Google has launched the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, two flagship phones with possibly best-in-class cameras at somewhat mainstream prices. While the Pixel 6 starts at $599 (roughly Rs 45,000), the Pixel 6 Pro will set you back by $599 (roughly Rs 67,500). In other words, Google is undercutting both Samsung and Apple. It’s not cutting down on hardware either. Now, we don’t hear that a lot but that’s precisely what’s happening making the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro hands down, the most exciting Pixel phones ever made. On the flip side, it looks like they won’t be coming to India.
We have known a thing or two about the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro because Google—possibly to avoid leaks and rumours—had already shown them off and talked a little bit about their specs including the custom Tensor chip it designed specifically for them leading into launch day. That custom silicon is easily the biggest headlining feature of the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. Google’s move away from Snapdragon processors signals the end of an era for the Pixel—previously Nexus—something that Qualcomm isn’t very happy about for obvious reasons.
Tensor—the heart of Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro
The Tensor system-on-chip has apparently been four years in the making which means, work on it started soon after the launch of the first Pixel in 2016. As for why Google is making its own silicon now—much like Apple—the reason is simple. The company believes no third-party chip today is powerful enough to help it fully pursue its mission of making AI and machine learning (ML) core to the Pixel experience due to computing limitations. Tensor, which is named after the Tensor Processing Units (TPU) Google uses inside its data centres, has been custom built with that goal in mind.
The 8-core chip—which is based on a 5nm manufacturing process—has two high-performance Cortex-X1 cores, two mid cores, and four high-efficiency cores. This is paired with a 20-core GPU. Driving the Pixel 6’s all-new photography chops is Google’s advanced image signal processor bringing in a “completely revamped camera system.” Features to really look forward to this year include Magic Eraser, Face Unblur, and enhanced skin tone rendering in portrait shots. Night mode and Google’s Astrophotography chops are also in line to get big upgrades thanks to the new ISP.
Tensor also packs a mobile TPU and Titan M2 security chip. But perhaps its biggest advantage is coming by way of long-term software support. Google is promising up to five years of security updates to both Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro.
Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro camera hardware
Both Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro have been built from scratch to fully embrace the camera bump, or as Google is calling it, a ‘camera bar.’ This was done because apparently, their “improved sensors and lenses are now too big to fit into the traditional square.”
So, what does the actual hardware look like?
The Pixel 6 Pro has three cameras on the back. There’s a 50MP main sensor (Samsung GN1) behind an f/1.85 aperture lens, a 12MP sensor behind an f/2.2 aperture ultra-wide-angle lens with 114-degree field-of-view, and another 48MP sensor sitting behind an f/3.5 aperture telephoto lens for 4x optical zoom and up to 20x ‘Super Res Zoom.’
The Pixel 6 has the same wide and ultrawide cameras as the Pixel 6 Pro minus the telephoto.
On the front, the Pixel 6 has an 8MP camera, while the Pixel 6 Pro has an 11.1MP shooter.
Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro spec-check
The Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro come in new finishes and use more premium build materials over their predecessor phones. While the Pixel 6 Pro has a polished aluminum frame, the Pixel 6 has a matte aluminum finish. The Pixel 6 Pro comes in Cloudy White, Sorta Sunny, and Stormy Black colourways and the Pixel 6 in Sorta Seafoam, Kinda Coral, and Stormy Black.
The Pixel 6 Pro has a 6.7-inch QHD+ LTPO AMOLED display with a fast 120Hz refresh rate. The Pixel 6 has a smaller 6.4-inch FHD+ AMOLED display with 90Hz refresh rate. Both phones use Corning Gorilla Glass Victus and feature in-display fingerpint readers.
While the Pixel 6 Pro has a 5,000mAh battery, the Pixel 6 has a smaller 4,614mAh unit. Fast wired (30W) and wireless charging are supported. The pro Pixel 6 comes with up to 12GB RAM and up to 512GB storage. The Pixel 6 comes with 8GB RAM and up to 256GB storage. Both phones will run Android 12 out-of-the-box.