The Pixel 6 and 6 Pro aren’t far off now! Here’s everything we know

The Pixel 6 and 6 Pro aren’t far off now! Here’s everything we know

September 9, 2021 0 By Joe Maring

Counting down the days until Google opens up Pixel 6 preorders.

Not since the original Pixel launch have we seen this level of hype for a new Google phone. The Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro will dramatically improve on the mid-range Pixel 5, offering true flagship specs. And thanks to its striking two-toned design, Google-made Tensor chipset, exclusive Android 12 features like Dynamic colors for the new Material You UI, and improved camera sensors, the 2021 Pixels are set to make a big splash.

Google gave us the first official peek at the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro on August 2 after months of rumors, giving us our first proper glimpse of the phone outside of leaks. Since then, Google has kept silent about the phone; but recent rumors and leaks suggest we could see the final announcement soon, which will unveil the release date, price, and full specs.

From price, specs, availability, and more, here’s everything we know (or suspect) so far about the Google Pixel 6.

Half the price, available now

Google Pixel 5a

$449 at Google Store

The best Pixel you can buy right now

Now that the Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G have been discontinued, the Pixel 5a is your best option available right now. It has the same Snapdragon 765G chipset as those phones — no Tensor, but plenty speedy for a mid-range device. You’ll get two days of battery life, water resistance, a bright FHD display, and decent cameras with Google’s great AI improvements. The Pixel 6 has some major improvements in store, but this’ll likely save you at least $500 compared to the flagship.

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Announcement & release date
Pixel 6 or 5a

Google Pixel 6 Announcement & release date

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In its August 2 teaser, Google stated that the “Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro debut this fall.” This tracks with the release dates of every Pixel up to the most recent Pixel 5:

Pixel — October 4, 2016
Pixel 2 — October 4, 2017
Pixel 3 — October 9, 2018
Pixel 4 — October 15, 2019
Pixel 5 — September 30, 2020

Recent rumors suggested Google would hold its Pixel 6 unveiling in mid-September, preempting the iPhone 13 launch on September 14 by one day; but that would be very combatative and not in keeping with Google’s typical launch pattern. Plus, given the Pixel 6 will ship with Android 12 out of the box, and that we expect the new OS to launch in late September, it seems unlikely the phone will ship before Google has more time for bug testing.

You could instead believe the recent FrontPageTech leak that Google will reveal Pixel 6 specs and open preorders on October 19, followed by an October 28 launch. That’s one day earlier than the Pixel 5 ship date (October 29); if this leak is accurate — and it’s a big if — the Pixel 6 will have a much quicker turnaround than last year.

For now, take any launch leaks with a grain of salt, and rest assured that you don’t have much longer to wait. Hopefully, your Pixel 6 will ship in a little over a month.

Google Pixel 6 Price

Looking ahead at the Pixel 6, one of the most interesting things to keep an eye on is its price. Google hardware chief Rick Osterloh told The Verge that Google didn’t consider its past couple of phones “flagship tier,” but that the new Pixel “will be different” as a “premium-priced product.”

It’s fair to say the Pixel 5 was more of a mid-tier phone at $699. For comparison, the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL started at $799 and $899, respectively, with 64GB storage configurations. If you wanted 128GB, you had to spend another $100 on top of those prices. But according to Osterloh, even those phones weren’t proper flagships.

With the Pixel 6, Google clearly wants to compete more stringently against top-tier phones like the upcoming Galaxy S22. And if the Pixel 4 wasn’t a “flagship” but the Pixel 6 is, expect a starting price closer to the $1,000 range, with the Pixel 6 Pro trending closer to the price of a premium flagship like the S21 Ultra or iPhone 12 Pro Max — aka $1,200. These prices are only predictions, but with some solid evidence behind them.

Google Pixel 6 Models

The Pixel 6 leakers have proven prescient. As predicted, Google will release both a Pixel 6 and a Pixel 6 Pro this fall. Unlike some predictions and leaks that suggested otherwise, Google won’t release a Pixel 6 XL, abandoning this label for a more industry-standard name.

Based on the information provided by Google, we know the Pixel 6 Pro will have a more premium design, with curved edges and better aluminum materials compared to the flatter Pixel 6. Its display will be a quarter-inch larger, achieving better resolution and refresh rates. And it will have a triple-camera setup with a telephoto camera that the dual-camera Pixel 6 lacks. However, both Pixels will have the same Google-made chipset, Google Tensor.

Based on leaked information, we also predict the Pro will have a larger battery to offset the screen size difference, plus additional RAM and storage over the smaller model.

