The excellent Pixel 5 is Google’s current flagship phone, but time stands still for no device, so we look forward to what we can expect when its successor – the Pixel 6 (as well as a Pixel 6 Pro) – arrives.
In this article, we’ll explore the potential release date, price and the new specs that might appear on Google’s next flagship phones.
When will the Google Pixel 6 be released?
Google officially first acknowledged the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro in a press release published on 2 August. While the company didn’t make mention of a specific release date, it repeatedly promised an arrival time of “Fall” (Autumn), in line with previous Pixel releases.
Previously, 9to5Google spotted various mentions of Google’s upcoming devices in the Android 12 Beta 1. Here’s the rundown from the code:
- Barbet (Pixel 5a 5G) – G4S1M
- Oriole (Pixel 6 family) – GR1YH
- Raven (Pixel 6 family) – GF5KQ
- Passport (Pixel foldable) – GPQ72
Usually, the new flagship Pixel arrives either right at the end of September or mid-October. For example, the Pixel 3 arrived on 18 October 2018, this was followed by the Pixel 4 which made its debut on October 15 2019, and was succeeded by the Pixel 5 on 30 September 2020. Leaker, Jon Prosser is also saying it will be “sometime near October”.
Google announced the Android 12 Beta 1 at its I/O developer conference on 18 May stating that the OS would arrive in autumn/fall. Reinforcing the (now-confirmed) thinking that the Pixel 6 will arrive at that time, being the flagship to ship pre-loaded with this newes version of the company’s mobile OS.
Here’s the timeline for Android 12’s release which implies September at the earliest.
How much will the Google Pixel 6 cost?
Pricing is a bit less reliable when looking at past releases. Back in 2018 the Pixel 3 came with a price tag set at £739/$799, but when the Pixel 4 came along its price was £669/$799. The cost of ownership dropped even lower with the Pixel 5, which you can buy at the time of writing for £599/$699.
Sadly, we don’t see this descending trend continuing, as Google seems to now have its pricing strategy in place. With the Pixel 4a at £349/$349, Pixel 4a 5G at £499/$499 and Pixel 5 at £599/$699, we think this is how things will stay when the Pixel 6 arrives later this year.
As for the Pixel 6 Pro, we imagine it will be at least £100/$100 more than the regular 6.
What about the Google Pixel 6’s design and specs?
While Google’s August announcement didn’t spill the tea on everything the Pixel 6 line will be bringing to the table, it did confirm a number of previously-leaked details, covering both the phones’ design and hardware (as well as putting to bed the debate over whether the larger phone’s name would be the ‘Pixel 6 XL’ or ‘Pixel 6 Pro’).
Jon Prosser’s huge May leak gave us a potential look at the Pixel 6’s design, which turns out to have been right on the money, based on Google’s first officially-released images.
Official press images of the Google Pixel 6 in various colourways
The company is calling the jutting camera arrangement across each phones’ back a “camera bar” and it’s apparently needed to accommodate the “upgraded” rear camera system, which is said to feature “improved sensors and lenses” that are “now too big to fit into a traditional square.”
Official press images of the Google Pixel 6 Pro in various colourways
While Google’s August announcement doesn’t get into specifics, it does state that both phones “have new materials and finishes, too — like the Pro’s light polished aluminum [sic] frame, and the 6’s matte aluminum [sic] finish.”
It also appears like these Pixels are reverting back to glass-backed designs, similar to the first three generations of Pixel; with contrasting colours on either side of that distinctive camera bar.
Speaking of colours, Google’s characteristically quirky names for the colourways shown above haven’t yet been published, however, tipster TechScoreNY has put forward ‘Sorta Orange’, ‘Arctic Blue’ and ‘Mostly Grey’. These names were originally in reference to the 6 Pro specifically, however, assuming the images Google have since supplied are the only finishes for each model of phone, it’s thought that ‘Arctic Blue’ might relate to the blue/green finish seen on the standard Pixel 6.
While Google’s initial round of official images does include shots featuring a centrally-positioned front-facing hole-punch camera, Prosser’s previous mock-ups (made by Ian Zelbo) offer the front view up in far greater detail, highlighting the display’s tiny bezels at the same time.
The Pixel 4a/4a XL/5’s reinstated rear fingerprint scanner has gone again, this time replaced with an in-display alternative.
Google isn’t yet willing to hand out a complete spec sheet for these freshly-teased phones, so instead, we once again turn to Jon Prosser, with what he believes are the final specs for the 6 and 6 Pro. He also mentions that Google will supply these phones with at least five years of software updates.
Note: We’ve added in mention of the Tensor chip as these phones’ processor, which has now officially been confirmed by Google.
