The Pixel 6a lands at the FCC with four different models
Enlarge / OnLeaks’ render of the Pixel 6a. Here you can see the flat screen and the low-profile camera bump.
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As pointed out by Droid-Life, Google’s next midrange phone, the Pixel 6a, has popped up at the FCC.
What’s most surprising about the listing is the timing. The Pixel 6a’s April FCC arrival is the earliest we’ve seen for the A series in a long time. The Pixel 5a was listed at the FCC in July 2021 and launched a month later in August, while the Pixel 4a hit the FCC in June 2020 and also released in August. The first Pixel A phone, the Pixel 3a, had a February FCC listing and launched at Google I/O in May. This year, Google’s (virtual) I/O event is May 11, 2022, so that day is currently the odds- on favorite release date for the phone.
There are four different models at the FCC, with only one unit having mmWave functionality. mmWave adds $50-$100 to the price of a phone and has almost no real-world use case because carriers haven’t rolled out mmWave to many places. Given the immense cost of mmWave, we’d rather save the money.
The listing of four US models also points to a wide rollout, and we could see the phone country at several major carriers. Hopefully this will translate to more international support as well. The Pixel 5a is only for sale in the US and Japan, presumably due to the worldwide chip shortage. With so many different models coming, that may be an indication that Google has sorted out its stock issues and can go back to the more normal 13-country Pixel rollout.
We already know a lot about the Pixel 6a. The design leaked all the way back in November, and it showed Google continuing the excellent Pixel 6 design in the mid-range model. The Pixel 6’s trademark camera bar gives you a spot to store cameras, while also providing a solid base to rest on a table, avoiding the unstable wobbliness you get from an off-center camera bump. This will be the first Pixel A phone with an in-screen fingerprint reader, which will be a big change from the rear capacitive fingerprint reader in previous models.
The Pixel 6 is the first phone with a Google-made SoC, the Tensor, and a report from 9to5Google in November said the Pixel 6a would also ship with a Tensor chip. In March, a Geekbench listing for a Pixel 6a popped up, showing a Google Tensor SoC and 6GB of RAM. The score and frequencies are identical to the more expensive Pixel 6, indicating it’s the same Tensor chip, which would make for a seriously competitive mid-range phone.
We’re simply looking at specs at the moment, but the Pixel 6a looks like a little powerhouse of a phone, and it could even push people to reconsider buying the flagship Pixel 6. The Pixel 6a’s only big “downgrade” is the smaller 6.2 -inch screen size, compared to the 90 Hz, 6.4-inch Pixel 6 and 120 Hz, 6.7-inch Pixel 6 Pro. If the Pixel 6a display is 60 Hz (the refresh rate is not clear at the moment), that could be a major deciding factor. The other downgrade is the camera system, which only has two sensors, and the main camera is reportedly the tried-and-true 12.2-megapixel Sony IMX363, which was the main camera on the Pixel 2, 3, 4, and 5. That’s still going to be a great camera, though.
The Pixel A series is a fantastic buy if you’re looking for a no-frills Android phone. If the price is right, it looks like Google will have another winner on its hands.