The Pixel series started with a simple premise: the best of Google in a phone. However, Google’s journey from Pixel 1 to Pixel 5 was far from smooth. When we broke down in our Pixel Imperfect feature about 18 months ago, each of the first four generations of Pixel flagships was undone by fundamental hardware failures. Whether it was the Pixel 2 XL and its lackluster screen, or the Pixel 4 with its notoriously terrible battery life, there was always something holding these flagship pixels back.
So the Pixel 5 was a break with the norm. Cheaper, with great battery life and a (largely unchanged) camera that stayed competitive at its aggressive price. Despite its less powerful CPU, the Pixel 5 is the best Pixel yet, but it’s not the true flagship that many enthusiasts have been hoping for.
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And with Google apparently moving away from traditional flagship phones in 2020, many of us wondered what’s next for the Pixel brand.
It took the leaks some time to answer these questions, but with the Pixel 6 Pro we finally have the answer: high-end Pixels are back, and the Pro is probably the highest quality Google phone ever made.
Source: Android Central
The devices were first leaked by YouTuber Jon Prosser before Steve Hemmerstoffer (aka OnLeaks) gave us a clearer look at Google’s upcoming flagship. There’s a lot to unzip, but the details suggest a high-end phone that will likely come with a high-end price tag. Who knows how the vanilla Pixel 6 is shaking off – the phone’s flat screen, larger bezels, and dual cameras all suggest a lower price tag. However, there is little doubt that the 6 Pro will try to challenge the best Android phones out there right now.
This year’s Pixels will challenge the best phones from Samsung and OnePlus.
At the heart of Googley’s most recent Google phone will be the company’s new GS101 chip, also known as the Whitechapel. The Google-designed chip will reportedly use a tri-cluster design with two ARM Cortex-A78 cores, two A76 cores, and four A55 cores. That could put it behind the Snapdragon 888 and Exynos 2100 in terms of raw performance, especially on single-threaded tasks. But AC’s Jerry Hildenbrand writes that the GS101 does not have to achieve top marks in synthetic benchmarks to get the highest quality pixel to date.
Google is said to be working on the chipset with Samsung LSI. The GS101 could be made on Samsung’s 5nm node, just like the Snapdragon 888 and 780G, and the Exynos 2100. The 5nm node should bring additional efficiency gains, and we’ll have to wait and see how the Pixel 6 performs Area.
However, this involves more than just CPU cores. GS101 could save power by passing on the Cortex-X1 cores used in the latest Qualcomm and Samsung offerings, making up for the difference in superior AI performance. Google has worked on custom chips in Pixels in the past with its Pixel Visual Core, Pixel Neural Core, and Titan M security chip. And XDA’s Mishaal Rahman reports that a dedicated TPU (Tensor Processing Unit) will actually come to GS101, likely a distant descendant of the neural core last seen in the Pixel 4 series.
In short, even without groundbreaking single-core performance, the GS101 could enable AI features that competing Android phones simply can’t. And thanks to a leaner CPU cluster, this was able to save energy compared to high-end Snapdragon.
Source: Hayato Huseman / Android Central
It’s also important to note that when Qualcomm isn’t in the picture, Google has almost full control over how long it wants to support the Pixel 6 series in the future. At the very least, we would expect Google to keep the four years of security updates now promised by Samsung flagships. GS101 could allow for a much longer lifespan of support, perhaps even to match some iPhone models.
A breath of fresh air after a year of boring pixel designs.
The design of the Pixel 6 Pro also screams “premium” – a refreshingly expressive aesthetic after an incredibly boring year in pixel hardware designs. Steve Hemmerstoffer, who has an excellent track record of CAD leaks on upcoming phones, unveils a Pixel 6 Pro with a curved display and bezels as slim as a Galaxy S21 Ultra. With a screen diagonal of 6.67 inches, the Pixel 6 Pro easily lands in the field of “large telephones” – the first large-format pixel in two years. There are also reportedly two stereo speakers, which means the two-tone paint job isn’t the only Pixel 2 XL fallback feature on the new model.
Source: OnLeaks / Digit.in
Pixel processing magic with newly updated hardware.
If you’re like me, the main attraction of the Pixel 6 Pro is going to be the camera setup. The main camera of the Pixel on the back has only been slightly improved since the Pixel 2 series and is long overdue for a major overhaul. As you know when you’ve heard this Android Central Podcast recently, I understand that’s exactly what comes in Pixel 6 Pro. And the OnLeaks Renders confirm that what appears to be a much larger main sensor is an ultrawide and what appears to be a periscope tele. (Note the tell-tale rectangular opening.)
The first generations of pixel cameras were years ahead of their time in terms of computer photography. But the competition has gotten better at handling AI photo processing faster than Google was able to update its camera hardware. The Pixel 6 Pro is expected to combine Google’s legendary post-processing with the biggest hardware upgrade ever. The results, especially for the main camera and telephoto lens, could indeed be very special.
A true Google flagship is something Android nerds have been craving for since the days of the Nexus phones. And with the Pixel 6 Pro, that elusive combination of pure Android, quick updates, top-end specs, and an industry-leading camera could finally be here.