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Google Pixel 6a: Everything We Know so Far

OnLeaks, 91Mobiles

If you’re the kind of person who waits for Google’s more affordable Pixel A-series releases, it’s time to start getting hyped for the upcoming Pixel 6a. Leaks and rumors suggest that this device will dominate the budget phone space, taking just a few minor downgrades to reach a sub-$550 price point. Here’s everything we know about the Pixel 6a so far.

Broad Details: Release Date and Pricing

Back in 2020, Google delayed the release of its Pixel 4a from the expected May release date to August. The Pixel 5a came out in August 2021, and so naturally, we expect Google to continue this trend with the Pixel 6a.

But release dates are difficult to predict. Google could aim for an earlier Pixel 6a release if it can successfully navigate the global chip shortage, for example. Doing so could help capitalize on all the Pixel 6 hype, though on the other hand, an early release could cannibalize Pixel 6 sales.

We haven’t seen any Pixel 6a leaks related to pricing, but even if these leaks existed, they probably wouldn’t be very reliable. The Pixel 6a release is probably a long ways away, and in the past, Pixel A-series pricing has been pretty sporadic. The Pixel 3a was $400, the Pixel 4a hit a $350 price point, and the Pixel 5a cost $450 at the time of its release.

That said, the Pixel 6a will probably fall in the $400 to $500 range. Google launched the Pixel 6 at $600 (that’s $100 less than the Pixel 5), in case you’re wondering.

The Design: It’s a Smaller Pixel 6

A concept render of the Pixel 6a.

The leakers at 91Mobiles recently got their hands on some Pixel 6a CAD files, and to our surprise, the phone looks nearly identical to a Pixel 6. It has the same “visor” camera strip, in-display fingerprint reader, and unfortunately, a severe lack of headphone jack. The Pixel 6a could also use a two-tone design, though this is impossible to determine with CAD files.

That said, the Pixel 6a likely features a 6.2-inch display, which is slightly smaller than the Pixel 6’s 6.4-inch screen. We expect Google to use a 1080p OLED panel for the Pixel 6a, but the phone probably won’t feature a high refresh rate. (Of course, this is just speculation.)

Several of the concept Pixel 6a renders in this article are based on the CAD files uncovered by 91Mobiles, and they look pretty official! But it’s important to remember that these concept renders are never 100% accurate. Until we see photos or advertising materials for the Pixel 6a, we can’t be certain what it really looks like.

Spec Talk: Gimmie That Tensor Chip!

Google Tensor SoC

Will the Pixel 6a run Google’s custom Tensor chip, or will it use a typical Snapdragon processor? According to data uncovered by 9to5Google, we should expect the Tensor. This makes sense—if Google uses a Snapdragon chip, it will undermine Tensor’s capabilities and look like a step back for the company.

Additionally, the Pixel 6 contains a ton of AI-powered software features, and Snapdragon chips just don’t dedicate that much power to machine learning. If Google wants to add its exclusive camera features to the Pixel 6a, for example, it will probably need to use a Tensor chip.

Other specs, such as RAM and storage, are still a mystery. But we expect Google to make some cuts here to bring down the Pixel 6a’s price. (The Pixel 6 has 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage.)

The Cameras: A “Downgrade”

Pixel 6 cameras
Justin Duino

Nearly every Pixel phone uses the same 12.2MP Sony IMX363 primary sensor, but Google broke this trend with the Pixel 6’s 50MP lens. Unfortunately for camera nerds, the Pixel 6a probably uses the old 12.2MP sensor, but it’s a worthwhile “downgrade” for a phone that costs less than $600.

The 9to5Google APK Insight team found references to the 12.2MP sensor while digging through Google Camera code. They also found that the phone uses a 12-megapixel IMX386 ultrawide camera and 8-megapixel IMX355 selfie lens. (Historically, these datamining efforts yield accurate results, though there’s no guarantee that 9to5Google is correct here.)

If the Pixel 6a uses a 12.MP main camera, which it probably does, it will still take amazing photos. Last year’s Pixel 5 used this same sensor and had one of the best smartphone cameras at the time of its release. Assuming that the Pixel 6a also uses a Tensor chip, it may shoot better photos than the Pixel 5, as much of Google’s camera software relies on machine learning.

We expect Google to announce the Pixel 6a in mid-to-late 2022, likely in August. It should run a Tensor chip and have some modest downgrades to reach a sub-$550 price point. Of course, we’re basing this information on leaks and rumors, so it may not be accurate.

Still, we’ll continue to update this article with any new information we find on the Pixel 6a. Bookmark this page or join our free newsletter to keep up with the latest Pixel 6a leaks and rumors.

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