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Facebook is reportedly changing its name

Facebook is rebranding and changing its company name as soon as next week, according to The Verge. Apparently, the social media giant will have a new name that will reflect its focus on creating a metaverse. It's also possibly connected to its unreleased social virtual reality world called Horizon Worlds. The social network itself will likely retain the Facebook branding and will be under a new parent company, along with Instagram, WhatsApp and Oculus. That would be similar to what Google did in 2015 when it put its various projects and divisions, along with itself, under its parent company Alphabet.

The Verge says the name change is a closely guarded secret at the moment and not even all senior leaders have knowledge about it. Mark Zuckerberg has long talked about wanting to make Facebook a metaverse company and has been taking steps towards that goal. Earlier this year, Facebook formed a team dedicated to building a metaverse, and just a few days ago, it talked about adding 10,000 "high-skilled" jobs across the European Union over the next five years to build its virtual and augmented reality experiences. It also released the Ray-Ban Stories augmented reality smart glasses in September.

We reached out to Facebook for a statement, and company spokesperson Joe Osborne said: "We don’t comment on rumor or speculation."

It's unclear how long Facebook been has planning on changing its name, but it's certainly a good distraction for the investigations it's facing and the bad press it's currently getting. Former executive-turned-whisleblower Frances Haugen provided the Congress and the Securities and Exchange Commission with a treasure trove of internal documents, dropped several revelations about the company and accused it of choosing "profit over safety" — something Zuckerberg adamantly denied

In early October, she testified at a Senate hearing about research she says proves that the social network repeatedly lied about its platform, including the "efficacy of its artificial intelligence systems, and its role in spreading divisive and extreme messages." Haugen has several ideas on what Facebook should change, but none of them has anything to do with changing its name. They include going back to chronological feeds from algorithmic ranking, adding some features that would prevent the spread of misinformation and opening Facebook research to people outside the company. 

Roland's free mobile studio app helps you record fresh ideas

The inspiration for a song can surface whether or not your full studio is available, and Roland has a solution for those spur-of-the-moment sessions. The music pioneer has introduced a free Zentracker app for Android and iOS that serves as a multitrack recorder for impromptu performances. You can add unlimited tracks (it defaults to four in the name of simplicity), draw on 200 audio loops and wield 16 audio effects while using familiar features like beat matching and looping.

You can save tracks to OneDrive, and Google Drive is "coming soon." The app is free as long as you have a Roland account, although Roland nudges you toward a Cloud subscription by limiting some effects, loop bundles, stem exports and other features to paying customers. You'll likely want a mixer like the Go: Mixer Pro-X to make the most of Zentracker, too.

There's an app for more formal productions. Roland is releasing a TR-Editor desktop app (below) that serves as a companion for machines like the TR-6S and TR-8S. You can browse sounds, program beats and tweak parameters from the comfort of your computer screen. While we're waiting on launch details as we write this, the software could be handy if you find the TR-series' on-device interface too cumbersome.

Roland TR-Editor app on a Mac
Roland

'Flight Simulator: GOTY Edition' adds new aircraft and locations on November 18th

Microsoft is spicing up Flight Simulator with an expanded re-release, although this one may be more ambitious than some. It's releasingFlight Simulator: Game of the Year Edition on November 18th with both a heaping of new content as well as some meaningful feature upgrades. To start, there are five new stand-out aircraft, including the F/A-18 Super Hornet — you won't have to wait until the Top Gun expansion to buzz the tower in a fighter jet. You'll also get to fly the VoloCity air taxi, PC-6 Porter short-takeoff aircraft, the bush flying-oriented NX Cub and the single-seat Aviat Pitts Special S1S.

The GOTY upgrade adds eight airports, including Marine Corps Air Station Miramar and Patrick Space Force Base. Eight cities will get photogrammetry detail upgrades, such as Helsinki, Nottinghm and Utrecht. There are accordingly new tutorials (such as bush flying and IFR) and Discovery Flights.

The update adds useful features, too. You'll have early access to DirectX 12 features, an improved weather system and a developer mode replay system, among other improvements.

