Google announced the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro a few months before they were expected to be officially unveiled. It’s not without precedent — the company did the same thing for the Pixel 4 in 2019. However, as with the Pixel 4, Google did not reveal everything it had up its sleeve. Rather, it shared a selection of the most important details while keeping the rest under wraps. From what we do know, however, Google has a pretty intriguing flagship in its hands.
The Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro aren’t going to be cheap. Google said that it didn’t compete in the premium market with the Pixel 4 and Pixel 5. Now, it’s going all-in with the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro, which are expected to command a high price.
“We’ve definitively not been in the flagship tier for the past couple years, this will be different,” Google’s Rick Osterloh told the Verge, adding that “it will certainly be a premium-priced product.” While Google didn’t give precise numbers, looking at the iPhone 13 and Samsung Galaxy S21’s starting prices of $799 gives us an idea of the price floor.
From the Google Store listings, we can expect the Pixel 6 to be sold in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Japan, and Taiwan. Google may expand this listing when it launches the Pixel 6 officially at its annual Made by Google event, but that is how it stands for now.
As for when this event may take place, reports from leaker Jon Prosser place the event on or before October 19. Google is reportedly opening up pre-orders for the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro on that date, with a street date of October 28. In the meantime, stands showing off the Pixel 6 have appeared in Google’s New York store, and the company has begun marketing the new phone on YouTube and other social platforms. It’s an unusual launch strategy, but not unprecedented for Google, which employed a similar method for the Pixel 4.
Material You will be best on #Pixel6.
The colors, the camera, the form, and what’s on the screen all work together in a single, fluid experience.
— Made By Google (@madebygoogle) August 2, 2021
The Pixel 6 and 6 Pro blend a medley of design elements to produce something that’s fairly distinct from other smartphones on the market. The back adopts a camera bar that is more reminiscent of a visor than the square or circular bumps we’re used to in modern cameras. Meanwhile, the front is a bezel-free design with a centered hole punch that gives off a Galaxy Note-esque vibe when combined with the slightly squared-off aesthetic.
When it comes to the display, Google played it coy here in its public report, but other reports pin the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro as having a 6.4-inch FHD OLED display with a 90Hz refresh rate and a 6.7-inch QHD+ OLED with a 120Hz display, respectively.
The most interesting of the Pixel 6’s specs will be its processor. Instead of a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 or 870 that most of the other flagship Android phones in 2021 would sport, Google is building its own silicon. It’s called the Google Tensor, and the company spent a lot of time talking up its capabilities.
“Tensor was built for how people use their phones today and how people will use them in the future. As more and more features are powered by A.I. and [machine learning], it’s not simply about adding more computing resources, it’s about using that ML to unlock specific experiences for our Pixel users,” Google explained.
Tensor will be the most interesting part of the Pixel to watch, and rumors have stated that Google plans on updating the Pixel 6 for five years as a result of this new chip. Google hints at this longevity, saying: “Tensor enables us to make the Google phones we’ve always envisioned — phones that keep getting better while tapping the most powerful parts of Google, all in a highly personalized experience. And with Tensor’s new security core and Titan M2, Pixel 6 will have the most layers of hardware security in any phone.”
Now, while Google didn’t exactly say what was in Tensor, the chip was identified as being composed of a 2x ARM Cortex-X1 clocked at 2.802GHz, 2 ARM Cortex-A76 clocked at 2.253GHz, and 4x ARM Cortex-A55 clocked at 1.80GHz. It’s a combination that has proven slightly puzzling to many. If Google was focusing on cost-savings, the addition of the two A76 chips makes a little sense. However, the two Cortex-X1 chips would catapult the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro to the top of the Android list as most phones would use a single Cortex-X1 core. The Snapdragon 888 for instance, has a singular Cortex-X1 combined with three A78s, as does the Exynos 2100 that powers the Galaxy S21 Ultra. For now, all that’s clear is that the Pixel 6 will be pretty powerful, though we say this with the caveat that leaked Geekbench scores can be tampered with, especially when it comes to the device name.
Battery-wise, the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro boast some of the largest batteries on Pixel phones, with the Pixel 6 featuring a 4,616mAh battery and the Pixel 6 Pro coming with a 5,000mAh battery. Google is also reportedly boosting wired and wireless charging to 33 watts (W) and 23W respectively, a substantial increase over current 18W and 10W charging speeds. A later report based on certifications confirmed that Google would indeed be building in the 33W wired charging upgrade, catching up to more powerful smartphones. You will need to buy a new charger though as the company is following Apple’s lead and not bundling in chargers with its upcoming Pixel in service of the environment. Other than that, the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro are expected to come with Android 12 and showcase the true power of Google’s new operating system.
Google is putting its back into cameras this year. The company had been relying on the same old camera sensor for a while now, and with the Pixel 6, it’s finally trying to take on modern camera phones with more than just fantastic software. Google didn’t share the exact specs of the camera system, but it did say that the new lenses and sensors couldn’t fit into the traditional square that’s so popular in modern smartphone designs. Instead, it resurrected the camera bar that was once found on the Nexus 6P. It makes for a striking design, and, hopefully, the images and video it produces are equally striking.
Google will launch its first triple-camera system with the Pixel 6 Pro, which will feature a regular wide camera, an ultrawide camera, and a telephoto one. The regular Pixel 6 will keep just the wide and ultrawide, a formula that’s reminiscent of the non-Pro iPhone 11 and iPhone 12.
From leaks, the Pro’s main camera is expected to be a 50-megapixel (MP) camera, with the telephoto lens being 48MP and the ultrawide coming in at 12MP. On the front, the Pixel 6 is expected to have an 8MP camera, while the Pixel 6 Pro will sport a 12MP camera.
Google has already released the Pixel 5a 5G, its newest smartphone that’s coming solely to the U.S. and Japan. If you want a Pixel that’s like the Pixel 4a 5G in terms of design but with a larger display and bigger battery, this one’s for you. Google’s rolling it out to replace the Pixel 5 and 4a 5G, with the chip shortage limiting a global launch — though alternatives such as Samsung’s A52s 5G are available worldwide.
The Pixel 5a 5G is currently on sale for $449 from Google’s store. You can read our review for in-depth thoughts on it.
Google is reportedly working on its first foldables with the Pixel Fold, putting it into competition with Samsung’s already sophisticated lineup. It’s not clear whether it is one foldable or two, but very little has been leaked about this device other than its existence as gleaned from codebases and supply chain analysts. As for what specifically has been reported, the Pixel Fold is expected to launch in the fourth quarter of 2021 by leaker Evan Blass.
Like the Pixel 6 Pro, it is expected to have an LTPO OLED display, though the resolution and refresh rate are unknown. The Tensor chip that features in the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro is also expected to make an appearance here. Google is thought to be testing two foldables, as inferred from their differing code names — “Passport” and ‘“Jumbojack”. Some have speculated that one such foldable would be a clamshell like the Galaxy Z Flip 3, with the other filling the multitasking and productivity niche of the Fold 3. Whatever the case, Google hasn’t publicly spoken about any such device, so we’ll have to wait and see.