Google is officially announcing the Pixel 6A, which embraces the company’s new design language and custom chipset but keeps the 5A’s $449 price tag. The announcement comes as Google kicks off its I/O developer conference, but if you’re itching to snag the new device, you’ll have to wait a little while longer since it won’t actually ship until July 28th. (Preorders will begin a week earlier, on July 21st.)
The 6A follows the pronounced design trend that the 6 and 6 Pro set when they arrived last year with a raised horizontal camera bump and a two-tone body. Following suit, the fingerprint sensor is under the screen rather than on the back panel. And there’s good news if you think the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro are too big — the 6A comes with a slightly smaller 6.1-inch OLED 1080p display. It’s a standard 60Hz refresh rate, too, so Google seems happy to let Samsung take the lead on fast refresh rate screens in midrange phones. Google calls it a “gOLED” screen, but wouldn’t tell us what that means when we asked.
While the design ethos is the same, the Pixel 6A offers less robust camera specs than the flagship 6 and 6 Pro. That’s a departure from previous A-series phones, which offered the same camera hardware as their pricier counterparts. The 6A includes a 12-megapixel main rear camera with optical image stabilization that appears to be the same hardware used by the 5A, rather than the 50-megapixel main camera on the Pixel 6. There’s also a 12-megapixel ultrawide and an 8-megapixel selfie camera.
Interestingly, the Pixel 6A comes with a smaller 4,400mAh battery than the 5A’s 4,680mAh cell, but Google still claims it will last a full day like its predecessor. It’s also claiming three days of use in Extreme Battery Saver mode, which is a full day longer than it claimed for the 5A. That’s likely due to more efficient hardware and software integration now that Google’s in control of both variables.
A single storage configuration (128GB with 6GB RAM) will be available, similar to how Google sold the 5A. And good news for anyone outside of the US and Japan (the only two markets where the 5A launched) — the 6A will be available in a lot more places, including Canada, the UK, Australia, Germany, and France. There’s a full list of countries where it will be sold on the Google Store.
There’s also 5G, of course. The unlocked version of the 6A supports sub-6GHz but not mmWave 5G. The model sold by Verizon does support mmWave in addition to sub-6Hz (including C-band), but it costs $50 more. And because all good things must end, the 6A does not include a headphone jack. The Pixel 5A was the last Google phone to come with a charger, so you won’t find one of those, either. And it’s not clear if the phone has UWB for fine location; Google wouldn’t tell us when we asked, nor how many years of Android updates it might get — Google’s promising five years of security updates, but the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro only got three years of feature updates and we’d expect the same here since they all use the same Tensor chip.
For a while, the Pixel A-series was more or less a shoo-in for the best phone in the midrange class. In recent years, though, serious competition has arrived from Samsung and challengers like OnePlus, so the 6A has its work cut out for it.
Update May 11th, 3:35PM ET: Added new information about global availability for the Pixel 6A.
Correction May 11th, 5PM ET: A previous version of this article stated that the 6A supports mmWave 5G; the unlocked version of the phone only supports sub-6GHz, not mmWave. A separate model sold by Verizon includes mmWave support for $499. We regret the error.
Update May 13th, 6:16PM ET: Added several things Google wouldn’t answer, including the “gOLED” screen branding, years of Android feature updates, and UWB.