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Google launches Pixel 6 and 6 Pro, bringing out Google's chipset capabilities (updated)

By Liu Hongzuo - on 20 Oct 2021, 12:05pm

Google launches Pixel 6 and 6 Pro, bringing out Google's chipset capabilities (updated)

This article was originally published on 20 October 2021. The update reflects Singapore availability with more details below.

Earlier today (20 October 2021, 1 AM SGT), Google lifted the veil on its Pixel 6 series handsets, going far beyond its proprietary chipset and rumoured specifications. Below are some key highlights we’ve distilled from its livestream.


Camera Bar and different refresh rates

Google has a name for its rear design. The thick, black metal strip is called Camera Bar, housing all its rear cameras and accompanying sensors. The backplates are also two-toned, with each variant using two subtly different shades above and below the Camera Bar. 

Both Pixel 6 and 6 Pro will share the same two-toned approach but have different colour variations for each model (Grey/Yellow, Pink/Red, and two shades of Grey for Pixel 6, while Pixel 6 Pro has White/Grey, Light Gold, and Black with aluminium sides for Pro users).

The Pixel 6 has a 6.4-inch display and 90Hz refresh rate on the front, while the Pro version gets 6.7-inch at 120Hz. Both models use Corning Gorilla Glass Victus for protection. 


Google Tensor

While Google didn’t explicitly state the chipset’s prowess, we know that Google Tensor is laid out like a conventional SoC - with individual compute components for CPU, GPU, AI-related processing, and a Context Hub for low-power features. 

In a separate blog post, Google said that the chipset was designed to be like most mobile processors, but with Google’s machine learning research and development front and centre of its performance and efficiency.


Pixel 6 Pro gets one more camera

Pixel 6 and 6 Pro mostly share the same camera configuration, with the Pro version getting one extra camera on the rear. 

The main camera (wide angle) is a 50MP shooter with a 1/1.31-inch sensor size, f/1.85 aperture, and 82° FOV. While Google didn’t say who they got the sensor from, these specs are eerily similar to the Samsung ISOCELL GN1, which aligns with earlier Pixel 6 rumours. In essence, the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro’s main camera captures up to 2.5x more light than the Pixel 5.

Both models also have an ultra-wide rear camera - 12MP, 114° FOV, f/2.2 aperture - and laser autofocus.

But, the 6 Pro gets an extra 48MP telephoto camera with a 1/2-inch sensor size and 4x optical zoom. Google achieved its optical zoom with a technique called Folded Optics, which really is a periscope lens with its optical elements perpendicular to the sensor. If you need more zoom, Google offers 20x Super Res Zoom, which combines digital and optical zoom to deliver that promise.

Also, Pixel 6 Pro has an ultra-wide front camera capable of recording 4K resolution videos.

A key feature in Pixel 6’s videography capabilities lies in its proprietary Google Tensor chipset. It layers on tone mapping and HDR map algorithms to bring HDRNet on Tensor for 4K60FPS videos.

Magic Eraser applied to the car in the background.

Other photography features are Magic Eraser (subject or distraction removal at the user’s will), Face Unblur (stacking wide and ultrawide image data to sharpen subject faces), and Motion Mode (simulating panned and long exposure effects to give an illusion of speed in photography).

An inclusivity feature for photography is Real Tone, whereby portrait photos taken undergo colour and tone correction. The end result gives a more accurate visual representation of darker-skinned or tanned users to prevent ashy, overblown, skin tones in their selfies.


Under-the-hood and user-controlled security

Google Pixel 6 offers multiple layers of on-device protection. The Google Tensor security core is a CPU-based security component that’s separate from its operating system. This works in tandem with the Titan M2, a dedicated chipset that’s guarded against voltage attacks. Finally, Pixel 6 users are guaranteed five years of security software updates.

For users, the Security Hub menu users a snapshot of all personal security-related settings. There’s also a Privacy Dashboard for collating and controlling all app permissions in one menu.

Finally, the Private Compute Core ensures that data never leaves the device without the user’s explicit permission. To further protect the digitally vulnerable, Pixel 6 also comes with anti-phishing protection for highly suspicious messages.


Phonetic autocorrect for voice typing

Google said many things about its AI and natural language processing (NLP) capabilities, but these strengths translate into two main features for users. 

One, there’s faster speech recognition for supporting instantaneous voice typing, and it’s further enhanced with phonetic autocorrect, e.g. offering “Katherine” as an alternative to “Catherine”. The transcription capabilities also cascade down to transcribing automated calls, so you can stay off the hook while speedrunning through your bank’s maze-like hotline inputs.

Second is Interpreter Mode, which is similar to Microsoft Translator. Google demonstrated real-time, translated conversations with Marie Kondo (yes, that one) in Japanese and English.


Pricing and availability

The Google Pixel 6 goes at US$599, while the Google Pixel 6 Pro sells for US$899.

The phones officially retail on 28 October 2021, with pre-orders available only in eight select territories.

Update at 11 AM: Looks like the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro are coming to Singapore after all. According to Ars Technica, Pixel 6 is launching in "12 countries, including US, Canada, Japan, Australia, Taiwan, UK, Germany, France, and Ireland on October 28th and then Spain, Italy, and Singapore early next year". Google Singapore further confirmed that it's both models, with more details to come later.

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