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Pixel 6 is the last chance for a Google flagship

OPINION: The Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro are both official, with Google deciding to heavily tease its 2021 devices months ahead of the duo’s actual release date.

This move goes against what we tend to see in the industry, where large events are usually the first time (aside from leaks) we hear official details about a new phone.

This odd, but very welcome, move actually makes a lot of sense for Google and it just shows how important the Pixel 6 is for the future of its mobile business.

Unlike other brands, Google doesn’t really have a current flagship that will see a massive sales drop because of this announcement. The Pixel 5 is a great phone, but its goal has always been to earn a place among the best mid-range phones and the Pixel 4a series a slot in our best cheap phones guide.

If Apple was to announce the iPhone 13 in this manner, months ahead of release, then sales of the iPhone 12 would drop heavily as a result.

Weird release aside, the move seems like a good and marks the Pixel 6 and its Pro counterpart as two very important phones for Google and, potentially, the reset the series has needed.

I can’t have been the only person to think that after leaving the flagship space last year, Google would likely focus on more affordable devices from then on. Yet, it’s almost like the complete opposite is happening – for the first time, Google’s Pixel device is pushing things forward.

Is Google finally trying with the Pixel series?

This Pixel 6 feels like Google is actually trying with its flagship phone and going after the likes of Samsung and Apple for some sort of market share.

By developing its own Tensor SoC (rather than just using an off-the-shelf component from Qualcomm) Google will have far more control over aspects like machine learning, AI and camera processing.

Google has used in-house companion chips before, however this is the first time it’s moving away from Qualcomm completely.

This in-house chip could also have huge implications for something Android phones have often struggled with – software updates. A Pixel device that matches the upwards of five years of updates iPhones get could give Google’s device a real upper hand.

A design that stands out

Aside from the Tensor SoC, the other aspect of the Pixel 6 Google detailed in the firm’s latest announcement was the rather unique rear design.

Previous Pixel devices have always had fairly subdued designs. We’ve had some nice colours, but the actual phones have been standard affairs without any real design flourishes to help them stand out. This has well and truly changed with the Pixel 6.

Pixel 6 Pro rear camera

The back of the Pixel 6 has this Robo-Cop-like visor which houses a multitude of camera sensors. It immediately stands out and I can’t say that for any other Pixel I’ve reviewed.

In fact, it feels like Google has taken inspiration from its older Pixel and Nexus devices here and created the ultimate Google phone. The camera module has a whiff of the Nexus 6P and Pixel 2 about it, while the orangey colour option has the Pixel 4 written all over it.

Google Pixel 6 Portfolio Shot

There’s still a lot of unknown details

While the initial reveal oozes potential, there are still a number of key details we don’t know about the Pixel 6.

How fast will this Tensor chip be in its CPU and GPU? Previous rumours have suggested it’ll come in slightly below the top-end tech from Qualcomm and Apple.

Google also didn’t divulge any of the specific camera specs. Rumours have suggested there could be a 50MP sensor headlining the rear setup but we’ll have to wait it out to see what happens.

Google Tensor image
Google’s Tensor SoC

But even with these unknowns, everything Google has so far revealed about the Pixel 6 series makes me very excited. The potential of the chip, the unique design and the fact that Google is seemingly aiming to finally build a Pixel that can compete with the very best phones in intriguing.

Add to that the prospect of an Android phone with a lifespan matching an iPhone and people should be getting excited.

If Google puts some big marketing behind the phone’s release and manages to make it a mainstream product then the Pixel series has a bright future. If this simply becomes a great phone that no one buys and the series continues in its relative obscurity then it could very well be the end. I really do hope that’s not the case.

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