Google made a controversial move with last year’s Pixel 5, dropping down to mid-range specs in an effort to make a more affordable Android 11 handset with premium perks in tow.
It was a very solid phone with smooth performance, 5G speeds, and excellent battery life, but it wasn’t a top-end flagship - and it wasn’t particularly exciting, particularly with such generic design. But now it sounds like Google is charging course yet again, as leaks and rumours suggest a pair of more distinctive, more powerful Pixel 6 models coming this year.
Good news for fans of Google’s particular flavour of Android? Quite possibly. Here’s what we know so far.
When will the Pixel 6 be out?
Google has carved out an October window for its flagship or mainline Pixel phone, following Apple’s usual September iPhone launch, and we’re expecting much the same this time around. An updated Pixel 5a 5G is expected before then, but we wager that the Pixel 6 models will stick to an October launch.
Google apparently mentioned the devices on a survey form in July, so they can’t be too far off, right? The form called the larger model the Pixel 6 XL, although other reports claim that it’ll be the Pixel 6 Pro this time around instead.
Until we hear otherwise, October is a very solid bit.
How much will the Pixel 6 cost?
Here’s the big question. Earlier Pixel phones sometimes seemed overpriced compared to other Android flagships, considering some of Google’s limitations and design choices, while the Pixel 5 opted to undercut rivals by using a weaker processor.
Where does that leave the Pixel 6, then? Based on what we’ve heard (keep reading!), we wouldn’t be surprised to see the base model land around the price of the Samsung Galaxy S21 (£769) with the Pixel 6 Pro jumping up a level or two from there. But this is purely speculation for now: we haven’t heard solid pricing rumours just yet.
We hope it’s affordable, but it’s too early to tell.
What will the Google Pixel 6 look like?
Google’s budget Pixel 4a models can get away with looking boring because they’re bargains. The Pixel 5 didn’t have the same excuse, and previous Pixels likewise lacked the same level of finesse as some rivals.
Early leaks suggest something bolder for the Pixel 6, however. These concept renders from reliable leakers Front Page Tech and OnLeaks, which were produced based on leaked info, are bold indeed. They show a distinctive red glass segment above the large, horizontal camera model, plus another colour of glass for the larger segment below.
It’s eye-catching in a way that Pixel phones simply haven’t been up ‘til now, which is why it almost seems unlikely at a glance. But given the source, we’re willing to entertain that Google has finally opted for a new approach this time around. We imagine that the big camera module will be divisive, but at least it runs the full width of the back to hopefully avoid wobbles on a flat surface.
It might not be for everyone, but we love the distinctive look teased here.
What about the Google Pixel 6's screen?
Front Page Tech suggests that the Pixel 6 will have a sizable 6.4in AMOLED display, while the Pixel 6 Pro will opt for a 6.71in Plastic OLED display. Leaker OnLeaks suggests a flat screen on the Pixel 6 with a bit more curviness on the Pro model.
Leaker Max Weinbach claims that both will have 120Hz screens. Data pulled from the Google Camera app purportedly points to a 1080p display on the Pixel 6 and a QHD panel on the Pixel 6 Pro, also keeping with tradition from the Pixel 4 line and prior. OnLeaks concept renders point to a centered punch-hold camera cutout at the top.
Large, beautiful, 120Hz screens? Yes please!
How much power will the Google Pixel 6 pack?
Here’s a unique twist: reports widely suggest that Google will use the Pixel 6 to launch its first custom-built smartphone chips, codenamed “Whitechapel.” It’s an Apple-esque move and one that will see Google move away from its reliance on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chips, if true.
However, while Apple’s own chips have been the most powerful mobile processors in recent years, it sounds like Google’s first chips won’t go quite as hard. A recent report suggests performance comparable to the Snapdragon 870 5G chip that launched this year, but the 870 is a step behind the Snapdragon 888 seen in the Galaxy S21 (in some territories) and OnePlus 9.
In other words, if true, Google’s first processor will be speedy - but not the speediest. Still, that’s a big step up from the Pixel 5’s upper mid-range chip. Leaks suggest added RAM on the Pro model too: 12GB vs. 8GB in the Pixel 6.
Google seems to be shaking things up with the Pixel 6.
What kind of cameras will the Google Pixel 6 have?
Google has consistently relied on its software smarts to make the most of its Pixel cameras across the entire line, top to bottom, and curiously stuck with 12-megapixel shooters even when rivals embraced higher megapixel counts.
That may change with the Pixel 6 line. Leaks point to a 50MP main camera and 12MP ultra-wide camera on both models, with an extra 48MP telephoto zoom lens on the Pixel 6 Pro. That could be quite an upgrade in its snapping skills, if true. Google Camera APK code suggests that the Pixel’s Super Res digital zoom feature could be removed, which would make sense if there’s a proper telephoto lens in the mix… well, it makes sense for the Pixel 6 Pro, at least.
We always expect great cameras on a Pixel, but this could be truly next-level.
Is there anything else I should know about the Google Pixel 6?
They’ll launch with Android 12, no doubt. We’ll surely get 5G support with both models, and we’ve heard to expect wireless charging support and an in-display fingerprint sensor too. Wi-Fi 6E is also said to be in the cards, which means they would support the latest standard if true.
Front Page Tech points to beefy batteries, too, with a rumoured 4,614mAh pack in the Pixel 6 and 5,000mAh cell in the Pixel 6 Pro. The site suggests 128GB and 256GB storage options for both models with an added 512GB edition for the Pixel 6 Pro, and we can safely assume there’s no microSD support since it’s a Pixel.
If even a lot of this stuff is true, then the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro are sure to feel like a wild swing back from the solid-okayness of the Pixel 5. Here’s hoping. We’ll update this piece in the weeks and months to come as more leaks and reports emerge.