The Pixel 6 is the first phone I'm excited about in a long time

Google Pixel 6 Portfolio Shot
Google Pixel 6 Portfolio Shot (Image credit: Google)

I'm not someone who likes to chase hardware specs when it comes to my phone. Sure, I'm a sucker who buys a new PC video card every year, and I have spent more time and money than I like to admit on monitors or keyboards, but when it comes to my phone, I value stable and boring over shiny and new. Crazy, right?

It's all about that chip.

All that flew right out the window when Google finally confirmed it was putting an SoC of its own design into the Pixel 6. It's a phone I'm actually excited to buy.

Don't get me wrong. I am fully and painfully aware that the Pixel 6's hardware and its fancy Google-designed Tensor chip may be a complete disaster. In fact, chances are good that it will be pretty bad doing at least one of the things I depend on my phone to do right. But it could also be something very different in a good way and change the entire game when it comes to phone hardware, much the same way Apple did when the company decided to design its own SoC.

This is what has me the most excited. The new camera will probably be cool, but I am more than happy with the camera in all the other Pixel phones because even the cheapest models take some of the best photos of any phone you can buy. I hope the display is top-notch because that's one of the things I value most, but in 2021, all of the best Android phones have a great display. There will be memory and storage, and it will store things and run apps. It will also hold a SIM card and make calls and send messages. All this is a given.

Google Tensor chipset

Source: Google (Image credit: Source: Google)

The part I'm not so sure about is what has me intrigued. Whether outright spectacular or just a spectacular fail, I do not expect the Google Tensor to be average. Average is good sometimes, and all the flagship phones using the Snapdragon 888 is a testament that boring can be amazing, but it's still kind of boring. You power it on, sign in to your Google account and expect everything to work smoothly and the same way you're used to things working. Where is the fun in that?

Whether it soars or crashes, it won't likely be boring.

Give me excitement. Give me an experience that makes me notice how different it is. And it should be different; good or bad; I am really confident that the Pixel 6 will lean to the extreme instead of the tried and true average. I haven't been this excited to see a phone launch since the original Galaxy Note, which I fully expected to be horrific, and I'm happy to say I was wrong.

Some things the renders show me that I will definitely not like. The phone is too big, and I'm not going to like how it feels in my pocket. The bezels are too narrow, and my clumsy meaty paws will end up touching the display when I don't want them to. It has what I think is the ugliest camera bump of all camera bumps. Normally, these are trade-offs I am unwilling to make, and I would immediately know the Pixel 6 is not for me.

Google is not the greatest hardware company out there. SHOCKER.

They are all overshadowed by the potential for awesome, though. Google isn't the best hardware company by any stretch of the imagination, but it is really good at trying new things in software. Go back to the first Pixel and its camera — Google expanded the term HDR into some AI-powered thing that can make below-average camera sensors take above-average photos. Google can even anticipate how we will use our phone based on how we have used it in the past. Google Assistant is so good I'm willing to give its algorithms far too much of my private info. These are the kinds of things Google is really good at doing.

Google Pixel 5

Source: Hayato Huseman / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Hayato Huseman / Android Central)

Having a homegrown smartphone SoC means Google is going to try to do more of this. There will be successes and failures, but both will be possible because Google finally has the one thing that's been missing — a chip tailored to do the smart stuff efficiently instead of relying on brute force.

I'm not just aiming into the dark here, either. We've already seen how Google can use AI and software to compensate for raw horsepower with the Pixel 5. So no, the Pixel 5 is not the fastest, most barn-burningest phone known to humankind when it comes to raw power. You can see that sometimes when it takes an extra second to load whatever app you tap on. But overall everyone was pleasantly surprised with how well the mid-range parts perform, even when compared to top-shelf stuff.

One thing I know I will not like is the price.

Of course, the Pixel 5 also had a great price tag, and I don't expect the Pixel 6 to offer the same. We won't know for sure until Google has its final announcement, but I would not be surprised to see a Pixel 6 Pro cost over $1,000. I'm not looking forward to that part at all because I don't think a phone is ever worth $1,000. But, as I've mentioned before, I don't make or sell phones, so I get no say when it comes to their pricing. Y'all should wish I did, though.

Anyhoo, the amazing spectacle that is the Pixel 6 will be here soon. Kind of soon if rumors are to be believed. And I'm looking forward to it.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.

