Update: A claimed Google Pixel 6a dummy unit reveals major design changes — and it's goodbye headphone jack.
Months ahead of the Google Pixel 6 launch, we were warned that Google’s new flagship phones were going to be pricey. In the end, we were left pleasantly surprised with $599 for the Pixel 6 and $899 for the Pixel 6 Pro proving quite competitive in the world of flagship handsets, potentially making the upcoming ‘a’ variant a serious budget contender.
While we still don’t know much about pricing or internal specs, we do have what could be our first look at the outside of the phone, courtesy of OnLeaks and 91mobiles (opens in new tab). And while there’s only so much you can get from a context-free render, there’s plenty of promise here.
The Pixel 6a render looks much like the Pixel 6, with the prominent camera visor still protruding from the back of the handset. That’s important, because it suggests that the Pixel 6a will inherit the same excellent 50MP Samsung ISOCELL GN1 sensor — a big upgrade from the 12.2MP camera used on the past three generations of Pixel a.
Google’s entry-level Pixel handsets have always offered great photography on a budget. And if the Pixel 6a packs the same sensor as the 6, then we could be in for a real treat; that's if Google does decide to make a budget take on its current flagship phone.
But it’s not all good news: it looks like the Pixel 6a could be the latest Google handset to lose the 3.5mm headphone jack — a consumer-friendly feature maintained on the ‘a’ models to date. Notably, there’s also no rear-mounted fingerprint reader, suggesting that Google could embrace the under-screen sensor introduced — albeit not brilliantly — in the Pixel 6 family.
According to 91mobiles, the Pixel 6a will pack a 6.2-inch screen — slightly smaller than the 6.4-inch Pixel 6 and 6.71-inch Pixel 6 Pro, but using the same OLED technology. No word on the refresh rate, though, and past Pixel a handsets have stuck rigidly with 60Hz, even if the newer flagships offer 90Hz and 120Hz panels for the standard and Pro models respectively.
It’s also not clear what internals the phone will offer at this point. While past Pixel a handsets have featured a mid-range Qualcomm Snapdragon chip, it’s possible that Google will show us what’s achievable with a lower-spec Tensor processor. Given the debut Tensor chip gave Qualcomm a run for its money, it would be surprising if Google didn’t take this opportunity to further establish its own silicon as a serious contender, but we’ll have to see.
It’s likely that the Google Pixel 6a is still a long way away. While the Pixel 3a arrived in May 2019, both the Pixel 4a and Pixel 5a appeared in August. Those later dates may be down to the global chip shortage, but as that shows no signs of abating, we’d be surprised if the Pixel 6a arrived in the first half of 2022.
If a budget Pixel doesn't appeal to you then you could do a lot worse than the top-end Pixel, as the Google Pixel 6 is the Android phone managing editor Roland Moore-Colyer been waiting for.