Google CEO drops huge hint about Pixel 6a announcement at Google IO

The Google Pixel 6a isn’t a sure thing by any means. Sure, Google hasn’t missed an A-series phone since 2019, but the Pixel 5a received only a limited roll-out, making it sound like the company wasn’t sure about its spin-off affordable handsets.

People hoping for the new device woke up to some great news this morning, however: It turns out the Google Pixel 6 series has sold incredibly well, and the 6a could come soon.

In an Alphabet earnings call (a transcript of which can be read at Motley Fool), CEO Sundar Pichai confirmed “[the Pixel 6 is] the fastest-selling Pixel ever […] I’m excited about the products we have coming and look forward to sharing more at Google I/O”.

There are two big things to unpack there: first, while Pichai doesn’t name-drop the Pixel 6a at all, it seems likely one is coming. If the Pixel 6 has sold like gangbusters, it seems likely that an affordable spin-off would come along too.

Second, it sounds like Google has hardware to show off at the annual tech showcase Google IO in mid-May. The event is typically for software – we’re expecting to see Android 13 shown off this year – but we sometimes see hardware too, and the Pixel 3a and Pixel Buds A-Series debuted at the event in past years.

The word ‘products’ would seem ill-suited to software, as you don’t ‘buy’ new versions of Android – that makes it seem very likely that Pichai is teasing the Pixel 6a.

Analysis: early is good

Google hasn’t proven very reliable when it comes to launch dates for its smartphones – just look at this calendar of the last few years:

SeriesMain series announcementA-series announcement
Pixel 3Oct 2018May 2019
Pixel 4Oct 2019Aug 2020 (Sep 2020 for 5G)
Pixel 5Sep 2020Aug 2021
Pixel 6Oct 2021[May 2022?]

Sure, there are some patterns for each series – but there’s never been a consistent amount of time between the main-series phone and its A counterpart.

While it doesn’t sound like that will change with the Google Pixel 6a, maybe that’s a good thing – clearly, people are keen to buy the Pixel 6 series, but with the cheapest option still being pretty pricey, a budget counterpart could go down a treat.

Sure, Google might tease the 6a now but launch it later, and might actually just save Google IO for headphones or the much-rumored Pixel Watch. But May would be the perfect time to give the 6a breathing room before the Pixel 7 debuts later this year.

By Tom Bedford

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