Not since the original Pixel launch have we seen this level of hype for a new Google phone. The Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro will dramatically improve on the mid-range Pixel 5, offering true flagship specs. And thanks to its striking two-toned design, Google-made Tensor chipset, exclusive Android 12 features like Dynamic colors for the new Material You UI, and improved camera sensors, the 2021 Pixels are set to make a big splash.
Google gave us the first official peek at the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro on August 2 after months of rumors, giving us our first proper glimpse of the phone outside of leaks. Since then, Google has kept silent about the phone; but recent rumors and leaks suggest we could see the final announcement soon, which will unveil the release date, price, and full specs.
With the iPhone 13 set to arrive in late September, we’re primed to see an all-out brawl between Apple and Google in 2021’s closing months. Will the Pixel 6 have what it takes to overcome the Pixel 5’s low sales numbers? From price, specs, availability, and more, here’s everything we know (or suspect) so far about the Google Pixel 6.
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Google Pixel 5a
The best Pixel you can buy right now
Now that the Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G have been discontinued, the Pixel 5a is your best option available right now. It has the same Snapdragon 765G chipset as those phones — no Tensor, but plenty speedy for a mid-range device. You’ll get two days of battery life, water resistance, a bright FHD display, and decent cameras with Google’s great AI improvements. The Pixel 6 has some major improvements in store, but this’ll likely save you at least $500 compared to the flagship.
Google Pixel 6 Announcement & release date
In its August 2 teaser, Google stated that the “Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro debut this fall.” This tracks with the release dates of every Pixel up to the most recent Pixel 5:
- Pixel — October 4, 2016
- Pixel 2 — October 4, 2017
- Pixel 3 — October 9, 2018
- Pixel 4 — October 15, 2019
- Pixel 5 — September 30, 2020
Recent rumors suggested Google would hold its Pixel 6 unveiling in mid-September, preempting the iPhone 13 launch on September 14 by one day. But this (predictably) proved to be false. Instead, a recent FrontPageTech leak that Google will hold a Pixel 6 launch on October 19, followed by an October 28 release date, is more plausible.
Last year’s Pixel 5 ship date was October 29, but its announcement was a month prior. If this recent leak is accurate, it proves that Google is much better equipped to ship out its phones on time this year. And even if it isn’t accurate, rest assured that Google will launch the Pixel 6 very soon — whatever the exact date.
Google Pixel 6 Price
Looking ahead at the Pixel 6, one of the most interesting things to keep an eye on is its price. Google hardware chief Rick Osterloh told The Verge that Google didn’t consider its past couple of phones “flagship tier,” but that the new Pixel “will be different” as a “premium-priced product.”
It’s fair to say the Pixel 5 was more of a mid-tier phone at $699. For comparison, the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL started at $799 and $899, respectively, with 64GB storage configurations. If you wanted 128GB, you had to spend another $100 on top of those prices. But according to Osterloh, even those phones weren’t proper flagships.
With the Pixel 6, Google clearly wants to compete more stringently against top-tier phones like the upcoming Galaxy S22. And if the Pixel 4 wasn’t a “flagship” but the Pixel 6 is, expect a starting price closer to the $1,000 range, with the Pixel 6 Pro trending closer to the price of a premium flagship like the S21 Ultra or iPhone 12 Pro Max — aka $1,200. These prices are only predictions, but with some solid evidence behind them.
Google’s closest fall competitor will be the iPhone 13 and 13 Pro, which will cost $799 and $999, respectably. If the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro do prove more expensive than these phones, we’ll have to see if that alienates consumers — or makes them see the Pixel as a more premium device.
Google Pixel 6 Models
The Pixel 6 leakers have proven prescient. As predicted, Google will release both a Pixel 6 and a Pixel 6 Pro this fall. Unlike some predictions and leaks that suggested otherwise, Google won’t release a Pixel 6 XL, abandoning this label for a more industry-standard name.
