The Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro are the most hyped Pixel phones in years with Google delivering flagship phones once again. The mid-range Pixel 5 combined with Google’s success in the budget market with the Pixel 4a and Pixel 4a 5G convinced many that the company was giving up on the high-end.
While we are still likely weeks away from the official reveal, Google’s soft launch of the phones gave us plenty of concrete details to go with the extensive rumors. The Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro are a major transformation for Google’s flagship phone. It will be redesigned from the ground up, use a custom processor, and feature a new camera.
Here’s everything that we know so far about the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro including the expected price, release date, design, specs, and more.
Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro: Release date
Google may have slipped in some ways with the Pixel 5, but it did not miss its typical release date. The Pixel 5 shipped on October 15, 2020, which is just a week off the October 24, 2019 release of the Pixel 4.
Google consistently announced new Pixel devices in late September to mid-October with the release a week to two weeks later. Assuming it sticks to the same pattern this year the announcement should come sometime between September 29 and October 6.
It’s worth noting that this year we have Microsoft’s October 5 release date for Windows 11 and the recent announcement of the iPhone 13 both set to contend for consumers’ attention during this launch window. Google would be threading the needle to launch in between them, so it perhaps wouldn’t be shocking if it delayed one more week into October.
Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro: Price
One of the most intriguing questions for the Pixel 6 is pricing. There have been no official statements or credible leaks on the price yet. Last year’s Pixel 5 dropped to a starting price of $699, down from the $799 base price for a Pixel 4.
Google made it clear in 2020 that it wanted to push the value proposition with the Pixel lineup. There’s room to question whether that goal was achieved with the Pixel 5, but the Pixel 4a and Pixel 4a 5G certainly hit the mark. During the company’s Q3 2020 earnings call, Google and Alphabet CEO, Sundar Pichai responded to a question about a move to a mid-to-low-end hardware strategy by saying, “We have definitely shown that Pixel 4a, Pixel 5 are a clear value proposition. We’ll build on that.”
The Pixel 5a is the foundational piece of Google’s value proposition in 2021, so much so that the company almost immediately discontinued the Pixel 4a 5G and Pixel 5. However, it doesn’t offer too many clues as to the Pixel 6 pricing as it reflects Google’s previous-generation design and specs.
While Google’s “soft launch” of the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro was short on many specifics, it is clear that these are premium phones. If the rest of the rumored specs prove accurate the devices will almost certainly fall somewhere in the $799 to $1,099 range.
Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro: Design
The Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro were redesigned from the ground up. The most striking design element is the camera module on the back, which spans from one edge of the phone to the next.
The rear camera array gives the Pixel 6 a unique look that has been lacking from the typically minimal and fairly bland design language of the Pixel. It runs the entire width of the phone with different colors above and below. The camera array slopes off gently at the corners, which presumably should make it more pleasant to handle
It may be aesthetic divisive but the practicality can’t be argued — given the symmetry, the Pixel 6 will sit flat on a table. In contrast, most modern phones wobble because of their protruding camera modules.
Google noted that the Pixel 6 Pro has slightly more space above the camera module when compared with the Pixel 6. The Pro, as expected, will be the larger device although display size and dimensions haven’t been revealed yet.
The Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro will each be available in three colors. We did a separate deep dive on all of the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro colors, but here’s a basic overview. The Pixel 6 comes in light blue with a yellow accent, Black (or dary gray) with a light gray accent, and pink with a bright salmon accent. The Pixel 6 Pro comes in yellow with an orange accent, black (or dark gray) with a light gray accent and white with a gray accent.
The Pixel 6 Pro has a “light polished aluminum frame” while the Pixel 6 has a “matte aluminum finish.”
On the front of the phone is a centered hole punch front-facing camera and the display is bordered by relatively thin bezels (but no curved display). The fingerprint sensor is now all but confirmed as an under-display sensor due to a screenshot by a Google exec that was later deleted.
The Pixel 6 Pro is perceptibly larger and also adds a third camera lens, but the devices look otherwise identical. Another set of leaks from @OnLeaks offered the dimensions of the Pixel 6 at 6.2 x 2.9 x 0.35, while the Pixel 6 Pro should come in at a somewhat massive 6.5 x 3 x 0.35.
Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro: Cameras
The Pixel 6 will feature two cameras and the Pixel 6 Pro will sport three cameras. The only difference is that the Pro model gets a telephoto lens for 4x optical zoom range. Google also specified that the main sensor will be able to take in 150 percent more light than the Pixel 5 sensor, indicating Google has moved to a considerably larger sensor.
According to the specs leak from Prosser, the Pixel 6 will reportedly move to a 50MP primary sensor and a 12MP ultra-wide. The Pixel 6 Pro will match those and add a 48MP telephoto. That last spec is particularly interesting as we’ve rarely seen a high MP telephoto and it could suggest that Google may offer some enhanced digital zoom to give it something closer to Samsung’s ridiculous 100x Space Zoom.
Google didn’t confirm specifics about the megapixel count, but it did confirm that the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro share the same wide-angle and ultra-wide sensors and that the Pixel 6 Pro will feature a new 4x optical zoom. Marquess Brownlee had an opportunity to go hands-on with the Pixel 6 and while he also wasn’t able to offer specifics regarding the sensors, he did indicate that they are “all new sensors…big new sensors.”
