• Google Pixel 6a

    The perfect mid-ranger

    You get more than what you ask for in this phone

    The Google Pixel 6a is the best mid-range Android smartphone you can get in the US. With the Tensor G1, a competent camera setup, and Google’s speedy software support, it is hard to beat the Pixel 6a in the value department.

    Pros

  • Compact size
  • Long software support
  • Value for money
  • Great camera
  • Cons

  • Poor network performance
  • Relatively slow fingerprint scanner
  • Nothing Phone 1

    The flashy mid-ranger

    A unique design paired with excellent internals

    If you want a smartphone that stands out from the crowd, look no further than the Nothing Phone 1. Its unique design, excellent performance, and Glyph interface deliver an excellent user experience. The phone’s limited availability and sub-par camera performance are a concern, though.

    Pros

  • Unique design
  • Glyph interface
  • Decent performance
  • Cons

  • Sub-par camera performance
  • Limited availability
  • Slow software support
  • Google’s Pixel 6a is an excellent mid-range phone packing a powerful Tensor chip and a competent camera setup. It is the successor to one of the best budget Android phones on the market. And then there’s the Nothing Phone 1, the company’s first phone featuring a unique design, Glyph interface, and a ton of hype backing it. The hype surrounding the phone has died a fair bit since its launch, but you still can’t ignore the Phone 1 if you are looking to buy a new mid-range phone.

    So, between the two, which is a better mid-ranger: the Pixel 6a or the Nothing Phone 1? Find out in our comparison below.

    Google Pixel 6a

    Nothing Phone (1)

    Chipset

    Google Tensor G1

    Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G+

    RAM

    6GB LPDDR5

    8GB/12GB LPDDR5

    Storage

    128GB UFS 3.1

    128GB/256GB UFS 3.1

    Display

    6.1″ FHD+ (1080×2400) OLED, 60Hz, Gorilla Glass 3, Always-on Display, High brightness mode, In-display fingerprint scanner

    6.55″ FHD+ (1080×2400) OLED, 120Hz, HDR10+ support, 700 nits max brightness, Always-on Display, Gorilla Glass 5, In-display fingerprint scanner

    Battery

    4,410mAh, up to 18W wired charging

    4,500mAh, 33W PD 3.0 wired charging, 15W Qi wireless charging, 5W reverse wireless charging

    Rear Cameras

    12MP f/1.7 primary, OIS, 1.4μm pixel width; 12MP f/2.2 ultrawide with 114° field of view and 1.25μm pixel width

    50MP f/1.88 Sony IMX766 sensor, OIS, 1μm pixel width; 50MP f/2.2 ultrawide Samsung JN1 sensor with 114° field of view

    Front Camera

    8MP f/2.0

    16MP f/2.45

    Connectivity

    5G (Sub-6GHz/mmWave exclusive to Verizon), Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, USB Type-C, NFC, eSIM; Supported 5G bands: n1/2/3/5/7/8/12/20/25/28/30/40/48/66/71/77/78; Supported 5G mmWave bands: n260/261

    Sub-6GHz 5G, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, USB Type-C, NFC; Supported 5G bands: n1/3/5/7/8/20/38/40/41/77/78. Not certified for US carriers

    Dimensions

    152.2 x 71.8 x 8.9 mm, 178g; IP67 certified

    159.2×75.8×8.3mm, 193.5g; IP53 certified

    Software

    Launched with Android 12, currently running Android 13

    Android 12, Nothing OS 1

    Software Support

    Will receive OS updates until July 2025 and security patches until July 2027

    Will receive OS updates until July 2025 and bi-monthly security patches until July 2026

    Colors

    Charcoal, Chalk, Sage

    White, Black

    Network Compatibility

    5G Sub 6GHz variant available in all markets, including the US. 5G mmWave + Sub 6GHz variant carries the model number GB62Z. Works on all major US carriers.

    No US compatibility

    Availability

    Available in mainland Europe, the US, and parts of Asia

    Not available in the US and Canada; available in mainland Europe, Japan, and India

    Price

    $450

    €399-€549

    Pricing and availability

    The Pixel 6a carries the same $449 price tag as previous mid-range Pixel phones, despite an updated design, a faster chip, and several other improvements. The phone is frequently discounted to as much as $399 on Amazon, making it way more affordable. In Europe, the phone is €459.

    Pricing for the Nothing Phone 1 varies from €399 to €549 in Europe. The phone initially did not launch in the US, but you can now get your hands on it via a Nothing Beta membership. This is a $299 paid membership program from the company, under which it will send you the Phone 1 with 8GB RAM/128GB storage running Android 13-based Nothing OS 1.5. The company does warn that the phone may not work with all US carriers, so keep that in mind before you take the membership.

