Technology

Google Pixel 6a rumours: release date, price, specs and more

It could still be a few months before the Google Pixel 6a is official, but the leaks are already coming. And if they’re accurate, Google may well end up back on top form with its next cheaper handset.

We liked the Pixel 5a when it came out last year, but it shared too much with the Pixel 4a 5G to really feel like an up-to-date phone. That looks to change this year, with upgrades tipped for the cameras, chipset and battery, plus a new Pixel 6-style design. This may be just what Google needs to help it dominate among the best cheap phones.

Right now, all we can predict with any confidence is that it will be one of several new Google in 2022 devices. But read on for all the latest rumors and speculation about the next Pixel.

Google Pixel 6a news (updated March 2)

Google Pixel 6a expected release date and price

Thanks to a peculiar coloring book-based leak, we know Google is making a Pixel 6a. But when’s it coming, and how much will it cost?

The Pixel 5a released on August 26, 2021 in the US and Japan. Google didn’t explain why the phone was limited to two countries, but we expect the ongoing chip shortage that has plagued the industry had something to do with it.

pixel 5a vs pixel 4a

(Image credit: Tom’s Guide)

August seemed to be Google’s new launch month for the A series. The Pixel 3a was revealed on May 7 at Google I/O 2019, but the Pixel 4a came out on August 20, 2020. Many blamed the COVID-19 pandemic on the 4a’s delayed release date, but Google stuck with an August release for the Pixel 5a. You’d think the Pixel 6a was on the same timeline.

But Google could go back to its old May/Google I/O launch window. In fact, leaker Max Jambor says the Pixel 6a will arrive in May. Not coincidentally, May is also when a Pixel Watch is anticipated to make its debut.

As for the Pixel 6a’s price, that’s as up in the air as the release date. The smaller Pixel 3a (there were two sizes) came in at $399, but the Pixel 4a undercut it at $349. Then, the Pixel 5a bumped up to $449 and added a second camera and 5G. If we had to guess, the Pixel 6a will likely stay in the $449 ballpark, depending on the chip Google uses.

With rumors claiming the iPhone SE 3 is coming in March, the Pixel 6a could arrive facing some stiff competition. Here’s how what we think of an iPhone SE 3 vs. Google Pixel 6a comparison based on the rumors thus far.

Google Pixel 6a design and display

Photos of a claimed Google Pixel 6a dummy unit have shown off how the next budget Google phone could ape the design of the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. A camera bar rather than module seems to be the biggest feature, as well as the removal of the 3.5mm audio jack.

How legitimate these images are is unclear. But previous Pixel ‘a’ series phones have followed on from the design language set out by the flagship Pixels. This was given further credence by Google Pixel 6a renders supposedly based on the allegedly leaked information.

Google Pixel 6a metal dummy

(Image credit: Fathom Braceles / xleaks7)

While divisive, the design of the Pixel 6 is certainly different, so seeing it carried over to the Pixel 6a would be no bad thing.

As for the screen on the Pixel 6a, part of a big specs leak published by Shadow_leak claims it’ll use a 6.2-inch, 60Hz display. That’s a little smaller than the Pixel 5a’s 6.4-inch display, but more disappointing is the alleged refresh rate. Many phones are now using 90Hz, 120Hz or even higher refresh rates, even in the price range of the Pixel a-series. Google is already using a 90Hz panel on the basic Pixel 6, so leaving the Pixel 6a at the basic 60Hz seems like an odd decision in that light too.

Alleged Google Pixel 6a renders

(Image credit: 91mobiles/OnLeaks)

For colors, a leak from a US carrier database says there will be black, white and green options available. That’s an improvement over the Pixel 5a, which you could only buy in black.

Google Pixel 6a cameras

According to Mishaal Rahman on Twitter, there’s a device codenamed ‘bluejay’ that’s supposedly the Pixel 6a. Rahman found a possible camera setup for bluejay, which includes Sony IMX363, IMX386 and IMX355 sensors. Shadow_leak’s specs leak has rounded out what we know by claiming the 6a will feature a 12MP main camera, 12MP ultrawide camera and 8MP selfie camera.

For reference, the Pixel 5a used the same 12MP IMX363 for its main sensor and an 8MP IMX355 for its front-facing camera. The ultrawide was a 16MP IMX481, but that doesn’t make the new 12MP IMX386 sensor a downgrade. It has a pixel size of 1.25 μm, versus the IMX481’s 1.0 μm. Larger pixels let in more light, so the Pixel 6a should produce better overall images, even though it’s at a lower resolution.

Google Pixel 6a performance

Based on Shadow_leak’s information, it seems like we’ll get the Google Tensor chipset from the Pixel 6 in the Pixel 6a, accompanied by 6GB RAM or 8GB RAM.

The use of the Tensor chip is great news. It’s a flagship-worthy chipset with strong performance, roughly equivalent to last year’s Snapdragon 888 chipset. Aside from the iPhone SE or the upcoming iPhone SE 3, the Pixel 6a may well be the most powerful phone in its price range.

Google Pixel 6a battery and charging

The leaks claim we’ll see a 4,800 mAh battery with 30W charging in the Pixel 6a. That’s a small capacity increase over the 4,680 mAh cell found in the Pixel 5a, and a more considerable increase over its 18W charging speed.

The only potential issue here is that Google didn’t include chargers with the Pixel 6 series. It wouldn’t surprise us if the Pixel 6a lacked one in the box too.

Google Pixel 6a: Outlook

The rear of the Google Pixel 5a showing the camera module, against a background of pink flowers

(Image credit: Tom’s Guide)

With the leaks as they currently stand, the Pixel 6a looks much better than the Pixel 5a did at launch. It’s got an up-to-date chipset which should provide much more power than the average mid-range phone, a small change to the ultrawide rear camera, faster charging and a larger battery. All very welcome changes.

However to make it onto our best Android phones list, Google needs to be careful how it prices the Pixel 6a. The $449 price of the Pixel 5a was a bit on the high side, so a small reduction to $400 or less would make the phone even more attractive.

Also, we would like to see Google launch the Pixel 6a in more than just the US and Japan. There is a global shortage of computer chips, but hopefully Google can still let its fans in other countries buy the phone if they wish.

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