Saturday 13th August 2022

Everything we know about Google’s Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro so far


Google‘s Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro will officially be launched on October 19, and in typical fashion, we know a ton of details about the phones well before their release. That’s in part due to unintentional leaks, but also because Google itself has already told us a ton of information about the device’s hardware.

There’s a lot to be excited about with the Pixel 6, as it seems Google is taking hardware for the first time since… well, ever. Pixel phones have always been vehicles to show off Google’s software and AI chops as opposed to hardware showcases,  but the Pixel 6 appears to be a dramatic pivot in the specs department.

While we do still expect Google to keep some surprises up its sleeve — at least, we hope so — here’s what we know about the phones so far. To keep your expectations in check, we’ve divided this list into the details that we know directly from Google and what we’ve learned from the rumor mill.

Official: Google is moving to its own custom ‘Tensor’ processor

By far the biggest news about the Pixel 6 is the confirmation Google has designed its custom processor, dubbed Google Tensor. The chip will be present in both the regular and Pro models of the device, and it’s supposed to enable many cool new software tricks.

Google Tensor will be “competitive” in raw processing power, but its real strength is AI and machine learning tasks, which Google claims will improve the camera, voice commands, translation, captioning, and dictation.

Official: It has a very different design language with beefy cameras

Pixel phones have essentially looked the same since 2019’s Pixel 4, with a ‘squircle’-shaped camera bump and a matte body design. The Pixel 6 takes a completely different direction with a massive ‘camera bar’ that indicates the phone will finally use a larger camera sensor, as well as a two-tone color scheme above and below this camera bar.

Current Pixel phones have managed to remain competitive due to the sheer efficacy of Google’s image processing, but the company can’t keep the competition at bay with software alone; it’s about time Google used camera hardware to match its software chops.

I think it looks pretty snazzy, but hey, looks are subjective.

Official: It has more competitive specs all around

Before we delve deeper into the realm of rumors and leaks, here are the other details that Google has officially revealed in advance of the phone’s launch:

  • The Pro has 3 cameras, the regular model just two — the latter is missing a telephoto lens.
  • The new camera will capture 150% more light than the Pixel 5.
  • The front-facing camera is now in the middle of the phone.
  • The smaller Pixel 6 has a 6.4-inch screen with a 90Hz refresh rate.
  • The Pixel 6 Pro has a 6.7-inch screen with a 120Hz refresh rate.
  • The phones will use Google’s new Material You UI included in Android 12, because of course.
  • The device is “built with the most layers of hardware security of any phone,” including the company’s Titan security chip.

Leak: Google Tensor may have a highly unusual collection of processing cores

While we listed what we officially know about the processor above, leaks have given us a bit more detail about what might make this processor more unique. I go into more detail in this article, but one of the most fascinating rumors about the chip is its use of dual high-power ‘Cortex X1’ cores.

Google Tensor chip

Most current flagship Android phones use three core types — low power Cortex A55 cores, medium power Cortex A78 cores, and a high power Cortex X1 core. The Google Tensor appears to be the first phone to use dual X1 cores, which could lead to great performance in tasks that require high clock speeds.

On the other hand, the rest of the cores appear to be weaker than what you’d find on other Android flagships, so it’ll be interesting to see how Google balances performance and battery life with this unique arrangement. And this is to say nothing of how the AI-focused part of the chip will be designed.

Leak: The primary camera sensor is reportedly massive

For the last few years, Google has been using a relatively puny camera sensor, at least among flagship phones. In fact, the 1/2.55″ camera sensor hasn’t changed since the Pixel 3, and that sensor was actually smaller than the one in the Pixel 1. In other words, Google has barely made a meaningful upgrade in the primary camera sensor’s image quality since 2016. That might as well be a millennium in the tech industry.

But with the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, the company finally appears to be using camera hardware worthy of its software. Google will likely use Samsung’s GN1 sensor, a massive 50MP, 1/1.31″ imaging chip that would be among the largest on the market — and nearly four times the size of the Pixel 5’s. Just for reference, here’s how on leaked marketing image shows off the size difference:

Pixel 6 sensor size vs pixel 5

As noted above, the new sensor-lens combo will be able to capture 150% more light, and a larger sensor also tends to come with corresponding increases in dynamic range and color accuracy. The sensor is also supposed to be capable of shooting 1080p slow-mo at 400 fps, although it’s up to Google to implement that feature.

Leak: It’ll sport some wild new camera tricks, including a ‘Magic Eraser’

Of course, Google is upgrading its camera software too. In fact, the Google Tensor chip is supposed to enable some of the most interesting camera shenanigans yet.

Leaked marketing materials show a ‘Magic Eraser’ feature that will make it easy to “remove strangers and unwanted objects” with just a few taps. Some other notable camera improvements:

  • The Pixel 6 Pro will sport a 12MP ultrawide and a 48MP telephoto camera with 4x optical zoom (the regular Pixel 6 just gets the former).
  • The selfie camera has a wider, 94-degree field of view (this may only be a feature on the Pro)
  • ‘Face Deblur’ will let you sharpen a subject’s face while keeping the appearance of motion (AKA a slow shutter speed) in other elements of the photo.
  • A ‘Motion Mode’ appears to work somewhat similarly, allowing some aspects of the image to maintain a low shutter speed while keeping your primary subjects sharp.
  • Google says it’s improved the way it handles skin tones.

Leak: It might have fast wireless charging, but no charger in the box

A new wireless charger (with a fan for cooling) would make the Pixel 6 duo some of the fastest charging phones in the US market. Rumors have pointed to either 23W, which would put it behind only OnePlus’ 50W charger. By comparison, most phones charge wirelessly at 10 or 15W.

Credit: @evleaks