This coming week could present us with the Google Pixel 6a, if rumors about Google’s launch plans for its next budget phone are to be believed. Google organizes its annual report Google I/O Developer Conference starting Wednesday, May 11, and many Google watchers believe the Pixel 6a will be one of the stars of the event’s keynote.
Supposed specs of the Google Pixel 6a
Screen size: 6.2 inch OLED
Refresh rate: 60Hz or 90Hz
Rear cameras: 12 MP main; Ultrawide 12MP
Front camera: 8MP
Battery size: 4,800mAh
Wired charging speed: 30W
Showing off a cheaper version of its Pixel phone at a developer conference isn’t out of place for Google. After all, that’s where the original Pixel A-Series phone, the Pixel 3a, debuted in 2019. And a number of signs have emerged strongly suggesting a phone launch is imminent, not the least of which are n is not the Pixel 6a recently presented to the FCC for regulatory approval.
If the Pixel 6a arrives as expected, it enters a crowded market for affordable midrange models. Apple has already introduced the $429 iPhone SE (2022)which reduces the price of currently available products Pixel 5a by $20. There is also the issue of Samsung Galaxy A53which actually outpaced Google’s current flagship budget in our Galaxy A53 vs. Pixel 5a face to face. So the Pixel 6a has its work cut out for it, if Google wants it to be the phone under $500 we recommend.
Thankfully, the Pixel 6a rumors suggest that Google isn’t resting on its laurels. A number of big changes are announced for the next phone, and if these rumors come to fruition, the Pixel 6a could quickly increase the list of best cheap phones.
Here’s what you need to know about what might happen to the Google Pixel 6a ahead of that phone’s launch, and how likely that change will be.
1. An all-new processor
Previous Pixel A-Series phones used Qualcomm’s Snapdragon silicon, typically from the chipmaker’s line of midrange Series 6 or 7 chipsets. They provided solid, even spectacular performance, but nothing that really made previous models stand out.
That could change with the Pixel 6a, which is expected to get the same Tensor system-on-chip that Google included with the one last fall. Pixel 6 Phone (s. Tensor is not necessarily a powerhouse in itself, behind the A15 Bionic that Apple uses in the latest iPhoneSE in benchmark tests. But Tensor comes with a dedicated machine learning core that drives many of the unique features found on the Pixel 6.
These ML-inspired features include the Pixel 6’s ability to screen incoming calls and dictated text messages transcribed on the fly, even with correct punctuation. If Google added a Tensor chipset to the Pixel 6a, those features would also be available in the budget phone. And that would give Google a leg up on the Pixel 6a’s sub-$500 competition. Right now, we’d bet that the addition of Tensor to the Pixel 6a will be the budget phone’s standout feature.
2. A new design
The processor inside the Pixel 6 wasn’t the only thing that changed about this phone. The Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro also sport a distinctive look, with a horizontal camera bar that spans the width of the phone. Granted, it’s not a universally beloved look, but it certainly helps Pixel’s latest flagships stand out amid a sea of pretty identical smartphones.
The last three iterations of the Pixel A-Series phone aren’t known for their looks either, but that could change if Google introduces a Pixel 6-inspired makeover to the Pixel 6a.
This is more than wishful thinking on our part. Dummy units and leaked renders suggest the Pixel 6a is taking design cues from the Pixel 6. of the most expensive flagships. As with the Tensor chip rumor, we think this one is likely to happen.
3. A bigger battery than the Pixel 5a
It’s been a long time since a phone from Google landed on the better phone battery life listing. The Pixel 5a certainly missed out last year, scoring an average result in our battery test, in which we have phones surfing the web until they run out of power. The Pixel 5a lasted 9 hours and 45 minutes when we tested it. A good time is closer to 10.5 hours, while a good time hits the 11.5 hour mark.
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 boost the battery life of its budget phone. Apparently, the Pixel 6a will feature a 4,800 mAh power bank.
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 size could help the Pixel 6a outlast 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, simply because Google might prefer to differentiate between its flagship devices and economic.
4. New photo features
First, some bad news about the Pixel 6a’s cameras – they don’t change the Pixel 5a’s much. The unofficial specs at this point claim that the Pixel 6a will feature a 12MP wide-angle camera and a 12MP ultra-wide-angle lens; these compare to the 12MP and 16MP sensors for the Pixel 5a. Rumor has it that the megapixel count on the ultra-wide angle could drop, but the pixel size could increase for the Pixel 6a, which means the phone will be able to let in more light for sharper images.
Even though this is the only hardware change to the Pixel 6a’s cameras, it should be fine, since the Pixel 5a ranks among the best camera phones, especially for a device that costs less than $500. . The real benefit would be the Tensor-powered photo features that appear on the Pixel 6a, like those of the Pixel 6. magic eraser tool to remove unwanted objects or people from the background of photos. Other Pixel 6 photo features such as Motion mode blur effect may not reach Pixel 6a, say some leakers. We hope that this particular claim is misplaced.
5. A quick and refreshing display
This potential Pixel 6a is up in the air, with different leaks supporting different rumors. In one corner you have rumors that the Pixel 6a screen will feature the same 60Hz refresh rate as the Pixel 5a. However, another rumor has gained momentum as we get closer to the launch of the Pixel 6a, claiming that the new phone will pick up a 90Hz refresh rate, just like the Pixel 6. Pixel 6 Pro would continue to be Google’s only phone with a 120Hz adaptive screen.
It’s hard to say which rumor is right at this point. Increasing the 6a’s refresh rate would give it a leg up on the iPhone SE, which uses a traditional 60Hz panel, while trying to keep up with the Galaxy A53 and its 120Hz display.
On the other hand, you can see why Google might want to reserve fast refresh rate as a feature for its flagship devices, especially if the Pixel 6 is going to remain $120 more expensive than the Pixel 6a. In other words, stay tuned to see what direction Google is going with its display.
Pixel 6a outlook
Assuming the rumors of a Google I/O launch aren’t false, we won’t have to wait long to see which of these key Pixel 6a rumors become reality. We’ll also be watching closely to see if Google holds the line on the Pixel 5a’s $449 price tag with its new phone.
Pricing rumors suggest that the Galaxy 6a will likely cost the same as its predecessor, which would mean it would also match the price of the Galaxy A53. The iPhone SE would continue to be the cheaper option, but as the specs above would imply, there’s more to the Pixel 6a than its likely sub-$500 price tag.