Google unveils its newest smartphones, the first powered by the company’s own chip
Google on Tuesday unveiled the full details of its new Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro phones, the first to run on its Google Tensor chip instead of Qualcomm’s processor. Google Tensor was announced in August.
Google’s Android operating system runs on more than 3 billion devices around the world, but the company’s phones have failed to gain a sizeable market share. There are a few reasons for that, but the main one seems to be that people don’t know they exist or why they should buy a Google phone instead of a Samsung or Apple device.
Google is again trying to attract new customers and hopes its new processor, some unique software features and pricing are enough to woo them.
The company is attempting to cater to two audiences this year. The Pixel 6 is targeted at the midrange market with a $599 starting price, $100 cheaper than last year’s Pixel 5. The bigger Pixel 6 Pro, which has a more premium design and better cameras, starts at $899 and puts Google in the high-end range against the $799 iPhone 13 and $799 Samsung Galaxy S21 5G.
Both phones are available to preorder Tuesday and will be available on store shelves, including at all major U.S. carriers, beginning Oct. 28.
The Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro offer unique software that you can’t get on other Android phones, and which Google hopes will appeal to consumers. The company says much of this is thanks to the new Tensor chip.
The Tensor chip, for example, allows you to remove items from photos, such as a photobomber or an object in the background that gets in the way, with a feature called “Magic Eraser.” Other camera improvements include “Face Unblur” which removes blurring from a moving subject and provides more accurate skin tone features.
Tensor also enables voice dictation in more places.
So, if you’re texting a friend you can say “Hey Google, type” and begin speaking out your message instead of typing it. Tensor also enables Live Translate in chat. So, you can begin typing and it will automatically translate to another language. It works with English, French, Japanese, Spanish, German, Italian, Portuguese, Simplified Chinese, Hindi, Polish and Russian. Live Translation is also extended to live captions, the audio recorder and the camera. For captions, if you’re watching a video or listening to audio, your Pixel 6 or Pixel 6 Pro can display the translation of French, German, Italian or Japanese (in beta) to English.
Also, Google’s Pixel phones can help you fight spam calls and messages, including in WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Instagram, with features to block out those calls and messages and alerts if it suspects someone is trying to scam you by asking for your password.
The phones run Google’s new Android 12 operating system, which has a feature called “Material You” that will automatically customize icon colors, menu text around the phone and more, to match your wallpaper. That feature might launch on other phones, so it’s not entirely exclusive to the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. Lastly, Google is promising up to five years of security updates, which is two years longer than earlier Pixel phones.
There are a few big differences between the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro.
The Pixel 6 has a 6.4-inch display, while the Pixel 6 Pro has a sharper 6.7-inch screen. Both offer high refresh rates, like Samsung’s S21 phones and Apple’s higher-end iPhone 13 Pro models, which makes scrolling feel smoother. They have high-resolution wide-angle cameras for sharp images and ultrawide lenses for fitting more into each shot. But, the Pixel 6 Pro adds a third telephoto lens for up to 4x optical zoom. And the Pixel 6 Pro has a sharper front-facing camera than the Pixel 6.
There’s also some extra memory in the Pixel 6 Pro, which might make it feel faster if you’re running lots of apps at the same time, and it can be shipped with up to 512GB of storage while the Pixel 6 caps out at 256GB. Both phones ship with 128GB at entry-level prices.
And finally, the phones charge up to 50% in just 30 minutes. However, like newer Samsung and Apple phones, Google doesn’t include a charger in the box, so you’ll need to buy your own 30-watt USB-C wall plug for that to work. The Pixel 6 has a large, 4,600mAh battery, while the Pixel 6 Pro has an even bigger 5,000mAh battery. Google is promising at least a full day of use.