Google unveils Pixel 6, with Google’s own SoC

Google is announcing the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro today, though it might be better to call it a preview or a tease. Rather than releasing all the details on its new Android phones, Google is instead putting the focus on the new system on a chip (SoC) that will be inside the new Pixels. It’s called the Tensor SoC, named after the Tensor Processing Units (TPU) Google uses in its data centers.

Tensor is an SoC, not a single processor. And so while it’s fair to call it Google-designed, it’s also still unclear which components are Google-made and which are licensed from others. Two things are definitely coming from Google: a mobile TPU for AI operations and a new Titan M2 chip for security. The rest, including the CPU, GPU, and 5G modem, are all still a mystery.

Less mysterious: the phones themselves. I spent about an hour at Google’s Mountain View campus last week looking at the phone hardware and talking with Google’s hardware chief Rick Osterloh about Tensor. After all that, my main takeaway about the new Pixel 6 phones is simple.

Google is actually, finally trying to make a competitive flagship phone.

This looks like a really premium product, and it will most definitely have a price to match. Google finally switching over to its own SoC, after years of relying on Qualcomm, which is technically great for competition, but much as with Apple’s chips, it’s not like anyone else is really going to benefit from this. Assuming Google plans on selling this new Pixel in more than three countries, and assuming the claims about the cameras are backed up my real-world reviews, this will definitely be my next phone, since my current smartphone is ready for replacement.

And what a surprise – smartphone camera quality suddenly matters now that I have a kid.


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