Google’s Pixel 7a brought some much-wanted improvements to the company’s budget series, including finally bumping the A-series line up from 60Hz displays to 90Hz. While 90Hz is a welcome addition, the implementation isn’t perfect — apparently, the 7a automatically lowers the refresh rate to 60Hz in bright environments.
The issue was first detailed on Reddit when a Pixel 7a user noticed the change in refresh rate while using it outside. There was some speculation that the issue was related to heat, although the Redditor noted that their Pixel 7a was cool when they tested using it in direct sunlight and then in the shade of a tree.
However, Android researcher and journalist Mishaal Rahman has confirmed that the behaviour is intentional. Rahman chimed in on the Reddit post with a link to an Android code commit for ‘lynx,’ the codename for the Pixel 7a. The code locks the screen’s refresh rate to 60Hz when the device detects over “50k lux.”
The commit shows that Google intended for the Pixel 7a to lock down the refresh rate when the device is in bright environments, but it remains unclear why Google wanted the phone to do this. The leading theory seems to be that it’s to mitigate thermal issues.
Whatever the reasoning, those who have a problem with the Pixel 7a capping its refresh rate can always use the ‘Force peak refresh rate’ setting in Developer options.