Barring a major departure from recent product strategy, Google is widely expected to launch a mid-range version of its latest flagship handset, the Pixel 6.
Save for an even bigger surprise, it will be called the Pixel 6a, with the tech giant’s A-series representing more affordable versions of the company’s flagships. Here’s everything we know right now about the rumoured device including the Pixel 6a release date, price, specs, camera and more.
Price and release date
According to mobile tipster Max Jambor, Google is lining up the Pixel 6a launch for May 2022 – which happens to be the month the tech giant’s annual I/O developer conference is held.
Google often uses the event to showcase new hardware as well as its latest software updates, though we have to rewind a few years to the first Pixel a series devices, the Pixel 3a and 3a XL, too.
However, it’s worth bearing in mind that Google’s 2020 and 2021 product roadmaps were severely disrupted by Covid-19, so they’re not necessarily a fair indicator of what the tech giant has in store.
Here are all the Google Pixel phone release dates since the A-series was introduced.
- Google Pixel 3/3 XL release date: October 9, 2018
- Google Pixel 3a/3a XL release date: May 7, 2019 (Google I/O)
- Google Pixel 4 release date: October 15, 2019
- Google Pixel 4a/4a (5G) release date: August 3, 2020 / September 30, 2020
- Google Pixel 5 release date: September 30, 2020
- Google Pixel 5a release date: August 17, 2021
- Google Pixel 6/6 Pro release date: October 19, 2021
- Google Pixel 6a/6a Pro release date (TBC): May 2022
In general, smartphone manufacturers tend to launch complementary mid-range devices like the A-series approximately six months after the flagship is released, which also suggests a Google Pixel 6a and 6a Pro release date of May 2022 could well be on the cards.
Pixel 6a pricing hasn’t been announced and, given that the Pixel 5a didn’t come to the UK or Europe, you have to go back to the Pixel 4 and 4a to directly compare cost.
The Pixel 4 was £669 SIM-free at launch, while the Pixel 4a’s full price was £349, a difference of roughly £300. As the Pixel 6 starts at £599, that means we could be looking at the Pixel 6a being as little as £299 – though something in the region of £349 might be more realistic.
Specs and design
When it comes to Pixel A-series devices, Google has historically launched them as pared-down versions of their flagship siblings – fewer premium features for a lower price, essentially.
However, a change could be on the cards this time around, as Google is rumoured to be including the same homegrown Tensor GS101 processor found in last year’s Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro flagships in this year’s mid-rangers. That’s according to the biggest (believable) Google Pixel 6a specs dump so far, which comes courtesy of @Shadow_leak.
They also claim that the Pixel 6a will be a 6.2-inch handset with a 120Hz OLED display; 6GB/8GB of RAM backing that Tensor SoC; 128GB of onboard storage; a 4800mAh battery with 30W charging; and of course the next version of Google’s mobile OS, Android 12.
In terms of design, the 6.2-inch screen means it’s going to be a tad smaller than the 6.4-inch Pixel 6 proper, meaning it will also manage to be a bit thinner at 8.7mm (compared to 8.9mm).
Our best look at how the Pixel 6a might come to life comes via reliable mobile leaker @OnLeaks in partnership with 91mobiles. These unofficial renders generally look the part and show the Pixel 6a featuring the same protruding camera bar or ‘visor’ seen on the Pixel 6.
This design decision has irked some Pixel fans and is seen as more obtrusive than the more standard square camera module found on many rival devices.
Aesthetics aside, the Pixel 6a looks set to borrow some camera features from the Pixel 6, it’s unlikely to be getting the headline 50-megapixel main camera found on its more luxe stablemate.
Code spotted by 9to5Google in the Google Camera app suggests that the Pixel 6a will have the same 12.2-megapixel Sony IMX363 primary sensor as the Pixel 5a. This will allegedly be paired with the same IMX386 ultra-wide lens found on the Pixel 6 to make up the device’s dual-camera rear configuration, while on the front there’s thought to be an 8-megapixel IMX555 selfie cam.
While perhaps disappointing insofar as the main 12.2-megapixel snapper dates all the way back to the Pixel 3, getting the same ultra-wide is still a win, as the camera is one area where mid-range devices like the Pixel 6a almost always have to make sacrifices.
Will there be a Pixel 6a Pro?
It would be very unlikely if there wasn’t. Wherever Google has introduced two different sizes or versions of its flagship in the past, it has followed suit with its A-series launch. Though not confirmed by the company, we’d say a Pixel 6a Pro is almost a given.
Google Pixel 6a vs Pixel 6: Should I wait for the Pixel 6a?
It’s possible the Pixel 6a will pack the same powerful in-house Tensor chip as its flagship counterpart. But despite the rumours, that surely wouldn’t correlate with the mid-range price point.
However, there are sacrifices to be made and the biggest downgrade is likely to be in the camera department. If you have high expectations of your device from a photography or video shooting standpoint, then you’ll probably find the Pixel 6 is more suitable – so you can probably jump the for that instead.