Google Pixel 6: A new design and an exclusive processor?

2020 was the year in which the Pixel line veered away from the traditional flagship-level specifications as it adopted the mid-range Snapdragon 765G SoC instead of a Snapdragon 800 series chipset. The same processor was used in the Pixel 4a 5G, a smartphone in the mid-range category, which took away some of the gloss from the supposed flagship Pixel 5.

This year, it seems that not only will the processor be a surprise, but also the design of the model that promises to deliver a far bigger change compared to the previous Google Pixel generations.

Shortcut links:A new design for the Pixel family

While the phones in the Pixel range have presented gradual visual changes with each new release, the Pixel 6  looks set to surprise the masses, especially for those who are used to the conservative design that Google has adhered to all this while. This will include adopting selected design trends such as thin bezels and multiple cameras.

According to reporter Jon Prosser, the new generation of Google’s smartphone will deliver a new look, with emphasis on the rear camera module that will be arranged horizontally. If the rumor is confirmed, it will be the end of the camera style that was adopted since the Pixel 4 with a square camera bump, which also saw action on the Pixel 4a and its single camera.

The two-tone finish returns, but the horizontal stripe replaces the square camera bump / © RendersbyIan, Jon Prosser

While the only major aesthetic change on the front would be the central positioning of the circular cutout for the selfie camera, the image suggests the integration of an under-display fingerprint scanner. This would mark the abandoning of the fingerprint sensor at the back that has been used since the first Pixel, and before that, in the Nexus line. References to an under-display fingerprint sensor were found in Developer Preview 2 of Android 12 as revealed by XDA Developers.

On the other hand, this render also indicates the return of the two-tone finish, a style that was seen in the first Google Pixel all the way to the Pixel 3a. At this point, Max Weinbach stated on his Twitter account that the colors shown by Prosser are different from the ones revealed to him, but that the design itself is correct as provided by his sources.

The Pixel 6 to feature a custom SoC by Google?

A rumor that has been circulating for a few months now concerns the probable processor of the Pixel 6, which has been identified as Whitechapel. According to 9to5Google, the processor carries the GS101 identifier, supposedly an acronym for “Google Silicon”. Details about the SoC are expected to be released at the Google I/O event, which will happen months before the smartphone is officially revealed.

Since 2020, rumors have indicated that Google would be working with Samsung SLSI – the company responsible for the Exynos chipset design, in developing a brand-new processor. The use of their SoC would mark the end of the road for Snapdragon chipsets in Google’s smartphones.

According to the sighted documents, the Whitechapel processor should bring some features that are similar to Exynos chips, citing both hardware and software elements as an example.

Although 9to5Google has not disclosed further details about Whitechapel’s configuration of CPUs and GPUs, it would not be out of place for the SoC to feature the high-performance ARM Cortex-X1 and A78 CPUs, alongside high-efficiency Cortex-A55 cores.

For the GPU, it remains unknown whether the SoC will feature the ARM Mali-G78 cores that were used in the Exynos 2100 and 1080 chipsets, or will it mark AMD’s return to mobile GPUs with the Radeon line (a distant cousin of its Adreno anagram, which is a continuation of the ATI/AMD Imageon line), after the announcement of the manufacturer’s partnership with Samsung in June 2019.

UWB communication could be used with the hypothetical Pixel Watch / © RendersbyIan, Jon Prosser

UWB (ultra-wideband) connectivity

Another revelation from 9to5Google is that Google would be testing out UWB wireless communication in their new device. The feature is used in Apple and Samsung devices for object tracking accessories – the AirTags and SmartTag, respectively, as well as in recognition services and for automatic configuration.

References to the feature can already be found in the source code of the Android system, which determines the distance between different devices. According to reporter Mishaal Rahman, the UWB system is currently being tested and hence, is not guaranteed to see action in the Pixel 6. We also do not know how Google intends to use the feature.

Expected models and pricing

Jon Prosser’s leaked Pixel 6 design video not only showed off the new look, but also the return of two different versions for the smartphone. The 2020 update did not feature a hypothetical “Pixel 5 XL.”

Prosser identified the larger model with the “Pro” suffix instead of the traditional “XL” suffix. In the renderings made by designer Ian Zelbo, the Pixel 6 Pro featured a set of triple cameras as opposed to the dual-camera setup on the base model. The YouTuber did not disclose any other possible differences between the models.

Despite releasing these images, Prosser claimed to not know the lens specifications. Still, it’s speculated that the Pixel 6 will feature an ultra-wide secondary camera, while the Pro model could introduce a telephoto lens that saw action in the Pixel 4 but was replaced by the ultra-wide lens on the Pixel 5.

Pixel 6 (left) and Pixel 6 Pro have different camera configurations / © RendersbyIan, Jon Prosser

Further clues about the larger-screen model were revealed by an XDA Developers editor, with an option in Android 12 test versions for “Silky Home” mode that adjusts the interface display to make it easier for one-handed use.

As for pricing, recent changes to the line make it difficult to make a prediction. While the Pixel 4 launched with top-of-the-line specs and a price tag of $800, the Pixel 5 integrated an intermediate SoC and a reduced price of $700.

Tom’s Hardware and TechRadar predict that the Pixel 6 will have a suggested price that is closer to the Pixel 5’s $700, taking into consideration the similar pricing structure of the iPhone 12 mini and Samsung Galaxy S21. A good indicator of the Pixel 6’s price will be the processor used, although there is still time to make adjustments until the smartphone is unveiled.

Pixel 6: release date

Even with the delays in the arrival of the 4a line, the Pixel 5 moved a day ahead of Google’s release schedule for its flagships, which are normally released in October ever since the first model hit the market. For this reason, the Pixel 6 is also tipped to be released in October 2021, with the possibility of an announcement happening in September.

If tradition is followed, the new Pixel will hit stores a few weeks after the release of the stable version of Android 12, which has been planned for a September rollout and expected to power the new smartphone.

That’s all we know about Google’s new Pixel phone for now. Have you discovered any new information about the upcoming flagship smartphone? Share with us in the comments as we continue to update this page with the latest news and rumors concerning the Pixel 6.