Pixel 7a Reportedly Lowers Display Refresh Rate in Bright Sunlight Automatically: Details

Pixel 7a owners can enable a hidden setting to force the smartphone's display to always refresh at 90Hz.

Pixel 7a Reportedly Lowers Display Refresh Rate in Bright Sunlight Automatically: Details

Pixel 7a is equipped with the company's Tensor G2 chip

  • Pixel 7a sports an 6.1-inch OLED display with a 90Hz refresh rate
  • It is said to automatically lower the display's refresh rate in sunlight
  • Pixel 7a owners can set the display to always refresh at 90Hz

Pixel 7a — launched by the company last month as the final addition to the Pixel 7 series of smartphones — could be equipped with a feature that reduces its screen refresh rate when the phone is exposed to bright sunlight. A Pixel owner recently shared details of how their phone automatically adjusts the display's refresh rate in bright sunlight and in the shade, suggesting that the functionality is intentional. However, users who want their Pixel 7a to always use the peak refresh rate can enable a specific hidden setting on their phone.

According to a Reddit post by user u/pawlikx_iron, the Pixel 7a reduces the screen refresh rate from 90Hz to 60Hz when the phone is used in bright sunlight. When the phone is returned to an area without sunlight, the peak refresh rate is automatically restored, the user stated.

Based on the responses in the comments section, it does not appear to be caused by thermal throttling — a process of lowering CPU speeds when the chip temperature is too high. It was recently reported that the Pixel 7a could be equipped with a slightly different version of the Tensor G2 chip that powers the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro that could lead to lower performance compared to Google's flagship chipset.

Meanwhile, Esper's Mishaal Rahman states that the drop in the Pixel 7a's display refresh rate is intentional, based on a commit in Google's open-source code for the device that is designed to lock the refresh rate of the phone at 60Hz when the ambient brightness is higher than 50,000 lux. Other Pixel phones should also offer the same functionality, he added.

Users who want to bypass this functionality on their Pixel 7a can use a workaround suggested by one of the users in the comments to force the smartphone's display to always refresh at 90Hz. The fix involves enabling the hidden developer options menu by tapping on Settings > About phone > Build number.

After this is enabled, users can open the settings app and tap on Developer options > Force peak refresh rate in order to permanently set the display's refresh rate to 90Hz. However, it is worth noting that enabling this feature could lead to increased battery drain, as the smartphone won't be optimising the refresh rate for optimal power consumption.

Google I/O 2023 saw the search giant repeatedly tell us that it cares about AI, alongside the launch of its first foldable phone and Pixel-branded tablet. This year, the company is going to supercharge its apps, services, and Android operating system with AI technology. We discuss this and more on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.
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  • NEWS
  • Design
  • Display
  • Software
  • Performance
  • Battery Life
  • Camera
  • Value for Money
  • Good
  • Good performance
  • High refresh rate display
  • IP67 rating
  • Wireless charging
  • Good overall camera performance
  • Bad
  • One-day battery life
  • Limited storage
  • Heats up with camera usage
  • No bundled charger, slow charging speed
Display 6.10-inch
Processor Google Tensor G2
Front Camera 10.8-megapixel
Rear Camera 64-megapixel + 12-megapixel
Storage 128GB
Battery Capacity 4385mAh
OS Android 13
Resolution 1080x2400 pixels

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David Delima
As a writer on technology with Gadgets 360, David Delima is interested in open-source technology, cybersecurity, consumer privacy, and loves to read and write about how the Internet works. David can be contacted via email at DavidD@ndtv.com, on Twitter at @DxDavey, and Mastodon at mstdn.social/@delima. More
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