a 6.1-inch OLED with HDR support. Meanwhile, the iPhone 13 Mini has a smaller 5.4-inch OLED XDR display. Compared to the Pixel 6a’s contrast ratio (the ratio of the brightest to the darkest pixels’ brightness) of 1 million to 1, the iPhone 13 Mini boasts of contrast ratio of 2 million to 1. That means the iPhone 13 Mini is twice as capable of displaying HDR content. Further, iPhones usually have the most accurate color calibration, so we have to give it to the iPhone 13 Mini once again. Lastly, both phones have 60Hz displays. The iPhone 13 Mini also has a higher pixel density because of its small size. However, you are unlikely to notice any difference because of the limitations of the human eye — unless you look under a microscope.

The more compelling phone, in this case, is the iPhone 13 Mini. However, if you absolutely want a phone with a larger display, the Pixel 6a is the more logical choice.

Winner: Apple iPhone 13 Mini

All Pixels all the time

Performance, battery life, and charging

Promotion being used on the iPhone 13 Pro.
Gaming using an iPhone 13 Pro A15 Bionic chip

Both the Pixel 6a and the iPhone 13 Mini come with custom flagship chipsets designed by the companies themselves. While Google chose the Tensor SoC, which powers the Pixel 6 and the Pixel 6 Pro, Apple equips the iPhone 13 Mini with the A15 Bionic chip. Both chipsets are designed for relentless performance, but Apple’s chipset is considered slightly more advanced. This will play a role if you wish to game heavily on the smartphone, but the difference isn’t likely to be huge, so you can choose either without worrying about the performance.

In terms of battery, however, the iPhone 13 Mini seems at a significant disadvantage. Because of its small size, the iPhone 13 Mini can only accommodate a tiny 2,438mAh battery. Because of the small capacity, the Mini’s battery backup is likely to be hampered, and it may start gasping for air much before it reaches 24 hours of usage. The Pixel 6a, on the other hand, has a much larger 4,410mAh battery. However, the Pixel 6a’s battery does struggle more than we’d have expected, making this category much closer than you might assume on paper.

When it comes to charging, both phones charge awfully slow by today’s standards. You get 18W charging on the devices and can expect them to take two hours — or even more — to get to 100%. The iPhone 13 Mini also supports wireless charging, but the Pixel 6a does not.

It’s a tough one to call since both phones are powerful but lack battery power. The iPhone 13 Mini does seem to last for a day and change though, which is definitely better than the Pixel 6a. The iPhone also has wireless charging, giving it this category.

Winner: Apple iPhone 13 Mini

Camera

The Google Pixel 6a. Someone is holding the phone with the camera app open.
Joe Maring/Digital Trends

For the first time since the introduction of the Pixel A-Series, the smartphone packs in a different camera setup than its more premium sibling. While the Pixel 6 and the Pixel 6 Pro feature an all-new 50MP primary camera, the Pixel 6a still sports the older 12.2MP camera that has been used since the first generation of the Pixel smartphones. Both phones, however, have the same 12MP ultrawide cameras.

The iPhone 13 Mini sports the same dual-camera setup as the vanilla iPhone 13. The setup includes a 12MP primary and a 12MP ultrawide angle camera.

In our camera comparison between the iPhone 13 and the Pixel 6 Pro, the Pixel emerges as the better camera phone in various scenarios. A similarly fierce competition is expected when we look at the Pixel 6a’s camera performance. The Pixel 6a also gets the Pixel 6’s incredible photo editing features, including Magic Eraser. Despite using a camera sensor that is almost six years old, the Pixel 6a exhibited exceptional image quality, with equal dexterity in bright and low-light conditions during our Pixel 6a review.

