The Google Pixel 5 continued to forge the groove that Google has found for itself in the smartphone market: with its relatively affordable price and flagship camera, it summed up everything the Pixels are about, and now we're looking forward to what's in store with the Pixel 6.
As the Google Pixel 6 release date approaches, we're starting to hear more and more information about what might be in store. It very much looks like it's going to be the best Pixel yet, and a serious contender to the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S21 and the Apple iPhone 12.
- These are the best smartphones on the market right now
- Our picks for the best Android phones currently available
Google Pixel 6: launch date
Google follows a fairly predictable schedule when it comes to its Pixel line. Its usual preferred month is October of each year, even though the Pixel 5 launched one day early on September 30 of 2020.
Barring no last-minute surprises related to the global pandemic, it seems unlikely that Google will buck the trend this year. That means keeping the schedule normal, and aiming for an October release for the Google Pixel 6.
There was a Pixel 4 and a Pixel 4 XL, but only one Pixel 5 – it remains to be seen whether an XL version is going to make a comeback, but what does now seem clear is that there won't be a Pixel 5 Pro.
Google has gone on record as saying there will be a Pixel 5a, but its release is likely to be limited to the US and Japan. We're expecting to see the Google Pixel 6 reach a lot more territories, but as yet we don't have any firm information on that.
Google Pixel 6: price
The Google Pixel 5 launched at $699 / £599 / AU$999 making it substantially cheaper than the Google Pixel 4, which went on sale at $799 / £669 / AU$1,049. The Google Pixel 6 could retreat to a cheaper price point, but this doesn’t seem likely with the rumored specs and premium innards it'll most likely contain.
So, where will the Google Pixel 6 price land? At this stage, nothing’s confirmed, but we estimate Google will not want to alienate users with a super-premium price tag, perhaps opting for a price point that sits in between the Samsung Galaxy S21 or the iPhone 12 mini.
Google Pixel 6: display and design
We're not expecting too many surprises when it comes to the display on the Pixel 6 or its overall design – it's likely that it will follow the template put down by the 6-inch Pixel 5. As we mentioned above, it remains to be seen whether the larger XL variant will make a comeback.
It's not directly relevant to the Pixel 6, but reports suggest Google is looking to enter the foldable niche too, working to create something like the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 – it's all rumors at this stage, but a Google Pixel Fold is starting to look more and more likely.
In 2020, Google filed two patents to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). One patent shows a sliding mechanism, while the other implements a foldable hinge. It’s not totally clear on how these operate, but it looks like one patent will see the device fold inwards like the Galaxy Z Fold 2; conversely, the second would be like the Huawei Mate Xs, folding outwards (via WindowsUnited).
All of which brings us back to the Pixel 6: it's unlikely that it will come with a foldable display, but we know that Google is thinking along those lines. What we'll probably see this year is more of the same.
The Google Pixel 5’s OLED, HDR10+ screen runs ever so smoothly at 90Hz. The Google Pixel 6 could benefit from the lofty heights of a 120Hz refresh rate, which is the gold standard for premium devices, as seen in the QHD+ screen of the OnePlus 8 Pro and the OnePlus 8T.
Google Pixel 6: camera
The Google Pixel series has long maintained a reputation for boasting fantastic cameras. From the earlier Google Pixel 2, Google Pixel 3, and the Google Pixel 3 XL, the Pixel-line phones have garnered a reputation for highly capable photo-taking. Namely, this ability comes from the image processing that Google is able to apply through its software, rather than the raw specs of the Google Pixel cameras.
A recent Google patent showed an under-display camera design, increasing optimism that the Google Pixel 6 could come with this feature – hints along these lines have now appeared in Android 12 code too. Such under-screen camera technology has been linked to various Samsung models, which could soon even stretch the realm of possibility by heading to laptops.
If the selfie camera on the front remains in a punch hole notch, the rumour is that it will move to the centre of the display this time around. Around the back, it's likely that Google will see fit to upgrade the camera lenses, and perhaps even combine an ultrawide mode and a telephoto zoom into one camera for the first time.
Google Pixel 6: specs
Google’s choice of processor for the Google Pixel 6 is perhaps the most pivotal conundrum the tech giant must solve, especially with the recent news around gargantuan supply issues threatening to impair phone production.
The Google Pixel 5 supports 5G and uses a Snapdragon 765G processor from Qualcomm, linking-up with 128GB of storage and 8GB of RAM. These comfortably handle daily usage; more, our review showed that the Google Pixel 5 handles email and general photo editing with aplomb, and won't slow-up when handling multiple tasks.
With Qualcomm’s 8 series chipsets, like the blisteringly quick Snapdragon 865, Google has a decision to make around upgrading its chipset. The leader of the Qualcomm pack right now is the Snapdragon 888 – it’s used in the Samsung Galaxy S21, including the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, and will no doubt become a mainstay of Android handsets in the year to come.
If Google uses the Snapdragon 888, the price will inevitably travel upwards. It does have options, though. It could, alternatively, opt for the Snapdragon 870 5G, presenting a viable substitute that costs less than the Snapdragon 888 but still delivers that premium spec set.
With Qualcomm ushering in a wave of cheap Android 5G phones with its Snapdragon 480, the Google Pixel 6 certainly weighs in at a more premium tier, but no less concerned with keeping the price down. The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G packed in a Snapdragon 865 Plus that delivered supremely nippy speeds, so the Snapdragon 870 5G would more than suffice for the Google Pixel 6.
However, the most recent rumours suggest that Google is going to follow Apple's lead and produce a processor of its own to power the Pixel 6. That should lead to performance increases, with a tighter integration of hardware and software.