Update: September 16, 2021 (12 AM ET): We’ve updated our Google Pixel 6 rumor hub with details about possible specs and features. Read on for all the latest information.
Original article: The Google Pixel 5 marked a return to form for Google’s flagships. It sought to put the polarizing Pixel 4 series behind it and deliver a well-rounded and affordable flagship phone. With the Pixel 5’s first year winding down, all eyes now are on the follow-up, officially known as the Google Pixel 6.
See also: Everything you need to know about Google hardware
Below, you’ll find every confirmation and credible rumor we’ve heard so far about the next entry in the Pixel line. Be sure to bookmark this page, as we will update it with Google Pixel 6 information as soon as it lands!
Name and release date
Since the first Pixel launch in 2016, Google hasn’t altered its naming strategy. Even when it introduced the first “a” series device with the Pixel 3a, it kept to the numbered naming system it’s had since day one. As such, we were pretty confident the Google Pixel 6 would be the name of the next entry in the line.
On August 2, 2021, the company confirmed just that. Not only did it confirm the Pixel 6 name, but it also confirmed that there will be a “Pro” model launched alongside the vanilla variant.
Google has already confirmed the name of the next Pixel flagship.
As far as a release date goes, Google has launched every single Pixel phone in the Fall, usually in early October. The only anomaly in this trend is last year’s Pixel 5, which launched at the very end of September. However, there’s no concrete evidence of an exact launch date for the Pixel 6 series just yet.
Several leaks offer conflicting dates, too. As per a Chinese tipster, Google could launch the Pixel 6 series on September 13, possibly to beat the iPhone 13 lineup to market. A more recent leak from Front Page Tech suggests that Google could open pre-orders for the Pixel 6 series on October 19 with general sales kicking off on October 28.
Google Pixel 6 design
Along with the name of the phone, Google has already confirmed what the Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro will look like. Above, you can see official imagery of the Pixel 6 Pro in an assortment of colorways.
This confirmed design looks a lot like the leaked renders we saw from reliable leaker Steve Hemmerstoffer back in May of this year.
With just a glance, you can tell that Google is doing a lot of new things with the Pixel line. The whole look of the phone has been completely revamped, with the body-length camera bump being the standout change.
In the official image above, you can see the camera bump is quite thick. Google also confirmed that the Pixel 6 Pro will have a polished aluminum frame, which heavily suggests the back of that phone will be made of glass. Meanwhile, the vanilla Pixel 6 will have a matte aluminum finish, which is likely similar to what we saw on the Pixel 5.
Google also confirmed the phones will have a centered selfie camera cutout. The Verge, which has actually seen a Pixel 6 in-the-flesh, confirmed that the Pro model’s display has curved edges while the Pixel 6’s display is flat on all sides.
As far as colorways go, here’s what you can expect in some regions:
- Orange back with a peach-colored top
- Blue back with a lime green top
- Gray back with a silver top
Pixel 6 Pro
- Yellow back with an orange top
- White back with a gray top
- Gray back with a silver top
What is Google Tensor?
Up until August 2, the biggest rumor surrounding the Pixel 6 line was the inclusion of a new, custom chipset, codenamed “Whitechapel.” The rumor was that this was an SoC that would be unique to the Pixel 6, co-created by Google and Samsung (and even feature a Mali GPU and, in a more recent rumor, a Samsung modem). On August 2, Google confirmed the existence of this SoC and announced its market name: Tensor.
Unfortunately, Google did not divulge much hard info about Tensor. It touted Tensor’s impressive abilities when it comes to machine learning and AI smarts. It boasted that it will help deliver the best photo and video results of any Pixel phone. It said the performance of the chipset will be “market-leading.”
Related: What you should really expect from Google’s custom Pixel 6 processor
However, it didn’t really show any proof of any of these claims. For now, we’ll just need to take Google’s word on it.
Since this is Google’s first-ever attempt to make smartphone silicon, it is unreasonable to assume the company would come out of the gate with something better than the industry-leading Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 or Apple A14 Bionic. Instead, we expect to see something better than a general mid-range chip but beneath crazy-fast flagship chips.
A leak on September 15 gave out some apparent confirmations about the specs of the Tensor chip. It suggested that the SoC would be made up of 2x Arm Cortex-X1 cores clocked at 2.802GHz, 2x Arm Cortex-A76 cores clocked at 2.253GHz, and 4x Arm Cortex-A55 cores clocked at 1.80GHz. One glaring issue with these specs is that the Cortex-A76 cores are more than two years old now. We would have expected Google to use A77 or A78 models. Of course, it’s highly possible these specs aren’t accurate. We’ll have to wait for Google’s official announcement to see what’s really powering the Tensor processor.
Google Pixel 6: Other specs
Raw specs have never been a focus for Pixel phones. However, things might be changing with the Pixel 6 series. The Pixel 6 Pro, in particular, seems like it could be quite formidable in the specs department.
