Google Pixel 6a should keep one expensive feature from the Pixel 6, but lose another

Which do you prefer to keep: the camera or the chip?

google pixel 6 meerschaum 1

With the Pixel 6 on the outside, speculation turns to the next big thing that hasn’t been released yet. For many, that means the Pixel 6a. We’ve already established that it will likely look like its older brother, but how good will it be and how much will it cost Google (and the most important consumer)? Today, more light is shining on a few important specification lines.

According to a 9to5Google teardown of the Google Camera app, the company has already established a footprint of what the Pixel 6a’s cameras will be:

  • A rear-facing 12.2MP Sony IMX363

  • A rear-facing 12MP ultra-wide IMX386

  • A front-facing 8MP IMX355

The IMX386 and 355 were carried over from the Pixel 6, but not its 50-megapixel Samsung GN1 sensor – it was traded in for the IMX363 which has been a part of Google’s phones since at least the Pixel 3 series.


Google, which typically uses fish-based nicknames for Pixel devices under development, reportedly chose to call the 6a “bluejay” in the app. 9to5 also indicates “by the way” that the SoC Tensor GS101 of the Pixel 6 will be included on the 6a.

Sure, it would have been nice to combine the immense power of the Tensor chip with quality data from the larger GN1 sensor, but the Pixel A series has always been about finding a compromise on value. Streamlining the research, development and exclusivity of this chipset may take priority over a super-resolution camera.

Part of that trade-off will be time – even with a few strokes of intelligence, there is little reason at this time to believe that the 6a will arrive any sooner than the previous ones. The 5a and 4a were announced in August of this year and last year respectively (the odd 4a 5G followed the 4a on September 30) and the 3a entered the scene in May 2019.

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