Based on the information provided by Google, we know the Pixel 6 Pro will have a more premium design, with curved edges and better aluminum materials compared to the flatter Pixel 6. Its display will be a quarter-inch larger, achieving better resolution and refresh rates. And it will have a triple-camera setup with a telephoto camera that the dual-camera Pixel 6 lacks. However, both Pixels will have the same Google-made chipset, Google Tensor.
Based on leaked information, we also predict the Pro will have a larger battery to offset the screen size difference, plus additional RAM and storage over the smaller model.
Google Pixel 6 Design
If you live in New York City, you can see the Pixel 6 design for yourself! It’s on display at the Google Store in Chelsea. Otherwise, we have the rundown on how the Pixel 6 will look and feel.
Google’s design language has varied greatly over the years, but the Pixel 6 appears to be the boldest design the company has ever produced. The original Pixel and the Pixel 3 XL shared some unfortunate similarities to iPhones at the time, while the Pixel 5 was a bit on the boring side. That leaves the Pixel 2 and Pixel 4 as the outliers, both of which appear to have played a huge part in the influence of the design of the Pixel 6.
Look through the history of Google phones’ color design, and it’s impossible to miss the consistent dual-tone designs. The raised camera bar on the back is reminiscent of the Nexus 6P’s Cylon-esque design, and the bold colors and multi-tonal aesthetic makes this phone immediately distinguishable in the sea of black rectangles across the land.
Based on the official renders Google released, the Pixel 6 will come in light orange, sage green, and black. The Pixel 6 Pro will sport silver, gold, or black. Each sports a different accent color on the top-back of the phone above the black camera module.
Objectively, the Pixel 6 Pro has a more stylish design. The Pixel 6 edges are black, flat, and thicker than that of the 6 Pro, which is curved and skinnier. The Pro gives you a curved finish with much thinner edges, plus a “polished aluminum finish” compared to a “matte aluminum finish” for the Pixel 6. Either way, the Pixel 6 has a glass back; some people prefer plastic for the improved durability, but at least it gives the new Pixel a premium look.
One interesting design omission: the Pixel 6 lineup has lost the trademark colored power button found on every other Pixel phone. The Pixel 6 buttons are black to match the edges, while the Pixel 6 Pro buttons blend into the phone’s silver/gold/black color.
Google hasn’t shown as many shots of the Pixel 6 display, but based on the above render of the Pixel 6 Pro, it has tiny bezels, a center punch-hole camera, and (based on leaks) an in-screen fingerprint scanner. While the smaller Pixel 6 appears to have a flat screen with slightly larger bezels — at least, based on the leaked renders we’ve seen — both models are bringing back the stereo front-facing speakers. Those speakers will, undoubtedly, bring back the Pixel’s pedigree of best-in-class speakers for a smartphone.
Google Pixel 6 Specs
Based on everything we’ve seen and heard, the Pixel 6 is the first premium Google phone. While Google hasn’t unveiled the full Pixel 6 specs yet, Google hardware chief Rick Osterloh confirmed to The Verge a few spec details that have been rumored for months.
The Pixel 6 Pro will feature a 6.7-inch QHD+ display, 120Hz refresh rate, and three cameras: a “wide-angle main sensor, an ultrawide, and a 4X optical-zoom folded telephoto lens.” With the Pixel 6, you downgrade to a 6.4-inch FHD+ screen supporting a 90Hz refresh rate, plus a dual-camera array that loses the telephoto lens. Both models will have in-screen fingerprint sensors.
Even more exciting, the latest rumor is that the Pixel 6 Pro will have an LTPO OLED screen with a variable refresh rate, a feature that only a few other flagships have so far. This would mean the Pro will run 120Hz when it needs to but drop down lower for less active apps, prolonging its battery life.
