Pixel 7A vs. Galaxy A54, Pixel 6A: Which Cheap Phone Should You Buy?

Samsung and Google both offer some superb cheap phones. But which one is best for you?

Andrew Lanxon Editor At Large, Lead Photographer, Europe
Andrew is CNET's go-to guy for product coverage and lead photographer for Europe. When not testing the latest phones, he can normally be found with his camera in hand, behind his drums or eating his stash of home-cooked food. Sometimes all at once.
Expertise Smartphones, Photography, iOS, Android, gaming, outdoor pursuits Credentials
  • Shortlisted for British Photography Awards 2022, Commended in Landscape Photographer of the Year 2022
Andrew Lanxon
6 min read
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While Google's and Samsung's top phones, like the Pixel 8 Pro or the Galaxy S23 Ultra, may come with great overall performance, they also come with high prices that put them out of reach for those of us shopping on more of a budget. Thankfully, you can get more-affordable phones that look and act almost like the more expensive flagships but will still leave you with plenty of cash to spare. Google's most recent entry-level phone, the Pixel 7A, packs an amazing lineup of specs for the money and offers solid overall performance. Yet the older Pixel 6A remains on sale for even less and is worth considering if you're on an even tighter budget. 

Meanwhile, Samsung has a solid budget offering in the Galaxy A54 5G, which ticks all your everyday, essential boxes and can frequently be found on sale at an extremely competitive price. 

But which of these phones should you buy to make the best use of your money? I put the three side by side to help you choose. 


Though the Pixel 7A's original $499 price tag made it one of the spendier phones of the three, Google currently has it discounted to only $374. It technically replaces the Pixel 6A, though both phones are on the market. The 6A has now been reduced to only $349, which isn't much below the 7A, though it's been seen for even less with store discounts. 


The Galaxy A54 runs Android 13 at its core, with four years of Android generation updates promised by Samsung.

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Samsung sells the Galaxy A54 5G for $450, which, with the Pixel 7A's current discount, makes it the most expensive of the bunch. Since its launch in March, however, we've seen it discounted further (as low as $375 on BestBuy), so it's always worth shopping around to see whether you can save a few more bucks. 

Display size, quality

At 6.4 inches, the Galaxy A54's display is larger than the 6.1-inch displays of both the Pixel 6A and 7A. During general use, we also found that it appeared brighter, making it easier to read outdoors under sunshine. Though its resolution is marginally higher than that of the Pixel 7A, side by side there's no noticeable difference in terms of sharpness. 

The Pixel 6A has a standard screen refresh rate of 60Hz, and the 7A ups that to 90Hz. Frankly, it isn't something you'd really notice during everyday use. The Galaxy A54 takes that further, providing "up to" 120Hz. Using both phones side by side and scrolling through menus simultaneously, I couldn't see much difference. Maybe the more keen-eyed among you could, but even so, it shouldn't be a reason to consider one over the other. 

Google's Pixel 6A phone with app icons on the home screen

The Pixel 6A's display is smaller than the Galaxy A54's and appears less bright.

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

Processor performance

With its more recent Tensor G2 chip, you might expect the Pixel 7A to be the more powerful model, but on benchmark tests, it actually falls just behind the 6A. It's a marginal difference, though, and during everyday use it isn't something you'd ever notice. Both phones are swift, with smooth navigation, fast-loading apps, and gaming that's handled perfectly well. 

The A54 performed the worst on the tests, with quite disappointing scores on benchmarks, particularly against the more affordable 6A. Still, I found it to be capable of handling all my daily essentials, and it only really seemed to slow down when I was playing more graphically demanding games, like Genshin Impact, at higher quality settings. 


Both Pixels offer standard and superwide cameras, eschewing the telephoto zoom camera found on the pricier Pixel 7 Pro and Pixel 8 Pro. The Pixel 7A beats the older 6A with higher resolution sensors, but overall image quality is comparable. Both phones capture shots with great dynamic range, accurate colors and plenty of details.


The Galaxy A54's main camera adds a lot of saturation to its images.

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The Pixel 6A's shot looks much more natural.

