The new Pixel 8a is likely to support display output soon

The homescreen of the Google Pixel 8a
(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Mishaal Rahman's new findings indicate that Pixel 8a also supports display output.
  • While the mid-range phone's hardware supports the feature, it is locked with a software flag.
  • The upcoming June update will likely open up the functionality on the Pixel 8a alongside the Pixel 8 and 8 Pro models.

We just witnessed the launch of Google's new mid-range handset, Pixel 8a, a few days ago. Mishaal Rahman's latest finding now hints at a possible new feature buried somewhere in the Pixel 8a handset.

Just like the Pixel 8 series from last year, the Pixel 8a can support display output through a USB Type-C port, notes Rahman via Android Authority. While the hardware is definitely capable, Google needs to enable it software-wise, which is likely to happen with an update sometime in June.

Google previously took a similar approach with its flagship Pixel 8 series, which is built on a Tensor G3 chip and features a USB controller that supports the DisplayPort Alternate Mode signal.

Pixel 8 seen supporting DisplayPort

(Image credit: Mishaal Rahman)

The search giant disabled it during the launch, and some workarounds, such as rooting the Pixel 8 Pro, helped the device connect to an external monitor. However, with the release of Android 14 QPR3 Beta 2, Google enabled DP Alt mode that allowed Pixel 8 devices to connect to external displays.

And since the latest Pixel 8a is also built on the likes of its flagship siblings, including Tensor G3 and several other internal components, including the USB controller, the mid-range handset also supports the external display via its USB Type-C port.

Rahman further notes that there is a system property dubbed persist.vendor.usb.displayport.enabled, which is set for 0, meaning the DisplayPort Alternate Mode is disabled. However, the Android 14 QPR3 Beta 2 release set it to 1, enabling the DP Alt mode.

Multitasking on the Google Pixel 8a

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

While the current builds are Android 14 QPR2-based (with May security patches), the mode is still disabled even for the Pixel 8 series running the current stable builds. The upcoming June update, which is underway, will be based on Android 14 QPR3; thus, we could see the DisplayPort Alternate Mode in action on the Pixel 8 series and the latest Pixel 8a.

On the other hand, Android 15 is on its way, and recent reports have indicated that Google is already working on a desktop mode overhaul. This will likely better handle multiple windows when devices are connected to external displays. We could also see apps in full-screen mode with a navigation bar-style tab at the top—tapping it further would give people full-screen, split-screen, and freeform mode.

With Google I/O 2024 just around the corner, we expect to see more details about the feature at the Android 15 announcement. It is encouraging to see Google attempting to take on Samsung's Dex by introducing new features and support to Pixel phones for the desktop mode.

Vishnu Sarangapurkar
News Writer

Vishnu works as a freelance News Writer for Android Central. For the past four years, he's been writing about consumer technology, primarily involving smartphones, laptops, and every other gizmo connected to the Internet. When he is away from keyboard, you can see him going on a long drive or chilling on a couch binge-watching some crime series.