The Google Pixel 6 could be on its way in October and with it the possibility of the company’s own in-house chip. During Alphabet’s earnings call Tuesday, CEO Sundar Pichai noted that Google would show “deep technology investments” in its fall lineup. It’s speculated that this could be a reference to Google’s self-made chip, codenamed Whitechapel. Although Pichai didn’t mention the Google Pixel 6 by name, he did refer to the company’s fall line, which is rumored to include the upgraded Pixel.
Google’s first Pixel phone made a splash when it was unveiled almost five years ago, but since then, the search giant’s foray into mobile devices has been inconsistent. Last year’s Pixel 5 received high marks for its cameras, but it lacked the premium features you’d expect from a flagship smartphone, especially for the price. Compare that to the original Pixel phone (“pure Android at its absolute best” and “our favorite phone, bar none”), and Google’s phone trajectory looks rough.
The question remains whether Google will live up to the original’s legacy with the release of the Pixel 6 or continue to disappoint its one-time fans. Until we catch an official glimpse of the rumored phone, let’s go over everything we’ve heard about the Pixel 6 so far. We’ll update this story as new rumors and leaks come to light.
Release date: Pixel 6 will probably be here in October
Based on speculation alone, we have a pretty good idea of when Google will release the Pixel 6. Google has unveiled a new Pixel phone in October every year since 2016, with the exception of last year’s Pixel 5, which was announced on Sept. 30. But 2020 was an exceptional year for many reasons, including phone release schedules.
Google’s Pixel release dates usually follow a similarly predictable pattern, putting phones for sale within a week or two of being announced. Thus, we’d expect to see the Pixel 6 both unveiled and released within the month of October.
The chip shortage could throw a wrench in Google’s plans, pushing the Pixel 6 release into November or later. But right now, we’d put our money on October. Given the unpredictability of the ongoing pandemic and the delta variant, it remains unclear whether Google will announce its new smartphone at a live or virtual event.
Name: Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 XL or Pro?
Unlike Apple and Samsung, Google has been consistent with its phone nomenclature. The original Pixel was followed by the Pixel 2, then the Pixel 3, and so on, so it wouldn’t be too radical to assume that 2021’s model will be christened the Pixel 6.
Where some uncertainty does enter the equation, however, is with the higher-end variant. Google has traditionally released an XL model alongside its baseline handset: the Pixel and Pixel XL, Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, and so on. Last year’s Pixel 5 was the first without an accompanying XL version. (The company also introduced a midrange line in 2019 with the Pixel 3A and 3A XL, followed by the Pixel 4A and 4A 5G in 2020. We expect to see a Pixel 5A in 2021 as well, likely before the Pixel 6.)
So will there be a Pixel 6 XL? Maybe. Or maybe it’ll be a Pixel 6 Pro or a Pixel 6 Ultra. Or maybe the Pixel 6 will also debut unaccompanied. Rumors about a Pixel 6 Pro began when leaker Jon Prosser debuted renders depicting the “Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro” in May. Prosser’s renders were purportedly based on actual images of the phones, released as renders to protect his source’s identity. Tipster Max Weinbach, on the other hand, wasn’t so sure about the new name, and when Google accidentally (maybe?) included the name “Pixel 6 XL” in a form meant for mobile game developers, he tweeted an I-told-you-so.
Price: Pixel 6 could cost the same as Google’s last flagship
Cost is another aspect of the Pixel 6 that we haven’t heard many whispers about yet. Last year’s Pixel 5 made some compromises to get the launch price down to $699, making it more of a midrange phone than its predecessors, the Pixel 3 and Pixel 4, which both launched at $799. It’s likely that Google will pick up where the Pixel 5 left off and keeps the price (and specs) in line with last year’s offering.
Judging from the specs leaks we’ve seen so far (more on that below), a Pixel 6 price tag that more or less matches the Pixel 5’s would make sense. And it also makes sense that Google would want to go after this segment of the market, with rivals also releasing similar price-conscious handsets recently – the iPhone SE and Galaxy S20 FE, for instance. And if the Pixel 6 XL (or Pixel 6 Pro) is real, we could be looking at a more high-end price tag for that model to match the higher-end specs.
Design and colors: Google might give the Pixel 6 a makeover
So far, there have been two major Pixel 6 renders leaked, both of which suggest that Google’s next flagship will be undergoing a significant redesign. Among the changes are a centered hold-punch selfie camera (compared with the off-center front camera on last year’s model), thinner bezels all around, an under-display fingerprint scanner, a curved display, and, most notably, a maximalist camera bump that juts out and spans the entire width of the phone.
