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?
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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