Google Pixel 6 leak just revealed two big upgrades

Google Pixel 6 leak just revealed two big upgrades
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

The Google Pixel 6 is set to get some major front-camera upgrades including 4K video recording and a central punch-hole camera.

The details were discovered via an update that’s recently rolled out to the Pixel Camera app (version 8.2) and which revealed info about the cameras in both the Pixel 6 and Pixel 5a. Here’s everything you need to know.

9to5Google broke down the update and discovered references in the code to two new devices called “Oriole” and “Raven”. We’ve heard those names before, and it’s long been believed that Oriole is the Pixel 6. Raven was always unclear, but it now looks like that’s the codename given to the Pixel 5a.

The Pixel 6 gets the bigger upgrades, as you might expect for Google's next flagship phone — and support for 4K video recording on the front camera is the main one.

The Pixel 5 offers 4K video on its rear cameras, but the front camera maxes out at 1080p and 30fps. That leaves it lagging behind some of the best phones right now — for instance the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra and iPhone 12 Pro Max can both shoot 4K video on their selfie cameras.  

It appears the Pixel 6 won't have that limitation, meaning you'll be able to record selfie videos in much higher resolution than before. There’s no word on any changes to the frame rate, but naturally this would have to be recorded in at least 30fps. We'd also hope that by restricting yourself to 1080p, you'll have the option of recording at 60fps.

Google Pixel 5

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The other big takeaway from the teardown is that it looks like Google will move the punch-hole camera from the left-hand corner to the middle of the screen for the Pixel 6. The camera also seems to be shrinking slightly, with its radius reducing by about ten pixels from 65 to 55. 

Putting the front camera in the centre of the screen might sound like a small move, but there are a few advantages. The fact that it will give the screen a symmetrical design is probably the main one — that's always pleasing on the eye — but it will also allow the time and notification icons to move back to the left corner, rather than being indented.

The only other thing that can be gleaned from this particular update is that the Pixel 5a's front camera will also be reduced in size by 10 pixels, as with the Pixel 6. But it appears this camera will stay in the top-left corner and we wouldn't expect it to get 4K recording.

Aside from what we've learned above, we already know a few other details about the Pixel 6. It’s expected to come with a Snapdragon 775 chipset, and should continue the trend of offering high display refresh rates. The only question is whether Google will stick to 90Hz or up that figure to 120Hz.

There have also been rumors that the phone will include an under-display camera. It’s certainly possible, though the presence of code about a punch-hole camera may well disprove that. Maybe on the Pixel 7, hey?

The Pixel 6 isn't expected to arrive until around October, so there’s still plenty of time for more details to leak. The Pixel 5a may come a bit earlier, with rumors pointing to a June 11 launch

That's not quite such a long wait — though after the many delays suffered by last year's Pixel 4a, I feel the need to be cautious rather than optimistic. Either way, you'll hear all about it here.

Tom Pritchard
UK Phones Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.