Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro: What we know so far

August 09, 2021

Alright, let's talk about the Google Pixel 6. First of all, this isn't a review. I don't have the phone. All the information I am going to talk about is public. Some of the following are rumors. Others are official information that Google has announced. Despite the release date being a couple of months away, we know a fair bit about the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro.

There will be a Pixel 6 Pro

Google confirmed the existence of a Pixel 6 Pro. Last year, Google did not release an XL version of the Pixel 5. I wasn't sure if Google got rid of the larger model entirely. Not only did they confirm the existence, but it also looks like the XL model will be a higher-tier model.

The Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro will have all new cameras

Google is finally updating the camera hardware of the Pixel line. Rumor point to it being a 50MP Sony IMX800 sensor for the wide-angle camera. The ultra-wide sensor should be a 12 MP sensor while the telephoto lens does 4x zoom (exclusive to the Pixel 6 Pro). The phone has a hole-punch selfie camera that sits on the top center of the screen.

We know the colors

Pixel 6 in light orange and black

Both the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro will come in three different colors. The official names of the colors are not announced yet. Based on Google's website, the Pixel 6 Pro comes in some shades of light orange, gray, or black. The Pixel 6 comes in some shades of coral orange, mint, and black. The color above the camera bar also seems to be slightly different than the color underneath.

Google's own SoC is called Tensor and based on an Exynos processor

Google's own SoC, officially called Tensor, is developed in collaboration with Samsung. Rumors say that it is most likely a modified Exynos 2100 or 9855. Exynos processors have troubled past, but the Exynos 2100 performs quite comparable to the Snapdragon 888. Google says that this SoC allows them to offload the AI computations that used require the cloud onto your phone. In turn, it should enable better privacy since the data never leaves your device. Google showed off demos where they showed the phone correcting a blurred image of a child running by combining a photo from the ultra-wide lens with the wide lens. Another demo showed real-time HDR happening in video recordings. The Verge has a great video that talks more about what was shown:

There is also a rumor stating that Google might allow five years of software updates with this chip. The additional years of support would be game-changing in the Android ecosystem.

Now that I have gotten you hyped about this phone, let's come back down to Earth for a bit. Google has some challenges it needs to face. For one, the semi-conductor shortage is absolutely going to affect the supply of this phone. I imagine it is going to be hard to get your hands on the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro once October comes around.

Two, I think Google's ability to support this phone long-term will depend a lot on Samsung. Unless Google engineers are also writing the firmware for the Tensor SoC, Google is going to rely on Samsung to deliver firmware updates. My educated guess right now is that there's a quid pro quo deal between Google and Samsung. The deal most likely encompasses Google using modified Exynos SoCs for future Pixel phones in exchange for Samsung folding their smartwatch line back into Wear OS.

Three, Google's balancing act for Android OEMs has become even more complicated. If Google does announce 5 years of software updates, how will other OEMs respond? Not a lot of other companies have the engineering resources or profit margins to support software for that long. Will more companies go the route of LG and decide to exit the smartphone space completely? Or will Google figure out a way to help them support software longer? As a consumer, I think it is high time that 5 years of software support become the norm in the Android space. But will this lead to less competition because it pushes out smaller companies? I am just not too sure.

What are your thoughts on the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro? Are you excited about what Google will bring in the fall? Leave a comment below.