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Could We See the Pixel 6A Today? All the Rumors We've Heard Before Google I/O

Google I/O starts today, and the tech world is abuzz with rumors about Google's next budget Pixel phone.

The rumored Pixel 6A. 
OnLeaks/91Mobiles

The rumored Pixel 6A could be here as soon as today, the first day of Google I/O 2022 (follow our live coverage of the conference here). Rumors point to a potential phone reveal at the big event. If the phone becomes official, it would likely keep some of the best parts of its higher-end sibling, the Pixel 6, but with a cheaper price tag. Google has released a budget "A" version of each Pixel since the 2018 Pixel 3. Historically these cheaper "A" phones have maintained the Pixel phone's best camera features, and the Pixel 6A could possibly also get the new Tensor chip that Google designed in-house.

As we wait on an announcement, we're keeping an eye on all the rumors and leaks surrounding the Pixel 6A. Here's everything we've heard about Google's next budget phone.

What is the Pixel 6A and is it real?

The Pixel 6A is not yet official, but believe it or not, the company might have let the secret slip in a Google coloring book. The book's index reportedly included a Pixel 6A in a list of products. In a new filing with the Federal Communications Commission, Google might also have listed early specs on Pixel 6A phones intended for different carriers.

The Pixel 6A appears likely to include the best parts of the Pixel 6, such as the new Tensor chip, and bring them to a lower-priced, midrange phone. An FCC filing by Google, spotted by Droid Life, appears to reflect multiple models of a phone with at least one including compatibility with the faster but hard to find millimeter-wave version of 5G. 

The various filings may pertain to different versions of the phone for carrier compatibility. This would line up with how last fall's Pixel 6 release included a $599 model that did not include millimeter-wave and a $700 Verizon model that did include it.

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Release date: When can you get a Pixel 6A?

Rumors suggest two likely time frames for the Pixel 6A's release: May and August.

The Pixel 4A came out in August 2020 due to several delays during the pandemic's early days, and the Pixel 5A launched one year later in August 2021. The Pixel 6A could follow the pattern with a release date this August.

But before the pandemic, Google launched its original Pixel A device, the Pixel 3A, in May 2019 during that year's Google I/O conference. And although the delays ultimately moved the 4A's release date back, the 4A was initially expected in May 2020. It's possible the 6A could hop back onto the original May release cadence, meaning we could see the Pixel 6A as soon as May 11, the first day of Google I/O 2022

This theory is supported by leaker Max Jambor, who tweeted in January that the 6A is scheduled for May this year. Later in March, tech YouTuber Jon Prosser tweeted that Google will announce the 6A during I/O 2022, but that it won't launch until July 28 in most markets. 

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Processor: How speedy will the 6A be?

A widely cited leak from 9to5Google suggests that Google will likely power the 6A with its new Tensor chip, which it used for the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro. That means the budget 6A will get all the benefits of this processor's heightened speed, AI features, boosted battery life and special features.

Purported benchmarks for the Pixel 6A appear to lend credence to this, according to a Geekbench listing spotted by Android Headlines. The benchmark page also references the Pixel 6A having 6GB of RAM. If this does become true, the Pixel 6A would have just as much power as the Pixel 6 even with the lower price. This would also somewhat mimic what Apple has done with the latest iPhone SE -- take its latest and greatest chip but put it in a cheaper phone.

Design: What will the Pixel 6A look like?

A leak from a US carrier's inventory system shows a 128GB Pixel 6A in three color options: black, white and green. 

Renders published by 91Mobiles courtesy of leaker Steve Hemmerstoffer show a 6.2-inch OLED display with hardware measuring 152 by 72 by 8.7mm. That's a bit pocket-friendlier than the Pixel 6, which has a 6.4-inch OLED display and measures 159 by 75 by 8.9mm. Unlike previous Pixel A devices, there's no headphone jack depicted in these 6A renders. 

The website Techxine -- an obscure blog whose accuracy is unclear at this point -- also posted a purported box image of the 6A. The design is very similar to that of the Pixel 6, Techxine says, but with a smaller back camera module.

Camera: How will the Pixel 6A's cameras compare to the Pixel 6?

The renders from Hemmerstoffer show the two 6A back cameras in a similar position to those on the Pixel 6: They're lined up on a horizontal bar next to the flash. The aforementioned Techxine image shows the same arrangement. Like the Pixel 6, Hemmerstoffer's 6A renders also depict a punch-hole cutout for the selfie camera, allowing the display to take up more of the phone's surface.

An analysis from 9to5Google suggests that instead of getting the Pixel 6's 50-megapixel main camera, the 6A will be outfitted with the same 12.2-megapixel sensor as all Pixels since the Pixel 2. However, it says the 12-megapixel ultrawide camera and 8-megapixel selfie camera will stay the same as the Pixel 6. The Techxine rumor supports these camera specs.

If the Pixel 6A is powered by the Pixel 6's Tensor chip as rumored, the phone's computational photography abilities would expand as well, bringing cool photo features like Magic Eraser to Google's budget phone line.

google-pixel-5a-cnet-review-2021-10

The Pixel 5A's camera delivered a solid performance for a value phone, our review found.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Price: How much will the Pixel 6A cost?

Considering the pricing for previous Pixel phones, the Pixel 6A's cost will probably land somewhere in the $400 range. Historically, we've seen significant price differences between the A devices and their flagship counterparts: The Pixel 5A cost $250 less than the Pixel 5, and previous Pixel A versions got even greater markdowns. 

Since the Pixel 6A could have the same new processor as the $599 Pixel 6, and since it's possible the only major quality compromise on the 6A could be the main camera, don't expect a dramatic price drop here. 

If you're looking for more rumors about Google's upcoming Pixel devices, check out our roundup of Pixel 7 buzz. Here's everything we've heard about Android 13, which will hit Google phones first. And be sure to take a look at our list of the best Android phones you can buy in 2022.