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Google Pixel 6a vs OnePlus Nord 2T: which is best?

Android originator or the cut-price competition - here's which gets our vote

A Google Pixel is usually a safe bet for anyone wanting a budget-friendly blower – but it’s not the only game in town. While Google was busy finessing the new Pixel 6a, OnePlus was muscling in at the entry-level with the Nord 2T.

Both phones promise specs that would embarrass more expensive rivals, a capable set of cameras, and a design distilled from each firm’s premium models. All for considerably less than what you’d pay for a modern flagship.

Now the Pixel 6a has officially landed, we’ve pitted the pair against each other to see which is more deserving of your cash.

Google Pixel 6a vs OnePlus Nord 2T: price & release date

The Google Pixel 6a goes on general sale from the 28th of July and is up for pre-order right now. There’s a single variant, with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, which will cost £399/$449.

The OnePlus Nord 2T is available in several flavours. The 8GB/128GB version is available in Grey Shadow and Jade Fog colours, with prices starting at £369. The Grey Shadow colour can also be had with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage for £469.

Google Pixel 6a vs OnePlus Nord 2T: tech specs

OnePlus Nord 2TGoogle Pixel 6a
Display6.43in OLED 1080×2400, 90Hz6.1in OLED 1080×2400, 60Hz
Rear Cameras50MP (wide), 8MP (ultra-wide) 2MP (macro)12.2MP (wide), 12MP (ultra-wide)
Front camera32MP8MP
ProcessorMediaTek Dimensity 1300Google Tensor
RAM8/12GB6GB
Storage128/256GB128GB
Battery4500mAh4410mAh
Dimensions159x73x8.2mm152.2×71.8×8.7mm
Weight190g178g

Design: raising the bar?

Both the Pixel 6a and Nord 2T are the essence of the modern smartphone – from the front, at least. Each has a screen that fills the entire front panel, with skinny bezels and a punch-hole camera up top.

On the flip side, Google has basically reused the design it debuted on the pricier Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, with a chunky ‘shelf’ to contain the dual rear cameras. The back panel is made from plastic, or as Google affectionately calls it, “3D thermoformed composite”, set into a metal alloy frame. The whole thing is IP67 water and dust resistant, and available in a choice of three colours.

The Nord 2T has a more traditional bump to contain its cams, offset to one side. OnePlus has gone for glass on the front and rear, but set it into a plastic frame. You only get two colour choices, which also dictate how much storage and memory you get. There’s also no official IP rating.

Cover up the logo and you’d struggle to tell the Nord 2T was a OnePlus phone. The Pixel 6a is much more distinctive, so it gets the nod here.

Verdict: Google Pixel 6

Screen: that’s refreshing

Most phones above a certain price point opt for AMOLED display tech, and both firms deliver here. They have the same 2400×1080 resolution, too – but not all things are equal.

A smaller 6.1in panel means the Pixel 6a has a higher pixel density, but you’ll only notice by sticking both phones under a microscope. The Nord 2T has a larger 6.4in panel, which might make all the difference if you prioritise size. Either way, both phones deliver clean, detailed images with vibrant colours and ample brightness. They also play nicely with HDR content.

The key difference is refresh rate. The Pixel 6a sticks to 60Hz, so as not to tread on the toes of the pricier Pixel 6, but the Nord 2T tops out at 90Hz. It’s considerably smoother in motion, like when scrolling through web pages or social feeds, so earns victory here.

Verdict: OnePlus Nord 2T

Camera: algorithmic aptitude

The Pixel 6a has two rear cameras, but the Nord 2T has three. Game over, right? Not so fast. OnePlus’ 2MP macro cam is a token inclusion, and its ultrawide snapper tops out at 8MP. The Pixel’s 12MP ultrawide sensor produces more detailed shots.

OnePlus did find room in the budget for a 50MP main snapper, so in the right situations can capture plenty of detail – but ultimately Google’s superior algorithms make for a more consistent experience, even from a sensor with a lower pixel count.

The 12MP main cam takes outstanding images for the price, in all lighting conditions. The night mode is excellent, and portraits have convincing digital bokeh. Plus you get Google’s excellent editing tools, like Magic Eraser for deleting photobombers with a few taps. If you’re all about phone photography, it should be Pixel 6a all the way.

Verdict: Google Pixel 6a

Performance: present Tensor

Line the Nord 2T up against most other affordable rivals and its Mediatek Dimensity 1300 processor would probably come out on top – it’s able to outmuscle the equivalent Snapdragon CPU, and has no trouble running Android smoothly.

Google doesn’t play fair, though: the Pixel 6a is packing the same custom Tensor silicon you’ll find in the much pricier Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. It’s a flagship chip, with enough power to play demanding games at high detail settings and frame rates – something the Nord 2T can’t quite manage.

The Nord does have the edge on memory and storage, with a choice of 8GB and 12GB, and 128GB and 256GB respectively. The Pixel 6a is limited to 6GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage. That memory deficit doesn’t make much difference in daily use though, making this an easy win for the Google phone.

The Pixel 6a also takes the lead on the software front, being first in line for the latest Android security updates, and having Pixel-specific feature drops every few months.

Verdict: Google Pixel 6a

Battery: size matters?

On paper, you’d think the Nord 2T would walk this category. It has a bigger battery, with 4500mAh to the Pixel’s 4410mAh cell. That’s a relatively small difference, though – and Google’s software optimisations have worked wonders. Both phones will comfortably last all day away from the mains.

Charging speeds are firmly in OnePlus’ favour, with support for 80W wired top-ups. The Pixel 6a tops out at a lowly 18W. The Nord 2T also includes a compatible charger in the box, something you won’t get from Google. It just bundles a USB-C cable, leaving you to find your own power brick. Impatient types will be better served by the Nord.

Verdict: OnePlus Nord 2T

Initial verdict: Google scoops it

The Nord 2T is an excellent cut-price handset. It’s available for £40 less than the Pixel 6a, and delivers a superior screen experience thanks to its faster 90Hz refresh rate. Battery life might be even stevens, but the bundled power brick and faster charging speeds give it an edge.

That said, the Pixel 6a is a more visually distinctive phone, with one of the best sets of cameras around at this price. Buy one and you know you’ll be first in line for Android updates, and there’s no shortage of performance thanks to that Tensor CPU.

There are advantages to both phones, and it’s as close to a photo finish as these comparisons get, but ultimately Google’s camera cleverness wins it for the Pixel overall.

Winner: Google Pixel 6a