It's hard to get excited for the Google Pixel 6a while the Pixel 6 still has problems

Google Pixel 6 Pro review
(Image credit: TechRadar)

In the three months since the Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro launched, the company's hit a sour note. We sang the praises at first of all the new features and Google's successful reinvention after a few years of dull phones. That tune has since changed, and with the Pixel 6a on the horizon, we're struggling to muster up the enthusiasm we had at the launch of the original Pixel 6 models.

You see, it turns out there are a lot of Pixel 6 problems, and these bugs have been cropping up since launch. We've seen issues with Bluetooth, emergency calls, camera stability, audio playback, Wi-Fi connection, display aberrations and more.

How has Google responded? To its credit, the company has been diligently issuing patches targeting these problems. Unfortunately, some of their solutions have actually introduced new problems, inevitably doing more harm than good.

None of this spells good news for the Pixel 6a - neither for the phone itself, nor for its pre-launch hype.

Problems with the Pixel

Despite top hardware, we're a little hesitant to wholeheartedly recommend the Pixel 6 family because of the ongoing software issues.

The problem isn't just the bugs, as not everyone is affected by them. It's the uncertainty surrounding them; we don't know when new problems could pop up, what they could be or how they could affect the phone.

On multiple occasions, this writer has had to warn friends and family members who were considering buying a Pixel 6 about the issues the series has faced. 

The issues have been going on for a few months now, despite Google's repeated attempts to fix them, which makes buying a new Pixel a bit of a risky investment.

Google Pixel 5a

Google Pixel 5a (Image credit: Future)

Now is a pivotal time for the Pixel 6a

We're not expecting the Google Pixel 6a for a few months - so why are we writing this article now?

Well, the phone has just entered the first phase of its existence because we're starting to see the rumor-mill warm up. A recent leak pointed to a May release date for the phone. We suspect that in the coming months, more information about the device will be leaked.

More writers and tech fans are going to join the Pixel 6a discussion, and the tone of those conversations could dictate how enthused prospective buyers will by the time the phone is actually available.

So if the Pixel 6a leak stories are punctuated by tales of the Pixel 6 series breaking in new and annoying ways, people are going to associate the company's phones with bugs (and perhaps rightly so).

There's also the additional concern that the Pixel 6a, which should be a budget version of the Pixel 6 in terms of hardware, will have the same software as the 6, meaning any issues still present in Google's software will inevitably make their way over to the newer handsets.

A ticking clock

If Google can fix the Pixel 6 issues soon - and for good - it could stop the Pixel 6 problem news stories from bleeding into the Pixel 6a hype in any major way.

But if the Pixel 6a launch rolls around and we're still having trouble getting our Pixel 6 phones to work as intended, our vocal gripes could affect interest in, and sales of, the newer models.

This far ahead of the expected launch window, it's natural not to get too excited for the devices - especially since we've also got many major launches between now and then. But unless Google steps up in a major way, we're never going to be able to get beyond the disinterest we're feeling now.

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.