    As for availability, the phones are available in limited markets. The Pixel 6a is available in 14 markets, including Australia, Canada, France, India, the United States, and the United Kingdom. That’s a big step up from the 2021 Pixel 5a that only launched in the US and Japan. In comparison, you can purchase the Nothing Phone 1 in mainland Europe, Japan, India, the U.K., and 35+ other markets. In the US, you can get the phone via a beta membership, but that’s a hassle many users might not be interested in going through.

    Design and durability

    The Pixel 6a carries the same design language as the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro. While the front is nothing to talk about, the rear casing is made of a 3D thermoformed composite back with a fingerprint-resistant coating. It features a camera bar that houses the dual cameras and the LED flash. The Pixel 6a looks different from other mid-range Android phones, but it can’t beat Nothing’s offering in this department.

    The Nothing Phone 1’s rear has transparent glass, giving you a glimpse inside the phone. All the important components are covered by white (or black) plates for a clean look. LED strips consisting of over 900 individual LEDs are on the rear panel, which further helps the device stand out. They are a part of the phone’s Glyph interface and flash in sync with your notification and call sounds.

    If you want a phone with a distinct design, the Nothing Phone 1 is the obvious choice here. However, that design has some drawbacks. While the Pixel 6a is IP67 dust and water-resistant, the Phone 1 is only IP53 splash-resistant. The translucent back can also show dirt particles trapped inside and could discolor over time.

    None of the phones house a headphone jack, but they pack stereo speakers.

    Display and refresh rate

    The Pixel 6a sports a 6.1-inch 60Hz FHD+ OLED panel, while the Phone 1 has a 6.55-inch FHD+ 120Hz OLED display. Nothing’s device has an advantage in the display department, as the higher refresh rate is easily noticeable in daily life. We did find some uneven areas and a slight green tint at the lowest brightness on our review unit, but it is not exactly a deal-breaker. The Pixel’s OLED display is not bad by any means, and many might prefer its compact 6.1-inch size. However, the 60Hz refresh rate is a bummer, especially since even cheap Android phones nowadays feature a 90/120Hz panel.

    One issue with the Phone 1’s display is its peak brightness. The phone was initially marketed as having a peak brightness of 1,200 nits, but real-world testing indicated the max brightness to be around 700 nits. Following criticism, Nothing clarified that while the hardware can reach 1,200 nits, it limits the brightness to 700 nits for battery and temperature reasons. Nothing is considering opening up the upper range of the display brightness in a future update.

    Both phones sport a punch-hole that houses their selfie camera, but the one on the Pixel 6a is located in the center, while the Phone 1’s cut-out is on the left. They also feature an in-display fingerprint scanner.

    Hardware and performance

    Source: Google

    The Pixel 6a is powered by the same Tensor GS101 chip ticking inside the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro. It’s also Google’s first smartphone SoC focused on GPU and AI/ML performance. The Tensor GS101 is a flagship chipset delivering flagship-level performance. On the other hand, the Nothing Phone 1 uses Qualcomm’s premium Snapdragon 778G+ chipset. It is not a flagship SoC, but it packs enough horsepower to handle all your daily tasks.

    The Tensor chip inside the Pixel 6a also has a more powerful ISP, giving it an edge in the imaging department. This performance gap may not be visible now, but it could impact usability down the line.

    The Nothing Phone 1 makes up for its slightly slower chipset with more RAM. Its entry-level model packs 8GB RAM, while the Pixel 6a ships with 6GB RAM and 128GB UFS 3.1 storage — Google is not offering other storage or RAM configurations. In addition, the Phone 1 is available in two more SKUs: 8GB RAM and 256GB storage and a high-end 12/256GB model.

    Most users are unlikely to find any performance issues between the two devices. But if you tend to push your phone harder than others and want the absolute best performance, the mid-range Pixel might be a better choice.

    Front and rear cameras

    On paper, the Nothing Phone 1’s 50MP rear camera setup might seem to have an advantage over the Pixel 6a. However, Google’s Pixel lineup is known for its excellent imaging performance despite using aging camera sensors. The Pixel 6a should be no different in this regard.

    In our Nothing Phone 1 review, we found the 50MP Sony IMX766 f/1.88 primary and 50MP f/2.2 ultrawide shooters could take some decent shots in daylight. As the available light drops, though, the phone starts struggling. Since the Phone 1’s launch, Nothing has rolled out multiple software updates to improve the camera performance, especially in low-light and challenging scenarios. Despite these updates, there’s still no automatic Night mode, so you must enable it before taking a shot. The camera app is also bare-bones compared with the Pixel 6a’s Google Camera app.

    You can use the Glyph LEDs at the back as an additional light source, which could add an element of fun to your photos in some scenarios, which makes up for the sub-par image quality. The 16MP f/2.45 front camera is also strictly average, but it can take more detailed selfies under the right lighting conditions than the Pixel 6a’s paltry 8MP snapper.

