Google announced the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro a few months before they were officially detailed at its Pixel Fall Launch on October 19. Now widely released, both flagships are Google’s most interesting phones in years, with everything from the sensor to the camera design to the pricing being unprecedented for Google.
The Pixel 6 is now widely available if you’re in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, France, Germany, the Republic of Ireland, Japan, and Taiwan. Next year, Google plans to expand it to Italy, Singapore, and Spain. As always, there are a selection of attractive carrier deals from Google’s partners, including AT&T and T-Mobile, which drive down the pricing provided you have a suitable device to trade in. You can also buy the devices at retailers like Amazon, Best Buy, Target, and Google. At full price, the phones will cost you $599 and $899 for the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro respectively.
Google also offers a new Pixel Pass plan, allowing users to buy the phone with a subscription bundle. This includes a package of Google services to help you hit the ground running, including Google Fi, YouTube Premium, Play Pass, and 200GB of Google One storage.
We’ve compared Google’s latest two Pixel offerings in an article titled Google Pixel 6 versus Google Pixel 6 Pro. They are quite similar devices in conception. They are speedy and powered by Google’s new Tensor chip, they have high-resolution displays with refresh rates, and their batteries will last you all day. However, just because they have all that doesn’t mean that they’re equal. Here’s a quick spec table showing what’s different between the devices.
|Google Pixel 6||Google Pixel 6 Pro|
|Storage||128, 256GB||128, 256, 512GB|
|Battery life||All-day “adaptive battery,” up to 48 Hours with extreme battery saver||All-day “adaptive battery,” up to 48 Hours with extreme battery saver|
|Colors||Kinda Coral (limited edition), Sorta Seafoam, Stormy Black||Sorta Sunny (limited edition), Cloudy White, Stormy Black|
For a more detailed take on the pair, we’ve reviewed these two phones in full and have shared our thoughts on the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. In summary, both are excellent devices, properly priced, but held back by a finicky fingerprint sensor.
The Pixel 6 and 6 Pro blend a medley of design elements to produce something that’s fairly distinct from other smartphones on the market. The back adopts a camera bar that is more reminiscent of a visor than the square or circular bumps we’re used to in modern cameras. Meanwhile, the front is a bezel-free design with a centered hole punch that gives off a Galaxy Note-esque vibe when combined with the slightly squared-off aesthetic.
When it comes to the display, the Pixel 6 has a 6.4-inch FHD OLED display with a 90Hz refresh rate while the Pro 6 sports a 6.7-inch QHD+ OLED with a 120Hz low-temperature polycrystalline oxide (LTPO) display, respectively. Both are secured by Gorilla Glass Victus and are IP68-certified for water and dust resistance.
The most interesting of the Pixel 6’s specs is its processor. Instead of a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 or 870 that most of the other flagship Android phones in 2021 would sport, Google pulled an Apple and built its own silicon. It’s called the Google Tensor, and the company spent a lot of time talking up its capabilities.
“Tensor was built for how people use their phones today and how people will use them in the future. As more and more features are powered by A.I. and [machine learning, or ML], it’s not simply about adding more computing resources, it’s about using that ML to unlock specific experiences for our Pixel users,” Google explained.
Tensor enhances all the things that Google thinks you’ll be using your smartphone for, from security to fast and accurate transcription and translation to much more. Oh, and it’s also pretty speedy. Google said: “Tensor enables us to make the Google phones we’ve always envisioned — phones that keep getting better while tapping the most powerful parts of Google, all in a highly personalized experience. And with Tensor’s new security core and Titan M2, Pixel 6 will have the most layers of hardware security in any phone.”
