Google has announced the all-new Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro smartphones. Featuring Google Tensor, a custom-made system on a chip (SoC) that utilizes Google’s advanced AI and machine learning technology, the new Pixel devices promise breakthrough performance and capabilities. The new phones also ship with a completely overhauled camera system that appears to be Google’s most advanced camera setup to date.
Google’s First Flagship
Although it has long been considered a top choice for users most interested in photography, the Pixel lineup has never been part of the “high-end smartphone” discussion. That was a conscious choice Google made—and it worked. Instead of paying obscene amounts of money for a smartphone that featured every sensor and en vogue gadget imaginable, Google gave consumers the option of paying a lot less money for the things they actually need. In terms of competitive pricing, the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro don’t stray too far from that same ideology. However, make no mistake about it, these phones—especially the Pixel 6 Pro, the first Google smartphone truly worthy of the "flagship" moniker—are meant to go pound for pound with the biggest names on the market.
The big secret behind the Pixel’s newfound premium status is Google Tensor, a custom SoC designed around Google’s powerful AI technology. This new processor enables a treasure trove of new features, including new capabilities like “Magic Eraser,” which gives users the kind of powerful image-editing features typically reserved for photo-specific apps like Photoshop. Google Tensor is also responsible for automated photo features like “Face Unblur” and “Motion Mode,” which showcase the chip's machine learning and computational photography capabilities.
In our hands-on review of the Pixel 5, we praised it for delivering on the essentials and judged that it was a great pick for anyone in need of an all-around solid phone. The Pixel 6 and 6 Pro, however, go well beyond “all-around solid” by taking everything that’s already great about the Pixel lineup, dialing those features up to 11, adding some fantastic new elements, then wrapping the whole thing up in a premium dressing.
As far as those dialed-up specs go: Both phones have large OLED displays. The Pixel 6 Pro features a 6.7" QHD+ display with a dynamic 120Hz refresh rate, while the smaller Pixel 6 utilizes a 6.4" FHD+ screen with up to 90Hz refresh rate. Both displays are covered in Gorilla Glass Victus, support HDR, and feature an in-display fingerprint sensor.
The Pixel 6 pairs the Tensor chip and latest version of Android software with 8GB of RAM, while the 6 Pro packs a whopping 12GB. Battery-wise, the Pixel 6 Pro’s 5004mAh battery is understandably larger than the 4614mAh battery found in the Pixel 6. Despite that difference, both Pixels support fast and wireless charging and reverse wireless charging for juicing up compatible accessories. Additionally, both Pixels support 5G, Wi-Fi 6E, and Bluetooth 5.2 connectivity. Both have IP68 resistance ratings, as well.
An All-New Camera
The Pixel lineup is renowned for having one of the top-performing camera systems on the market. Camera enthusiasts will be happy to know that esteemed pedigree continues with the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro.
In terms of camera specs, both the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro feature a new 1/1.3" 50MP main sensor that’s housed on the back of the phone. Google claims this new sensor can capture up to 150% more light than the Pixel 5’s camera, which was an objectively good camera. In addition to the new main sensor, the 6 Pro features an ultrawide lens and a 4x optical zoom folded telephoto lens. The conventional Pixel 6 has a similar setup, only without the telephoto lens. Both phones output 12.5MP stills from the main sensor, can shoot up to 4K 60 fps video, and feature Google’s auto HDR image processing.
As we mentioned earlier, Google Tensor adds a whole new level of abilities to the Pixel 6’s impressive camera specs, including new image-editing features that utilize the Tensor chip's computational photography capabilities to produce images that are, according to Google, more nuanced and equitable to all users and communities. Specifically, the Google Pixel 6 uses computational photography to enhance proper face detection and automatically determine the correct exposure and color saturation for all skin types and colors—a feature that Google hopes will make its imaging products equitable for all users.
While Pixels of the past have regularly offered great bang-for-buck value, this year’s Pixel smartphone is on a whole other level. That value combined with the Pixel 6’s new-look premium design, custom Tensor silicon, and powerful new camera system has us more than excited to get our hands on Google’s new flagship. What about you? Join the conversation in the Comments section, below!