This year, leaks and tidbits haven’t been quite as prominent ahead of the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro launch, but there have been plenty of rumors.
The 2020 Made by Google smartphone series was, in some ways, a little lackluster. There is no denying that the Pixel 4a 5G and Pixel 5 were middling phones that offered fairly decent and acted as a palate cleanser ahead of a big 2021.
Months of modest leaks and rumors of note were followed by a sudden, soft-reveal of the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro by Google. This has undoubtedly upped the hype levels for the upcoming Made by Google phones beyond anything we’ve seen before. Adding to the hype, Google has a lot riding on this major reset of its premier smartphone series. A series that many will be hoping offers substantial changes for what we hope will be the best Pixel in years.
Sadly, we can’t work that out if that will be the case from everything we’ve learned. We can, however, collate all of the Pixel 6 rumors into one convenient place, so that you have a better picture of what is coming on October 19.
Video — Pixel 6/6 Pro: All the rumors and tidbits
Design and devices
Early Pixel 6 renders and design rumors proved to be spot on after Google simply revealed the upcoming hardware in a dedicated blog post back in early August 2021. The shake-up of the smartphone series starts with a bold new design and even a new naming convention for the flagship duo.
“New design” might be a little subjective as you can see hints of previous-generation Pixel hardware and even the Nexus series here. While it’s not necessarily confirmed, Google appears to have channelled a little of the Nexus 6P’s visor while adding a sprinkle of the two-tone Pixel 2 and 2 XL. The end result is a unique but somewhat familiar look and feel.
It’s worth noting that there are some inherent differences between the two devices here too. The smaller Pixel 6 has a decreased rear forehead with the “camera bar” sitting a little higher. Conversely the Pixel 6 Pro has a larger portion exposed above the black camera bar. Side-by-side, the renders show just how pronounced this will be and we expect a glass panel to be used.
Save the experimentation with 3D Face Unlock and Soli radar tech on the Pixel 4 and 4 XL from 2019, Google has utilized capacitive fingerprint scanners for on-device security since the series inception. As you’ll no doubt have noticed on the pre-release renders, prominent storefront displays, and very brief hands-on videos, this time there is no Pixel Imprint cutout on the rear panel. Google is putting an in-display fingerprint reader this time instead.
What might not be evident from the renders is that the Pixel 6 will come with a flat display. The larger Pixel 6 Pro is set to come with a curved panel. This does mean that if you hate curved displays you’ll likely want the smaller model rather than the “Pro”.
Last year we didn’t see an “XL” version of the Pixel 5, so it’s nice to see a return to the standard convention of a “small” and a “large” device this year from Google. Early rumors suggested that Google was dropping the traditional “XL” naming in favor of “Pro”. This rumor was ultimately proven correct, as you won’t be able to buy the “Pixel 6 XL”.
The Pixel 6 and 6 Pro are not just the same phone in different sized chassis’. This is the first for the Pixel series and there are some notable omissions and additions on each model. All you need to know though is that unlike the solitary Pixel 5 SKU, you can choose between two flagship handsets this time around.
For fans of smaller devices, it’s worth noting that the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro are among the biggest Pixel devices to date. Even the so-called “small” Pixel 6 is rather large and is actually marginally taller than 2018’s Pixel 3 XL but isn’t quite as wide:
Pixel 6 Pro — 163.9 x 75.8mm
Pixel 6 — 158.6 x 74.8mm
In terms of screen sizes, the Pixel 6 will have a 6.4-inch flat display while the Pixel 6 Pro will measure in at 6.71-inches and comes with a curved panel. Both displays will be AMOLED but with some tweaks. The Pixel 6 will includes 90Hz refresh rate panel, while the Pixel 6 Pro is set to up the ante with a 120Hz refresh rate panel.
The dimensions and screen size means that the Pixel 6 Pro is the largest Pixel to date and has a similar dimensions to that of the Galaxy S21 Ultra. This has led to plenty of direct comparisons ahead of launch due to the various hardware similarities between the S21 Ultra and Pixel 6 Pro. For those that loved the Pixel 5 size but were put off by the lack of internal grunt, you may be very disappointed given these Pixel 6 size rumors.
Internals and specifications
At the very core of the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro is the brand new, internally-developed Tensor chip. It’s not often we see new silicon in the smartphone space. That instantly makes Tensor a big deal, especially as Google now looks likely to drop Qualcomm from future flagship hardware as it expands the chipset lineup.
Despite being formally announced, there is still a lot we don’t officially know about the Pixel 6’s Google Tensor chip, including the actual processor cores used in its design. Some details have leaked, but this added information is confusing as it doesn’t truly indicate where the Pixel 6’s Tensor chip will sit in performance rankings.
Becuase of the confusion surrounding the chip, even this close to launch it still feels too early to speculate on just where the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro will sit in the raw benchmarks charts. But so long as there is enough under-the-hood grunt to do just about everything you would want on a modern smartphone, we’re sure it will be just fine. Google has said that Tensor will be “competitive” with other high-end mobile chips, but will focus on AI tasks as well.
Beyond the chipset, we don’t yet know the rest of the Pixel 6 internals. One rumor suggests that the smaller Pixel 6 will come with 8GB of RAM and 128/256GB of onboard storage. This report also suggests that we might see a rather odd 4,614mAh battery here too. Wired charging is said to be rated at 33W.
Meanwhile, the larger Pixel 6 being the “Pro” model means that RAM is said to jump up to 12GB. This would put the top-tier model in line with other Android flagships. Storage is said to be available in 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB options. A 5,000 mAh battery apparently powers the show and it will also include 33W wired charging.
