With virtually no warning, Google has pulled the covers from its latest flagship smartphones, the Google Pixel 6 and Google Pixel 6 Pro. Announced via press release and a series of Tweets – and spoiled by a healthy dose of accurate leaks – both handsets represent a drastic upgrade for the Pixel line; from the er, bold new design to the hardware beneath the hood, it’s fair to say this is more than an iterative update from Google.
So what’s new? The first thing that jumps out is the fresh look, but Google has gone to great lengths to point out that it’s actually what sits beneath the revamped exterior that’s worth talking about. Namely, Google’s proprietary Tensor chipset. Just as Apple has ditched Intel in favour of its own silicon for the MacBook and Mac lines, Google has built its own system-on-a-chip for the new Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro.
We have no idea exactly how powerful the Tensor chipset is, but it’s not all about speed. Google says it has finally swapped out the ageing camera sensor inside the Google Pixel 5 (the same one found inside the Pixel 2) for one designed to work specifically with Tensor, so we have high hopes for the Pixel 6/6 Pro’s rear snapper. The Tensor chipset will apparently also benefit Google Assistant, translation, captioning and dictation – that is, anything that requires voice recognition.
Moving on to the exterior, both Pixel 6 handsets now have a camera bump or “bar” that runs horizontally across the rear of the handset from edge to edge. Google says you can distinguish the Pro from the regular Pixel 6 by the larger space between the top of the phone and the camera bump, although the differences don’t end there.
This uh, striking new camera housing hides two lenses on the Pixel 6, and three lenses on the Pixel 6 Pro. Google hasn’t clarified the roles each lens plays just yet, but leaks suggest the main snapper on the Pixel 6 is paired with an ultrawide lens.
Flip the phone(s) over and you’ll notice the selfie camera has inched towards the middle of the top edge of the display. Sadly, the display itself is shrouded in mystery: leaker Marques Brownlee claims that the Pixel 6 Pro measures 6.7in across the diagonal, making it roughly the same size as the iPhone 12 Pro Max (and therefore quite a large phone). There’s been no word on the specifications of the displays.
The Pixel 6 and 6 Pro will of course run Android 12, with Google’s Material You research – announced at Google I/O 2021 – working to make the user interface as fluid and enjoyable as possible. Google also revealed that the new handsets will be unprecedentedly secure, with “the most layers of security hardware in any phone” courtesy of Tensor’s Titan M2 security chip.
Infuriatingly, we don’t know much else about the Pixel 6 or Pixel 6 Pro, other than that both handsets will be available in three shades (presumably those pictured at the top of this article) and made of either polished or matte aluminium respectively. We also know that both the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro will launch in the autumn of this year. You can find out more via the Made by Google Twitter page.