Like most Android phone makers, Google has long relied on Qualcomm’s SOCs to power its devices. But designing its own processor to serve as the brains of the device allows Google to better customize the chip for the features it deems most important. The new chip, called Tensor, can punch up computing power and bolster the video capabilities of Pixel phones, juicing features that lagged behind those of rivals in previous Pixel models.
The latest phones from the search giant feature a whole new appearance. Will it be enough to entice customers? Google announced the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, the next generation of its flagship phone line, on Monday, to compete in a congested industry dominated by Apple and Samsung. The 5G phones, which will be available in the autumn, will be powered by a new system-on-chip created in-house by Google.
The new chip is only part of a major overhaul of Google’s phones. The most notable hardware change is a black camera strip toward the top of the phone that runs along the width of the back. By contrast, the camera on last year’s phone was housed in a small square on the top left corner of the back. Both phones have a new sensor that takes in 150% more light than the Pixel 5, as well as an ultrawide lens. The 6 Pro has an additional telephoto lens with 4-times optical zoom.
The Pixel 6 lineup faces serious pressure as Google continues to struggle in the premium phone market. When it comes to smartphone software, Google’s Android is the world’s most widely used mobile operating system, powering almost nine out of every 10 smartphones shipped globally. But the company hasn’t managed to gain traction with its own branded phones, and sales have been lackluster for years. Google executives have in the past blamed the slow uptake on fierce competition in a premium phone market led by Apple and Samsung.
The phones are also more colorful than previous models, with pastel schemes in green, blue, pink, and more. The Pixel 6 has a 6.4-inch display that stretches across the front of the device, while the 6 Pro’s screen is 6.7 inches. Both are larger than last year’s 6-inch Pixel 5.