Google Pixel 6 — 5 biggest features for the new Google phone

Google Pixel 6 colors
(Image credit: Google)

The Google Pixel 6 arrives this week when Google launches its new flagship device during the Oct. 19 Pixel Fall Launch event. But even though we still have a couple days to wait before the Pixel 6's launch, it feels like we've already been living with the phone for a few months now.

That's all because Google. The company essentially announced the Pixel 6 and the larger Pixel 6 Pro when it confirmed the existence of the two devices at the beginning of August and even teased some of the upcoming features. At this point, what Google hasn't confirmed directly can essentially be filled in by the rumors surrounding the company's next handset.

But that's not to say we know everything there is to know about the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro prior to their formal unveiling on Oct. 19. Even the features that Google has already tipped us to come with their share of questions, and we're hoping to find out answers at the Pixel 6 launch — and if not then, once we get the phone in our hands.

With that in mind, here are the five biggest Google Pixel 6 features we're looking forward to learning more about once Google makes its new phone official Some of these features are already announced and others are still rumors, but each of them could answer a lot about what kind of phone Google will deliver.

1. The Pixel 6's Tensor chip and what it enables

Google has already told us about its new in-house Tensor chip and how the Pixel 6 phones will run on that and not the usual Snapdragon silicon that's powered previous Google phones. What we hope to hear more about at the Pixel Fall Launch event is just how Tensor will enable specific features on the new devices.

To recap, Tensor features a dedicated Tensor Processing Unit that can handle tasks associated with machine learning and artificial intelligence. Given the way Google's designed this chipset, Tensor figures to be involved in a lot of processes, which should free up the CPU to boost performance and power management. That sounds promising in theory; now we want to find out what it means in practice.

google pixel 6 tensor

(Image credit: Google)

Current Pixel phones are no stranger to AI-powered features. Presumably, those become speedier on the Tensor-powered Pixel 6, and maybe even some of those existing features will work better than before. But we're specifically interested in how Tensor can open up new experiences on the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro — and what those might be. 

More voice-powered features seems like a natural given Tensor's skill at recognizing voices, and we'd expect Google to roll out new photo processing features that draw on its computational photography expertise. But we imagine the Oct. 19 Pixel event will bring a lot more clarity on what Tensor brings to the table.

2. Those cameras on the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro

We know how many lenses will be on both the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. We also know what kind of cameras will be included on the respective phones. The specifics of the hardware, however, are still unknown.

A diagram of the Google Pixel 6 Pro's rear camera block, showing main, ultrawide and telephoto cameras

(Image credit: Evan Blass)

We do have Pixel 6 rumors to help us out, though, and that's why we're expecting a 50MP main camera on both the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. Those phones will also feature a 12MP ultrawide angle lens. The Pixel 6 Pro will add to that total with a telephoto lens — rumors say to expect a 48MP camera with a 4x optical zoom.

Obviously, that's pretty exciting, especially when you consider that the Pixel 6 Pro will be Google's first phone to offer a wide, ultrawide and telephoto lens on one device. But the story with Google's cameras has always been more about the software than the hardware. And while we're sure Google will be happy to talk about its new cameras, we suspect a good chunk of the camera discussion will focus on software features powered by Google's AI.

Rumors are already suggesting features like a magic eraser to remove people and objects from the background of a photo as well as a tool that can deblur faces in shots. Those sound like fun additions, and we'll be interested to see if they make the grade, along with any other photographic features Google may have in the works.

3. How fast will the Pixel charge?

Thanks to proprietary technology from OnePlus that allows that phone maker's devices to charge at 65W, if you're not increasing the charging speed of your phone, you're falling behind. That's what happened with the iPhone 13, which remains stuck on 20W wired charging. We're hoping Google doesn't make the same mistake with the Pixel 6.

google pixel stand

(Image credit: Google)

It doesn't sound like the company will, based on rumors about the new phones. As far back as the summer, reports have claimed that the Pixel 6 will support 33W charging, a nice jump up from the current 18W cap. And details of a new Pixel Stand keep trickling out indicating that 23W wireless charging will be part of the Pixel 6's spec sheet. We're hoping Google confirms all this on Oct. 19.

4. A closer look at Android 12

Android 12 is out, though not really. The software update landed at the start of this month, though Google only released it to the  Android Open Source Project. That means for most people, the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro will be the first opportunities to see Android 12 out in the wild.

A render of the Pixel 6's display, showing a widget automatically displaying a ticket for an upcoming flight

(Image credit: Evan Blass)

We have a pretty good idea what to expect thanks to Google's preview earlier this year and the subsequent Android 12 betas that have been available. Still, it will be good to see a finished product, particularly since we'll get a better idea for the look and feel of Google's new Material You interface. Widgets also figure prominently into the new version of Android, with some early Pixel 6 ads even focusing on the updated widgets that are front and center in Android 12.

Since it's all but certain the Pixel 6 will ship with Android 12 — all Pixel flagships always adopt the latest version of Android — we hope Google spends some time at the phone launch even recapping the new features in the software update and what it will mean for how you use your device.

5. The Pixel 6's price tag

We have no hint as to what the Pixel 6 will cost, other than Google executives confirming that the Pro model "will be expensive." That certainly means more than the $699 Google charged for the Pixel 5 — the question is whether it will approach the $1,000 price tags Apple and Samsung routinely slap on their Pro-level phones.

Some of the features slated for the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro — fast-refreshing displays, a powerful new processor and beefier cameras than before — would certainly hint at higher-than-usual prices for Google. We've heard rumors of the Pixel 6 starting at $749 and the Pixel 6 Pro at $1,049, but those could just be random guesses.

The Tensor chipset has grabbed much of the attention and Google's camera features always are worth paying attention to. But at the end of the day, the Pixel 6 price will be the most talked-about reveal from the Pixel Fall Launch event. Because what Google plans to charge will go a long way in determining how seriously this new phone can take on the iPhone 13 and Galaxy S flagships.

Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.