Most notably, you won't have to pay for any of this as a veteran player— existing Flight Simulator owners will receive a free update on both Windows PCs and Xbox Series X/S. The paid GOTY release exists chiefly to entice first-timers. For everyone else, this is billed as a "thank you" upgrade that could keep them coming back.

Facebook announces ‘small pilot’ to test cryptocurrency wallet Novi

Facebook is finally testing Novi, the digital wallet it’s been teasing for more than two years. Facebook’s payments chief David Marcus announced that the company is launching “a small pilot” of Novi in the United States and Guatemala with the goal of enabling family members to send remittances across borders.

“We’re doing a pilot to test core feature functions, and our operational capabilities in customer care and compliance,” Marcus wrote. “We’re also hopeful this will demonstrate a new stablecoin use case (as a payments instrument) beyond how they are typically used today.”

The fact that Novi is finally launching, even in a limited way, would seem like significant step forward for Facebook’s long-troubled crypto plans. However, the company is launching the wallet without Diem, its planned cryptocurrency (previously called Libra) that’s faced a wave of pushback from lawmakers and regulators around the world.

Instead, the initial pilot will use the Pax Dollar (USDP), a stablecoin that Marcus said has “been operating successfully for over three years and has important regulatory and consumer protection attributes.” He added that Facebook has partnered with Coinbase during the pilot.

News of the pilot has already sparked renewed criticism from lawmakers. On Tuesday, hours after Marcus’ initial announcement, a group of five Democratic senators sent a letter to Facebook asking the company “to immediately discontinue your Novi pilot and to commit that you will not bring Diem to market.” The letter cited the recent disclosures from a Facebook whistleblower, and the company’s “relentless pursuit of profits at the expense of its users.”

“Given the scope of the scandals surrounding your company, we write to voice our strongest opposition to Facebook’s revived effort to launch a cryptocurrency and digital wallet, now branded ‘Diem’ and ‘Novi,’ respectively,” the senators wrote. “Facebook cannot be trusted to manage a payment system or digital currency when its existing ability to manage risks and keep consumers safe has proven wholly insufficient.”

A spokesperson for Novi said that “we look forward to responding to the Committee’s letter,” but didn't elaborate. In his initial announcement, Marcus said the company remains committed to launching Diem. “I do want to be clear that our support for Diem hasn’t changed and we intend to launch Novi with Diem once it receives regulatory approval and goes live,” he wrote.

Facebook settles with Justice Department over H-1B hiring practices

Facebook has reached separate settlements with the Department of Justice and Department of Labor over its hiring practices related to foreign workers. The settlements stem from allegations the Trump administration brought against Facebook in late 2020. At the time, the DoJ said the company had “inadequately advertised” at least 2,600 positions between 2018 and 2019 that were eventually filled by workers on H-1B visas.

The company allegedly employed a recruitment process that was intentionally designed to dissuade US workers from applying for positions it had set aside for temporary visa holders. Under the DoJ settlement, Facebook will pay $4.75 million to the federal government and up to $9.5 million to eligible victims.

​​“While we strongly believe we met the federal government’s standards in our permanent labor certification (PERM) practices, we’ve reached agreements to end the ongoing litigation and move forward with our PERM program, which is an important part of our overall immigration program," a spokesperson for Facebook said. "These resolutions will enable us to continue our focus on hiring the best builders from both the US and around the world, and supporting our internal community of highly skilled visa holders who are seeking permanent residence.”

The fines, while a drop in the ocean for a company like Facebook, represent the largest such penalties the Department of Justice has enforced as part of the Immigration and Nationality Act. More significantly, they're another piece of bad news for a company that has been mired in it in recent weeks. At the start of October, whistleblower Frances Haugen testified before Congress how Facebook’s algorithms have hampered its efforts to slow misinformation on its platforms. The company has also faced increasing scrutiny over its efforts to downplay internal research that shows its platforms can be harmful to some young users.

Update 5:03PM ET: Added comment from Facebook. 

Volvo’s new in-car app squeezes every last mile out of your EV’s battery

Many electric car drivers are aware of tricks to wring every last drop of range from their cars, but Volvo thinks it can take that load off people's shoulders. It's updating Volvo and Polestar EVs with a Range Assistant app that both helps you make smart choices and, in one case, makes the decisions itself. The app can automatically tweak the climate control system to extend your range at the (slight) expense of comfort.