We know from Google that the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro will incorporate the new Google-made SoC, Google Tensor. According to the most recent Pixel 6 Tensor leak, the chip will have a 2x2x4 configuration with two Cortex-X1 “prime” cores, two A76 cores, and four high-efficiency A55 cores. The X1 cores will give it powerful performance, while the A76 backup cores — which launched in 2018 — are surprisingly last-gen for a 2021 flagship.
Supposedly, Tensor will use an Arm Mali-G77 GPU and a Titan M2 security module, plus support for aptX, aptX HD, and LDAC codecs.
What does this mean in practice? Google Tensor is rumored to greatly improve battery life, performance, security, and voice command response times. CEO Sundar Pichai claims it will provide perks like “better speech recognition that uses half the power consumption” or “the best face detection to improve blurry photos in low lighting.”
Google has also promised “improved sensors and lenses” for its cameras, but it didn’t give any hard data on how the three new lenses improve on the Pixel 5.
So as long as Google keeps the Pixel 6 specs shrouded in mystery, we can turn to leakers. Based on various rumors over past months, we have a pretty clear idea of what the two new Pixels bring to the table.
|Specs (rumored)||Pixel 6||Pixel 6 Pro|
|Operating System||Android 12||Android 12|
|Display||6.4 inches, FHD+ resolution, 90Hz, AMOLED||6.71 inches, QHD+ resolution, 120Hz, POLED, VRR|
2 Cortex-X1, 2 x A76, and 4 x A55 cores
2 Cortex-X1, 2 x A76, and 4 x A55 cores
|Memory||8GB RAM||12GB RAM|
|Rear Camera||50MP (wide-angle) + 12MP (ultrawide-angle)||50MP (wide-angle) + 12MP (ultrawide-angle) + 48MP (telephoto)|
|Charging||33W wired, 23W wireless||33W wired, 23W wireless|
Both phones will offer a significant improvement on the Pixel 5 thanks to their faster refresh rates, larger batteries, and speeds supposedly on par with the Snapdragon 780G. As for the Pixel 6 Pro, it will bring back the telephoto lens that the Pixel 5 lost, and its rumored 5,000mAh battery could be nearly 1,000mAh larger than its predecessor.
Also, recent rumors suggest the Pixel 6 will support 33W wired charging — much faster than the 18W standard on the Pixel 5 and 5a — plus at least 23W wireless charging with a new Pixel Stand.
Unfortunately, Google won’t include a charger in the box, so you’ll have to buy the wired and/or wireless ones separately. But most buyers will make do with chargers they currently have.
Google hasn’t revealed the specs for its “revamped” camera system, aside from the fact that the Pixel 6 will have wide-angle and ultrawide sensors, while the Pro will add a telephoto lens. But leaked specs have revealed the possible megapixels for these sensors. Compared to the Pixel 5’s 12.2MP main sensor, the 50MP wide-angle sensor appears to be a big upgrade; but its 16MP ultrawide sensor matches the Pixel 6.
In addition to the regular and ultra-wide angle lenses, the new superzoom camera will finally give the Pixel line the hardware upgrade it needs to match Google Camera’s software smarts. Here’s also hoping that Google finally gives the Pixel camera the overhaul it needs when it comes to video recording, which has always been quite basic at best.
Google Pixel 6 Software
We know for certain the Pixel 6 will launch with Android 12 installed. Alongside the other Pixel phones, the Pixel 6 will get exclusive access to the new Material You color picker tools. You’ll also see software improvements like a proper one-handed mode, scrolling screenshots, faster auto-rotation, improved privacy tools, new emojis, and other cool perks that other flagships won’t see for several months.
A recent leak suggests Android 12 will launch on October 4 on past Pixel phones. Once the Pixel 6 launches later that month, we’ll have to see if Google releases any exclusive software features for the new handset, as part of a separate OS update.
What matters most here is Google Tensor. Not only will it offer much faster speeds than the Pixel 5 chipset, it’ll reportedly allow Google to support…