A Google Camera modder that goes by CStark27 found reference to the Pixel 6 in the Google Camera app code that suggests it will use the Samsung ISOCELL GN1 sensor. That sensor is a 1/1.3-inch 50MP sensor that uses Samsung’s Tetracell technology to deliver a boosted 2.4um pixel size. This lines up with both previous rumors and Google’s claims regarding the enhanced light-gathering capabilities of the sensor. We have yet to see any phones use this sensor in the U.S., so its specs are enticing, but we’ll have to wait to see the results.
Regardless of which camera sensors are in the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, you can expect better image quality thanks to the image processor in Google’s new Tensor chip. We don’t have image samples yet, so stay tuned!
Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro: Display
Google didn’t confirm any display specs in its Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro teaser.
The Pixel 5 offered a 90Hz refresh rate, matching that of the Pixel 4, but rumors point to Google stepping that up to 120Hz for the Pixel 6 Pro. That device should feature a QHD+ 120Hz AMOLED curved display at 6.67 or 6.71-inches.
The Pixel 6 will stick to an FHD resolution per leaker Max Weinbach on the Mobile Tech Podcast although it’s no small phone either apparently featuring a 6.4-inch flat display. Turning again to Marques Brownlee’s hands-on session, he reported that the Pixel 6 has a 90Hz refresh rate as compared to the 120Hz on the Pixel 6 Pro.
Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro: Performance
The cameras are certainly intriguing, but the new chipset for the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro is still the biggest news for the phones because Google is using its own CPUs. Previously codenamed Whitechapel, Google Tensor is Google’s first-ever in-house silicon for phones. It also helps with speech recognition so expect better performance from Google Assistant as it is able to handle more tasks on-device.
Google Tensor isn’t just about bringing faster performance, it allows more features to be powered by AI and machine learning. That includes the computational photography that helps Pixel phones achieve a DSLR-like look.
So excited to share our new custom Google Tensor chip, which has been 4 yrs in the making (📎 for scale)! Tensor builds off of our 2 decades of computing experience and it’s our biggest innovation in Pixel to date. Will be on Pixel 6 + Pixel 6 Pro in fall. https://t.co/N95X6gFxLf pic.twitter.com/wHiEJRHJwyAugust 2, 2021
“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,” Google wrote in a blog post.
Tensor has been a long time in the making. In his Q3 2020 earnings call, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said, “We are doing some deeper investments in hardware, some of it takes 2-3 years to come together” followed shortly after by “Next year you will see us lean more into…some of our deeper investments will come into play there.
Google didn’t say much more about performance. However, returning to the specs leaked by Jon Prosser the processor isn’t the only performance boost, the Pixel 6 Pro could feature 12GB of RAM with the Pixel 6 offering 8GB. Both phones will apparently start with 128GB of storage, but offer a 256GB option as an upgrade and the Pixel 6 Pro alone will have a 512GB storage tier.
Well yes, Whitechapel is a 5nm chip with current performance on PVT units closer to SD870, they are not trying to match SD888. Google’s focus is on ML & so the raw AI performance is matched to that of other leading mobile chips. Plus that Mali GPU is performing good under stress.May 24, 2021
One area where the Pixel 6 may surprisingly match up with the iPhone is with an ultra-wideband (UWB) processor. This is the technology that Apple uses with AirTag, but precise location tracking is just one application it can be used to improve data transfer and communication with smart home devices as just a couple more examples. Mishaal Rahman of XDA Developers claimed to have additional confirmation at the end of April that support for the USB API in Android 12 was being tested on the “Raven” device.
Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro: Battery and charging
Nothing has been confirmed officially yet, but rumors indicate that the Pixel 6 will feature a 4,614 mAh battery and the Pixel 6 Pro will pack a massive 5,000 mAh battery. Google has been on the upward trend with its batteries recently including the Pixel 5a, which features the largest battery in a Pixel to date at 4,680mAh.
The Tensor chip is a wildcard here as while there’s reason to believe that Google’s custom chip should be more efficient, we just don’t really know enough about it yet.
On the charging front, Google confirmed to The Verge that it will no longer be including a charging brick in the box following the Pixel 5a, meaning that Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro buyers will need to BYOB (bring their own bricks).
That is particularly bad news as a new rumor suggests that Google will be introducing 33W fast charging to the Pixel 6 line, a massive increase from the current 18W charging that will require users to buy a more powerful charger to get the fastest speeds.
Wireless charging may be getting a boost as well with a new stand that 9to5Google spotted in code from the Android 12 beta indicating support for faster than 10W wireless charging.
Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro: Outlook
There was reasonable concern that Google may give up on flagship phones. For fans of budget phones, this probably sounds just fine, but for those who like the idea of a powerful Android flagship that receives fast and reliable software updates, the Pixel was one of the only options on the market with Samsung its nearest competition.
That brings us to one last notable rumor about the Pixel 6: it could get an impressive five years of software updates. While it is one of the most recent and least substantiated rumors regarding the Pixel 6, it’s astounding Google hasn’t done this already. Google dropped a major Pixel advantage with the end of free unlimited full-quality Google Photos storage, extending the software support would be an excellent replacement for that lost feature.
The precise details for the cameras on the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro could move the needle one way or the other, but everything is looking up for those like me who are waiting for a high-end phone from Google again. We know the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro will have a new design, an in-house Google Tensor CPU, and new cameras (three on the Pro model).
For those who prefer the budget options, don’t worry, it is abundantly clear that Google values that market and as long as you are in the U.S. or Japan the Pixel 5a is excellent. Given Google’s poor luck keeping its hardware under wraps in recent years, there’s sure to be more updates soon, so check back regularly for the latest Pixel news.