Google Pixel 6 cheat sheet: Everything you need to know

From sophisticated camera enhancements to major battery improvements to the game-changing Tensor chip, the Pixel 6 takes Google’s flagship phone to the next level.

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Image: Google

Google has finally unveiled its latest iteration of the Pixel phone line, and this time it’s back to form with a true flagship device. After taking a detour away from flagship status with the Pixel 5 (including a lesser-powered CPU and aging camera sensor), Google learned from its misstep and seriously upped its game with the newest version of the Pixel phone.

The Pixel 6 comes in a Pro or standard model, both of which include a custom Google “Tensor” chip, which makes it one of the most ambitious Android devices ever created. Both the Pro and standard version will ship with Android 12 and include the Tensor SoC, which leans heavily on AI and machine learning. The new chip is capable of some fairly remarkable feats, such as automatically sharpening a blurry image in a photo, and enjoying almost instantaneous speech-to-text.

What are the Google Pixel 6’s key features?

Clearly the most exciting element of the Pixel 6 is the Tensor SoC. This is the first time Google has gone with an in-house chip for the Pixel lineup and marks the first step toward a truly remarkable Pixel experience. 

The Tensor chip promises to vastly improve photo, video, search, text-to-speech and other features on the device. A portion of this chip is a mobile version of Google’s Tensor Processing Units found in Google’s massive network of data centers. These TPUs handle complex machine learning for cloud infrastructure, so the Pixel 6 seriously ups the AI/ML game for a mobile device.

The Tensor chip includes the following pieces:

  • TPU – main processing unit
  • ISP – Signal processor
  • CPU – 2x2x4
  • GPU – 20-core chip
  • Context hub – Ultra low power engine

The new Tensor chip brings to the Pixel an 80% CPU performance improvement and a 370% GPU performance improvement.

How does this work? Let’s take the example of a photo. Instead of the Pixel taking a single shot of a person, the Tensor chip allows it to capture several shots of the subject, at which point the chip will detect the subject’s face, and combine all of the shots it’s taken into a viable image. Google has been pulling off such feats for a while now, but this is the first time the feature has been added to an onboard mobile chip.

Other tasks the Tensor chip can pull off are real-time speech translation between two languages in a video and even the ability to edit on your keyboard as you speak (using speech to text). The Tensor chip is also one of the most capable on the market at detecting natural speech patterns. The Pixel 6 has an on-board speech recognition model for a vastly improved experience with tools like Google Assistant. Speech to text is now more accurate than ever. With the help of the Tensor chip, speech to text can now recognize words like clear and send as commands, instead of words to be added to text. This means typing with your voice is now faster and more accurate than typing with your fingers.

With the help of the Tensor chip, the Pixel 6 phone app will even give you an estimated wait time before you place a call to a business.

SEE: Top Android security tips (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

The Pixel 6 features a 6.4-inch full HD+ display with a 90Hz refresh rate. The Pixel Pro, on the other hand, includes a 6.7-inch display with a 120 MHz refresh rate while at full QHD resolution. The refresh rate can be scaled down to 10Hz to save battery life. 

On the display, you’ll find a punch-hole camera that handles facial recognition as well as an under-display fingerprint sensor, which means users will have the option of either biometric feature.

The cameras on both devices are a significant step up from the Pixel 5. The standard edition will sport a 50MP lens, a 12MP ultrawide lens, and a 12MP selfie camera. The Pixel Pro, on the other hand, will include a standard 50MP lens, a 12MP ultrawide lens, a 48MP 4x telephoto lens and a 12MP 94-degree selfie camera. For serious photo buffs (who want more options to take the best photos they can) the Pixel Pro will be the way to go. But either way, the Pixel 6 will have the Tensor chip to lend a helping hand.

A very exciting feature found in the Pixel 6 photo abilities is called Real Tone. With this feature, Google worked with leading image experts to ensure the cameras do a better job of taking accurate photos of people of color. How this was achieved was by improving face detection, improving auto-exposure, focusing on how the phone handles white balance to prevent over-brightening of darker skin tones and better detection for different types of natural hair. Google Photos will also include Real Tone baked in.

Another feature is called Motion Mode, which uses numerous new technologies to add motion blur to a photo that would otherwise be static.

SEE: How to always take the perfect photo with a Pixel phone (TechRepublic)

Other camera improvements include:

  • 4K resolution for selfies
  • 4K video capture at 60 fps
  • The return of the “magic erasure” feature (which allows you to easily erase items from a photo)
  • Face deblur option
  • Manual white balance adjustment
  • Pixel binning used to deliver 12.5MP images from a 50MP sensor for more flexibility
  • Double-tap to the back of the camera to automatically open the camera for apps like SnapChat.

Next up, we have the battery. The Pixel 6 will include a 4,614 mAh battery, while the Pixel 6 Pro will have a larger 5,000 mAh battery. Granted the Pro version will require that extra juice to power the 120MHz display, but both devices should go all day without a charge.

