Pixel 6a could debut during May Google I/O conference — and I hope it does

Alleged Google Pixel 6a renders
(Image credit: 91mobiles / OnLeaks)

Based on rumors, the Google Pixel 6a is shaping up to be an attractive budget-friendly smartphone. It's expected to get the same Tensor GS101 chip that the Pixel 6 uses, and it'll hopefully keep the Pixel 5a's same $449 price.

And now the latest rumor claims that Google could announce the next Pixel A Series phone at its yearly Google I/O conference, which is expected to take place in May.

That would be great news.

Spring is the perfect time of year to announce the Pixel 6a, especially in light of the late summer launches for that phone's predecessors.The Pixel 4a and 5a both arrived in August of 2020 and 2021, respectively. This differed from the Pixel 3a, which Google revealed at its 2019 developer conference in May. 

In other words, the coronavirus pandemic delayed the timelines for the 4a and 5a releases (though the Pixel 5a's launch wasn't helped by the ongoing chip shortage). That's made an August launch the window for new Pixel A Series phones by default.

Why a May Pixel 6a launch makes sense

I think Google should break from its current parent and move back to the spring launch window with the Pixel 6a. With an August release, the A-series only has about two months to breathe before the flagship Pixels come out. In the case of the Pixel 5a, less than two months went by before the Pixel 6 arrived. That's not a lot of time for a phone to sit on shelves, and while the A series is the budget alternative to the regular Pixels, it is still a consideration.

Alleged Google Pixel 6a renders

The Pixel 6a could bear a lot of the Pixel 6's design language (Image credit: 91mobiles / OnLeaks)

Move the Pixel 6a release window to spring, though, and that leaves the whole summer and the first part of autumn to attract buyers. It'll also give all of us a break between Google (and other major) phone launches — I'd be lying if I said that idea doesn't appeal to me.

In recent years, Google I/O has become less of a developer-centric conference. It's one of the biggest events of the year for Android fans, since it's where Google talks about that year's Android software update. At last year's virtual conference, for example, the company took the wraps off of Material You, the new design language for Android going forward. But Google has revealed hardware at I/O before, like with the Nexus 7 and 9 many years ago, and the aforementioned Pixel 3a.

Google I/O is about software, more than just Android, and the focus has never been on hardware. Historically, most of the hardware revealed (and sometimes given out to attendees) related in some core way to what Google announced during the event.

All this to say, I really hope Google announces the Pixel 6a at I/O 2022. Not only would such a move make the conference more exciting than it already will be, but it'll also give the 6a more time to stand in the limelight. After all, if the rumors pan out, the Pixel 6a will be an incredibly powerful budget phone that will be well-poised to take on the iPhone SE 3, which is also expected to launch at that time.

Jordan Palmer
Phones Editor

Jordan is the Phones Editor for Tom's Guide, covering all things phone-related. He's written about phones for over six years and plans to continue for a long while to come. He loves nothing more than relaxing in his home with a book, game, or his latest personal writing project. Jordan likes finding new things to dive into, from books and games to new mechanical keyboard switches and fun keycap sets. Outside of work, you can find him poring over open-source software and his studies.