The Pixel 6a Could Run at a Higher Refresh Rate

Andrew Heinzman

Review Geek

The Pixel 6a Could Run at a Higher Refresh Rate

Even with its 60Hz display, the Pixel 6a is one of the best bargains available today. It truly offers a flagship experience for just $450. But now, developer @TheLunarixus claims that the Pixel 6a can run at 90Hz with some detailed software modifications.

Here’s the short of it; according to @TheLunarixus, the Pixel 6a uses Samsung’s S6E3FC3 display panel. This is the same panel Google uses in the standard Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, and it supports a maximum 120Hz refresh rate.

In reality, the “S6E3FC3” is a display controller, not a display panel. This controller was incorrectly identified as a display panel in a review by XDA Developers—it seems that @TheLunarixus either read XDA‘s review or misidentified the S6E3FC3 when looking through the Pixel 6a’s drivers.

Since the Pixel 6 and 6a have very similar display panels, and since that panel already runs at 90Hz on other devices, dev @TheLunarixus tried to get the Pixel 6a running at 2400×1080 @ 90Hz, same as the Pixel 6. I can tell you the mod is legit, but there are a LOT of caveats rn.

— Mishaal Rahman (@MishaalRahman) August 10, 2022

Nevertheless, @TheLunarixus is sharing photos and videos of the Pixel 6a running at 90Hz. And Esper’s Mishaal Rahman confirms that @TheLunarixus’ modified boot image unlocks a 2400×1080 90Hz display mode. (That said, the 90Hz mode doesn’t work on Rahman’s phone.)

One of two things may be happening here. If we’re lucky, the Pixel 6a’s display is made to run at a high refresh rate. A software modification, which is now in the works, could unlock a 90Hz refresh rate and push the budget device to a new level.

But we don’t know which display the Pixel 6a uses. We only know that its display controller is capable of operating at a high refresh rate. This modification may simply overclock the Pixel 6 display, which (as Kuba Wojciechowski notes) could easily damage the phone’s display panel.

As of August 11th, @TheLunarixus’ Pixel 6a is working fine. The developer reports no ghosting, overheating, or other issues. It seems that we have a mystery on our hands, and all we can do is wait and see what happens.

I suggest that you avoid this mod until we know more about the Pixel 6a’s display. But if you want to turn your $450 smartphone into a guinea pig, keep an eye on @TheLunarixus’ Twitter account. The developer plans to publish the modified Pixel 6a code once some minor bugs are “ironed out.”

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