The cases of both devices are made of recycled aluminum to help lessen the carbon footprint from the manufacturing process. You can also trade in your old Pixel and Google will make sure it’s responsibly recycled.

Of course, both devices will ship with Android 12, which takes the platform to the next level with Material You. Material You evolves the Android UI to be more personalized and modern, adapting the color palette to whatever image is used on the home screen. Material You also improves animations and gestures, and makes interacting with the UI far more intuitive and elegant.

SEE: Android 12 cheat sheet: Everything you need to know (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Other features found in Android 12 include:

  • A more playful lock screen that uses dynamic lighting
  • A more intuitive Notification Shade
  • Quick Settings now includes Google Pay and Home Controls
  • Google Assistant can be invoked by long-pressing the power button
  • CPU time has been reduced by 22% to make the OS more performant
  • Privacy Dashboard is a centralized location to manage app permissions
  • An indicator appears in the Notification Shade when an app is using either the camera or the mic
  • Quick settings now include toggles to disable the mic and camera systemwide
  • Android Private Compute Core powers certain features (such as Android Caption) and doesn’t share information with other apps or services
  • AVIF Image support
  • Clipboard read notification in the Notification Shade
  • A new transcoding layer that makes it possible for apps that don’t support High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) video compression to take advantage of this much-improved standard
  • App hibernation and pairing
  • Haptic audio
  • One Handed Mode for easier one-handed use

Full Specs

The full breakdown of specifications for each device looks like this:

Pixel 6

  • OS: Android 12
  • CPU: Google “Tensor” and a Titan M2
  • Display: 6.4″ FHD+ at 90Hz
  • RAM: 8GB/12GB
  • Storage: 128GB/256GB
  • Rear camera: 50MP Wide and 12MP Ultra wide
  • Front camera: 8MP
  • Battery: 4,614 mAh
  • Biometrics: Under-display fingerprint sensor and facial recognition
  • Charging: 30 W wired USB-C/21 W wireless via Pixel Stand
  • 5G Sub6, mmWave (US)
  • Water resistance: IP68
  • Colors: Kinda Coral, Sorta Seafoam, Stormy Black
  • Dimensions: 158.6 x 74.8 x 8.2mm

Pixel 6 Pro

  • OS: Android 12
  • CPU: Google “Tensor” and a Titan M2
  • Display: 6.71″ QHD+ at 120Hz
  • RAM: 12GB
  • Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB
  • Rear camera: 50MP Wide, 48MP Telephoto, and 12MP Ultra wide
  • Front camera: 12MP
  • Battery: 5,000 mAh
  • Biometrics: Under-display fingerprint sensor and facial recognition
  • Charging: 30W wired, 23W wireless on Pixel Stand
  • 5G Sub6, mmWave (US)
  • Water resistance: IP68
  • Colors: Stormy Black, Sorta Sunny, Cloudy White
  • Dimensions: 163.9 x 75.8 x 8.9mm

How does the Pixel 6 compare to the Pixel 5?

The Pixel 6 is worlds apart from the Pixel 5. Google learned an important lesson between the Pixel 4 and 5 to realize that battery life had to be vastly improved. Although the Pixel 4 included (at the time) a flagship processor, the battery life was abysmal. The Pixel 5 fixed that problem, but at the cost of an underpowered CPU, which led to longer photo processing times. With the Pixel 6, both of those concerns are erased. Google has finally come out from under the shadow of the Pixel 4 and 5 to deliver all-day battery life and flagship-level performance. In fact, Google claims the Tensor SoC will be 80% more powerful than the Pixel 5’s Snapdragon 765.

SEE: Smartphones and mobile tech: More must-read coverage (TechRepublic on Flipboard)

Google Pixel 6 price

The Pixel 6 standard is set to sell for $599.00 and the Pixel 6 Pro for $899.00, which means you’re getting one of the most exciting flagship phones at prices Apple and Samsung cannot compete with. 

Why should businesses and professionals care about the Pixel 6?

It all boils down to wanting maximum power and all-day battery life in a mobile device. But the added improvements that will come from the AI-enhanced Tensor chip, as well as the brilliant 120MHz display of the Pixel 6 Pro, should have pros champing at the bit for this new phone. 

Add in the new security features (such as the Privacy Dashboard found in Android 12, as well as the improved Titan M2 security chip), and the Pixel 6 screams business use cases.

Any user who demands the highest-quality photos from the mobile phone will understand why this next evolution of the Pixel phone is important. If you depend on a mobile device to snap photos for your business, the Pixel 6 might wind up being the best option on the market.

When and where will the Pixel 6 be available?

The Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro are now available for preorder from the Google Play Store. You can purchase either device for Verizon, Google Fi or an unlocked version that is designed to work with all major carriers. The devices will be on store shelves October 28.

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