Pixel 6 specs
- Screen size: 6.4in
- Display: 120Hz AMOLED (flat)
- Rear camera setup: 50Mp main + 12Mp ultrawide
- Front camera: 8Mp
- Battery: 4614mAh
- Processor: Google Tensor
- RAM: 8GB
- Storage: 128/256GB
- OS: Android 12
Pixel 6 Pro specs
- Screen size: 6.71in
- Display: 120Hz Plastic OLED (curved)
- Rear camera setup: 50Mp main + 48Mp telephoto+ 12Mp ultrawide
- Front camera: 12Mp
- Battery: 5000mAh
- Processor: Google Tensor
- RAM: 12GB
- Storage: 128/256/512GB
- OS: Android 12
Specs including a 50Mp main sensor paired with an ultrawide and an 8Mp with 5x zoom camera had been previously rumoured elsewhere. As per the details above, this telephoto camera might use a 48Mp sensor and the new camera app in the Android 12 Beta 3 might have confirmed that it will support 5x zoom.
Separately, XDADevelopers noticed code within the Google Camera 8.3.252 referencing “zoom_toggle_ultratele” and the text “5x”, as well as multiple mentions of a new “ultratele” zoom toggle.
It’s also been pointed out that an official Android 12 video appears to show the 5x option.
A few people have pointed out to me than in this video: https://t.co/yQqmXm7VAs
You can see what looks like the camera app with a 0.6X, 2X, and a 5X zoom option. Could mean nothing but with this new leak..
H/T jeneeek on Telegram pic.twitter.com/b8BhWsh7Qw
— Mishaal Rahman (@MishaalRahman)
May 20, 2021
OnLeaks muddies the water slightly, suggesting the Pixel 6 Pro will instead feature a slightly smaller 6.67in curved AMOLED display, compared to Prosser’s prediction, while dimensions for the phone will clock in at 163.9 x 75.8 x 8.9mm or 11.5mm, if you include the camera bar.
Other smaller details include stereo speakers, wireless charging and it will have “a couple of sensors housed in the camera module, as well as a microphone unit.”
With regards to the smaller phone, OnLeaks (via 91Mobiles) reiterated that the phone will have a 6.1in flat screen, along with an in-display fingerprint sensor and wireless charging. Stereo speakers, USB-C charging and dimensions of 158.6 x 74.8 x 8.9mm (11.8mm including camera bar) are also said to feature.
Processor: Tensor SoC
One rumour in relation to the Pixel 6 line that the tech press has long held in high esteem is that Google has been working closely with Samsung to design a custom processor that will make its debut in the Pixel 6 line.
Official press image of Google’s new Tensor chip, destined for the Pixel 6 & 6 Pro
While Samsung doesn’t get a name check in the company’s 2 August announcement, it does detail some of what we can expect from the custom silicon, destined for its 2021 flagship phones; sporting what it called ‘Tensor’ – a name we’ve seen already seen affiliated with a number of other Google projects, in relation to AI computing and Machine Learning.
In an official capacity, Google’s release states, “Tensor enables us (Google) to make the Google phones we’ve always envisioned — phones that keep getting better while tapping the most powerful parts of Google, all in a highly personalized [sic] experience. And with Tensor’s new security core and Titan M2, Pixel 6 will have the most layers of hardware security in any phone.”
While that doesn’t shed a huge amount of light on just exactly Tensor pulls away from the Snapdragon chips the company was previously sticking into Pixel devices, leaks leading up to this announcement, referencing the chip’s codename “Whitechapel” add a little extra illumination.
GS101 “Whitechapel” (GS likely meaning Google Silicon) supposedly shares in Samsung’s latest Exynos design and architecture, along with some software components.
Tipster Max Weinbach, speaking to Myriam Joire on her Mobile Tech Podcast, stated that the chipset would sit between the Snapdragon 865 and Snapdragon 888; so perhaps not as cutting-edge as first thought.
It’s supposedly made by Samsung on a 5nm process (matching the 888) and – as subsequently reiterated by Google – focuses on AI and machine learning tasks, which means users can expect improvements in areas like photography. Yogesh has also weighed in to confirm similar details, while adding that it should be viewed in a similar vein to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 870 in terms of ability.
Well yes, Whitechapel is a 5nm chip with current performance on PVT units closer to SD870, they are not trying to match SD888. Google’s focus is on ML & so the raw AI performance is matched to that of other leading mobile chips. Plus that Mali GPU is performing good under stress.
— ?Yogesh? (@heyitsyogesh)
May 24, 2021
One thing we can predict is that the Pixel 6 will come with an Ultra-Wideband (UWB) chip and – combined with NFC – will support the new Digital Car Key feature in Android 12, allowing you to unlock a compatible vehicle with your phone.
Google said it will work with ‘select Pixel & Galaxy devices’ from Fall (Autumn). The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, S21 Ultra and Z Fold 2 are the only Android phones with this tech so far (at the time of writing).
It also seems Google is working on a new wireless charging stand for the Pixel 6, that will include a cooling fan. 9to5Google spotted mentions of it in the Android 12 Beta 2 code.
There’s no word on power output, but the fan will help keep the phone cool while it charges and looks like it will slow down if you wake the Google Assistant, presumably so the microphones can hear you better.
It will go even quieter if you use the Google Recorder app while charging and there are three manual modes: Auto, Quiet and Power Boost, plus Bedtime mode.
Named ‘Luxuryliner’, it seems it will be a follow-up to the £69 Pixel Stand that was codenamed ‘Dreamliner’.
In the meantime, check out our review of the Google Pixel 5 and our roundup of the best Pixel 5 deals.
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