The update is rolling out now to the XC40 Recharge, and will be coming to the Polestar 2. All compatible EVs should have the update by the end of October. And don't worry if you're eyeing a C40 Recharge — that coupe-like SUV will include the Range Assistant from the start. Future updates should add driver coaching on driving habits and speed, among other tweaks.

You probably won't need this app if you're a seasoned EV driver. You'll know enough to turn the AC off, stick to speed limits and avoid mashing the throttle. However, this could be vital as EVs enter the mainstream. Newcomers might not need to spend as much time learning the ropes (and charging their cars) as their predecessors.

Here's everything Google announced at its Pixel 6 event

Google may have announced the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro in August, but we had to wait more than three months to get the full story on its latest phones. On Tuesday, the company did just that, detailing nearly every aspect of their design and software. 

Pixel 6 and 6 Pro

Google Pixe 6 and Pixel 6 Pro
Engadget

Unsurprisingly, Google spent a lot of time talking about the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro’s hardware. There’s a lot to unpack between the two phones, but the most important thing you need to know about them is that they’ll start at $599 and $899. In the case of the Pixel 6, that means it’s $100 cheaper than last year’s Pixel 5.

Headline features shared by both phones include Google’s eight-core Tensor processor, a fresh new design, a rear camera array that includes a 50-megapixel main sensor and new security features courtesy of Android 12 and the company’s Titan M2 chip. To that package the Pixel 6 Pro adds a 6.7-inch “waterfall” display with a dynamic 120Hz refresh rate, 12GB of RAM and a 48-megapixel telephoto camera with 4x optical zoom. With both phones, Google says you can expect more than 24 hours of usage on a single charge.

Both the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro are available to pre-order today, with general availability to follow on October 28th. For more information on the phones, make sure to check out our hands-on.

Pixel Pass

Google Pixel 6 in peach at an angle
Google

Alongside the new phones, Google will offer Pixel Pass. The subscription includes a Pixel 6 or 6 Pro, an extended warranty, 200GB of Google One storage, Google Play Pass, YouTube Premium and YouTube Music Premium. It also comes with a device upgrade after two years. If you want a Pixel 6, the Pass costs $45 per month. It increases to $55 per month with the 6 Pro.

AI and other features

Live Translate feature on Google Pixel 6
Google

Of course, hardware was only part of the story on Tuesday, and Google had just as much, if not more, to say about all the new software it’s built for its latest phones. One such feature is Live Translate. With the help of its Tensor chip, the Pixel 6 can translate text as you type. It can do so almost instantaneously and without help from the cloud.

Google’s Tensor chip will also make Assistant more capable. If you need to contact a call center, it will generate an automated on-screen menu so you don’t have to listen to the assistant on the other side.

On the security front, the Pixel 6 comes with a new dashboard that provides an at-a-glance overview of any issues you may need to address. For instance, it will identify potentially “harmful” apps, and prompt you to set a fingerprint or PIN to unlock your device.

Looking to other software feature, Snap is creating a Pixel 6-first shortcut that affords quick access to Snapchat’s camera mode. When taking photos, the Pixel 6 should also do a better job of capturing darker skin tones thanks to a feature called Real Tone. Google worked with a variety of experts to fine-tune its camera algorithms to ensure its cameras “work for everyone.”

Catch up on all the latest news from Google's Pixel 6 event!

FDA proposes rule for over-the-counter hearing aids

The Food and Drug Administration is moving closer to making more affordable over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids a reality for millions of Americans with mild or moderate hearing loss. The agency issued a proposal to create a category of approved devices that people would be able to buy without a prescription, hearing exam or having to arrange a fitting with an audiologist.

"The proposed rule is designed to help increase competition in the market while also ensuring the safety and effectiveness of OTC and prescription hearing aids," the FDA said. Around 15 percent of adult Americans (some 37.5 million) have hearing difficulties, according to the agency.

The FDA's goal is to make it easier for those who could benefit from hearing aids to actually get one — it says only a fifth of people who fall into that category use such a device. The agency is hoping to tackle some of the barriers people might encounter, including cost, ease of access, social stigma and state and federal regulations.

