The Google Pixel 6 is official. Seemingly fed up of the rumours and leaks, Google jumped the shark and announced both the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. But the search giant hasn't revealed everything about the next flagship phones; that'll need to wait until the fall.
The biggest feature of the upcoming Pixel phones is a new system-on-chip called Tensor that is designed to provide the Pixel 6 series with a bunch of AI powers we haven't seen before. Expect more that just improved computational photography.
- The best Android phones right now
- Android 12: Everything you need to know
- Plus: Google Pixel 6 could blow away Samsung Galaxy phones
Here’s what we’ve heard so far about the Pixel 6 release date, price, specs and features, as well as what we’d like to see from Google’s next phone.
Latest Google Pixel 6 news (updated August 4)
- Tom's Guide global editor-in-chief Mark Spoonauer reckons the Goole Pixel 6 could be the best Android phone yet, and one that could even tackle Samsung's finest phone. But even if that doesn't excite you, the selection of Pixel 6 colors gives you plenty of choice.
- Google has announced the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, with a new premium flagship design and Tensor chip that gives the phones serious AI smarts.
- Here's how we reckon an potential battle between the iPhone 13 vs. Google Pixel 6 could go.
Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro specs: Rumored
|Google Pixel 6||Google Pixel 6 Pro|
|OS||Android 12||Android 12|
|Display||6.4 inches AMOLED (90Hz)||6.71 inches AMOLED (120Hz)|
|Rear camera||50MP (Wide) + 12MP (Ultra wide)||50MP (Wide) + 48MP (Tele) + 12MP (Ultra wide)|
|Battery||4,614 mAh||5,000 mAh|
Google Pixel 6 Tensor chip
The Google Pixel 6's killer feature is the new Tensor SoC, which is focusing big on AI and machine learning. For example, the Tensor Processing Unit could take a blurry image of a toddler and make the child's face sharper. The TPU knows it's a face and make the necessary adjustments.
In addition, the Pixel 6 can apply AI and computational photography to video. When shooting a sunset, for example, the Pixel 6 can automatically adjust the white balance and increase the dynamic range.
When using speech-to-text, the TPU can let you edit words on the keyboard even while you're speaking, and the speaking to type is almost instantaneous. These are just some of the things Tensor is capable of.
Google Pixel 6 release date rumors
Google is pretty predictable when it comes to rolling out Pixel flagships. Its marquee phones almost always debut in October. One notable exception? The Pixel 5, which moved up its debut by a day to September 30 last year.
We’re expecting Google sticks to form and targets early October for the Pixel 6 launch. Leaker Max Weinbach corroborated this, saying that Google plans to unveil the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro in October. However, if the chip shortage continues to cause problems, the company could push back the launch to November.
Google Pixel 6 price
Google says that the Pixel 6 will be a "premium-priced product," so we would expect it to cost considerably more than the Pixel 5, which launched at $699/£599. It's possible that the Pixel 6 could start at $999, similar to the iPhone 12 Pro, but we'll have to see what happens this fall.
Both Apple and Samsung have opted for lower entry-level prices on their phones — the iPhone 12 mini costs $699, while the Galaxy S21 starts at $799. But it's clear that Google is aiming for a different tier this time around.
Google Pixel 6 cameras
It's confirmed that the Google Pixel 6 will feature both a main sensor and ultra-wide camera. The Google Pixel 6 Pro adds a 4X optical-zoom telephoto lens. Google also says that the main wide-angle sensor now lets in 150% more light, but it isn't sharing any details beyond that.
However, it appears that the big news is all about Tensor and how Google's improved computational photography will enhanced both still photos and videos.
Google has confirmed that it will be making some changes to the computational software that powers the cameras on its phone, with those new capabilities appearing on the Pixel phones arriving in the fall. Google says it's working with image experts so that its cameras do a better job taking accurate photos of people of color. That means adjusting the Auto White balance to prevent over-brightening of darker skin tones and developing more accurate detection for different types of hair, so that hair stands out more from the background of a photo.
Furthermore, the Android12 Beta code notes that the phone will have a special “p21_fronmmt_setup” feature for the Pixle 6 Pro that the regular phone won't have. 9to5Google speculated might be reference to the Pixel 6 Pro being able to shoot selfie videos in 4K resolution.
Google Pixel 6 design and colors
The most striking thing about the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro is its design. Both Pixel phones feature a large black rectangular camera bar across the top of the phones’ rears along with a two-tone design.