  • It's definitely the most interesting phone of the year. Google shooting their Samsung like shot should be fun to watch.
  • "The Google Pixel 6 will either be awesome or horrible, and I can't wait to find out which." This is an excellent statement, and I wish I agreed with it. In earnest though I kinda expect it to be an ersatz iPhone at best... I do be jaded though.
  • Agree with you here.
  • I agree Jerry. I'm pretty excited even though I am an iPhone user. I hope Google knocks it out of the park with the Pixel 6. Android 12 looks really nice too. If this thing is a good as I am hoping for it may be the first Pixel I actually keep and use. Of course I have said that before so there is that. And I am super excited to see what they do with the new camera hardware.
  • I am very eager to see some reviews and try to get one, if it's any good. It's time to upgrade my Pixel 2, I love it but battery life sucks, even after replacing the battery. Only thing is that price and that it's not available in most of the 160+ countries that are in our world, which I simply don't understand.
  • We're likely to get two of them, a Pixel 6 and a 6 Pro. I'll wait until "Black Friday" to see what deals are to be had first, though. We've loved our Pixel 3 and Pixel 4 and they're still performing very well, but it is time for something new, especially since the Pixel 3 battery is getting a little long-in-the-tooth and will cease to receive updates soon.
  • Does have the ugliest camera bump seen to date. Is ludicrous that the 6 does not have three cameras like the pro. Could if differentiated like samsung and just had less pixels on or or two. The pro is just too damn big, the non-pro looks about right. Would be the one I would choose. However, knowing the greediness of Google they will price it right up there with the iPhone 13 and the S22. Which gets me to jump to iPhone or just enter samsung's family of smart phones.
    I do not want to be the tester of a complete designed phone even if most parts are made by samsung.
  • People don't buy chips. To try and overtake LG and Huawei as the bottom dwellers in the US market share, they need to win iPhone and Samsung users. To do that, you need to be different. I don't see how this does it, along with a terrible trade-in program and lousy marketing. Google phones have their niche but a long way from the big leagues.
  • Seems like it will be an excellent phone almost certainly unless they do something stupid like crap out on battery life. Whether it sells or not will depend entirely on the price. Brand new S20 FEs were going for $500 right after launch if you shopped around. Needs to be a similar price point. Google should by now that it's not Apple or Samsung and can't charge their prices.
  • They have made it clear that it's going to be priced at the premium level. Google will never learn. It's a shame.
  • Then they will go the way of LG and HTC.
  • This will not happen, when it ocmes to pricing. The Samsung s20 FE won a ton of awards because somehow Samsung made a flagship phone at an affordable price. It still was kind of a unicorn because even Google's budget pixel 5 was more expensive when it came it with less performance. I don't expect Google to get it down to that price, but it would be nice if the phone came out at $799 or less. Outside of less year Google use to have their phones go on BF sales of $200 off. That would bring it down to Samsung prices if they did that.
  • "The Samsung s20 FE won a ton of awards because somehow Samsung made a flagship phone at an affordable price."
    There are no awards given out in recognition of phone prices.
  • Back in the day it was "the computer you want always costs $5,000". Yes they did. Now it is "the phone you want always costs $1,000" unless it is even more than that. I plan to wait a little to see how it shakes out. If past experience is anything to go by, the delivery time will be much better after a few months. I just hope it doesn't take all year to resolve the chip shortage issue. Then again, I can remember when they said it wasn't possible to make chips this dense - something something cosmic rays.
  • Yes to all! Two things:
    a) Make a smaller one
    b) Wider distribution
  • i was sooo much excited for pixel 6 then suddenly from no where vivo launched x70 pro + , now i am confused
    plus it has many things within box and price is competitive also ... plus latest custom camera from sony + zeiss coating + 4 cameras with OIS + gimble stabilisation + v1 custom image processing chip .... so many features just 1 issue UPDATES ...but m so much excited for vivo at the moment
  • I traded in my 4a for the 5a. The 5a is so much better than the 4a. I will not be paying premium prices for flagships while devices like the 5a, FE, and 8t are hitting it out of the park....
  • "The Google Pixel 6 will either be awesome or horrible, and I can't wait to find out which."
    I truly hope it will not be horrible, and I will not hold my breath waiting for the reviews to see if it's awesome because one thing's for in the US our options for different brands of phones seem to be quite limited as compared to the rest of the world. However, seeing that my Pixel 5A was sent back after a few days does not give me that warm fuzzy feeling about the 6's chances for success. There's just too many new and unknown variables all going into one phone (well two phones actually) that could prove to be a disaster for Google and all the BETA testers who take the chance. For me the Sony Xperia 1 iii was what got me excited, and now that I have it in my hands my excitement (along with my patience for the release date) has certainly paid off! Everything I have ever wanted in a cell phone and then some. I even remapped the Google Assistant button!!!
  • I wonder if Google should reveal more details before the new iPhones go on sale.
    Some people may hold back if they think the Pixel 6 may be better.
    iPhones also hold their value extremely well, meaning your next iPhone is quite far off full price.
    How does this work with Pixel’s ?
    I saw a comment above saying their trade in programme was not great.
  • Z Flip3 took that category for me. Pixel 6 Pro looks promising tho