Google has officially announced its next-generation Pixel 6 camera phones: Pixel 6, and Pixel 6 Pro. But don't get too excited: as launches go, this one has barely got off the ground. Rather, this is more of a preview in preparation for a full in-depth reveal later this year.
Read more: Google Pixel 6: everything we know so far
A bold new look
To justify premium status, and to create what will undoubtedly be the best Google phones ever, the design of the Pixel 6 and larger Pixel 6 Pro is all-new, departing from the somewhat bland aesthetic of the previous Pixel 4 and 5 generations. With a pronounced horizontal camera bar that brings to mind RoboCop's helmet visor, flanked by new colorways including a distinctive pale gold and a new pale pink design - Pixel 6 is certainly like no Pixel that's come before. Google calls the new look 'industrial design', with the Pixel 6 sporting a matte aluminum finish, and the 6 Pro featuring a light polished aluminum frame.
The standard pixel will feature a a 6.4-inch display with dual rear-facing cameras - a wide and an ultra-wide snapper. The top-tier Pixel 6 Pro (think Pixel XL in the old Pixel naming scheme) gets an additional telephoto camera, set behind a 6.7-inch screen sporting a smooth 120Hz refresh rate. Both models will be substantially larger that then current 6-inch Pixel 5.
And it's not just the exterior that marks a major change for Google. Pixel 6 will be the first Pixel phone to pack a brand new, in-house System on Chip developed by Google. Yes, just as Apple designs its own A-series chipsets for iPhone, Google has revealed it's been working on its own mobile chipset, named Tensor.
As yet, little is known about the design or precise features of the Tensor SoC - Google simply states that the hardware has been customised to enable better implementation of its existing computational photography models, as well as enabling new features which harness AI and machine learning.
The development of Tensor hints at a possible new direction for Google's Pixelbook Chromebook laptops. Just as Apple evolved its A-series System on Chip design into the new M1 chip for MacBook and iMac, could we see Google eventually create a laptop variant of Tensor?
The Pixel 6 preview launch also revealed that the new phones will run Android 12 and feature Google's upcoming Material You design language. This is said to "mix color science with years of work in interaction design and engineering ... to make using your Pixel feel incredibly natural because everything runs smoothly on the Tensor chip" Expect interface highlights like a larger home screen clock that adapts it size according to the number of on-screen notifications, as well as improved UI responsiveness and improved battery life.
Google is repositioning the Pixel phone from the current Pixel 5's upper-mid-range status to that of a true, out-and-out flagship to rival the the iPhone Pro and Galaxy S. Pixel 6 and 6 Pro pricing has yet to be officially announced, but in the case of the 6 Pro, we'd bet you won't get much (if any) change from a four-figure price tag.
And that's the extent of what Google has revealed about Pixel 6 for now. More detail on new features, technical specs, pricing and availability are expected at the full product launch, due in the Autumn.