Should you buy a Google Pixel 6 now or wait for the rumored ‘Pixel 6a’?


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When Google released its Pixel 6 smartphone in late 2021, the tech press reacted with undoubted excitement. In a four-star review of the Pixel 6 for T3, Spencer Hart enthused: “Google is back to making premium smartphones, and the Pixel 6 is well worth your money.”

He particularly hailed the “impressive” Tensor processor, “bold display” and what he described as the “purest version of Android”. However, despite pairing largely high-end specs with a mid-range asking price, the Pixel 6 could soon – rumor suggests – be upstaged by the Pixel 6a. 

If it does break cover, it will be the latest in Google’s ‘a’-series of cut-price Pixel handsets. So, should you invest in a Pixel 6 now or potentially save some money by holding out for the Pixel 6a? 

What’s in a name (or release date)?

Given that the ‘Pixel 6’ name depicts the device itself as the natural successor to the Pixel 5 even despite the significant technological leap the newer device represents, it makes sense that, as Android Authority speculates, Google’s next budget handset will likely be called the Pixel 6a.

More importantly for you, though, is exactly when this phone will launch. As the Pixel 4a’s launch in 2020 was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Pixel 5a launch was clearly shifted from its original date as well, it’s possible that the Pixel 6a might not arrive until August 2022. 

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What do leaked designs and specs suggest about the Pixel 6a? 

The fact that designs and specs for the Pixel 6a have already been leaked in the first place hints that the handset could actually be officially unveiled much earlier than August 2022 – with May 2022 a seemingly sensible candidate for the launch window. 

Tech leaker Steve Hemmerstoffer has posted Pixel 6a renders – and, if they are accurate, the 6a will look almost identical to its elder brother. Nonetheless, Hemmerstoffer contends that the 6a’s display could measure 6.2 inches – rather the Pixel 6 screen’s 6.4 inches – on the diagonal. 

Renders also suggest that the Pixel 6a will feature the Pixel 6’s distinctive rear-camera bar. However, according to information 9to5Google has uncovered from the Google Camera app, the 6a will have a 12.2-megapixel Sony IMX363 primary sensor in place of the physically larger 50-megapixel Samsung GN1 sensor housed beneath the rear-camera bar of the Pixel 6. 

So, you shouldn’t expect the 6a’s back camera to capture quite as much light and, thus, detail as the Pixel 6’s corresponding camera. On the plus side, 9to5Google has also found on its own initiative that the Pixel 6a will feature the Pixel 6’s Google Tensor GS101 chip.  

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So, what decision should you make? 

The evidence of the Tensor chip’s inclusion in the Pixel 6a implies that it will run speedily – as could be especially proven if you utilize voice, data and mobile services by Gamma, a telecoms firm focusing on the business market.

However, if you need a replacement smartphone urgently, the Pixel 6 could more than prove its worth even at its current price tag.