The dust is yet to settle following Google’s release of its first true flagship device, the Pixel 6, but it looks like plans are underway to release a mid-ranger in 2022. The middle range category is where Google has excelled massively in the past, mainly by bringing high-end camera performance and software at a relatively affordable package.
Leaks from 91Mobiles shows renders that are identical to the standard Google Pixel 6. The camera module is still visor-like, with two cameras in the visor and an LED flash. Going by the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro looks, the dual-tone colour design is likely to be maintained, but this can not yet be substantiated.
More similarities to the flagships are on the main camera, where the use of a centred hole-punch camera design is employed. Additionally, a physical fingerprint sensor on the back is also missing, alluding to Google using an in-display sensor just like in the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro.
However, despite the camera module looking similar, the sensor will be different on the Pixel 6a. While the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro use the 50-megapixel Samsung GN1 sensor, the Pixel 6a is expected to use the 12.2-megapixel Sony IMX363 as the primary sensor. This is the same camera sensor that has been used on the Google A series, starting from the Pixel 3a to the Pixel 5a.
The downgrade does not stop on the megapixel count, the GN1 on the Pixel 6 is also physically larger than the IMX363 making it able to capture more light, which translates to more detailed photos. This will in part be remedied by Google’s machine learning that makes things like Super Res Zoom possible.
The rear camera ‘visor’ will also contain another sensor, a 12-megapixel IMX386 sensor that is likely to serve as the ultrawide camera. Selfies, on the other hand, will be handled by the 8-megapixel IMX355 that is also found on the Pixel 6.
One of my biggest pet peeves that has found its way into the Pixel A-series is that the Pixel 6a from the renders has no headphone jack. Sticking to its physical appearance, at 152.2 x 71.8 x 8.7 mm, the Pixel 6a will be slightly smaller than its elder brothers while still managing to be also smaller than the older Pixel 5a.
On the brighter side, the Google Pixel 6a is expected to retain the same Tensor chip that is found on the Pixel 6. This will play well into Google’s hand, as they spent a considerable chunk of their advertisement focusing on their first custom chip. By virtue of the Pixel 6a having the Tensor chip, features like Google Assistant voice typing, live HDR and on-device translations should also make their way to the middle range device.
6 GB or 8 GB of RAM is the sweet spot for new devices, while 128 GB of internal storage is the standard in 2021. Android 12 should also come preinstalled, and as standard with other Google phones, software support for 3 years and security updates up to 5 years is the norm.
A more affordable version of the Pixel 6 makes it a prime candidate to grow Google’s footprint in lesser developed countries like India and countries in Africa, while still retaining Google’s impressive software and camera support. But whether Google looks to tap into this market is another discussion.