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Pixel 6a specs leak brings good news Google fans will love

Published Nov 24th, 2021 7:31AM EST
Google Pixel 6 Camera Bump
Image: Christian de Looper for BGR

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The Pixel 6a design leaked earlier this week, revealing a few surprises. Some are good like the Pixel 6a supposedly featuring the same design as the Pixel 6 handsets in a more compact body. Also, the handset gets an under-display fingerprint sensor. Others aren’t that exciting — the audio jack is going away. But the phone’s specs did not leak at the time, and we had one big question. We wondered whether the handset would rock Google’s custom Tensor chip that powers the Pixel 6 flagships. A new rumor provides the answer we were looking for.

One of the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro features is the new Tensor chip. It’s Google’s first-gen System-on-Chip (SoC) that competes directly against the iPhone 13’s A15 Bionic. The new SoC can’t match the A15 in benchmark tests or the Snapdragon 888. But the processor approaches the Snapdragon 888 performance and is able to hold its own against the iPhone 13 in real-life speed tests.

The Pixel 6a specs leak

When the Pixel 6a design leaked, it wasn’t clear whether the handset would use the same Tensor chip or a mid-range Qualcomm SoC. There was a third option on the table, a different, cheaper Tensor SoC to serve Google’s needs for mid-range devices.

But if this new Pixel 6a specs leak is real, then the Pixel 6a will match the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro when it comes to performance. That’s because 9to5Google discovered that Google will use the same Tensor GS101 SoC inside the Pixel 6a. That’s great news for anyone looking for an even cheaper Pixel 6 version. And the Pixel 6 is already an incredible offer at $599, despite the early issue that Google has to fix.

This is in line with Google’s Pixel 5 strategy: the Pixel 4a 5G, Pixel 5, and Pixel 5a rocked similar processors. However, all three phones are mid-range handsets. The Pixel 6a, Pixel 6, and Pixel 6 Pro would all be high-end devices if this specs rumor pans out.

Render shows leaked Pixel 6a design.
Renders indicate Pixel 6a will not have a headphone jack. Image source: @OnLeaks and 91mobiles

The camera compromise

If the Pixel 6a’s SoC choice might be exciting, the camera specs are a bit of a letdown. The same 9to5Google found more information about the camera specs in Google’s Camera app.

According to the teardown, the Pixel 6a won’t match the camera specs of the Pixel 6. Instead, the phone will deliver Pixel 5-grade cameras.

Google will replace the 50-megapixel GN1 camera on the Pixel 6 phones with Sony’s 12.2-megapixel IMX363 sensor that Google has used since the Pixel 3. The Pixel 6a will also get a 12-megapixel IMX386 ultra-wide sensor from Sony, matching Pixel 6’s ultra-wide camera.

Finally, the Pixel 6a selfie camera will get Sony’s 8-megapixel IMX355 sensor. The Pixel 6 has the same selfie camera specs.
In other words, the Pixel 6a will not deliver Google’s best possible camera experience. But you’re still going to get the next best thing available on Pixel phones. That’s the kind of compromise needed to lower the price below that Pixel 6’s $599 cost.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.