Google's bringing Ultra HDR and other features to Pixel 7 and Pixel 6 — what you need to know

Google Pixel 8 in sand
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

When the 9.1 update for Pixel camera was released in October it appeared to only change a few UI and color options. However, the release of Google Pictures 9.2 shows the company wants to keep supporting older models while bringing in some interesting new features.

While the main benefits of the update do focus on the Pixel 8 and Pixel 7, it seems Google wants to provide for older models as well. The Pixel Camera app v 9.2 will be available for all phones that currently run Android 14, including models that Google no longer offers monthly support for.

Google has stated that the Pixel Camera 9.2 will allow both Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro phones to disable Ultra HDR. This is more of a quality-of-life improvement, as both models shoot photos at the Ultra HDR automatically. For the most part, there will be no reason to turn it off, but if you want to save memory space or make sending images to friends easier, then the option will be there.

Outside of the newest model, there are some bonuses for the older phones, too. The update will enable the use of its new HDR feature on handsets like the Pixel 6, which will help to keep those models' pictures crisp. Meanwhile, Ultra HDR support has been added to the Pixel 7 and the Pixel 7 Pro. 

Google Pixel 6 held in a hand

(Image credit: Google)

Finally, the update has changed the camera UI to make it slightly easier to use. In the original Camera layout, the exposure, shadows and light balance were located on the sides of the screen. This has been changed to have all the sliders available above the shutter button. This makes the layout less cluttered and allows users a better look at their subject. 

Ultra HDR was Google’s new image format that was labeled as the ‘future of photography’. They are essentially JRPGs with embedded HDR gain maps. This effectively means that the photos taken are backwards compatible with a standard JRPG format. Now, in layman's terms, this means that any photo taken should look more natural as other HDRs omit these map gains. 

The benefits of Ultra HDR can only really be seen on an HDR screen, like the Pixel 7 Pro or the Pixel 8 Pro"

However, the benefits of Ultra HDR can only really be seen on an HDR screen, like the Pixel 7 Pro or the Pixel 8 Pro. If viewed on one of these devices there will be certain color features that will be more dynamic than if viewed on a non-HDR screen. It is arguably possible to shoot Ultra HDR images on older Pixel smartphones, but it would involve rooting the device and is not worth considering.  

Google Pixel 9.2 offers a fair bit to users, and it even has some benefits to people still using the older model. The ability to turn off Ultra HDR is a nice option to have, even if it may not be used constantly, and the ability to use HDR on older models will keep those phones relevant for a while. 

However, the main bonus is the new layout for the camera, which will help ease of use for a lot of people and allow them to capture better photos to share with friends and family.

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Staff Writer

Josh is a staff writer for Tom's Guide and is based in the UK. He has worked for several publications but now works primarily on mobile phones. Outside of phones, he has a passion for video games, novels, and Warhammer. 

  • d55
    How about some proof reading? Is the app called
    Google Pictures 9.2
    Google Picture 9.2
    Google Camera 9.2
    Google Pixel 9.2
    or what?
    All 4 are used in the article, very unprofessional.