Andrew Lanxon/CNET

The Pixel 7A's colors are more similar to the 6A's, but its higher resolution sensor delivers more details.

Andrew Lanxon/CNET

The Galaxy A54 adds a 5-megapixel macro camera to its main and ultrawide lenses, but beyond the odd novelty close-up shot of a bug, it's pretty redundant. Its main camera has a generous 50 megapixel resolution, but its images are disappointing compared with those of both Pixel phones. Colors tend to look unnaturally saturated, with high-contrast skies sometimes resulting in blown-out highlights. 

The main lens also tends to produce quite cold-looking images that dramatically shift to warmer tones when you switch to the ultrawide lens. Both Pixels, however, do a good job of maintaining color tones when switching between normal and wide views. 


The A54's main camera sometimes delivers quite cold-looking images.

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Switching to the ultrawide lens results in a much warmer image. I prefer this look, but it's frustrating to see so much color shift between the two cameras, which isn't as much of an issue on either of the Pixel phones.

Andrew Lanxon/CNET

While the A54 5G is good for casual snappers just wanting vibrant shots of their kids at the beach, the Pixel 7A is worth a look if photography is more of a priority. 


Though the Galaxy A54 packs a slightly more capacious battery than either of the Pixels, its slightly larger (and therefore more power hungry) display means its overall battery life is roughly on par with its rivals. On my YouTube streaming battery test, it drained slightly faster than the Pixels, but in overall use there's little difference to worry about. 

If you're careful with your usage and avoid too much video streaming or gaming, then you should be able to get a full day out of any of the phones. All of them will need a full recharge every night. 


All three phones offer 128GB of storage at their base configurations, but only the Galaxy A54 lets you expand that with microSD cards.

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Software, storage and extras

All three phones run the latest Android 13 software, and both Google and Samsung promise five years of security updates for their phones. As it was launched last year, this will mean that the Pixel 6A will be cut off from support in 2027, while both the Pixel 7A and Galaxy A54 will still be safe to use into 2028.

However, Samsung takes things a bit further, by offering an additional fourth generation of Android version updates over the Pixels, which is worth keeping in mind if you want to ensure you're getting the most out of your phone for longer. 

Watch this: Pixel 7A Review: A Step Forward for Google's Budget Phone

I much prefer the Pixel's Android 13 interface, though. It's generally neater and easier to use than Samsung's One UI skin. This is especially true with the A54, since Samsung preloaded a lot of third-party apps that make it feel cluttered and bloated. 

While all three phones have base storage of 128GB, the A54 has an ace up its sleeve: It's one of the last remaining phones that offers expandable storage with microSD cards. It supports cards of up to 1TB, and with a 128GB card costing only $12, you can essentially double the storage of the phone, providing tons of room for photos, videos and apps. 


The A54's additional macro lens is pretty pointless.

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Which should you buy?

Samsung's Galaxy A54 5G might have longer software support and expandable storage, but it falls behind both Pixel phones in most other respects. The cameras, user interface, processor performance and battery life are better on the Pixel 6A and 7A, and either of those phones is where my money would go, especially while the Pixel 7A is available for less than $400.

Though deciding between the two Pixels was trickier, the Pixel 7A's current discount makes it a no-brainer. It's only a small amount more than the older 6A, but it has a better camera, wireless charging and face unlock, and it'll receive software updates for longer. The 6A does offer solid overall performance for your daily essentials though, and if you're looking to save every cent you can, then it's worth considering, but our advice would be to opt for the 7A while it's on sale for under $400. 


The Pixel 7 (seen here with the Pixel Watch) is still great, but the new Pixel 7A is the better buy. 

Andrew Lanxon/CNET

What about the Pixel 7? 

The Pixel 7 is Google's lower-end flagship, which offers a similar set of specs to the Pixel 7A but costs $100 more. Though it's a superb phone and earned a CNET Editors' Choice Award, the arrival of the 7A has meant that it's very difficult to justify spending the extra on the older model. 

As CNET's Lisa Eadicicco puts it: "After reviewing both phones, I'm convinced the Pixel 7A is the best value for most people."