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It seems Pixel 6a's display is capable of 90Hz refresh rate, but it's locked out

A hacker has apparently demonstrated that the Pixel 6a can get up to at least 90Hz.
By
August 10, 2022
google pixel 6a display in hand
Ryan Haines / Android Authority
TL;DR
  • A hacker on Twitter has shown a Google Pixel 6a refresh rate reaching 90Hz.
  • The Pixel 6a is sold as having a 60Hz rate.
  • It’s possible higher refresh rates are locked out using the software.

The Google Pixel 6a is a cheaper version of the 2021 Google Pixel 6. To cut down on costs, the Pixel 6a has weaker build materials, a downgraded camera system, and a few other sacrifices.

One of those sacrifices is the refresh rate. The Pixel 6 has a top refresh rate of 90Hz, but the Google Pixel 6a refresh rate is locked to the normal 60Hz.

See also: Refresh rate explained

Now, it seems a hacker on Twitter may have figured out that this might be an artificial limitation. Nathan (aka TheLunarixus) just posted some images that appear to show a Pixel 6a with a refresh rate hitting 90Hz. Furthermore, Nathan claims the Samsung-made panel on the Pixel 6a is capable of refresh rates hitting 120Hz or more.

Now, you should take this information with a huge grain of salt. Nathan has not uploaded the code to recreate this Google Pixel 6a refresh rate hack. He claims “it’s not finalized” but is working on it. However, from the outside looking in, it does appear he’s done what he claims.

Google Pixel 6a refresh rate: What’s happening here?

Considering the Pixel 6a has the same chipset as the Pixel 6, Google could not claim that it artificially limited the Pixel 6a’s refresh rate because processing demands would be too high. In fact, all hardware aspects that would affect the ability of the phone to have a higher refresh rate seem to be up to par. So why doesn’t it work?

It’s possible Google artificially limits the refresh rate of the phone in an effort to keep it from being too close to the regular Pixel 6. Google might also claim that it has the user’s experience in mind since higher refresh rates eat through the battery faster than 60Hz rates.

We have reached out to Google for a statement on this. We will update this article if and when we hear back.