This coming week could introduce us to the Google Pixel 6a, if we are to believe the rumors of Google’s launch plans for its next budget phone. Google hosts its annual Google I/O Developer Conference starting Wednesday (May 11), and many Google viewers believe the Pixel 6a will be one of the stars of the event’s opening keynote.
Specifications Google Pixel 6a rumors
Screen size: 6.2-inch OLED
Refresh rate: 60Hz or 90Hz
Rear cameras: 12MP head; 12MP ultra-wide angle
Front camera: 8MP
Battery size: 4,800 mAh
Wired Charging Speed: 30W
The introduction of a cheaper version of its Pixel phone at a developer conference is not strange for Google. After all, that’s where the original Pixel A-Series phone, the Pixel 3a, made its debut in 2019. And some signs have emerged strongly suggesting a phone launch is imminent, not least the one. Pixel 6a recently appeared at the FCC for regulatory approval.
Should the Pixel 6a arrive as expected, it will hit a crowded market for affordably priced midrange models. Apple has the $429 . already introduced iPhone SE (2022)which undercut the price of the currently available Pixel 5a with $20. There is also the matter of Samsung’s Galaxy A53which in fact surpassed Google’s current flagship in our Galaxy A53 vs Pixel 5a face off. So the Pixel 6a has some work to do, if Google wants it to be the phone under $500 we recommend†
Thankfully, Pixel 6a rumors suggest that Google isn’t sitting on its laurels. There are rumors of some big changes for the upcoming phone, and if those rumors come true, the Pixel 6a could soon be on the list of best cheap phones†
Here’s what you need to know about what might be coming to the Google Pixel 6a ahead of that phone’s launch and how likely that change is to happen.
1. A brand new processor
Previous Pixel A-series phones used Qualcomm’s Snapdragon silicon, mostly from the chipmaker’s 6- or 7-series midrange chipsets. They’ve delivered solid if not spectacular performance, but nothing that really made previous models stand out.
That could change with the Pixel 6a, which is in line to get the same Tensor system-on-chip that Google shipped last fall. Pixel 6 Phones. Tensor isn’t necessarily a powerhouse itself, chasing the A15 Bionic that Apple uses in its latest version iPhone SE in benchmark testing. But Tensor comes with a dedicated machine learning core that powers many of the Pixel 6’s unique capabilities.
These ML-inspired features include the Pixel 6’s ability to instantly screen incoming calls and dictated text messages, even with proper punctuation. Should Google add a Tensor chipset to the Pixel 6a, those capabilities would also be available in the budget phone. And that would give Google an edge over the less than $500 Pixel 6a’s competition. At this point, we’re willing to bet that the addition of Tensor to the Pixel 6a will be the budget phone’s most notable feature.
2. A new design
The processor in the Pixel 6 wasn’t the only thing that changed about that phone. The Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro also have a distinctive look, with a horizontal camera bar that spans the entire width of the phone. Admittedly, it’s not a universally loved look, but it certainly helps the latest Pixel flagships stand out amid a sea of fairly identical smartphones.
The past three versions of the Pixel A-Series phone weren’t known for their looks either, but that could change if Google rolls out a Pixel 6-inspired makeover for the Pixel 6a.
This is more than wishful thinking on our part. Leaked dummy units and renders suggest the Pixel 6a inherits its design cues from the Pixel 6. And that would certainly be in line with how Google had tackled the look of its earlier budget phones, taking advantage of the more expensive flagships for inspiration. As with the rumor about the Tensor chip, we think it’s likely to happen.
3. A bigger battery compared to the Pixel 5a
It’s been a long time since there was a phone from Google on the… best phone battery life list. The Pixel 5a definitely missed out on last year, delivering an average result in our battery test, where we let phones browse the web until they’re dead. The Pixel 5a lasted 9 hours and 45 minutes when we tested it. A good time is closer to 10.5 hours, while a great time reaches 11.5 hours.
We won’t know if the Pixel 6a can improve the performance of the Pixel 5a until we get a chance to test the phone. (And, of course, Google has to announce the phone first.) But a rumor suggests that Google is taking steps to extend the battery life of its budget phone. The Pixel 6a will reportedly have a 4,800 mAh power pack.
That would be a modest upgrade over the Pixel 5a’s 4,680mAh battery. But assuming better power management features from the Tensor silicon, even a small increase in battery capacity can help the Pixel 6a last longer than its predecessor.
You should at least be able to charge the new Google phone faster. That same rumor promising a bigger battery also points to an increase in wired charging speed, from 18W to 30W. That’s a little harder to believe, just because Google may prefer to differentiate between its flagship and budget devices.
4. New Photo Features
Bad news first about the cameras on the Pixel 6a – they don’t change much about the Pixel 5a’s. Unofficial specs right now claim that the Pixel 6a will have a 12MP wide-angle camera and a 12MP ultra-wide-angle lens; those compare to 12MP and 16MP sensors for the Pixel 5a. The megapixel count is rumored to drop on the ultra-wide angle, but the pixel size may increase for the Pixel 6a, meaning the phone can let in more light for sharper photos.
Even if that’s the only hardware change to the Pixel 6a’s cameras, you should still be fine, considering the Pixel 5a is among the best camera phones, especially for a device that costs less than $500. The real advantage is the Tensor-powered photo features that appear on the Pixel 6a, like those of the Pixel 6 magic eraser tool for removing unwanted objects or people from background of photos. Other Pixel 6 photo features like the Motion mode blur effect may not make its way to the Pixel 6a, some leakers claim. We hope that particular claim is incorrect.
5. A fast-refreshing display
This potential Pixel 6a is in the air, with several leakers supporting various rumors. In one corner, you have rumors claiming that the Pixel 6a’s display will have the same 60Hz refresh rate as the Pixel 5a. However, another rumor has emerged as we get closer to the launch of the Pixel 6a, claiming that the new phone will hit a 90Hz refresh rate just like the Pixel 6. Pixel 6 Pro would remain Google’s only phone with an adaptive 120Hz display.
It’s hard to say at this point which rumor is right. Increasing the refresh rate on the 6a would give it an edge over the iPhone SE, which uses a traditional 60Hz panel, while also trying to keep up with the Galaxy A53 and its 120Hz display.
On the other hand, you can see why Google would want to reserve a fast refresh rate as a feature for its flagship devices, especially if the Pixel 6 remains $120 more expensive than the Pixel 6a. In other words, stay tuned to see what direction Google is heading with its display.
Pixel 6a Outlook
Assuming rumors of a Google I/O launch are false, we shouldn’t have long to wait to see which of these important Pixel 6a rumors will materialize. We’ll also be keeping a close eye on whether Google will hold onto the $449 price of the Pixel 5a with its new phone.
Pricing rumors suggest that the Galaxy 6a will likely cost the same as its predecessor, meaning it would also match the price of the Galaxy A53. The iPhone SE would remain the cheaper option, but as the features above would imply, there’s more to the Pixel 6a than just the likely sub-$500 price tag.