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Google’s Pixel 6 series delivers the company’s first true “flagship” device, with high-end specs and hardware to go with the company’s first smartphone chip, Tensor. Here’s everything found under the hood on the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro.

This article was originally published in August of 2021, and has been updated to reflect the final specs of the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro since their October 2021 release.

Google Tensor chip

To kick things off, let’s talk about the biggest thing these phones have in common, and the most notable part of Google’s release – the Tensor chipset.

Both the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro leave behind the typical Qualcomm Snapdragon chip found in most Android flagships and instead use “Tensor.” This chip is designed by Google specifically for the needs of Pixel, though the chip does notably have its foundation in Samsung’s Exynos designs.

What sets Tensor apart? It’s not the performance. On paper and in real-life use, Tensor is essentially on par with the Qualcomm chip of the same year, the Snapdragon 888. On Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, that equates to smooth performance across general tasks and even games, but Tensor tends to heat up a little quicker and be a little less efficient compared to Qualcomm’s chip.

In a deep-dive, AnandTech found that Tensor’s GPU was on paper an absolute beast, but was held back by thermals. Meanwhile, AI tasks such as the natural-language processing we love so much on Pixel 6 was the star of the show, outpacing all of its competition at the time. As of January 2021, MediaTek’s next-gen flagship chip seems to be taking the crown, but Google’s inital showing is nonetheless very impressive.

Google Tensor utilizes a somewhat unorthodox setup for its physical design, with two Cortex-X1 cores, two Cortex-A76 cores, and four Cortex-A55 cores. The use of two Cortex-X1 cores should have provided a performance boost over other same-year competitors, but the use of older A76 cores really hinders the setup.

Despite the pros and cons, though, Tensor is a pretty impressive initial showing for Google’s mobile chip design, and it leads the charge to make Pixel 6 specs 80% more powerful than Google’s previous Pixel 5, as the company has claimed.

Pixel 6 specs

Google’s $599 device, the Pixel 6, is its mass-market model that’s meant to be affordable, but doesn’t really skimp on the spec sheet. This “smaller” phone has a 6.4-inch 1080p display which has a 90Hz refresh rate to ensure smooth scrolling. The glass over top of the display is flat and has an optical fingerprint sensor underneath. The Tensor chip is paired with 8GB of RAM and either 128GB or 256GB of storage with no expansion option.

Meanwhile, the hardware has metal rails coated in a black matte texture with glass along the back the splits the color into two tones. There’s no headphone jack on the device, but it isn’t a portless phone. A USB-C port serves to charge the 4,614 mAh battery. Charging can hit around 23W over a USB-C cable, and up to 21W with Google’s new Pixel Stand.

  • Display: 6.4-inch 2380×1080 90Hz display
  • Chip: Google “Tensor,” Titan M2
  • Storage: 128GB/256GB
  • Memory: 8GB RAM
  • Biometrics: Under-display fingerprint sensor
  • Colors: Kinda Coral, Sorta Seafoam, Stormy Black
  • Cameras: Standard 50MP, Ultrawide 12MP, Selfie 8MP
  • Battery: 4,614 mAh
  • Charging: 23W wired USB-C/21W wireless on Pixel Stand
  • Dimensions: 158.6 x 74.8 x 8.2mm
  • 5G: Sub6, mmWave (US, Verizon & AT&T models only)
  • Other: Gorilla Glass Victus, IP68 water resistance, USB-C 3.1
  • Price: Starting at $599 US

Pixel 6 Pro specs

The Pixel 6 Pro, meanwhile, supercharges a couple of key areas.

Starting with the display, the panel here is larger at 6.7 inches. It also carries a faster 120Hz refresh rate, higher resolution, and has curved glass along the top. The curve is consistent with some of Samsung’s older flagships, falling into the aluminum rails. It makes screen protectors a bit more difficult, making options for tempered glass few and far in between. As with the smaller model, an under-display fingerprint sensor is being used.

The hardware will see the metal rails along the side polished instead of a matte texture and the colorways are also more subdued.

Inside, the Tensor chip is paired with 12GB of RAM, and either 128, 256, or 512GB of storage. There’s also a 5,000 mAh battery with fast charging up to around 23W, both wired over USB-C and wireless with the second-generation Pixel Stand.

The biggest upgrade that the Pixel 6 Pro delivers on the specs sheet over the base model is in its camera setup. There’s the same 50MP main camera and 12MP ultrawide, but with the addition of a 48MP sensor that has a 4x telephoto lens on top. We’ve been incredibly impressed with the results of that zoom sensor. The selfie camera is also upgraded to an 11.1MP sensor with a wider lens.

  • Display: 6.7-inch 3120×1440 120Hz LPTO display
  • Chip: Google “Tensor,” Titan M2
  • Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB
  • Memory: 12GB
  • Biometrics: Under-display fingerprint sensor
  • Colors: Stormy Black, Sorta Sunny, Cloudy White
  • Cameras: Standard 50MP, 12MP Ultrawide, 48MP 4x Telephoto, 11.1MP 94-degree selfie camera
  • Battery: 5,000 mAh
  • Charging: 23W wired, 23W wireless on Pixel Stand
  • Dimensions: 163.9 x 75.8 x 8.9mm
  • 5G: Sub6, mmWave (US)
  • Other: Gorilla Glass Victus, IP68 water resistance, USB-C 3.1

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About the Author

Ben Schoon

Ben is a writer and video producer for 9to5Google.

Find him on Twitter @NexusBen. Send tips to schoon@9to5g.com or encrypted to benschoon@protonmail.com.