Google Pixel 6 Design

Google’s design language has varied greatly over the years, but the Pixel 6 appears to be the boldest design the company has ever produced. The original Pixel and the Pixel 3 XL shared some unfortunate similarities to iPhones at the time, while the Pixel 5 was a bit on the boring side. That leaves the Pixel 2 and Pixel 4 as the outliers, both of which appear to have played a huge part in the influence of the design of the Pixel 6.

Look through the history of Google phones’ color design, and it’s impossible to miss the consistent dual-tone designs. The raised camera bar on the back is reminiscent of the Nexus 6P’s Cylon-esque design, and the bold colors and multi-tonal aesthetic makes this phone immediately distinguishable in the sea of black rectangles across the land.

Based on the official renders Google released, the Pixel 6 will come in light orange, sage green, and black. The Pixel 6 Pro will sport silver, gold, or black. Each sports a different accent color on the top-back of the phone above the black camera module.

Objectively, the Pixel 6 Pro has a more stylish design. The Pixel 6 edges are black, flat, and thicker than that of the 6 Pro, which is curved and skinnier. The Pro gives you a curved finish with much thinner edges, plus a “polished aluminum finish” compared to a “matte aluminum finish” for the Pixel 6.

One interesting design omission: the Pixel 6 lineup has lost the trademark colored power button found on every other Pixel phone. The Pixel 6 buttons are black to match the edges, while the Pixel 6 Pro buttons blend into the phone’s silver/gold/black color.

Google hasn’t shown as many shots of the Pixel 6 display, but based on the above render of the Pixel 6 Pro, it has tiny bezels, a center punch-hole camera, and (based on leaks) an in-screen fingerprint scanner. While the smaller Pixel 6 appears to have a flat screen with slightly larger bezels — at least, based on the leaked renders we’ve seen — both models are bringing back the stereo front-facing speakers. Those speakers will, undoubtedly, bring back the Pixel’s pedigree of best-in-class speakers for a smartphone.

Google Pixel 6 Specs

Based on everything we’ve seen and heard, the Pixel 6 is the first premium Google phone. While Google hasn’t unveiled the full Pixel 6 specs yet, Google hardware chief Rick Osterloh confirmed to The Verge a few spec details that have been rumored for months.

The Pixel 6 Pro will feature a 6.7-inch QHD+ display, 120Hz refresh rate, and three cameras: a “wide-angle main sensor, an ultrawide, and a 4X optical-zoom folded telephoto lens.” With the Pixel 6, you downgrade to a 6.4-inch FHD+ screen supporting a 90Hz refresh rate, plus a dual-camera array that loses the telephoto lens. Both models will have in-screen fingerprint sensors.

We know from Google that the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro will incorporate the new Google-made SoC, Google Tensor. According to rumors, Tensor has similar hardware to the Exynos 2100, the chipset found in the international Samsung Galaxy S21. Supposedly, it will use one Cortex X1 core, three A78 cores, and four energy-efficient A55 cores, plus an Arm Mali-G77 GPU and a Titan M2 security module.

What does this mean in practice? Google Tensor is rumored to greatly improve battery life, performance, security, and voice command response times. CEO Sundar Pichai claims it will provide perks like “better speech recognition that uses half the power consumption” or “the best face detection to improve blurry photos in low lighting.”

Google has also promised “improved sensors and lenses” for its cameras, but it didn’t give any hard data on how the three new lenses improve on the Pixel 5.

So as long as Google keeps the Pixel 6 specs shrouded in mystery, we can turn to leakers. Based on various rumors over past months, we have a pretty clear idea of what the two new Pixels bring to the table.

Specs (rumored)
Pixel 6
Pixel 6 Pro
Operating System
Android 12
Android 12
6.4 inches, FHD+ resolution, 90Hz, AMOLED
6.71 inches, QHD+ resolution, 120Hz, POLED
Google Tensor
Google Tensor
Rear Camera
50MP (wide-angle) + 12MP (ultrawide-angle)
50MP (wide-angle) + 12MP (ultrawide-angle) + 48MP (telephoto)
Front Camera

Both phones will offer a significant improvement on the Pixel 5 thanks to their faster refresh rates, larger batteries, and speeds supposedly on par with the Snapdragon 780G. As for the Pixel 6 Pro, it will bring back the telephoto lens that the Pixel 5 lost, and its rumored 5,000mAh battery could be nearly 1,000mAh larger than its predecessor.

Also, recent rumors suggest the Pixel 6 will support 33W wired charging — much faster than the 18W standard on the Pixel 5 and 5a — plus at least 23W wireless charging with a new Pixel Stand.

