Opinion, Smartphone

The Pixel 6 Is Finally a Full-Fledged “Google Phone,” and I’m Excited

I have a confession: I was never really excited for Google’s range of Pixel smartphones. Now, it’s not that I don’t like Google’s devices; I absolutely loved the Nexus series. Well, not all of them, but I still cherish the Nexus 6P I had back in 2015 with its very polished stock Android experience.

But when Google officially unveiled the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro – well, kind of – they certainly caught my attention. Not only is the Pixel 6 series shaping up to be Google’s most premium smartphone yet, it is also powered by the company’s own Tensor chip.

In short, the Pixel 6 is finally a full-fledged “Google Phone” that can (hopefully) considered to be a proper, high-end flagship smartphone. Not convinced? Then read on.

What makes the Pixel 6 different from its predecessors is the fact that it will be powered by Google’s own chip, Tensor. Granted, there’s still a lot that we don’t know about the SoC, but it’s great to see that Google is no longer relying on Qualcomm’s processors in this regard.

Although we don’t know the CPU or GPU of the Tensor chip yet, Google’s hardware chief Rick Osterloh said that the Tensor’s performance should be “market leading.” He further added that “AI stuff” will further differentiate the Tensor from its competition.

Of course, Osterloh is talking about the Tensor Processing Unit (TPU) and Titan M2 security chip of the Tensor SoC. Basically, the TPU lets the chip perform AI operations in a quicker manner, among other things.

For example, the TPU is said to help improve the camera performance of the Pixel 6. This includes better-looking still images, as well as improved video recording; one area Pixel smartphones had always struggled with. Aside from that, the TPU will also allow for more seamless offline speech recognition.

As for the Titan M2 security chip, not much has been talked about yet. Well, other than the fact that the chip gives the Pixel 6 “the most layers of hardware security in any phone.”

Now, let’s circle back to the camera performance of the Pixel 6. The camera hardware of the two phones have not been detailed yet, but it’s confirmed that the Pixel 6 Pro will have a triple camera system made up of a new primary sensor.

For the longest time, Google had always stuck with the same primary sensor for its Pixel smartphones, so it’s about time the company went with a new one. Complementing the new main sensor is an ultra-wide angle shooter and a periscope telephoto lens that can do 4x optical zoom.

As for the Pixel 6, it has the same camera system, but it loses the telephoto lens, unfortunately enough.

Anyway, I’m excited to see how the Pixel 6 would fare in the camera department. After all, Google, at one point in time, was the class-leader in mobile photography. But other manufacturers quickly caught up to the company over the years, and I can’t wait to see if it can win back the crown with the help of the Tensor chip’s TPU and new camera hardware.

One last thing that drew me to the Pixel 6 smartphones is their looks. While the overall design of the two phones is…well, a little out there, I do like how they look. Maybe because the “camera bar” reminds me of the Nexus 6P – which is very dear to me – but more importantly, they look like flagship phones with solid build quality.

Of course, I can’t really say the Pixel 6 has “solid build quality” without physically holding the Pixel 6 in my hands first. But based on feedback from media folks that have held the two phones, it’s very promising. Speaking on the build quality of the Pixel 6, Osterloh even said that “this is the first time where we feel like we really have it.”

Naturally, that also means the Pixel 6 smartphones will carry a premium price tag, which is fine if it can really deliver the user experience of what we’ve come to expect from a high-end, flagship smartphone. With that in mind, there’s one thing that can potentially make or break the Pixel 6: the Tensor chip.

At the end of the day, the Google-designed Tensor SoC is still an entirely new chip with no track record yet. It also doesn’t help that most of the chip’s specifications are still shrouded in mystery. If it can’t at least match the performance level of, say, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 SoC, the Tensor chip – and the phone – will be a tough sell.

Nonetheless, I’m still optimistic that the Pixel 6 will finally be the Google Phone folks have been waiting for. We’ll find out for ourselves once the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro are unveiled this fall. Hopefully, Google will also officially launch the two phones here in Malaysia.

After all, the last Google-branded phone that was officially sold here was the Nexus 6P back in 2015 – that’s six whole years ago.

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