In short: Google’s midrange champion, the Pixel 6a, may be a better value than first blush. After some speculation that the phone might secretly have a 90Hz panel, a developer found a way to overclock it from 60Hz to 90Hz which seems to be quite reliable.
It all started when some curious developers noticed that the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6a share an integral part of the display hardware: something that their software recognizes as the s6e3fc3, which the developers thought of as the panel or its controller was. In theory, if the Pixel 6 supports a 90Hz refresh rate, the 6A can also be limited to 60Hz, not by hardware, but by software.
Working on this principle, a developer named TheLunarixus have arrived Along the way to see if the Pixel 6a’s panel was overclockable. He took the 6K display driver and software package and mixed it with 6a’s version of Android 13, then flashed the results to his 6a. With that, the option to enable 90Hz mode appeared in their 6a’s developer settings, and when they turned it on… it worked.
They had shared the software package together and their fellow enthusiasts, including Sean Hollister at The Verge, who were able to replicate the results. There were a few minor issues posted on Twitter that Lunarixus was mostly able to troubleshoot, with the exception of a persistent issue with the panel’s color calibration, or lack thereof. many users complained Regarding a green tint that appeared after the mod was installed, even before the 90Hz mode was enabled.
UPDATE: I flashed a new vendor_boot image sent by @TheLunarixus And now my Pixel 6a can run at 90Hz! The green tint/calibration issue is still very noticeable on my unit though @MaxWinebach Says it’s not up to him. pic.twitter.com/beM2vmTTo9
— Mishal Rahman (@Mishaal Rahman) 11 August 2022
Otherwise, testing so far has shown that the Pixel 6a can reliably overclock its panel to 90Hz without any catastrophic hardware failure. TheLunarixus is quick to point out that the mod retains the panel’s default voltage and power consumption, making hardware unlikely to damage.
But one question remains unanswered: Is this a specific overclock that takes advantage of the hardware’s headroom, or was it a feature Google decided to disable in software? Unfortunately, neither Google nor Samsung, the maker of the panel, have yet answered that question.
further investigation revealed that the s6e3fc3 device is not the panel after all, but most likely for the controller. It is still unclear whether there are similarities between the panels of the Pixel 6 and 6a, which differ in both resolution and size.
For the time being, we recommend avoiding trying this mod for yourself unless you have a three-month-old Pixel 6a somehow. On the upside, TheLunarixus says it’s working on a simple ROM for the mod that will make it almost plug and play, and it might be worth considering then.
Image credit: Thai Nguyen