Prosser’s renders show a black camera bump with a two-toned backing with either a vibrant orange or more neutral champagne stripe across the top, though it’s possible this ends up being closer to Google’s “Not Pink” color, which is apparently not very popular. Weinbach also mentioned a silver, green and black color option in a subsequent rumor.
A follow-up render from @OnLeaks showed a similar design to Prosser’s, but with a slightly larger chin. According to this leak, as reported by Digit, the Pixel 6 will feature a 6.4-inch AMOLED display, with the Pixel 6 XL (or Pro) going up to 6.67 inches.
That being said, his depiction isn't that flawless…
— Steve H.McFly (@OnLeaks) May 20, 2021
Camera: What’s up with Pixel 6’s selfie camera?
The earliest rumors about the Pixel 6’s camera setup included speculation that Google might upgrade to an under-display selfie camera, nixing the somewhat-intrusive hole-punch style of its most recent phones. This rumor is based on a patent filed by Google that appeared not to have a visible front camera, so the alternative interpretation would be no front-facing camera whatsoever. Considering the renders we’ve seen since that show a centered hole-punch front camera, we’re guessing this one is not going to come true for the Pixel 6.
Speaking of the selfie camera, 9to5Google reported some interesting implications in March, based on code examined in an upgrade to Google’s camera app. Takeaways include a corroboration of the centered hole-punch theory (with a redesigned status bar that shifts the clock to the left) and support for the 4K video.
But what about the rear cameras? Based on renders alone, we can assume the Pixel 6 will include two rear cameras, with the 6 XL/Pro sporting three. Renders also show an unknown sensor above the flash. Prosser released a full spec sheet for the Pixel 6 and XL/Pro, which says that both variants will include a 50-megapixel wide-angle lens and a 12-megapixel ultrawide, with the larger phone also boasting a 48-megapixel telephoto lens.
A July report indicated that Google camera app code suggested a possible 5x zoom option in the Pixel 6, which means its camera setup could include a periscope-style telephoto lens. If true, the Pixel 6’s optical zoom capability would be on par with Samsung’s Galaxy S20 Ultra.
We’ve also heard whispers about improved stabilization, with a gimbal-like steady-cam mode that would result in “big improvements in video.”
Finally, Google announced improvements to its software for “a more accurate and inclusive camera” that works better for a variety of skin tones. This upgrade includes adjustments to the phone’s auto-white-balance algorithm.
Specs and features: Whitechapel chip and everything else Pixel 6 could have
Rumored new features for the Pixel 6 lineup include an under-screen fingerprint scanner, replacing the rear-mounted sensor of the Pixel 5, potential wireless charging, and dual stereo speakers. Perhaps the most intriguing Pixel 6 rumor, however, is the buzzy “Whitechapel” chip that Google itself would make instead of chip giant Qualcomm. According to 9to5Google, the Whitechapel chip is a collaboration between Google and Samsung, making the house-made chip similar to Samsung’s Exynos processors.
Speaking to investors during Alphabet’s second-quarter earnings call, Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai noted the company’s upcoming fall event would show Google’s “deep technology investments.” It’s speculated that this could be a reference to Google’s in-house chip.
Although Pichai didn’t mention the Google Pixel 6 by name, he did refer to the company’s fall line, which is rumored to include the upgraded Pixel. “I’m very excited by our fall lineup, which will showcase Android 12 and some of the deep technology investments that are helping us push boundaries,” said Pichai.
Below are all of the rumored Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 XL/Pro specs we’ve heard so far. In the meantime, here’s how to decide between a Pixel 5 versus the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4XL, the Pixel 5 versus the Pixel 4A 5G, and Pixel 5 versus the iPhone 11, Galaxy S20 FE, and OnePlus 8. Plus, six reasons to buy a Pixel and what we think of the Pixel Buds A-Series.
Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 XL rumored specs
|Pixel 6||Pixel 6 XL/Pro|
|Rear camera setup||50MP (wide) + 12MP (ultrawide)||50MP (wide) + 48MP (tele) + 12MP (ultrawide)|
|Battery||4,614 mAh||5,000 mAh|
|Storage||128GB / 256GB||128GB / 256GB / 512GB|
|OS||Android 12||Android 12|
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