Pixel 6 is a significant improve: A primary take a look at Google’s new Tensor-powered telephone

Pixel 6 first look: Google's Tensor chip, $599 price, new cameras and more

The brand new Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Professional showcase one of many greatest year-to-year telephone upgrades I’ve seen in a very long time. Within the lead-up to Google’s fall Pixel occasion on Tuesday, the corporate behind Android and YouTube did one thing many different telephone makers do not and introduced each new Pixel 6 telephones again in August. The Pixel 6 has new digicam {hardware}, runs on Google’s first in-house processor and has a design that appears not like another telephone offered in the present day.

The Pixel 6 sequence is a crucial launch for Google as a result of it is a massive shift away from the corporate’s nice midtier telephone technique of the previous and a major step towards a portfolio designed to compete with premium telephones from Apple, Samsung and Huawei.

Thematically, Google has aimed to make the Pixel 6 work properly for extra individuals. A part of which means making the cameras work higher for individuals with totally different pores and skin tones and enhancing voice recognition to simply determine totally different talking patterns and accents.

Of the 2 telephones, the $599 (£599) Pixel 6 is the extra inexpensive mannequin. It is priced to compete with the iPhone 13, the Samsung Galaxy S21 and different midtier Android telephones similar to the present Motorola Edge. For extra info on the Pixel 6 Professional, take a look at my comparability under or learn our first impressions of the Google Pixel 6 Professional by my colleague Andrew Hoyle. (Pricing for Australia hasn’t been introduced, however the value within the UK, which has related tax, converts roughly to AU$1,100.)

The Pixel 6 has one of the vital eye-catching designs of 2021.

James Martin/CNET

The Pixel 6 design highlights its digicam bump strip

Google used 100% recycled aluminum for the physique of the Pixel 6. The edges have a matte end and general the Pixel 6 has an IP68 ranking for water and dirt resistance. The Pixel’s defining bodily function is its horizontal digicam bump strip. It might be straightforward to say the digicam strip was impressed by Robocop’s visor, or the visor on Cylons from Battlestar Galactica. However Google stated it needed to make a novel digicam bump that celebrates the digicam system. So as a substitute of a sq. within the nook the designers went for a strip.

Google Pixel 6 camera bump

As an alternative of a sq. within the nook, the digicam bump on the Pixel 6 runs horizontally throughout the again of the telephone.

James Martin/CNET

In individual it appears to be like like a chunk of a black mineral that has been reduce, formed and polished right into a digicam bump that retains your telephone stage so it does not wobble. The digicam bump homes broad and ultrawide cameras (extra on these in a second).

On the entrance of the Pixel 6 is a 6.4-inch show lined in Gorilla Glass Victus with an under-display fingerprint reader. The display screen has a 90Hz excessive refresh price, which ought to make animations look smoother and really feel extra responsive.

Tensor defines the Google Pixel 6

The brains of the brand new Pixel do not come from Qualcomm. As an alternative the telephone’s powered by a brand-new chip known as Tensor. It is the primary processor designed by Google and it has been custom-made for the Pixel. Google stated that it is 80% quicker than the Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G chip present in final yr’s Pixel 5

Google needed to go farther with software program and computations and therefore created the Tensor chip. As a lot because the digicam bump strip defines the design, Tensor defines the Pixel. It permits for on-device AI like quicker, extra correct speech recognition and picture processing.

I requested about the opportunity of seeing a Tensor chip in one other machine and whereas Google declined to remark, the corporate did say that this was not a one-off. 

Pixel 6 digicam will get higher at pores and skin tones with Actual Tone

The primary digicam on the Pixel 6 has a large angle lens and a 50-megapixel sensor, which is the biggest sensor ever in a Pixel digicam. The digicam makes use of pixel-binning to mix a number of pixels collectively to create a 12.5-megapixel photograph. The outcomes are brighter photographs with higher particulars and extra correct colours. Google claims the brand new most important digicam can seize 150% extra mild than the primary digicam on the Pixel 5.

There’s a new ultrawide digicam with a 12-megapixel sensor and a 114-degree area of view. Across the entrance is an 8-megapixel selfie digicam.

Google Pixel 6 sample photos

These are three photographs Google supplied us with that had been taken with the Pixel 6.