    The Pixel 6a provides a notably better imaging experience (and quality). Google’s Camera app is pretty feature-packed, with features like Night Sight, Top Shot, Magic Eraser, and Face Unblur. Image quality is also noticeably better than the Nothing Phone 1 despite the Pixel 6a using an old 12MP sensor. Pixel 6a’s image quality all comes down to Google’s software and ML prowess, allowing the camera to extract the best from old image sensors.

    Battery life and charging

    The battery capacity on both phones is nearly the same: 4410mAh on the Pixel 6a vs. 4500mAh on the Phone 1. And while the Pixel 6a sports a smaller 6.1-inch 60Hz OLED display, its Tensor chipset sips a lot more power than the Nothing Phone 1’s Snapdragon 778+ chip. But then the latter houses a larger 6.55-inch OLED panel with a 120Hz refresh rate.

    The two phones won’t impress you with their battery life. However, they have enough juice to make it through a day of use. The Pixel 6a will drain faster under heavy load, with the Nothing Phone 1 lasting longer thanks to its more efficient Snapdragon 778G+ chip.

    The Phone 1 is also better than the Pixel 6a in the charging department. It supports 33W wired fast charging that can top up the battery to 50% in 30 minutes, with a full charge taking around 70 minutes. You can also charge the phone wirelessly at speeds of up to 15W. And if needed, reverse wireless charging can top up your earbuds or other Bluetooth accessories using your phone. One cool implementation of Nothing’s Glyph interface is that the Glyph lights at the rear will glow when reverse-charging a device wirelessly.

    For comparison, Google’s mid-range phone supports a maximum charging speed of 18W and misses out on wireless charging — topping up the phone’s 4410mAh cell will take a fair bit of time. Unfortunately, neither phone comes bundled with a power adapter, so you’ll have to purchase one separately. While both companies sell their own power adapter, you should buy the best USB-C PPS chargers on the market that are usually available at a far more reasonable price.

    Connectivity

    The Google Pixel 6a and Nothing Phone 1 both feature Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, USB Type-C, and NFC connectivity. The Pixel 6a also supports eSIM, which is missing from the Phone 1. In terms of 5G connectivity, Google’s offering has an edge as it supports more 5G bands. Additionally, you can buy a mmWave 5G compatible model from Verizon in the US.

    Phone 1 supports Sub 6GHz 5G, but it is not certified to work on any US carrier. You may get limited support, but we don’t recommend using Phone 1 as your daily driver if you live in the US. Ultimately, you’re better off checking out our choices for the best 5G phones to get the best connectivity.

    OS upgrades and support

    Pixel phones have always been at the forefront of software support in the Android ecosystem. Thankfully, things have changed quite a bit in the last few years as other Android manufacturers have also gotten serious about supporting their devices with regular software updates for a longer time.

    Since Google’s in-house Tensor chip powers the Pixel 6a, it is slated to receive three years of OS updates and five years of security patches after launch. For the Phone 1, Nothing promises three years of Android updates and four years of bi-monthly security patches. Not as impressive as Google or Samsung, but still good enough for the company’s first phone. It would have been better if Nothing promised a monthly rollout of security patches instead of releasing them once every two months.

    The problem is that the young company can’t match Google’s update pace. While the Pixel 6a received the Android 13 update on the same day Google released the official build, the Nothing Phone 1’s Android 13 build dropped six months later. For the more adventurous folks, the company opened a Nothing OS 1.5 beta program in mid-December 2022, but that’s still over three months after the Pixel’s update.

    Nothing’s Glyph interface continues to be based on stock Android and offers largely the same experience as what you’d get on a Google phone — minus all the Pixel-exclusive features. We were impressed with the company’s take on Android 13 in our hands-on, so don’t write it off before trying it yourself.

    Which is worth your money?

    Both the Pixel 6a and the Nothing Phone 1 are solid midrange devices. They are among the best Android phones on the market, and you can’t go wrong with either. Some people might be wary of buying a phone from a new company, but Nothing’s first offering is impressive. The hype around the phone has died down significantly since its launch, yet the company has continued to support the product with regular software updates, which is what truly matters.

    If you live in the US or want a phone with a solid camera, you should pick the Google Pixel 6a. And once you get the phone, check out the best Pixel 6a tips and tricks to get the most out of the phone. The Nothing Phone 1 can’t impress you with its cameras, but its design will make it stand out from the crowd. If you prefer form to function, the Nothing Phone 1 will suit your taste.

    Google Pixel 6a

    One of the best budget phones available, the Google Pixel 6a has a great camera, excellent performance, and it’s packed full of features.

    Nothing Phone 1

    While it doesn’t have a great camera like the Pixel 6a, the Nothing Phone 1 is a solid midrange option in a stylish package.

    Conclusion on Which is the best mid-range Android phone?

    If you have any query let me know in comment section.