Below, you’ll find some confirmed specs of the phones. These specs come from Google itself and The Verge, which, once again, has tested out a real Pixel 6:
Google Pixel 6 (Confirmed)
- Screen size: 6.4 inches
- Resolution: FHD+ (1080p)
- Refresh rate: 90Hz
- Rear cams: Main + Ultra-wide
- Biometrics: In-display fingerprint
- OS: Android 12
- SoC: Google Tensor
Google Pixel 6 Pro (Confirmed)
- Screen size: 6.7 inches
- Resolution: QHD+ (1440p)
- Refresh rate: 120Hz
- Rear cams: Main + Ultra-wide + Telephoto (4x optical)
- Biometrics: In-display fingerprint
- OS: Android 12
- SoC: Google Tensor
Once again, those specs above are confirmed. We also have some shaky spec rumors from Front Page Tech. Here’s what they say could be onboard:
Google Pixel 6 (Rumored)
- Front cam: 8MP
- Battery: 4,614mAh
- RAM: 8GB
- Storage: 128GB / 256GB
Google Pixel 6 Pro (Rumored)
- Front cam: 12MP
- Battery: 5,000mAh
- RAM: 12GB
- Storage: 128GB / 256GB / 512GB
We also have evidence to suggest the new Pixels could support ultra-wideband (UWB) technology. A recent report by XDA-Developers also supports the addition of UWB. However, we don’t have any idea what that could mean yet. We also have evidence surrounding the haptic features of Android 12 and how they could apply to a Pixel 6.
A report from 91Mobiles suggests that the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro could also sport much faster charging speeds topping 33W. Considering that the Pixel 5a may be the last Google phone to ship with a charger, buyers might have to fork out extra for that faster brick.
A new leak surrounding the rumored Pixel Stand seemingly suggests we might see a buff to the Pixel 6 line’s wireless charging speeds, too. The unannounced stand is believed to offer 23W maximum charging speeds, which would be faster than both Samsung and Apple’s current wireless charging offerings.
Interestingly, Front Page Tech also claims that Google plans to offer five years of software updates to the Pixel 6 series. Considering the inclusion of Tensor, this seems like it could be possible. This would cause the Pixel series to match the update schedule offered by Apple for iPhones, too.
An anonymous source speaking with XDA Developers recently claimed to have a real Pixel 6 Pro on hand. By communicating with the source, the publication leaked some alleged specs and features of the phone. These included 12GB of RAM, Battery Share, 5,000mAh battery, 12MP Sony IMX386 wide-angle lens, 48MP Sony IMX586 telephoto lens, 50MP Samsung GN1 main camera lens, Periscope zoom camera, 3,120 x 1,440 display resolution, Ultra-wideband (UWB) support, and Wi-Fi 6.
Another wild rumor based on alleged case listings of the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro suggested that the phones might bring back the Active Edge feature that brings up the Google Assistant by squeezing the sides of the phone. However, we think you should take this information with a pinch of salt as the case listings could just have placeholder text in them, in which case, the information may be inaccurate.
Google Pixel 6 cameras
We know for certain the Google Pixel 6 will have two rear lenses while the Pixel 6 Pro will have three. We also know both phones will feature a solitary selfie camera housed within a centered display cutout.
We also know that the Pixel 6 Pro will have a main lens, an ultra-wide, and a telephoto. The Pixel 6 will have the same setup but without the telephoto. The telephoto lens will use what The Verge calls a “folded” system. This likely means it will use familiar periscope technology that will allow it to see 4X optical zoom. In other words, you’ll be able to zoom in 4x without any loss of image quality.
Related: It’s time Google updated Pixel camera hardware to match its stellar software
Presumably, Google will offer 1X, 2X, 3X, and 4X options, with 1X and 4X being the native main and telephoto camera zoom lengths respectively and 2X and 3X being the result of hybrid zoom/image fusion.
There are rumors that the main sensor could be a 50MP shooter. This is backed up by code found within the Google Camera app in Android 12 pointing to the use of Samsung’s GN1 sensor. It heavily suggests that Google could finally be upgrading its sensor for the first time since the Pixel 3 series. The Verge also reported that there’s a new main camera sensor on board.
Other camera specs of the Pixel 6 Pro were also leaked (see specs section above) suggesting the 50MP main sensor would be accompanied by a 12MP Sony IMX386 wide-angle lens, and a 48MP Sony IMX586 telephoto lens.
It’s clear Google intends to update its hardware significantly with the Pixel 6 series. When you combine this with its unrivaled software, the Pixel 6 series could be some of the best phones of the year when it comes to photos.
Price and availability
One of the aspects of the most recent Pixel phones that’s made them so successful is pricing. Even though the Pixel 5 wasn’t “cheap,” it certainly undercuts most competitors.
Google has gone on the record and said the Pixel 6 Pro, in particular, “will certainly be a premium-priced product.” It went one step further and later told a German outlet that the Pro phone would be “expensive.” To us, these comments suggest the Pro-level model will meet or even exceed the $1,000 mark.
The vanilla Pixel 6, though, could be cheaper thanks to its weaker specs and simpler design. However, the addition of a flagship-level SoC and new camera hardware means we’ll need to wait and see if it’s as cheap as the Pixel 5.
As far as availability goes, Google already has a Google Store page up for the phones. By visiting that page from different areas of the world, you can see which areas support it. So far, these are the countries we are relatively certain will see the Pixel 6 lineup:
- United Kingdom
- United States
Do not get upset if you don’t see your own country on that list. It’s possible Google hasn’t launched store listings for all countries yet. It’s also possible the Pixel 6 will land in certain countries first and then make its way to others later. Remember there is still an ongoing global chip shortage that could make the Pixel 6 rollout quite staggered.
We’ll certainly have more information on this as we get closer to the Fall!
That’s everything we’ve got so far on the Google Pixel 6! Be sure to check back soon as we will update this with more rumors as they land.