But when there’s one factor Google Pixel cameras are recognized for, it is software program and computational images. Google designed the Pixel cameras and computations to be extra correct regardless of your complexion with Actual Tone. For the previous 18 months Google has partnered with administrators, photographers and cinematographers like DP Kira Kelly and colorist Alex Bickel, recognized for his or her lovely depictions of communities of coloration. The concept was to enhance the Pixel’s cameras and algorithms in two methods.

The primary is detection. Google needed the telephone to have the ability to determine a face, regardless of how mild or darkish somebody’s pores and skin is or how advanced the lighting is. The second half is working with engineers to enhance the aesthetics of how photographs had been rendered. When a topic has a darker complexion, the algorithm provides extra nuance to midtones and undertones.

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Google debuts Real Tone for Pixel 6 phones


Android 12 and other notable software additions for the Pixel 6

The Pixel 6 runs Android 12, which offers more customization around preferences and aesthetics. Just as the Pixel 6 represents the biggest phone upgrade from Google in years, Android 12 marks the biggest OS update in years. Android 12 is packed with visual upgrades like customizable color palettes, bigger buttons and updated notifications.

Google Pixel 6

This is the Android 12 lock screen for the Pixel 6.

James Martin/CNET

And the Pixel 6 gets a bunch of new nifty software updates, notably Wait Time, which lets you know the best times to call a business so you won’t have a long wait. There’s also Direct My Call, which uses Google Assistant to work its way through the automated prompts of a call until it gets to an actual person.

In photos, there’s a new tool called Magic Eraser that lets you quickly remove unwanted things and people from your photos. RIP, all you photobombers. There’s also a Motion mode, which can create Action Pan photos where the background is blurred to mimic your subject moving quickly. Motion mode can also create Long Exposure photos that make running water look like silk and capture light trails from car traffic.

Read more: Google Pixel 6 vs. 6 Pro vs. Pixel 5 vs. 5A: What are the differences?

Pixel 6 vs. Pixel 6 Pro: All the differences

The two phones Google launched Tuesday are similar in a number of ways. But there are differences that set them apart and perhaps the largest difference is price. In the US, the Pixel 6 starts at $599 and the Pixel 6 Pro at $899.

Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro

On the left is the Google Pixel 6 Pro and on the right the Pixel 6.

Patrick Holland/CNET

The screen on the Pixel 6 has a 6.4-inch, FHD Plus, high refresh-rate display that can switch between 90Hz and 60Hz. The Pixel 6 Pro has a larger 6.7-inch QHD LTPO (that’s low-temperature polycrystalline oxide) that can adapt the refresh rate between 10Hz and 120Hz. The display on the Pro curves over the sides of the phone.

In terms of cameras, the Pro has a 48-megapixel, 4x optical zoom telephoto camera. The Pixel 6 doesn’t. The Pixel 6 has an 8-megapixel front-facing camera with an 84-degree field of view that can record 1,080p video at 30 frames per second. The Pro has an 11-megapixel selfie camera with a wider 94-degree field of view that can record 4K 30fps videos.

Other differences:

  • The back of the Pro has Gorilla Glass Victus and the Pixel 6 has Gorilla Glass 6.
  • The Pixel 6 Pro has an ultrawideband chip and the Pixel 6 doesn’t.
  • The Pixel 6 has a 4,614-mAh-capacity battery and the Pro has a 5,003-mAh one.
  • The Pixel 6 Pro supports both sub-6 and mmWave 5G.
  • The Pixel 6 supports sub-6 5G. A more expensive carrier version also supports mmWave.

The Pixel 6, 5G and battery life

The Pixel 6 supports sub-6 5G. Some carrier versions of the Pixel 6 will also support mmWave, which is the fast version of 5G that’s not widely available. Google says that battery life is a single day when using 5G. The Pixel 6 has a 4,614-mAh battery and supports 30-watt USB-C fast charging, but as with pretty much every other phone-maker, the fast-charger is sold separately. 

Google Pixel Pass

Google promises to support the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro with five years of OS and software upgrades. The search giant also has a new subscription service called Pixel Pass that lets you buy the Pixel 6 and get phone protection, YouTube Premium, YouTube Music Premium, Google One and Google Play Pass for $45 a month over two years. You can get a Pixel Pass for the Pixel 6 Pro for $55 a month.

