At least some Pixel 6a phones have a 90Hz display, addressing one of the phone’s pointless complaints. Bad news: To switch the Pixel 6a to high refresh rate mode, you must use an undocumented hack, and it doesn’t work on all hardware. While one Pixel 6a was forced to work at 90Hz, it’s unclear if you can do the same.
Google’s Pixel 6a comes with a 60Hz 6.1-inch OLED display, but you can unlock 90Hz mode. TheLunarixus is working on a custom ROM to make it easy for Pixel 6a owners to unlock the 90Hz mode.
Budget phone of the year? Pixel 6a with 90Hz unlocked pic.twitter.com/3suHD88KyZ
— Nathan (@TheLunarixus) August 10, 2022
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. https://t.co/upUbsakoHP
— Mishaal Rahman (@MishaalRahman) August 10, 2022
Senior editor Sean Hollister confirmed the mod works on his Pixel 6a. We don’t know if the display panel supports 90Hz or if this is overclocking it. We’ve asked Google if 90Hz is software-locked or if there are panel constraints.
The mod exists because Android users noticed that the Pixel 6a’s Samsung display is similar to the Pixel 6’s. Google’s 6.4-inch Pixel 6 panel supports 90Hz, but the two aren’t identical.
The mod is currently active. To unlock 90Hz on the Pixel 6a, enable debugging mode and OEM unlock in the settings (which you may not be able to do on a locked carrier handset), unlock the bootloader, flash an Android 13 beta with some checks disabled, and flash a modified vendor boot image.
If you don’t know about XDA Developers, wait for a custom ROM. However all these hacks unlock Smooth Display and the ability to force the max refresh rate to 90Hz.
Modifications are ongoing. Modders who tested on their own devices had mixed results. Mishaal Rahman commented first. After applying the mod to his Pixel 6a, selecting 90Hz blanked the screen. Even for working devices, the display mode is uncalibrated and green. Rahman eventually got the mod working on his Pixel 6a, but it had the same green tint.
Modders say widespread adoption won’t happen soon. The Pixel 6a can’t operate at 90Hz due to calibration issues. Frame-skipping can be jarring. Flashing a modified vendor boot image wipes user data, but that won’t deter most experienced Android tinkerers. I used to flash my phone’s ROM multiple times per day, requiring a factory reset each time.
Long-term effects of this mod are unknown. If the display is only accessible for 60Hz, overclocking could damage it. TheLunarixus says the mod didn’t change voltages, but it may need more power to be stable. Phones don’t dissipate heat well. Overclocking an OLED display could cause ghosting or accelerated burn-in. More testing is needed to confirm these risks.