However, if you also plan to rely on your phone for videos, the iPhone 13 Mini is glaringly the better choice. Even though both phones can capture 4K videos at up to 60 fps, the iPhone can also record HDR videos with color space suited for Dolby Vision. Therefore, the Pixel 6a will feel insignificant in this regard. Google also endorses something called HDRNet, which is a machine learning algorithm for the most color-accurate HDR videos on the Pixel 6 and the Pixel 6 Pro. Even though the Pixel 6a uses the same chipset, Google has not explicitly mentioned whether the phone supports HDRNet or not.

Lastly, in terms of selfies, the iPhone gets a 12MP front camera and benefits from the Face ID’s 3D depth sensor for more accurate portrait shots. Meanwhile, the Pixel 6a features an 8MP selfie camera. Once again, you can expect comparable performance in terms of photography. However, if you plan to take videos with the front camera, the iPhone 13 Mini dashes forward again, thanks to 4K recording at 60 fps and support for Cinematic mode.

Both phones have excellent cameras, so this is a tie.

Winner: Tie

Software and updates

Software experience is always subjective and gets even more intense with the competition between iOS and Android. Both mobile operating systems have pros and cons, and we won’t get into those details to keep this comparison fair.

However, if your decision is purely based on how long the company will support a smartphone, you are better off with an iPhone. iPhones leading up to the age of six are currently still eligible for the latest iOS updates — for example, the iPhone 7 launched in 2016 will receive iOS 16. Therefore, the iPhone 13 Mini will likely get iOS updates for at least the next five generations. The Pixel 6a, which comes with Android 12, is expected to receive three incremental updates (i.e., to Android 15 or equivalent) and two additional years of security updates and bug fixes.

While the choice between Android and iOS is fairly subjective, the iPhone is much more likely to get more updates, and we’ve given it a narrow win.

Winner: Apple iPhone 13 Mini

Special features

iPhone 12 magsafe leather wallet.
iPhone MagSafe leather wallet Martin Sanchez/Unsplash

Besides the features we have highlighted above, the iPhone has an advantage in terms of 5G connectivity. Although both phones support Sub-6GHz, only the iPhone 13 Mini supports mmWave 5G signals. Additionally, support for MagSafe brings support for multiple magnetically-attaching accessories.

In comparison, the Pixel 6a comes with a dedicated Titan M2 chip that claims to offer better security against online scams and phishing. Further, it comes with on-device Google Assistant processing capabilities, so all your conversations with the Assistant are saved safely on your phone. These interactions are important though, as the Google Assistant has a huge range of abilities on a Pixel, including the ability to screen calls and hold your place in queues.

Google prioritizes software additions, while the iPhone leans heavily on some cool hardware accessories. This is a tie.

Winner: Tie

Pricing and availability

The iPhone 13 Mini comes for a starting price of $699, and you can buy it from Best Buy, Walmart, or Apple’s online store. It is available in 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB variants.

The Google Pixel 6a comes only in a single 128GB variant. It will be much cheaper at $449 and available starting July 28, 2022. Compared to the Pixel 5a, which was limited to the U.S. and Japan, the Pixel 6a will be available in many more markets.

Overall winner: Apple iPhone 13 Mini

Both the Google Pixel 6a and the Apple iPhone 13 Mini appeal differently to somewhat overlapping audiences. The Pixel 6a is a straightforward camera phone with clever features to minimize human intervention. The iPhone 13 Mini is more fitting to a lifestyle where you want to prevent your phone from intruding upon your personal time but with the fallback option to get flagship-level performance whenever demanded of it.

Despite being leagues apart, both phones are similar in many areas. If you want the phone for its ergonomic design, better performance, and the tendency to last longer, the iPhone 13 Mini is ideal for you. If, instead, you want flagship-grade performance and camera capabilities — and most importantly, the freedom of Android — but for a much lower price, then the Pixel 6a is more likely to fit in your pocket better.

But if you absolutely need one winner, the iPhone 13 Mini takes the edge for its better design and durability, longer software support, marginally better performance, and better video capabilities. It’s important to note the price difference here and how well the Pixel 6a holds up despite the $250 price difference, but even with that in mind, the iPhone 13 Mini is the stronger of the two.

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