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, tentatively known as the Google Pixel 6.
In this first section of the article, we detail every reliable rumor we’ve heard so far about the next Pixel. If you scroll a bit further down to the next section, you’ll find a few things we haven’t heard any rumors about, but we still hope to see.
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 are pretty confident the Google Pixel 6 would be the name of the next entry in the line.
However, there is a significant change expected for the processor of this next phone (see further down). It could be a sizable enough change that Google would feel it appropriate to start a new naming scheme. We haven’t heard anything to suggest that, though, so we’re sticking with the Pixel 6 name until we hear otherwise.
It's a safe bet that Google will stick to its current naming scheme for 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. Regardless, a launch date around the end of September or early October is what we’re betting on for now.
Google Pixel 6 design
We’ve yet to see any reliable leaked renders for the Google Pixel 6. As such, we have no real idea of what it looks like. However, there are a few things we can infer.
The first thing we can infer is that the Pixel 6 is unlikely to be a large phone. Last year, the three Pixels launched were fairly compact, with only the Pixel 4a 5G having any heft to it. Even then, the Pixel 4a 5G was still plenty small compared to something like the Galaxy S21 Ultra or the OnePlus 9 Pro.
The Pixel 6 is likely to be compact, with no rear-mounted fingerprint sensor and a centered selfie camera cutout.
Next, we can infer that the phone will likely not have a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner. Evidence appeared within an early launch of Android 12 that suggests a Pixel with an in-display fingerprint scanner is on the way. It’s highly unlikely that the confirmed Google Pixel 5a would have that tech, so it’s reasonable to assume the Pixel 6 would.
Finally, we also have evidence to suggest that an upcoming Pixel phone could have a centered selfie camera cutout. This would be a departure from the left-aligned cutout we’ve seen on the most recent Pixels.
Google Pixel 6 specs
Raw specs have never been a focus for Pixel phones. As such, you can rest assured that the Google Pixel 6 will almost certainly not be a specs beast. However, that doesn’t mean it won’t be weak, either.
So far, the biggest rumor related to the Pixel 6 is the potential inclusion of a new, custom chipset, codenamed “Whitechapel.” This chipset would be unique to the Pixel 6, co-created by Google and Samsung. Unfortunately, that’s about all we know about it. But we can infer a few things here, too.
By far, the most important rumor so far related to this phone is the secret 'Whitechapel' chipset.
First, this would be Google’s first-ever attempt to make smartphone silicon. Therefore, it is unreasonable to assume that 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.
This theory is bolstered by a rumor that the Google Pixel 5a could land with the Snapdragon 765G — the same chipset in the Pixel 5. If that ends up panning out, that would mean Google is confident that the Pixel 6 “Whitechapel” chip is better than the SD765G.
As far as the rest of the specs, we can assume that they won’t be any weaker than what we saw in the Pixel 5. That means wireless charging, an IP68 rating, at least 128GB of internal storage, 6GB of RAM, etc.
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.
As such, we would be surprised if Google plans to make the Pixel 6 an expensive phone. It’s possible that it could be more expensive than the Pixel 5, but it should come in far under the $1,000 range we see with lots of flagships.
Availability, though, could be tricky. Google has never been good about bringing Pixel phones to tons of regions around the globe. On top of that, the ongoing global chip shortage could make the distribution even within its core markets tricky.
We’ll certainly have more information on this as we get closer to the Fall!
Google Pixel 6: What we hope to see
Up above, you’ll find everything we know (or think we know) about the Pixel 6. Below, you’ll find the things we hope to see from the phone. These are not based on any rumors or inside info — they’re just things we really want from the next Pixel!
1. A better main camera sensor
Google has been using the same 12.2MP IMX363 camera sensor for its main camera since the Pixel 3 series. This is the basic foundation for its image processing smarts. However, the Pixel 5 shows us that Google has essentially wrung all it can out of this sensor as its rivals streak ahead with more modern hardware and catch up in the software field.
It’s high time Google switched to a newer sensor, and we hope that comes with the Pixel 6. Former Pixel camera chief Marc Levoy may have been bullish that there were only marginal gains to be had with higher resolution cameras, but a newer sensor like the 50MP Samsung Isocell GN2 brings bigger pixels and a larger sensor size than Google’s predecessor. Improvements like this could lead to even better low-light performance with less noise. These two benefits would be welcome if the firm wants to improve Night Sight and its astrophotography mode.
Google will also have to switch to a 33MP+ sensor if it wants to offer 8K recording on the Pixel 6. Although the firm’s track record with 4K/60fps suggests it might be late to the party with this feature. Still, a newer sensor would also bring improved autofocus and features like 4K/120fps.
2. Triple rear cameras
The Pixel 4 series delivered a secondary rear camera for the first time in the Pixel line. The 2x telephoto camera delivered good results at longer ranges. Google then decided to swap out the telephoto shooter for an ultra-wide camera on the Pixel 5.
More reading: The best camera phones you can get
Why should it be a case of one or the other, though? Almost every other manufacturer offers at least one flagship phone with a main, ultra-wide, and telephoto/periscope camera arrangement. It’s high time for Google to follow suit and bring the best of both worlds to one device.
3. Faster charging
Google delivered a 4,080mAh battery in the Pixel 5. This made for a huge improvement over the vanilla Pixel 4 (2,800mAh) and a decent bump over the Pixel 4 XL (3,700mAh). Despite a much larger battery, Google kept the same old 18W speeds for the Pixel 5, meaning it took much longer to get the phone to full charge.
Google’s offer of the same charging speed as the very first Pixel illustrates just how far behind the firm is in this regard. If battery degradation is of concern, there’s nothing to stop it from offering faster charging as an option in the settings menu. Even 25W or 30W charging speeds would be a major improvement over 18W.
4. A Google Pixel 6 XL/Ultra
We saw some tenuous rumors of a Pixel Ultra a few years ago, but that clearly didn’t go anywhere. It’s more apparent that the time is right for Google to jump on the ultra-premium bandwagon and offer a Google Pixel 6 XL or a Pixel 6 Ultra smartphone. Huawei, Samsung, Oppo, and Apple all currently have $1,000+ phones on the market — why not Google?
It’s one thing to offer a $1,000+ smartphone, but you need to make it worthwhile in terms of features too. A Pixel 6 XL/Ultra should offer top-tier upgrades like a bigger battery and QHD+ screen, for one. We’d also like to see other additions like extra cameras, more RAM/storage, faster charging, and a more powerful SoC if the vanilla model opts for older flagship silicon again.
We can think of a couple of honorable mentions too, such as Active Edge functionality and maintaining the same price tag. What would you like to see from the Pixel 6?