Unfortunately, Google won’t include a charger in the box, so you’ll have to buy the wired and/or wireless ones separately. But most buyers will make do with chargers they currently have.

Google hasn’t revealed the specs for its “revamped” camera system, aside from the fact that the Pixel 6 will have wide-angle and ultrawide sensors, while the Pro will add a telephoto lens. But leaked specs have revealed the possible megapixels for these sensors. Compared to the Pixel 5’s 12.2MP main sensor, the 50MP wide-angle sensor appears to be a big upgrade; but its 16MP ultrawide sensor matches the Pixel 6.

In addition to the regular and ultra-wide angle lenses, the new superzoom camera will finally give the Pixel line the hardware upgrade it needs to match Google Camera’s software smarts. Here’s also hoping that Google finally gives the Pixel camera the overhaul it needs when it comes to video recording, which has always been quite basic at best.

Google Pixel 6 Software

We know for certain the Pixel 6 will launch with Android 12 installed. Alongside the other Pixel phones, the Pixel 6 will get exclusive access to the new Material You design language. You’ll also see software improvements like a proper one-handed mode, scrolling screenshots, faster auto-rotation, improved privacy tools, new emojis, and other cool perks that other flagships won’t see for several months.

What matters most here is Google Tensor. Not only will it offer much faster speeds than the Pixel 5 chipset, it’ll reportedly allow Google to support five years of Android software support for the Pixel 6 series. Just as Apple can support its iPhones for longer because it creates and controls its own chips, Google will do the same with Tensor, no longer restricted by Qualcomm hardware.

Most current Android phones only get two or three years of support, with Samsung recently making a four-year update promise for most of its recent devices. If we know in advance we’ll get Android 17 on the Pixel 6 in late 2026, that’d more than justify the flagship price.

Google Pixel 6 FAQ

Is the Pixel 6 going to be another “value flagship?”

Pixel phones used to be seen as regular flagships, but as we know, that changed with the Pixel 5. It’s still very much a high-end phone, but by using a lower-end processor, Google was able to cut back on costs considerably while still delivering an excellent product.

Current leaks, renders, and other information all point to Google returning the Pixel 6 to premium status. There’s no telling how much less the Pixel 6 will be compared to the Pixel 6 Pro, though. It’s also distinctly possible that Google will make the Pixel 6 the more affordable “value flagship,” while the Pixel 6 Pro will be the “premium flagship.”

Will there be a Pixel 6 XL?

Yes and no. There will be a Pixel 6 Pro, which is certainly larger than the Pixel 6. But it will drop the ‘XL’ moniker for the first time in Google Pixel history.

Is this phone 5G?

Yes, given the Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G both supported 5G technology, it’s a given the new phone will support it. However, we don’t know yet which 5G modem the new Google Tensor chipset will have a Google-made 5G modem or one made by another company — likely Qualcomm or Samsung.

Which Pixel to buy now

The Pixel 6 release date is close enough now that we can practically taste it. So if you’re looking for a new stock Android phone, you have every reason to wait until October. But if you really need a new phone now, you could look at the other Pixel phones available. You may have trouble finding them, though.

Google discontinued the Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G in late August. You may find some stock available at marked up prices on certain sites — or refurbished handsets available — but Google is currently all-in on its Pixel 5a launch.

The Pixel 5a is essentially a retooled Pixel 4a 5G with the same chipset, RAM, storage, and cameras, but with a slightly larger screen and battery, plus new water resistance. Even comparing the Pixel 5a vs Pixel 5, the newer, cheaper phone matches the 2020 “flagship” in most areas, even beating it in screen size and battery life (though losing in RAM).

Honestly, the true fight will be between the Pixel 6 and Pixel 5a. If the new flagship is as expensive as we fear, then the Pixel 5a will be a great phone for those who can’t afford a flagship. You’ll have to accept missing out on Google Tensor, but a budget phone like the 5a isn’t meant to last five years anyway. It’ll do just fine for three years, while costing half as much.

Half the price, available now

Google Pixel 5a

$449 at Google Store

The best Pixel you can buy right now

Now that the Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G have been discontinued, the Pixel 5a is your best option available right now. It has the same Snapdragon 765G chipset as those phones — no Tensor, but plenty speedy for a mid-range device. You’ll get two days of battery life, water resistance, a bright FHD display, and decent cameras with Google’s great AI improvements. The Pixel 6 has some major improvements in store, but this’ll likely save you at least $500 compared to the flagship.

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