The Pixel 8a will soon support display output over USB-C


Google Pixel 8A bay blue 1

Paul Jones / Android Authority

TL;DR

  • Out of the box, the Pixel 8a won’t support mirroring its display when you connect it to an external monitor.
  • However, in the upcoming June update, Google will add support for display output over USB-C.
  • This capability will also come to the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro soon.

Since its inception, the Pixel lineup has omitted display output as a feature for reasons on which we can only speculate. However, Google finally changed gears with its Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro phones, which have hardware support for display output via their USB-C ports. Neither phone in the Pixel 8 series launched with display output enabled out of the box, though. Instead, Google quietly enabled display output on the Pixel 8 in an Android beta update. Similarly, Google’s brand new Pixel 8a smartphone doesn’t ship with display output enabled out of the box, but this feature will likely be coming in next month’s software update.

The Google Pixel 8a, like the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro, is powered by Google’s Tensor G3 chipset. Thus, it’s no surprise that all three phones share a lot of internal components, such as their USB controller. Although Google wired up the USB-C port on all three phones at the factory to support sending a DisplayPort Alternate Mode signal over a connected USB-C cable, the company disabled this capability using a software flag. The system property persist.vendor.usb.displayport.enabled is read by the USB initialization file for all Tensor G3-series devices, and if the property is set to 0, then DisplayPort Alternate Mode is disabled.

This system property was set to 0 in the firmware until the Android 14 QPR3 Beta 2 release, where it was set to 1, thus enabling display output by default for all Pixel 8 series users enrolled in the Android beta program. Display output is still disabled by default for all other Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro users running the latest stable update with the May 2024 Android security patch level. This is because the latest stable update is based on Android 14 QPR2, whereas the upcoming June stable update will be based on Android 14 QPR3. Thus, Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro users who aren’t enrolled in the Android beta program should expect their devices to gain display output support in next month’s stable update.

As for the new Pixel 8a, the latest software version available for it is the Android 14 QPR2-based UD2A.240505.001.B1 build. This version brings the May 2024 Android security patches and Google’s AI wallpaper app, but because it’s based on the older Android 14 QPR2 release, display output isn’t enabled by default. However, the Pixel 8a’s upcoming June stable update, which is currently under testing, sets the aforementioned system property to 1, which means DisplayPort Alternate Mode will be enabled by default.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise since, as I just mentioned, all three Tensor G3-powered devices share the same common USB configuration. Still, this is good news for any user or developer looking to pick up a Pixel 8a, since it means the device might get access to Android’s revamped desktop mode, whenever that feature launches. Until that feature is ready, though, connecting your Pixel 8, Pixel 8 Pro, or Pixel 8a to an external display will simply mirror the screen, which is certainly better than nothing happening like on previous Pixels.

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