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Google officially launches the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro

Google Pixel 6
(Image credit: Google)

After months of leaks, hints and teasers, Google has finally unveiled the next handsets in its Pixel range – the Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro with official pricing and a full spec list.

The Pixel 6 is available for pre-order today, costing £599 ($599, AU$999) - that's actually $100 cheaper than the launch price of the Pixel 5 (UK and AUS pricing remain the same) despite a new look, redesigned cameras and plenty of new features - while the new Pixel 6 Pro is priced £849 ($899, AU$1299). Alternatively, in the US you can pay monthly courtesy of Google's new Pixel Pass subscription plan.

Both will be available in stores from October 28th and if you pre-order from select retailers, Google will even throw in a free pair of Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 as part of the deal.

With a flat 6.4-inch 90Hz OLED display built from Gorilla Glass, Google says that the Pixel 6 offers up to 2x better scratch resistance than previous Pixel phones. Its IP68 protection means it can withstand dust and be submerged in 1.5m of water for up to 30 minutes.

The premium Pixel 6 Pro has a 6.7-inch Smooth Display with a 120 Hz refresh rate and LTPO technology that can lower it to 10 Hz to save battery life. That higher rate should mean better rendering during fast-moving content like gaming.

The Pixel 6 comes in three new colours: sorta seafoam, kinda coral and stormy black, while the 6 Pro is available in: cloudy white, sorta sunny and stormy black.  But the most notable feature of the design of both handsets is the addition of the new camera bar - a horizontal black rectangle that spans the width of the phone's back that Google claims is necessary to house the new camera lenses and sensors. 

The Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro's main cameras have 50-megapixel wide lenses and a 1/1.3 inch sensor, which Google says captures 2.5 x more light than the Pixel 5. Both phones also have new 12-megapixel ultrawide cameras with a 114-degree field of view. The Pixel 6 Pro has an additional 48-megapixel telephoto lens with a 1/2-inch image sensor and 4x optical zoom. For taking selfies, the Pixel 6’s front-facing camera is 8-megapixels with an 84-degree field of view, and the 6 Pro is 11.1 megapixels and 94-degrees.

Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro

(Image credit: Google)

There's plenty of new software to improve your images, too, including an updated portrait mode that Google says will more accurately represent diverse skin tones with a feature called 'Real Tone'; 'Face Unblur' that takes additional images with the phone's second camera and combines with the original to sharpen facial features blurred because of movement and 'Motion Mode' designed to capture action shots and long exposures creating a sense of speed.

The new Pixels also feature Google's long-rumoured 'Magic Eraser' technology added into Google Photos, which the company claims will cleanly remove unwanted objects and photo bombers from photos both new and old.

The new AI features are possible thanks to a new custom Tensor chip (SoC) that not only improves the image processing but also offers offline language translation and more accurate voice and image recognition. Google claims the Pixel 6 is up to 80-per cent faster than the Pixel 5 and preserves battery life better. As predicted back in August, Google has now confirmed that the Pixel 6 features an in-display optical fingerprint reader.

Google claims that the new chip ensures a minimum of five years of software support, making them more attractive to increasingly sustainability-minded consumers, a sentiment that is carried over to the translucent casing designed with over 30% recycled plastics.

Elsewhere there are new materials used. According to Google, the Pixel 6 Pro has a light polished aluminium frame, and the standard Pixel 6 has a matte aluminium finish. This is a change from the Pixel 5's aluminium body covered by a thin skin of bio-resin plastic.

Google

(Image credit: Google )

The phone's interface also has a new look with 'Material You' UI that continually updates the appearance of your display to complement the colour of your chosen wallpaper. Google also says the Pixel 6 features an AI-powered feature called 'Glance', which automatically brings up apps and info that you might need, such as a boarding pass when you arrive at an airport.

Battery-wise the Pixel 6 has a 4614mAh cell, while the Pixel 6 Pro boasts a hefty 5003mAh power pack. Google says both devices should last 24 hours, but like the Pixel 5, the new handsets have 'Extreme Battery Saver' mode, which claims to extend battery life up to 48 hours. Both the new devices have Battery Share, too, so you can charge other compatible devices wirelessly.

The Pixel 6 is available with a 30W USB-C charger (sold separately) while the new Pixel Stand charging dock (also sold separately) is also available and is twice as powerful as the previous version.

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Mary is a staff writer at What Hi-Fi? and has over a decade of experience working as a sound engineer mixing live events, music and theatre.