All cheap phones have compromises to keep the price low – that’s a statement about as controversial as saying “water is wet”. But the Google Pixel 6a has one downgrade from the Pixel 6 that might put off phone fans.

While the new budget take on Google’s popular Android phone has demerits in a few areas, including a main camera sensor with a lower resolution, a smaller body size and a plastic back, there’s one aspect that sticks out like a sore thumb, and it’s the screen refresh rate.

With a 60Hz refresh rate, the Pixel 6a feels out of date, and it doesn’t match the 90Hz of the Pixel 6 or the 120Hz, 144Hz or even 165Hz we see loads in phones of all prices.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.

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.

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.

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