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

Google Pixel 6 Pro being held in a hand.
(Image credit: Future)

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:

Swipe to scroll horizontally
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.

Tom Bedford

Tom Bedford was deputy phones editor on TechRadar until late 2022, having worked his way up from staff writer. Though he specialized in phones and tablets, he also took on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK and now works for the entertainment site What To Watch.

He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working on TechRadar, he freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist.