The Pixel 6 is here and it brings with it all sorts of cool, never-before-seen goodies, including Google’s first private-label mobile chips, a completely redesigned design, and a radically redesigned camera.
In fact, there is so much new hardware here that you can justifiably struggle to focus on which of these major upgrades you should be concerned about differentiating this device from last year’s Pixel 5.
To help clear up the confusion, we’ve created this early guide detailing the biggest technical differences between the two phones.
Keep checking this page for updates, with our hands-on and final Pixel 6 impressions as the phone goes through our lab and the final review is posted.
Visually, the Pixel 6 and Pixel 5 are completely different. The new phone has a very prominent visor camera shroud on the back and is usually larger with a 6.4-inch OLED screen. In comparison, the Pixel 5 has a 6-inch OLED panel.
There are also noticeable differences under the hood. For starters, though, both screens are OLED at FHD + (which should be more than sharp enough in our experience with the Pixel 5). Both phones can also switch between 60 and 90 Hz.
It’s a little disappointing that the Pixel 6 doesn’t hit 120Hz like its more expensive sibling, the Pixel 6 Pro. However, the update should make the screen significantly better here than the Pixel 5, which is locked to run at 90Hz or 60Hz.
Other big updates include the Pixel 6 chip and battery. The Pixel 6 is powered by Google’s new Tensor CPU. This is the search giant’s direct response to Apple using its own A-series chips to power its iPhones. This is the first time a Pixel device is equipped with anything other than a Qualcomm Snapdragon chip, such as the mid-range 765G chipset featured in the Pixel 5.
We haven’t had time to test the chip yet, and we can’t confirm actual performance until we get the Pixel 6 in our labs. But Google has made some pretty bold claims about its improved performance and features.
Specifically, Google claims it will allow the Pixel 6 to deliver 80% better performance over the Pixel 5. While the company hasn’t offered specific benchmarks, it clarified that the metric applies to everything from app opening times to gaming frame rates. As an added benefit, Tensor has “more advanced” artificial intelligence capabilities that will enable it to do things like real-time automatic translation and improved image recognition and processing.
Another “headline” addition is fast charging. The Pixel 5 can charge a maximum of 18W. The Pixel 6 boosts that power to 30W, allowing you to save up to 30% charge in about 30 minutes, which is a significant improvement in our experience with the Pixel 5.
If you would like to learn more about the characteristics of the two phones, see the table below.
Date of first review
128 GB, 256 GB
2.9 x 0.4 x 6.2 inches
1080 x 2400
Stormy Black, Sorta Seafoam, Kinda Coral
Google Pixel 5
999 Australian dollars
12 MP + 16 MP
70.4 x 8 x 144.7mm
1080 x 2340
Qualcomm SM7250 Snapdragon 765G 5G (7nm)
Just black, Sorta Sage
Pixel phones consistently rank among the best camera phones every year. That said, the Pixel 5, while very competent, didn’t have the same edge over rival phones as previous Pixel devices. It is for this reason that associate editor Max Parker in his review concluded that the rear camera was for the brand “more a gentle step forward than a giant leap.”
So it comes as no surprise that Google has decided to update the Pixel 6’s rear camera, specifically replacing the Pixel 5’s 12MP primary sensor with a new 50MP Octa PD Quad Bayer wide-angle camera. The new primary sensor is backed up by a secondary ultra-wide sensor, as seen on the Pixel 5. However, the base Pixel 6 doesn’t include a telephoto lens. For the best zoom shots, you’ll have to look at the more premium Pixel 6 Pro.
Both Pixel 6 phones retain Google’s processing intelligence, but the use of a new “better” primary sensor and Tensor chip adds some interesting upgrades. When we asked Google how much better the main sensor would be in key areas such as low light, focusing speed, and bokeh portrait shots, we were told “tangible.” Until we verify this, we will not be able to confirm this claim. However, if this is true, then the Pixel 6 is likely to re-establish the brand as the leader among camera phones.
The AI capabilities of Tensor are more interesting. This, according to Google, allows the camera to use advanced AI processing to remove photobombers (for example) from photos or focus on a blurry photo, a two-click operation in the phone’s camera app, and generally improve the quality of photos. I will be curious to see how well this actually works during testing.
The Pixel 5 is already available, although it will likely remain on sale until Google gets rid of the surplus after the Pixel 6 begins shipping on October 28th.
The Pixel 6 is an outstanding versatile phone starting at just $ 599. That’s below the Pixel 5’s starting price of $ 699.
The Pixel 6 is one of the most interesting Google phones since the first generation Pixel. It offers a number of previously unseen features, the main one being the new Tensor chip, which should offer a number of interesting features such as live translations. On a technical level, the new chip and many camera enhancements make the Pixel 6 a very attractive device over the Pixel 5. Hopefully the device will deliver on its original promise once it goes into testing.