It’s a good thing that certain Pixel 6a phones have a display that can support 90Hz refresh rate that addresses one of the most insignificant criticisms against the mid-range $450 phone. Unfortunately, getting the phone switched to the high-refresh rate mode at present is a hack that’s not documented however there are some issues in the event that it does work and the method does not work for all Pixel 6a hardware. In other words, although there was at least one device that has been compelled to operate at 90 Hz, it’s still not certain if you’ll be in a position to achieve this using your own unit.
We are aware we know that both there is a difference between the Pixel 6 and 6a share an identical display, but the former phone has 90Hz refresh rate to ensure more smooth operation, while the Pixel 6a is restricted to an older , but more common 60Hz rate of refresh. We didn’t think it was to be a problem in our review of the Pixel 6a but some did. According to a new software update that was released, it appears that the Pixel 6a might be coaxed into operating with a faster refresh rate but the evidence to prove that all phones could achieve this isn’t there yet.
Yesterday, @TheLunarixus discovered that the display panel in their Pixel 6a supports an increased resolution of at least 90 Hz, or up to 120Hz. The details are still in flux and is under active development, however it is said that according to Esper.io’s Mishaal Rahman the modified display driver in the vendor_boot partition could be flashed to forcefully enable the feature via the user-facing toggle to enable an option to display at 90Hz as well as on the unit of @TheLunarixus the feature was able switch the phone into a 60Hz mode of display. Video on Twitter is, naturally, does not really show a high refresh rate, but Android’s supplementary overlay that shows what the refresh speed is currently as well as the popular UFO framerate test could confirm that the feature worked.
But, Rahman could not achieve this using his own phone as the screen “would be blank” and there was no display. According to Rahman the vulnerability is probably not an actual hack even though it wasn’t working for him. @TheLunarixus is famous for his previous work creating display drivers on the Pixel 6 Pro and enabling the screen resolution setting of Android 13 for the smartphone. The explanations like hardware binning could be the reason, or there may be other differences between the two units (ideally the latter, which could be considered to create a solution that works across multiple devices).
There are additional issues this hack creates on users, such as inaccurate display calibration and tearing caused by Vsync issues, but these are minor issues that can be addressed in the near future. The solution currently in use involves manually flashing images to one of the partitions on your system that means you have to unlock your bootloader, causing SafetyNet as well as other security features. It may be too much of a task for many users to try. The images required aren’t yet available for public posting but I’m guessing that documentation will be released after (if?) there are more problems are worked out.
The details are currently growing as the developers dig into the details However, at the moment the majority of Pixel 6a owners shouldn’t get too excited about hacking their displays to run at 90 Hz. It’s not entirely clear if it is an option that all devices support.