Google has revealed some details about the upcoming Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro smartphones that it says will be released "later this fall". The official Google blog provides some nice looking Pixel 6/Pro images, talks about the industrial design, innovations in the OS, but a lot of the focus is on the Google Tensor chip – which Google boss Sundar Pichai separately boasted is the fruit of two decades of computing experience, and the "biggest innovation in Pixel to date".
The Google blog tries to sell the benefits of the AI-onboard design of the Tensor SoC in a number of ways. It sets out its stall by reminding readers that some of the biggest attractions of the Pixel smartphones like HDR+ and Night Sight use AI "to create beautiful images with computational photography". Fewer people will be aware that AI is a key component of Recorder for "record, transcribe and search for audio clips, all on device," or that it is important to speech recognition on device.
Google asserts that Tensor "was built for how people use their phones today and how people will use them in the future". This is probably because it plans to use machine learning (ML) to "unlock specific experiences for our Pixel users". How will we see the AI/ML improvements manifested in the Pixel 6/Pro experience? Google mentions the likes of computational photography, and speech recognition as key attractions (again). Let us hope that Google still has some new killer features for AI it isn't telling us about right now…
For all its successes, one must remember that Google often goes down blind alleyways and there will be loudly heralded features of the Pixel 6/Pro that are likely to be unused/unpopular, and phased out in future gen devices. At the current time I have two Android devices and they both try to foist Google Assistant on me in multiple ways (dedicated button, swipe from bottom left, long press on 'home', voice summoning, etc). Most of the time the Assistant pops up it is an unwanted distraction, like a modern Clippy - Google, please AI this.
In addition to the Google blog information, some tech sites in the US got some more information and hands on time with the Pixel 6/Pro. The Verge, for example, visited Google's Mountain View campus, talked to Google’s hardware chief Rick Osterloh, and checked out the new phones in person. It shared some interesting key specs, particularly about screen sizes and cameras.
The 'regular' Pixel 6 will sport a 6.4-inch FHD+ screen with a 90Hz refresh rate, with a wide angle and ultra-wide camera on the rear 'camera bar'. Moving up to a Pixel 6 Pro means a bigger screen, a 6.7-inch QHD+ display with a 120Hz refresh rate, and more cameras – the Pro comes with a 4x telephoto lens too. Inside there will be a Tensor CPU and Titan M2 chip from Google, but we don't know what other key features are in the SoC (GPU, modem etc) or what RAM/storage we will be offered.
Last but not least, there are hints that the Google Pixel6/Pro will be a true attempt at a flagship device with "premium" pricing. Thus, one might expect some versions to easily be US$1,000 or more.