Another notable when talking about the charging tech is that a new Pixel Stand is also coming. This updated wireless charger is set to support 23W wireless charging speeds. Naturally, it would also be easy to assume that the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro will support faster wireless charging. What is not immediately clear is if both devices will be able to charge at 23W speeds on this new Pixel Stand.
At least on paper, without knowing the exact power of the Tensor chip the rest of the specifications stack up well against the best of 2021 from the likes of OnePlus, Samsung, Xiaomi and Oppo. There is no doubt that the rumored “core” specifications for the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro will likely provide a substantial step up over the Pixel 5 from 2020.
A reboot of the Pixel 6 hardware simply would not be enough alone and so Android itself has also received a massive overhaul to better suit this “rebirth”. Everything is underpinned by what Google is calling “Material You” which relies upon your on-device wallpaper for theming.
Android 12 on Pixel phones will be the cleanest version of the mobile operating system available. That said, at least visually Android 12 will provide the biggest diversions from the established status quo in years. The combination of Material You and Dynamic Color along with some other UI tweaks within Android 12 does feel heavily inspired by Samsung’s One UI skin.
It’s also worth noting that the addition of Material You means some simplification of the customization options at your fingertips. Unfortunately, this means that certain in-depth or granular customization controls have been stripped away. This does make some sense as Google is targeting a more mainstream audience that likely do not care about such options. We’ve done a number of deeper dives into just what you’ll expect but there may be some new features and capabilities that require the new Tensor chipset.
Since launch, fans have developed a certain affinity for the Pixel camera experience and the images that Made by Google smartphones produce. The huge lead that Google attained with early Pixel models has eroded somewhat over the past few years. The rest of the smartphone industry has caught the computational photography prowess of the Pixel series.
Initial rumors suggested we’d see a massive shake-up to the Pixel 6 camera setup – and you can already see that with the new camera layout. Gone is the upper-left squircle housing for the camera setup that was introduced back with the Pixel 4 in 2019 in favor of the flat visor layout.
An early dive into the Google Camera app suggests that we’re going to see a 50-megapixel Samsung GN1 sensor in the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro. Recently leaked camera samples have also confirmed this as it appears a prototype device is using 4-to-1 pixel binning which sees 50-megapixel images processed down to 12.5-megapixels.
In simple terms, a Pixel 6 with the 50-megapixel Samsung GN1 sensor should significantly outperform the Pixel 5’s combination of 12.2MP and 16MP rear camera. However, those aforementioned leaked camera samples from a prototype Pixel 6 Pro truthfully don’t show a huge deal of difference. Given that the device is still pre-release it’s wise to not take those samples at face value. That said, it’s worthwhile tempering your expectations accordingly, given the sensor upgrades.
Disappointingly, if you want a “full” camera setup with all available focal lengths then you will have to look at the Pixel 6 Pro. This year, Google is diverging their own flagship lineup in a number of ways and that includes in the camera department. While both models will include a 50-megapixel main sensor and 12-megapixel ultrawide, only the Pixel 6 Pro will include a telephoto zoom lens.
It’s unclear as to the full zoom capabilities but Google has confirmed that the Pixel 6 Pro will include a 4x optical zoom lens with enhanced digital zoom. This will also be the first periscope-style zoom system on a Pixel and will no doubt include upgrades to the Super Res Zoom feature first introduced on the Pixel 3.
At the front, the selfie cameras are also said to include some minor differences. The Pixel 6 looks to stick with an 8-megapixel selfie camera while the Pixel 6 Pro front-facer is said to be rated at 12-megapixels. That might provide a notable step up over the 8-megapixel sensor used on the Pixel 5 and Pixel 4 series but it’s hard to say whether differences will be pronounced or not at this stage.
According to Google’s own information and very limited previews with selected media, video is another area of focus for 2021. In the brief hands-on video with a pre-release model, it’s hard to glean the overall video capabilities but the short snippet certainly didn’t “wow”.
We do know that Tensor will have the ability to add real-time HDR effects to video after early behind-closed-doors testing by The Verge. Google’s Rick Osterloh even went on to explain that Tensor can utilize the HDRNet process used on still images within every single frame of video for even greater end results. This could also mean enhancements to the effects and filters you can apply to video on Pixel 6 come launch.
Price and release date
Rumors about the pricing of the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro have been rife since Rick Osterloh stated that the device duo will “be a premium-priced product.” That will depend heavily on your definition of “premium”. But with high-end smartphones regularly exceeding the $1,000 barrier we could be in for a wallet-cleansing experience – especially when compared to previous years.
A recent leak suggests that those bracing for prices past the four-digit mark might be pleasantly surprised. Proposed European pricing could make for pleasant reading if you were expecting the worst. Reportedly, one model of the Pixel 6 will start €649, while one particular model of Pixel 6 Pro may sell for €899. We here at 9to5Google have been able to confirm these prices with another source in Europe.
Of course, we need to explicitly state that these pricing figures may not directly translate across borders. Even so, that could put at least one of the Pixel 6 models in or around the $700 mark. Conversely the Pixel 6 Pro could start around the $950 mark. Although it is worth noting that often, due to the conversion process, European buyers pay more than their US counterparts. It will be really interesting to see just how global pricing correlates when the duo are unveiled on stage.
After a long wait and some launch date rumors, Google officially confirmed the “Pixel Fall Launch” event will take place on October 19. Google’s own website for the Fall Launch event even showcases the new Material You and Dynamic Color changes coming with Android 12.
It would be fairly safe to assume that pre-orders for the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro will likely start once this event has ended. The previous reports suggest devices will actually go on sale over a week after the unveiling on October 28.
What are you hoping for from the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro?
Aside from the early Pixel 6 rumors and the publicly available information surrounding the duo, just what are you hoping for at the mid-October launch event? Is it just a case of making a solid smartphone again for Google? Let us know what features and functions you’re hoping for down in the comments section below.
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