Google Pixel 6 vs Pixel 5: what's the difference? Should you upgrade?

Google Pixel 6 vs Pixel 5: what's the difference? Should you upgrade?
(Image credit: Google, YouTube)

Few phones have had so much officially revealed about them leading up to their launch as the Google Pixel 6. Google has fed Android fans pictures and videos about its next homegrown flagship for months, and the big reveal has finally happened.

As with any new phone launch, it’s sensible to ask yourself just how much better the shiny new handset is compared to its predecessor. We certainly asked that of the new iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12, and it’s only fair to scrutinise the Google Pixel 6 against the Pixel 5. After all, if there’s not a big improvement, it could make sense to snap up the Pixel 5 at a cheaper price, or hang on to the one you’re currently using for another year.

Let’s dive straight into the differences between the Pixel 6 and Pixel 5, to help make your decision that little bit easier.

Google Pixel 6 vs Pixel 5: price 

The Pixel 5 was only available in one model – 8GB RAM/128GB storage – and cost $699 / £599 / AU$999 at launch. 

The standard Pixel 6 costs £599 / $599 / AU$999 for the 128GB model. There's also a 256GB version available in the US and Australia, costing $699 / AU$1129. UK pricing/availability is yet to be confirmed.

 Of course, there is no Pixel 5 Pro to compare to but just for reference if you fancy the Pixel 6 Pro (128GB) with the bigger 120Hz screen and larger battery it will set you back £849 / $899 / AU$1299. The 256GB variant costs £949 / $999 / AU$1449, while 512GB variant seems to go for $1099 / AU$1599 (again, UK pricing/availability is yet to be confirmed).

The fact the Pixel 6 price has been kept so low is impressive given there are quite a few major overhauls (more on all those in the following sections). From Google’s own homegrown Tensor chip to some formidable improvements in the camera department, we wouldn't have been surprised to see a small price hike.

**Winner: Pixel 6**

Google Pixel 6 vs Pixel 5: design 

Google Pixel 6 vs Pixel 5

(Image credit: Google)

While smartphones can’t really escape the general design language of rectangular glass slabs, the Pixel 6 couldn’t be much further away from the unassuming, utilitarian look of the Pixel 5. 

While the Pixel 5 has organic, pebble-like curved corners and a matte textured aluminium body, the Pixel 6 has a much straighter-edged look to it, with its back stealing the show. Not only is it available in a smorgasbord of eye-catching finishes, but its rear camera array will turn heads with its prominent, straight, protruding design. Coupled with the two-tone colours that make up the rear above and below this strip, we think the Pixel 6 is one of the best looking and most interesting handsets we’ve seen to date.

Pre-launch rumours pointed to an in-display fingerprint scanner and facial recognition tech, but while Pixel 6 introduces the former for the very first time, there's no room for the latter.

Both the Pixel 5 and 6 are rated IP68 meaning they can withstand being submerged in 1.5m of water for up to 30 minutes. However, the Pixel 6 is built from Corning Gorilla Glass Victus, the toughest Gorilla Glass yet, "with up to 2x better scratch resistance than previous Pixel phones". The new devices also feature a 'Fingerprint-resistant coating'.

While design is obviously subjective, we think most people would agree that they’d rather have the funky, clean-looking Pixel 6 in their pockets over that of the fairly forgettable Pixel 5. Though you’re more than welcome to disagree.

**Winner: Pixel 6**

Google Pixel 6 vs Pixel 5: screen 

Google Pixel 6 vs Pixel 5

(Image credit: OnLeaks/@91Mobiles)

The Pixel 5 has a 6-inch FHD+ (2340 x 1080) display with a 90Hz refresh rate. While the Pixel 6 matches the resolution and refresh rate, it boasts a larger 6.4-inch size. 

The Pixel 6 Pro boasts a 6.7 inches display with a QHD+ (3120 x 1440) resolution, and an iPhone 13 Pro Max-matching 120Hz refresh rate. And whereas the Pixel 5 and 6 both have flat screens, the Pixel 6 Pro's screen is very slightly curved at the edges and bleeds into aluminium rails on the side bezels.

While the base-level Pixel 6 will be relatively similar to the Pixel 5 when it comes to the display, the 6 Pro’s faster refresh rate and higher resolution could provide a noticeable difference.

**Winner: TBC**

Google Pixel 6 vs Pixel 5: camera

Google Pixel 6 vs Pixel 5

(Image credit: Front Page Tech)

The Pixel 6’s camera setup is one of the biggest changes and improvements over that of the Pixel 5. The Pixel 6 packs in a huge 50MP sensor in tandem with a wide-angle lens, along with a 12MP sensor for the ultra-wide camera.

The Pixel 6 Pro takes things further by throwing in an additional 48MP telephoto camera and 4x optical zoom.

The Pixel 6 also debuts Google's Magic Eraser – new Photoshop-style software that removes "strangers and unwanted objects" (such as photobombers) from images with a quick tap. 

On paper, the Pixel 6 should comfortably outperform the Pixel 5 but only time (and a review) will tell.

**Winner: TBC**

 Google Pixel 6 vs Pixel 5: power 

This is where things get really interesting. While the Pixel 5 is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 765G processor, the Pixel 6 boasts Google’s own in-house processor, called Tensor.

Apple has already shown the world what a tech giant can achieve if it creates its own chips (the  A15 Bionic processor in the new iPhone 13 is untouchable when it comes to smartphone power), so we’ve got tentatively high hopes for what Google’s Tensor chip can actually do. 

Google claims the Pixel 6 is "up to 80-percent faster" than the Pixel 5. Impressive. The new Tensor chip also "saves power so your battery lasts longer" and "works with the next-gen Titan M2 security chip to keep Pixel even more resilient to attacks." 

Its considerable grunt is also used to power a suite of new AI tools, including photo wizardry such as Face Unblur, offline translation in 55 languages and Glance, which brings up your boarding pass when you arrive at the airport. 

Short answer: if you're in the market for a significant power boost, you might want to pick the Pixel 6.

**Winner: Pixel 6**

 Google Pixel 6 vs Pixel 5: battery 

Google Pixel 6 vs Pixel 5

(Image credit: EVLeaks)

The Pixel 5’s 4000mAh battery is no slouch, but bigger is always better, and we see the Pixel 6 get a larger 4614mAh battery which is bumped up to 5003mAh for the Pixel 6 Pro.

The Pixel 6 is also available with an ultra-fast 30W USB-C charger (sold separately) and just like the Pixel 5, the Pixel 6 has Extreme Battery Saver, which means the battery can last up to 48 hours. All three devices have Battery Share, which lets you use your phone to charge other Qi-enabled wireless gadgets.

The new Pixel Stand charging dock (sold separately) is said to be twice as powerful as the previous version. And while your Pixel 6 is charging, you can use it as a smart display to browse pictures from Google Photos or control your smart home.

**Winner: Pixel 6**

Google Pixel 6 vs Pixel 5: early verdict

Google Pixel 6 vs Pixel 5

(Image credit: Google)

On paper, the Pixel 6 looks like it's a cut above the Pixel 5 and should outperform it across the board. Beefed up with a new powerful processor, enhanced camera smarts, bigger battery and other new features it could even be tempting enough to get Pixel 5 owners to upgrade to the new phone.

Of course, the proof is in the testing, and we also need to put the Pixel 6's picture and sound up to scrutiny – we'll be sure to bring you our definitive verdict just as soon as we can.


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Esat Dedezade
Freelance contributor