Is the Google Pixel 6 the iPhone killer?

After a year’s break, Google dares to return to the high-end smartphone market. Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro are supposed to outdo the competition with exclusive features and aggressive prices.

As has become customary for Google smartphones, everything about the new Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro was already known in advance. Nevertheless, the company had the opportunity to show a few details in more detail at the unveiling of the new devices on Tuesday – and to convince buyers why they should buy a Pixel device.

First Pixel smartphone with Google chip

For Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, Google relies on a self-designed chip called Tensor for the first time, which is supposed to be adapted to its own requirements. So far, the company has relied on chips from the US manufacturer Qualcomm.

Although Tensor is supposed to offer similar performance as other flagship smartphones, the focus is explicitly on artificial intelligence. Confirmed results on the benchmark site “Geekbench” seem to confirm this. Here, the Tensor chip in the new Google smartphone achieves about 1000 points in the single-core performance and 2800 points in the multi-core test.

This puts the Pixel 6/6 Pro surprisingly close to devices like the OnePlus 9 Pro (1100 SC, 3200 MC), which are considered the front-runners among Android smartphones. However, it is also a far cry from even the year-old iPhone 12 Pro Max, which scores 1600 in single-core and 4100 in multi-core.

Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro are supposed to convince with exclusive features

At Tuesday’s launch event, Google demonstrated a slew of new features that are exclusive to the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro

Magic Eraser

The “magic eraser” is a feature we already know from Photoshop in the form of “Content Aware”. The feature is integrated directly into the camera app. It can automatically detect and remove objects in the image. If you don’t want a certain object, such as a car or another person, in the picture, you can circle it and it disappears.

Magic Eraser makes it easy to remove unwanted people and objects from the image
Magic Eraser makes it easy to remove unwanted people and objects from the image Photo: Google

Improved Potrait mode

Google is also finally addressing a problem that people with dark skin have had with cameras for years. Because camera settings are often only tested with light skin tones, dark skin tones usually appear inaccurate. The problem has been known for a long time, but Google is the first manufacturer to work on a solution. To do so, the company has collaborated with black photography and video experts to expand its dataset. With this, the camera recognizes faces better and adjusts the white balance more finely. It also responds to exposure so that dark skin tones aren’t rendered darker than they are.

Face Unblur

Face Unblur is supposed to put an end to blurry photos caused by motion, for example. Shots from the main and ultra-wide cameras are combined to create a sharp image.

Motion Mode

Motion Mode is the exact opposite of this. This feature lets you add motion blur to certain objects in the image. The effect is supposed to imitate a long exposure – but is applicable to any quick snapshot. The function is reminiscent of Live Photos on Apple’s iPhones. Here, too, a simulated long exposure time can be selected as an option in pictures, which creates a similar motion blur.

Apps can finally access camera directly

Developers can integrate the functions of the camera app into their own apps. This eliminates the detour via the camera. Until now, Android apps with a camera function have often had significantly poorer image quality and fewer functions than their iOS equivalents. This is because Android apps cannot access the camera itself, but only a screen shot of it. With direct access to the camera app, the Pixel 6 could solve this problem.

Live translation

Voice dictation works in real time and with context-based input commands. For example, if you speak a sentence and say “delete” immediately afterwards, the Pixel 6 recognizes that you did not mean to write the word, but deletes the sentence again. Similarly, you can insert emojis when dictating, for example by “emoji island” to integrate the image into a sentence. In addition, Google Tensor automatically detects the tone of voice and can thus end sentences independently with a period and even question marks.

We already know the Live Caption functions. This allows Android to convert anything spoken, such as from videos or audio, into text in real time and display it as subtitles. The function now gets an extension in the form of “Live Translate”, which can translate this text into multiple languages – also in real time.

Google Duplex gets new capabilities

Also upgraded is the calling feature of Google Assistant, also known as “Duplex.” Not only can users see directly when calling how busy the called company is. The Assistant can make the calls completely autonomously.

Google Assistant on the Pixel 6 makes calls.
The Google Assistant on the Pixel 6 makes calls for the user. Photo: Google

It presents the call content in chat form and can even recognize when an automated tape announcement provides options to choose from. These options then appear as buttons that you can select. If you need to stay on hold, Assistant can do that for you and notify you when it moves on.

Android 12 is here! The most useful functions at a glance

All-new cameras

While the previous Pixel smartphones were practically all equipped with a 12.2-megapixel sensor, Google now brings out the heavy artillery. Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro both come with a 50-megapixel sensor that combines images into 12.5-megapixel resolution (a process known as “binning”). The new 1/1.31-inch sensor with f/1.85 aperture can also capture more light. Both smartphones also have a 12-megapixel ultra-wide sensor. However, only the Pixel 6 Pro comes with a 48-megapixel telephoto camera with 4x magnification. On the front, the Pro has an 11.1-megapixel sensor with a 94-degree field of view, while the regular Pixel 6 has an 8-megapixel sensor with an 84-degree field of view.

At the unveiling of Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, Google repeatedly emphasizes that the new Tensor chip was specifically designed for the company’s vision of making users’ lives easier. The new photo and Google Assistant features make use of Tensor’s machine learning capabilities.

Surprisingly affordable entry-level prices

By now, we are used to seeing flagship smartphones for 1000 Euros and more. Google takes a different approach and positions the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro at much lower price points. The Pixel 6 with 128 GB of internal storage starts at 649 Euros – 150 Euros cheaper than the iPhone 13 mini and 250 Euros cheaper than the iPhone 13. The Pixel 6 Pro with 128 GB of storage is available from 899 Euros. It thus costs a whole 250 euros less than the iPhone 13 Pro.

Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro are now available for pre-order and are supposed to start shipping on October 28. The devices start directly with Android 12.

Sources

  • YouTube: Google Presents: Pixel Fall Launch
  • Google blog
  • Geekbench
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