Here’s everything to know about the Pixel 6 Pro and Google’s new Tensor chip. Plus, why Pixel phones are great alternatives to Apple and Samsung phones (and why the Pixel 6 is more exciting than the iPhone 13), and whether it’s still worth it to buy a Pixel 3, 4 or 5.

Google Pixel 6 specs vs. Google Pixel 6 Pro, Google Pixel 5, Apple iPhone 13

Google Pixel 6 Google Pixel 6 Pro Google Pixel 5 Apple iPhone 13
Display size, resolution 6.4-inch OLED; 2,400×1,080 pixels; 60Hz or 90Hz 6.7-inch LTPO OLED; 3,120×1,440 pixels; 10-120Hz 6-inch FHD+ OLED; 2,340×1,080 pixels 6.1-inch OLED; 2,532×1,170 pixels
Pixel density 411 ppi 512 ppi 432 ppi 460 ppi
Dimensions (inches) 6.2×2.9×0.4 in 6.5×3.0x0.4 in 5.7×2.8×0.3 in 5.78×2.82×0.3 in
Dimensions (millimeters) 158.6×74.8×8.9mm 163.9×75.9×8.9mm 144.7×70.4x8mm 147x72x7.65mm
Weight (ounces, grams) 7.3 oz; 207g 7.41 oz; 210g 5.33 oz; 151g 6.14 oz; 174g
Mobile software Android 12 Android 12 Android 11 iOS 15
Camera 50-megapixel (wide), 12-megapixel ultrawide 50-megapixel (wide), 12-megapixel (ultrawide), 48-megapixel (telephoto) 12.2-megapixel (standard), 16-megapixel (ultrawide) 12-megapixel (wide), 12-megapixel (ultrawide)
Front-facing camera 8-megapixel 11-megapixel 8-megapixel 12-megapixel
Video capture 4K 30, 60fps (rear), 1,080p 30fps (front) 4K 30, 60fps (rear), 4K 30fps (front) 4K HDR video recording with Dolby Vision up to 4K at 60fps
Processor Google Tensor Google Tensor Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G Apple A15 Bionic
Storage 128GB, 256GB 128GB, 256GB, 512GB 128GB 128GB, 256GB, 512GB
RAM 8GB 12GB 8GB Undisclosed
Expandable storage No No No No
Battery 4,614 mAh 5,003 mAh 4,000 mAh Undisclosed; Apple lists 19 hours of video playback
Fingerprint sensor Under display Under display Rear No (Face ID)
Connector USB-C USB-C USB-C Lightning
Headphone jack No No No No
Special features 5G sub 6 (some carrier models also have 5G mmWave) support, Wi-Fi 6E, 30W fast-charging, wireless charging, Magic Eraser, Motion mode, Real Tone, Face Unblur, Cinematic Pan, 5 years OS security updates, IP68 rating for dust and water resistance, Gorilla Glass Victus (front), Gorilla Glass 6 (back), dual-SIM capabilities (nano-SIM and e-SIM) 5G sub 6 and mmWave support, Wi-Fi 6E, Ultrawideband, 30W fast-charging, wireless charging, Magic Eraser, Motion mode, Real Tone, Face Unblur, Cinematic Pan, 5 years OS security updates, IP68 rating for dust- and water-resistance, Gorilla Glass Victus (front and back), dual-SIM capabilities (nano-SIM and e-SIM) 5G enabled; water-resistant (IP68); 90Hz-refresh-rate display; dual-SIM capabilities (nano-SIM and e-SIM); reverse wireless charging; fast charging 5G enabled; MagSafe; water-resistant (IP68); wireless charging; dual-SIM capabilities (nano-SIM and e-SIM)
Price off-contract (USD) $599 (128GB) $899 (128GB) $699 $799 (128GB), $899 (256GB), $1,099 (512GB)
Price (GBP) £599 (128GB) £849 (128GB) £599 £779 (128GB), £879 (256GB), £1,079 (512GB)
Price (AUD) Converts to AU$1,100 Converts to AU$1,570 AU$999 AU$1,349 (128GB), AU$1,519 (256GB), AU$1,869 (512GB)
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