Google Pixel 6 vs Pixel 5: What’s different?

Google Pixel 6 (left) and Pixel 5 (right). The rear of each phone is shown.
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Google's new flagship phones look like a massive upgrade over the previous version but to really see what’s changed you need a Google Pixel 6 vs. Pixel 5 comparison.

And there's a lot to talk about — because the Google Pixel 6 and Google 6 Pro are almost unrecognizable from last year’s Google Pixel 5. Almost everything about Google's flagship phones has been overhauled, from the design to the cameras to the display and the hardware they're powered by. 

It's definitely more of a revolution than an evolution this time round. So read on for our full Google Pixel 6 vs. Pixel 5 comparison and find out what’s changed.

Google Pixel 6 vs Pixel 5: Specs

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Google Pixel 6Google Pixel 6 ProGoogle Pixel 5
Starting price$599$899$699
ColorsStormy Black, Kinda Coral, Sorta SeafoamStormy Black, Cloudy White, Sorta SunnyJust Black, Sorta Sage
Screen size (resolution):6.4-inch (1080 x 2400 pixels, 411ppi)6.7-inch (1440 x 3120, 512ppi)6-inch (1080 x 2340, 429ppi)
Refresh rateUp to 90HzUp to 120Hz60Hz/90Hz
ProcessorGoogle Tensor with Titan M2Google Tensor with Titan M2Snapdragon 765G
Storage128GB | 256GB128GB | 256GB | 512GB128GB
Rear cameras50MP wide-angle (ƒ/1.85), 12MP ultrawide (ƒ/2.2)50MP wide-angle (ƒ/1.85), 12MP ultrawide (ƒ/2.2), 48MP telephoto (ƒ/3.5)12.2MP (main) and 16MP (ultra wide)
Zoom7x Super Res digital4x optical and 20x Super Res digital7x Super Res digital
Front camera8MP (ƒ/2.0), 84-degree field of view11.1MP (ƒ/2.2), 94-degree field of view8MP
VideoRear: 4K and 1080p (both up to 60fps), Front: 1080p at 30fpsRear: 4K and 1080p (both up to 60fps), Front: 4K at 30fps, 1080p at up to 60fpsRear: 4K (at up to 60fps), 1080p (at up to 240fps), Front: 1080p at 30fps
AuthenticationFingerprint Unlock with under-display fingerprint sensorFingerprint Unlock with under-display fingerprint sensorRear fingerprint sensor
Battery size4,614 mAh5,000 mAh4,000 mAh
Battery life (Hrs:Mins)8:137:499:29
Dimensions6.2 x 2.9 x 0.4 inches6.5 x 3 x 0.4 inches5.7 x 2.8 x 0.3 inches
Weight7.3 ounces7.4 ounces5.3 ounces

Google Pixel 6 vs Pixel 5: Price and availability

Despite all of the new tech packed inside it, the Google Pixel 6 is actually cheaper than the Pixel 5 was on launch. It costs a mere $599 for the base 128GB model, though there is also a 256GB version for $699. (Note that Verizon and AT&T charge more for the Pixel 6, as they sell versions that work with their respective high-speed mmWave-based 5G networks.)

The Pixel 6 Pro, meanwhile, starts at $899 for the 128GB model, with 256GB and 512GB costing $999 and $1,099 respectively.

Given the Pixel 5 launched at $699, this is a surprising and welcome price cut for the flagship Pixel, which now undercuts the likes of the $799 iPhone 13 by quite a distance. 

Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro side by side

Google Pixel 6 Pro and Pixel 6 (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

If you prefer to get your smartphone on a contract, you might prefer Google’s new Pixel Pass. This starts at $45 per month for U.S. customers on the Pixel 6, with the Pixel 6 Pro starting at $55 per month. The new plan gives you the handset plus Google One for extra storage, YouTube Premium and YouTube Music Premium, Google Play Pass and Preferred Care. Plus, you’ll have the option to upgrade to a new Pixel after two years.

