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Google Pixel 6: latest Google Camera app hints at upcoming phone specs & features

Google Pixel 6
(Image credit: Jon Prosser x RendersByIan)

Google itself has revealed some juicy new details about its upcoming Pixel 6 range, though not intentionally. The clever people over at 9to5google.com have managed to digitally dissect the latest version of the Google Camera app, and in doing so they've found that the app contains some interesting lines of code which may hint at possible hardware specs and software features contained in the Pixel 6...

Read more: Google Pixel 6: everything we know so far

Screen resolution

Apparently the latest Google Camera app code contains a line stipulating exactly where the punch hole for the front-facing selfie camera is located relative to the screen. For the Pixel 6, the hole should be 540 pixels from the left edge of the screen, while the code states the Pixel 6 Pro will have its selfie camera positioned 722 pixels from the edge.

Assuming the phones will have a centrally-positioned selfie camera punch hole (and not follow the off-centre design of phones like the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus), then this suggests the Pixel 6 will have a 1080-pixel screen width, and the Pixel 6 Pro a 1440-pixel horizontal screen resolution.

The app also details that the punch hole itself will be 70 pixels in diameter on the Pixel 6 Pro, which supposedly hints that it will be able to record selfie videos in 4K - a feature that isn't found in the code relating to the smaller Pixel 6.

Google Pixel 6

(Image credit: Jon Prosser x RendersByIan)

Front-facing flash

Delving deeper into the Camera app code also suggests Google may be preparing to add a front LED flash to the Pixel 6. This is still a rarity in the Android phone market, but it makes sense to add extra selfie illumination to benefit casual vloggers who need extra close-range illumination without the complexity of add-on lights.

More video zoom

Up to 7x zoom when recording video may be possible with Pixel 6 phones, compared to the 5x zoom offered by the Pixel 5.

(Image credit: Jon Prosser x RendersByIan)

Big optical zoom

The Camera app code also allegedly refers to camera dubbed "ultratele", along with a line of code stipulating the interface text: android:text="5x". It's therefore not too big a jump to assume the Pixel 6 or 6 Pro may pack a telephoto camera with 5x optical zoom, similar to the periscope-style telephoto cameras we've seen as far back as 2019's Huawei P30 Pro.

The end of Super Res Zoom?

Google's Super Res Zoom was hailed as digital zoom done right, and a genuinely viable software alternative to true optical zoom. In practice this wasn't quite the case, and this latest leak suggests Google could be about to disable Super Res Zoom for the Pixel 6. The image merging method behind SRZ is referred to as 'Sabre' by Google, and in the latest Camera app code, the condition “SABRE_ALLOWED” is disabled, indicating this machine learning feature will be deactivated in the Pixel 6. Assuming the Pixel 6 does indeed get a telephoto camera module with 5x optical zoom, disabling SRZ would make sense, though it's far from a certainty as things stand.

Google Pixel 6

(Image credit: Jon Prosser x RendersByIan)

Don't get too excited about any of these 'findings' though. What Google writes into its app code and what hardware actually makes it to retail release can be very different. We simply do not know what revisions and modifications will be made to Pixel 6 series between now and launch, and what software features will be made live for launch day, delayed, or might simply never materialize.

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Ben Andrews

Ben is the Imaging Labs manager, responsible for all the testing on Digital Camera World and across the entire photography portfolio at Future. Whether he's in the lab testing the sharpness of new lenses, the resolution of the latest image sensors, the zoom range of monster bridge cameras or even the latest camera phones, Ben is our go-to guy for technical insight. He's also the team's man-at-arms when it comes to camera bags, filters, memory cards, and all manner of camera accessories – his lab is a bit like the Batcave of photography! With years of experience trialling and testing kit, he's a human encyclopedia of benchmarks when it comes to recommending the best buys.