Now, while Google didn’t exactly say what was in Tensor, the chip was identified as being composed of a 2x ARM Cortex-X1 clocked at 2.802GHz, 2x ARM Cortex-A76 clocked at 2.253GHz, and 4x ARM Cortex-A55 clocked at 1.80GHz. It’s a combination that has proven slightly puzzling to many. If Google was focusing on saving on cost, the addition of the two A76 chips makes a little sense. However, the two Cortex-X1 chips would catapult the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro to the top of the Android list as most phones would use a single Cortex-X1 core. The Snapdragon 888, for instance, has a single Cortex-X1 combined with three A78s, as does the Exynos 2100 that powers the Galaxy S21 Ultra. For now, all that’s clear is that the Pixel 6 will be pretty powerful, though we say this with the caveat that leaked Geekbench scores can be tampered with, especially when it comes to the device name.
Battery-wise, the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro boast some of the largest batteries on Pixel phones, with the Pixel 6 featuring a 4,616mAh battery and the Pixel 6 Pro coming with a 5,000mAh battery. Google is boosting wired and wireless charging to 22 watts and 23W respectively, an increase over the current 18W and 10W charging speeds. You’ll need to buy new chargers if you’re upgrading from an older Pixel as the company is following Apple’s lead and not bundling in chargers with its upcoming Pixel.
The Pixel 6 and 6 Pro launch with Android 12 paired with five years of security updates, which sets it apart from other Android phone makers like Samsung that offer four years. The aforementioned Pixel Pass plan will also offer extended warranty support. You’ll still get three years of software updates, which falls far short of Apple.
Google is putting its back into cameras this year. The company had been relying on the same old camera sensor for a while now, and with the Pixel 6, it’s finally trying to take on modern camera phones with more than just fantastic software. Google didn’t share the exact specs of the camera system, but it did say that the new lenses and sensors couldn’t fit into the traditional square that’s so popular in modern smartphone designs. Instead, it resurrected the camera bar that was once found on the Nexus 6P. It makes for a striking design. Hopefully, the images and video it produces are equally striking.
Google launched its first triple-camera system with the Pixel 6 Pro, which will feature a regular wide camera, an ultrawide camera, and a telephoto one. The regular Pixel 6 keeps just the wide and ultrawide, a formula that’s reminiscent of the non-Pro iPhone 11, iPhone 12, and iPhone 13.
To break it down, the Pixel 6 Pro’s main camera is a 50-megapixel camera, with the telephoto lens being 48MP and allowing up to 4x optical zoom and 20x digital zoom. The ultrawide comes in at 12MP. On the front, the Pixel 6 has an 8MP camera, while the Pixel 6 Pro’s front-facing camera is a 12MP ultrawide camera.
Just because Google will focus on hardware doesn’t mean that the software will be left behind. Google has optimized the camera software so it can capture all sorts of skin tones more accurately with what it calls “Real Tone.” There’s a new “Face Unblur” feature that uses A.I. to unblur faces of people captured in motion, and Google is finally adding a “Magic Eraser” that removes photobombers and unwanted objects. As with all Google features, it’s a mix of hardware and software centered around thoughtfully solving real problems.
Pulling this from the abstract to the practical, we’ve compared the Pixel 6 Pro’s camera to the Galaxy S21 Ultra and the iPhone 13 Pro. If you were interested in seeing how it stacks up to those two, you can read our full take.
Google is reportedly working on its first foldables with the Pixel Fold, putting it into competition with Samsung’s already sophisticated lineup. It’s not clear whether it is one foldable or two, but very little has been leaked about this device other than its existence as gleaned from codebases and supply chain analysts. As for what specifically has been reported, the Pixel Fold was expected to launch in the fourth quarter of 2021 by leaker Evan Blass, but a later report said Google had delayed or even canceled the device entirely in the light of Samsung’s market dominance.
Like the Pixel 6 Pro, it is expected to have an LTPO OLED display, though the resolution and refresh rate are unknown. The Tensor chip that features in the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro is also expected to make an appearance here. Google is thought to be testing two foldables, as inferred from their differing code names — “Passport” and ‘“Jumbojack”. Some have speculated that one such foldable would be a clamshell, like the Galaxy Z Flip 3, with the other filling the multitasking and productivity niche of the Fold 3. Whatever the case, Google hasn’t publicly spoken about any such device, so we’ll have to wait and see.