Both the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro go on sale October 28 and we've already rounded up the best Google Pixel 6 pre-order deals. The Pixel 5 has been dropped from Google's store.

Google Pixel 6 vs Pixel 5: Design

We would say the Pixel 6’s design is the biggest change over the Pixel 5, if it weren’t for the fact that there are so many upgrades here. But it’s definitely a major one.

The most notable difference is the addition of a large horizontal bar toward the top of the phone's back. This houses the new camera array and also brings an extra splash of color to the phones. Speaking of color, the Pixel 6 is available in Sorta Seafoam, Kinda Coral and Stormy Black. Pixel 6 Pro owners, meanwhile, can choose from Sorta Sunny, Cloudy White and Stormy Black.

Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro colors

Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro (Image credit: Google)

In terms of build, the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro have a metal unibody frame, while the display is made from Gorilla Glass Victus, which is said to offer up to 2x better scratch resistance. The back is also made from Gorilla Glass and both phones are rated IP68 for dust and water resistance.

The Pixel 5, on the other hand, is less revolutionary, with a design that largely follows on from the Pixel 4. Round the back, there’s a fairly traditional square camera module, while colors are limited to Just Black or Sorta Sage. The Pixel 5 also has to make do with a dated rear fingerprint sensor, whereas the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro have a sensor beneath the display.

Pixel 6 fingerprint sensor

Pixel 6 (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Google Pixel 6 vs Pixel 5: Display and refresh rate

Of course, the other big change with the Pixel 6 launch is that there are now two models, and both are bigger than the previous generation. Whereas the Pixel 5 was a 6-inch handset, the Pixel 6 measures 6.4 inches and the Pixel 6 Pro is a 6.7-inch device.

Other than the increased size, the Pixel 6 has similar display specs to the Pixel 5: both have a 90Hz screen with a FHD+ resolution. 

Pixel 6 display

Pixel 6 (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

However, the Pixel 6 Pro gets a significant screen upgrade, with a quad HD+ resolution and a smoother refresh rate of 120Hz. What’s more, it’s adaptive, scaling from 10Hz to 120Hz as needed in order to preserve battery life.

The Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro are both brighter than their predecessor, with respective readings of 843 and 842 nits on a light meter. The Pixel 5 tops out at 610 nits.

Google Pixel 6 vs Pixel 5: Camera

The Pixel 6 and 6 Pro get yet more major upgrades when it comes to their cameras. 

Both have a 50MP main/wide camera with a bigger 1/1.3-inch sensor which enables either phone to capture 150% more light than the Pixel 5’s 12MP camera. 

Both new Pixels also have a 12MP ultrawide camera with a 114-degree field of view — although this is actually a downgrade, resolution-wise, from the Pixel 5’s 16MP ultrawide. But there’s more to a camera than megapixels, and again the sensor is bigger here, which should allow for better shots in low light.

The Pixel 6 Pro has a further trump card, in the form of a third 48MP telephoto lens with a 4x optical zoom plus a hybrid Super Res zoom of up to 20x. The standard Pixel 6 offers Super Res Zoom up to 7x. 

Google Pixel 6 android

(Image credit: Google)

Round the front, the Pixel 6 gets an 8MP snapper, the same resolution as that in the Pixel 5, but the Pixel 6 Pro gets a specs-bump up to 11.1MP. That front sensor is also wider, with a 94-degree field of view, and can record 4K video.

Google’s cameras always excel when it comes to the software side of things too, and here the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro get several new tricks not enjoyed by the Pixel 5 — and since they're powered by the Pixel 6's new Tensor chip, they may not come to Google's other Pixels. These tools include the Magic Eraser tool, which lets you easily remove unwanted people and objects from the background of shots, and Face Unblur, which, er, removes blur from faces. A Motion mode can add blurs to otherwise static shots.

Google Pixel 6 vs Pixel 5: Performance

Google Pixel 6 benchmarks

Pixel 6 (Image credit: Future)

Google broke with precedent last year when it offered the Pixel 5 with a non-flagship chip, the Snapdragon 765G. But this year it’s made an even bigger change, in the form of its own Tensor system-on-chip (SoC).

