If you’ve been holding out on buying a new phone in anticipation of Google’s Pixel 6, next week is when we find out every single detail. The sixth-generation Android smartphone has been relentlessly leaked and teased these past few months — we know what it looks like, what Google’s custom processor can do, and even what its accessories look like. What surprises are left?
We’ll soon find out. Google is hosting a launch event for the Pixel 6 on Oct 20 at 4 am AEDT. The event should give us more insight into Google’s smartphone strategy, as the Pixel 6 is a complete overhaul from its predecessors and is expected to be the flagship phone we’ve been waiting for the company to release for years. Along with its custom chip, the Pixel 6 introduces a new camera system and improves on features that were previously pain points for older Pixel users.
Here’s everything we think we know about the Pixel 6 so far — and what we hope to find out next week.
Two Pixels Instead of One
Google will launch two sizes of the Pixel 6 flagship, which it’s done every year since the smartphone launched in 2016. But this time, the bigger phone has a different moniker. The Pixel 6 is essentially the base model, while the Pixel 6 Pro is the “professional” model with more premium hardware.
The Pixel 6 will have a 6.4-inch OLED display with a 90Hz refresh rate, while the Pixel 6 Pro will have a larger 6.7-inch OLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate. Both phones run on what Google calls Tensor, its custom system-on-chip which the company built to deliver AI and machine learning performance special-tailored for the Pixel hardware. It also includes a new security chip, which we’ll get into later.
The Pixel 6 will run on 8GB of RAM, while the Pixel 6 Pro will have a beefier 12GB. Both phones will be available with 128GB and 256GB of storage, though the Pro will top out at a higher 512GB.
New and Improved Cameras
The cameras — and camera software — bundled with Google’s Pixel smartphones have been the standout feature. The Pixel 6 is expected to carry on the legacy with a dual-camera array, while the Pixel 6 Pro will have three rear lenses. Both devices include a 50-megapixel wide-angle camera, a 12-MP ultra-wide camera, and a 12-MP front-facing camera with a 90-degree field-of-view. Pixel 6 Pro users will have an additional 48-MP telephoto lens with a 4X optical zoom.
According to a batch of leaked marketing materials, the Pixel 6 camera will be able to capture up to 150% more light than its predecessors. There will also be a few new camera modes, including a new motion mode and updated portrait shots. The Magic Eraser feature will also find its way to this version of Google camera — it’s directly related to the fence-removal ability that we’ve been waiting for the company to launch since it announced it back in 2017.
Video recording will also see a boost by way of Google’s TPU. In our Pixel 6 preview, Google noted that the Tensor chip could enable simultaneous processing of things like real-time HDR and object identification. This allows the camera to adjust the white balance and dynamic range better so that the photo turns out as well as if you ran it through a Photoshop filter.
One of the main complaints we had about previous Pixel smartphones was that their small batteries led to disappointing battery life. Fortunately, the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro appear to be getting beefed up. The Pixel 6 has a 4620 mAh battery inside it, while the Pixel 6 Pro will get a bump up to 5000 mAh. This gives the Pixel 6 a larger battery than the Samsung Galaxy S21, while the 6 Pro will be on par with the Galaxy S21 Ultra, lending more credence to its “pro” name. The only thing you shouldn’t expect is a power brick in the box, as Google is cutting down on those to help curb e-waste.
The Pixel 6 smartphones will implement Android’s native battery-saving features to get you the most mileage out of those milliamps. Android 12’s Adaptive Battery feature will learn your usage patterns over time to reserve power for those apps you utilise the most. There’s also an Extreme Battery Saver feature, which can help the Pixel 6 last up to 48 hours off the charger.
And speaking of powering up, there’s a new Pixel Stand on the horizon. Leaked marketing materials show the redesigned wireless charging stand with a built-in cooling fan akin to OnePlus’s Warp 50 Wireless charger. We know the Pixel 6 will support wired fast charging at up to 30 watts via wired charging. As for wireless charging, the Pixel 6 maxes out at 21 watts, while the Pixel 6 Pro can handle up to 23 watts.
Renewed Emphasis on Security
With a homemade chip, Google is giving itself more control over its product lineup. The custom TPU means the company can easily support its hardware longer than with components from third parties. It’s also bundling in a new Titan M2 chip for on-device security, which would help Google offer five years of security updates.
Android 12 will start rolling out to smartphones in the coming months, though Google’s Pixels are always the first to get updated. There are several new security features baked into Android 12 that the Pixel 6 will utilise right out of the box. Along with the ability to instantly cut off access to the mic and cameras, the new Security Hub helps you locate all of your security settings in one place rather than having to round them up individually in the Settings panel.
The next version of Android goes big on Google’s Material You design philosophy, which is all about custom colours. That will pair nicely with the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro’s variety of hues. The Pixel 6 will be available to purchase in Stormy Black, Kinda Coral, and Sorta Seafoam, with the latter two skewing pastel. The Pixel 6 Pro will also come in Stormy Black and two additional colours called Cloud White and Sorta Sunny, an orange hue.
Here’s What We Don’t Know
There are still a couple of bits we don’t know about the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro. We don’t know what the processor performs like in benchmark tests and day-to-day use. We also don’t know how some of its specialised features will work or whether there will be facial recognition in addition to the new under-display fingerprint scanner. However, we do have a hint that the unlocking mechanism might be possible without the requisite IR camera that’s missing from the Pixel 6’s spec sheet.
We’re not expecting that there will be any other hardware launches at the event, but with so many facets to the Google ecosystem, a surprise is always possible. A longtime leaker recently chimed in with a source’s claims that a folding Pixel device is arriving this year, but there hasn’t been much else to that beyond an unofficial concept design. There is also some speculation we might see a Nest device alongside the new phone, just as Google announced the next-gen Nest Hub at the Pixel 5 event last year. But it seems unlikely, considering Google recently refreshed most of that product lineup.
We’ll be prepared for any surprises in store, so be sure to join us on Oct. 20 when Google takes the wraps off its newest hardware.