6 things we’d love to see in the Google Pixel 6
The annual Pixel launch has become somewhat of a highlight for Android watchers ever since Google launched the line back in 2016. Love them or hate them, they are always some of the best Android phones and it’s nice to see what Google’s doing on the hardware front.
Last year’s Pixel 5 for one was a bit of a strange phone. It was praised for being a good camera phone and offering a stripped down experience for less money (and it does do those things), but it also had too little setting it above the Pixel 4a or 4a 5G. Personally, I find the less is more approach Google took to the Pixel 5 can only go so far before you’re just getting less, period. This year, it’d be nice to have the company offer a litle more with its hardware so that it doesn’t need to be carried by software.
Curiously, while we had leaks of upcoming Pixels by this time last year and the year before, this hasn’t happened at this point in the year. This means we have free rein to speculate on what could be coming down the line, and there are a couple of things I’d like to see from this year’s Pixel 6 when it arrives towards the end of the year.
1. At least five years of software support
Google’s Pixels can boast two years of speedy updates.Source: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central
Sure you get fast updates, but you don’t get them for very long. Apple for one, supports its phones for almost 6 years, with the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus running iOS 14. The first Pixel, launched to coincide with the iPhone 7, does not support the latest version of Android. The Pixel 2 and 2 XL similarly have received their last updates, not even benefiting from the December feature drop that came at the end of the year. In contrast, the iPhone 7 is running iOS 14 right now and can be expected to get iOS 15 later this year.
We don’t need to go to Apple’s side to find ridiculously long support times. The Samsung Galaxy S7 received its last updates in October 2020, four years after launch. In general, Samsung has announced at least three years of updates for its phones. This means that Google’s phones will now be on par with Samsung’s as far as updates go, but still far behind Apple.
Old Pixel phones are still perfectly usable, so there’s no satisfying reason for Google not to support them with OS updates for longer.
If trends hold, we can expect that the Pixel 3 is next on the update chopping board in October 2021. But a Pixel 3 is a perfectly usable smartphone in 2021, and I’d argue the same goes for the Pixel 2 and 2 XL. There’s no reason for Google not to support Pixels with OS updates for longer, especially when its smartphone hardware has genuinely gotten so good that Google doesn’t see the need to change its camera hardware for years on end (more on that in a moment).
Google prides itself on its sustainability, even going as far as to tout the recycled aluminum that Pixel 5 uses. Giving users incentive to hold on to their existing phones for longer is also good for the environment, even if it is less flashy.
2. The Snapdragon 888 should power the Pixel 6
The Snapdragon 888 offers improvements in photography as well.Source: Qualcomm
With a flagship phone, it’s better to have power and not need it than need it and not have it.
To curtail the obvious objections, no one is going to praise Google for having a Snapdragon 888 or reward them with hundreds of millions of sales, and Google shouldn’t expect accolades for doing so any more than people should expect applause for wearing pants to the grocery store. Having a flagship processor is just table-stakes to be competitive in the market. We don’t need all that power all of the time, but it’s better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it. If Google can ship a Chromebook with an i7, 16GB of RAM, and a QHD display, it can ship an Android phone with a powerful processor. People who want the bare minimum can look towards the A-series.
3. The Pixel 6 should come with a bigger screen option
The Pixel 4 was the last flagship Pixel with an XL model.Source: Android Central
There are people who like small phones (but not too small), and there are people who like big phones. Third-party OEMs understand this and offer variety. Google sorta does this with the Pixel 5, offering a smallish phone that’s also biggish. It’s not going to really satisfy you if you want a small phone, nor will it do so if you want a big phone. It’s a perfectly fine way of doing things. But for the Pixel 6, it would be nice to see Google splitting the phones into two distinct sizes again.
4. A Better Display
Google brought smooth displays to the Pixel line with the Pixel 4’s 90Hz display.Source: Android Central
I don’t think Google has to go that high. While phones like the ROG Phone 3 have 144Hz displays, those are more aimed at gamers. A 120Hz screen, on the other hand, is necessary to match offerings by Samsung to ensure that Google doesn’t fall behind in a place where it had excelled in 2018.
If Google wanted to return to using a QHD display as it did on the Pixel 4 XL, that wouldn’t be too bad either.
5. The Pixel 6 should be interesting to look at
The Black and White Pixel 2 XL was an aesthetic marvel.Source: Android Central
The Pixel 5 has the design equivalent of plain porridge compared to 2020’s mouth-watering lineup of well-designed phones.
There’s no denying that while the Pixel 5 and 4a series have their charm, compared to previous Pixels, they are very, very bland. You don’t get a nice two-toned rear, nor do you get a delightful Panda colorway, or even playful Purplish and Not-Pink tones. In most cases, you don’t even get to pick between black and white. Google offers Just Black and you take it or leave it. It’s kinda trying — US buyers can access the Barely Blue Pixel 4a model, Clearly White 4a 5G, or Pixel 5 Sorta Sage — but Google could do a lot better.
Where phones from Samsung, Nokia, Xiaomi, etc, all come with interesting, distinct designs and wild colors, Google currently presents the design equivalent of plain porridge, and that’s something it should keep exclusive to its 2020 models.
6. The Pixel 6 should have flexible cameras
This is not to say that the cameras are bad. Google’s Pixel 3 was years ahead in that department, but time marches on, and yesterday’s years ahead is in danger of simply being yesterday. Google could consider dipping into its past and rolling all of these secondary cameras into a triple or quad-camera layout. It doesn’t even have to go overboard with 2 MP macro cameras or 1MP infrared cameras or other ridiculousness that some OEMs saddle their phones with as part of a cynical ploy to inflate the camera count. It just has to match the market and then provide its value add-ons on top.
What do you want to see?
That’s what I’m hoping to see in the Pixel 6. It’s ridiculously unambitious in its ‘faster horse’ asks, but I’m a simple man sometimes. Google is aiming to launch a foldable pretty soon, but it’d be nice to see it nail a very good basic smartphone too. I now want to hear from you. What do you want to see in the Pixel 6? Should Google stay the course and keep making phones like the Pixel 5 or should it be grander with its handsets?
Share your thoughts in the comments below and let us know!
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