Tensor aims to offer huge benefits in machine learning and artificial intelligence, making new features such as Live Translate possible and giving Google the kind of hardware-software integration Apple has with its iPhones.

Thanks to our Pixel 6 benchmarks, we know that these extra smarts don't come at the expense of performance. The Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro turned in numbers comparable to Snapdragon 888-powered Android phones, though the iPhone 13 continues to set the standard for performance with its A15 Bionic chip.

The Pixel 6 Pro posted a multicore score of 2,760 on Geekbench 5. That wallops the Pixel 5's 1,617 result. On our real-world test in which we time how long a phone takes to transcode a 4K video in Adobe Premiere Rush, the Pixel 5 needed 2 minutes and 25 seconds to get the job done. The Pixel 6 Pro finished in just 48 seconds.

Like the Pixel 5, the Pixel 6 comes with 8GB of RAM, but the Pixel 6 Pro again has an advantage here: it packs 12GB under the hood. All three phones are also 5G-capable.

Google Pixel 6 vs Pixel 5: Battery and charging

In keeping with its below-average size, the Pixel 5 used a fairly small 4,080 mAh battery which lasted for only around 9.5 hours in our testing. The base Pixel 6, however, has a 4,614 mAh battery, which should help support the larger display. The Pixel 6 Pro’s battery is bigger still, at 5,000 mAh.

Google’s making some pretty bold claims about battery life, based around the Tensor chip’s supposed power efficiency; it says both phones can last “beyond 24 hours,” or 48 hour in Extreme Power Saving mode. 

Our testing didn't bear that out, and we think the 5G modem in the Pixel 6 is to blame. It's an older modem that's a generation behind the ones used by 2021 flagship devices. As a result, when we ran our battery test over 5G, the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro each produced worse results than what the Pixel 5 registered. We're looking into a further explanation.

At least the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro can charge at 30W, compared to the Pixel 5’s paltry 18W. There’s no included charger this time, though, so you’ll need to shell out for that yourself.

If you want to go wireless, the Pixel 6 can charge at 21W and the Pixel 6 Pro at 23W.

Google Pixel 6 vs Pixel 5: Outlook

Google Pixel 6

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Pixel 6 range is a huge improvement over the Pixel 5. Almost everything about it has been reinvented here — and in ways which make both models contenders for the best phone.

Both phones offer a fresh design compared to the fairly vanilla stylings of the Pixel 5, and both are faster thanks to the new Tensor chip. The latter also brings with it a wealth of software advantages over the older phone — and over many non-Google handsets.

There are also a whole heap of camera upgrades in Google's latest flagships, plus some neat software additions.

By coming in at just $599 while offering so many advantages over the Pixel 5, the Pixel 6 looks is a far better model than its predecessor. But it’s the Pixel 6 Pro that we’re really excited by, given its telephoto lens, faster refresh rate and ample screen.

Marc McLaren

Formerly Editor in Chief (U.K.) on Tom’s Guide, Marc oversaw all gaming, streaming, audio, TV, entertainment, how-to and cameras coverage, and was also responsible for the site’s U.K.-focused output. He is now U.K. Editor in Chief on TechRadar. Marc previously edited the tech website Stuff and has tested and written about phones, tablets, wearables, streaming boxes, smart home devices, Bluetooth speakers, headphones, games, TVs, cameras and much more. He also spent years on a music magazine, where his duties mainly involved spoiling other people’s fun, and on a car magazine. An avid photographer, he likes nothing better than taking pictures of very small things (bugs, his daughters) or very big things (distant galaxies). When he gets time, he also enjoys gaming (console and mobile), cycling and attempting to watch as much sport as any human can. He's also fallen in love with Wordle over the past six months and is the author of our today's Wordle answer column, in which he supplies hints and strategy tips for the mega-popular word game. Given he's completed every single Wordle so far and only lost once, and analyzed every Wordle answer in search of patterns, he's well qualified to help you safeguard your streak.