Google Pixel 6a: will the Pixel 6's cheap sibling show up at Google IO?

Google Pixel 6
A Google Pixel 6 (Image credit: Future)

Google’s annual developer conference – Google IO - kicks off on May 11 this year. It’s a software focused show where we’re expecting to see Android 13 and possibly some new Wear OS updates, but we might well see new hardware as well – including the Google Pixel 6a.

There's plenty of evidence that the Pixel 6a - along possibly with other hardware - could be in attendance, despite the event's focus on software.

That said, there’s conflicting reports as to whether we actually will see the Pixel 6a at Google IO 2022 or not, so below we’ll look at the rumors, Google’s Pixel A series history, and assess how likely it is to show up.

Evidence for the Pixel 6a at Google IO

There’s some compelling evidence to suggest that the Pixel 6a might land at Google IO 2022. Perhaps most significantly, Google’s own CEO has said that new “products” will be shown off at IO.

The word products suggests hardware rather than software, and while there’s other potential hardware, they said it following the announcement that the Pixel 6 is the fastest-selling Pixel ever, so something phone-related would make sense.

Elsewhere, Jon Prosser (a leaker with a generally solid track record) has said that the Pixel 6a will probably be announced at Google IO – but that it might not go on sale until July 28.

Plus, an image of a retail box for the Google Pixel 6a has leaked, and we wouldn’t expect that to leak until close to launch, which lines up with a Google IO appearance – though could just mean it will land on another date in the near future.

Similarly, a device believed to be the Pixel 6a has been spotted on a US carrier's back-end inventory system. That sort of listing likely wouldn’t appear until near launch, when stores are preparing to stock the phone.

Finally, one early leak from a reputable source stated that the Pixel 6a would launch in May. They didn’t specify it would land at Google IO, but if it’s going to land in May then IO is the obvious venue.

Google Pixel 6

A Google Pixel 6 (Image credit: Future)

Evidence against the Pixel 6a at Google IO

There’s not as much evidence against Google IO as there is for it, though notably some of the leaks and claims above don’t point specifically to IO, so much as just an imminent launch. Really only one of the sources above specifically links the Pixel 6a to Google IO.

That source is Jon Prosser, who as noted said it will be announced there but won’t then be sold until July. However prior to that Prosser had suggested we wouldn’t see the Pixel 6a at all until July, blaming the ongoing chipset shortage.

But that’s the only real claim we’ve seen that specifically says not to expect it at Google IO, and Prosser has seemingly changed his mind (or at least clarified his point) in that subsequent leak.

However, if we look at when previous models launched, a Google IO unveiling looks far less certain, as the Pixel 5a and Pixel 4a were both announced in August of their launch years. The Pixel 3a did get a May launch though.

Will we see the Pixel 6a at Google IO? And what else should you expect?

While the launch timing of the previous two models suggests we might not see the Google Pixel 6a at Google IO 2022, almost all the other evidence does point to an unveiling there, so we think it’s very likely to be announced at Google’s conference – though it may well not be sold until a couple of months after that.

Whether we see the Pixel 6a at IO or not though, there should be plenty to tune in for, with the Google Pixel Watch also rumored for launch, alongside all sorts of Android and Wear OS updates.

James Rogerson

James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps. James also contributes to, and and has written for T3, Digital Camera World, Clarity Media and others, with work on the web, in print and on TV.