The Pixel 6 offers a few color options, including pink, bluish-gray with a pale yellow accent and black model with a light-gray top accent color. The Pixel 6 Pro black-on-gray model a white model with a cream or pale slate accent bar and a pale orange with brighter orange accent.
The majority of the glass rear appears to have a matte finish, whereas the space above the camera bar appears to have a brighter, glossier tone.
The front of the Pixel 6 is almost all screen with a centered hole punch cutout for the selfie camera. And it's also good to see the thin bezels around the display.
In another positive move, Google has moved away from the under-display earpiece on the Pixel 5 in favor of a more traditional earpiece speaker on the Pixel 6. Some have complained about the speaker being too loud and leaking sound.
Google Pixel 6 display
The Google Pixel 6 will feature a 6.4-inch full HD+ display with a 90Hz refresh rate. Google's larger Pixel 6 Pro sports a 6.7-inch panel with a 120Hz refresh rate. We would have liked to see a 120Hz panel on the smaller Pixel 6, but it makes sense that Google would want to differentiate the two handsets.
Google Pixel 6 fingerprint reader
We're happy to report that Google is ditching the rear-mounted fingerprint sensor on the Pixel 6 in favor of an under-display fingerprint scanner. This should make it easier to unlock both the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. However, we don't yet know if the sensor uses ultrasonic tech or is an optical scanner.
Google Pixel 6 battery
Previous Pixels have struggled in the battery life department. With a 4,000 mAh battery, the Pixel 5 ran for 9 hours and 29 minutes on its default 90Hz mode in our battery test, which is below average for a smartphone. With the Pixel 6, Google is only promising "all day" endurance, which is vague.
Google could go with a bigger battery for the Pixel 6. Recent rumors suggest that the Pixel 6 Pro will have a nice, big 5,000 mAh battery to power its large display. Jon Prosser expects that to happen, adding that the Pixel 6 will feature a 4,614 mAh battery — a big improvement over the Pixel 5.
Another rumor has the Google Pixel 6 tipped to get faster wireless charging thanks to a new Pixel Stand that's reportedly being developed. The updated Pixel Stand could deliver faster charging thanks to fans in the stand to keep the pad and phone cool.
Google Pixel 6: Will there be a charger?
There’s another battery life and charging issue that’s suddenly become relevant for upcoming phones like the Pixel 6 — will it include a charger?
Last fall, Apple became the first phone maker to stop including chargers with its phone, when it shipped all four iPhone 12 models without the accessory in the box. Apple says the move is better for the environment, and while some rival companies rolled their eyes at Apple’s decision, they also followed suit. Samsung doesn’t include a charger with the Galaxy S21 models, either.
Therefore, it wouldn’t be a great surprise to see the Pixel 6 come with little more than just a USB-C charging cable alongside the phone. Best start hoarding those power bricks just in case, as it’s looking like this industry trend is here to stay.
If you feel using wires to charge your phone is too old-fashioned, there's good news. OnLeaks claims that there will once again be wireless charging available on the Pixel 6. How fast it will be is another matter.
Google Pixel 6: What we want
By the time the Pixel 6 launches, we’ll not only be awash in current phones like the Galaxy S21, but Apple will likely have launched the iPhone 13. (And there could be additional phones from Samsung like a new Galaxy Z Fold model.) Given that level of competition, Google has its work cut out for it to make the Pixel 6 stand out from the crowd.
Here’s how we think Google can pull that off.
Three camera setup
Offering three cameras is quickly becoming something of an industry-standard (at least in flagship models), so Google’s Pixel phones are an outlier with just two rear lenses. The Pixel 6 Pro sounds like it's going to follow this pattern, with a trio of cameras — a main shooter, telephoto and ultrawide camera combination. Plus, it’ll keep the Pixel’s reputation as one of the best camera phones very much intact.
The Pixel 5’s 90Hz refresh rate is nice, but a 120Hz would be even better and we’d love to see that featured on the Pixel 6. Especially with services such as Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming (formerly known as xCloud) bringing big-budget game streaming to phones, that higher refresh rate will really take games up a notch.
We appreciate that Google wants to encourage people to buy a Chromecast, but there is no excuse for the Pixel 6 not to support HDMI video out via a USB-C to HDMI connector. Being able to hook your phone up to a TV in this way is super convenient, especially when traveling. Having to use a Chromecast (not to mention having to buy one in the first place) to get content from your phone to a TV feels so archaic, so this is something that Google could easily fix.