In 2017, the federal government passed the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act with the aim of improving access to more affordable hearing aids. Hearing aids have only available with a prescription as the FDA classed them as Class I or II medical devices. President Joe Biden signed an executive order in July that, in part, instructed the Secretary of Health and Human Services to publish a proposed rule for OTC hearing aids within 120 days.

The proposal is now open to a 90-day public comment period. If and when the rule is finalized, it will come into effect 60 days after it's published in the federal register.

Several companies have already made moves to gain a foothold in the OTC hearing aid market. Earlier this year, Bose started selling its SoundControl hearing aids after gaining approval from the FDA, while Jabra unveiled its Enhance Plus earbuds a couple of months ago. Other companies are blending hardware and tech in hearing aids, including Bragi and Olive Union.

Apple, meanwhile, recently updated AirPods Pro with a feature that amplifies the volume of other people's voices in conversation while reducing ambient noise. The company is also said to be looking into ways of using AirPods as health devices.

Google turns those annoying call center menus into easy-to-navigate screens

In addition to the new Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, Google also released more details about new capabilities that its Tensor chip enables. One of them is a much more intelligent way of handling those calls to businesses that sometimes have you waiting hours on end just to speak to a representative. Now, the Pixel will show you the current and projected wait times before you even place a call so you can call when it works for you. 

Additionally, when you do call and encounter an endless list of options (like, "Press 1 for branch location and hours" if you're calling a bank), you don't need to remember all of them carefully. Instead, Google will listen to them for you and show the automated menu options on the screen for you to tap. 

This is in addition to a "Hold For Me" feature Google introduced last year. Instead of having to stay on the line, Google Assistant will remain on the call for you. It understands the difference between a recorded message and an actual representative on the line. When a real life person is finally on, it'll alert you to take the call. 

Catch up on all the latest news from Google's Pixel 6 event!

Google shows off new security hub and privacy dashboard for Pixel 6

Google is ramping up its security and privacy features with the Pixel 6. The company showed off new security hub and privacy dashboard features that will make it easier to control important settings.

The security hub provides an at-a-glance overview of security settings, such as whether or not your phone has the latest security updates installed or if you’ve set a fingerprint or PIN to unlock your device. Importantly, it can also keep tabs on the apps you’ve installed and can identify ones that are potentially “harmful.” At the top of the security hub is an indicator that will alert users if any settings need attention. A green checkmark indicates all is well, while a yellow exclamation mark will appear if something needs to be addressed.

Google also showed off new indicators to make it easier to tell when an app is using the phone’s camera or microphone feeds. Much like the notifications in iOS, an indicator will light up at the top right corner of the display when the phone’s mic or camera feeds are in use, and users will have the ability to kill access for specific apps.

pixel 6 privacy dashboard
Google

Likewise, the new privacy dashboard makes it easier to track which data apps have access to and how each app is using its permissions to access information like location data. As with the security hub, Google has previously made much of this information available within Android already, but it was often buried several layers into the settings menu, so having it all in a single dashboard should make it easier for most users to find.

Google also said it’s beefed up its anti-spam and phishing protection features, and Pixel 6 will be able to provide warnings when it detects potential shady phone calls, texts, emails and links.

It’s not yet clear if or when the company plans to bring these features to more devices than just its Pixel lineup. The company said during its event that the privacy dashboard and security hub would be “coming first” to Pixel, so the features could eventually make their way to more Android devices in the future.

Quick Tap to Snap is a Pixel 6-first camera shortcut for Snapchat

In addition to camera features like Magic Eraser, Google's Pixel 6 and 6 Pro phones will have something special for Snapchat users. Snap CEO Evan Spiegel joined the company's Pixel 6 event on Tuesday to announce Quick Tap to Snap. The gesture allows you to access the Snapchat camera by tapping the back of the Pixel 6 or 6 Pro twice. Quick Tap launches the app into camera-only mode directly from the lockscreen. Once you've captured a Snap, you'll need to authenticate your identity to access the rest of the app. 

Spiegel said Quick Tap to Snap makes the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro the fastest phones for capturing Snaps. He also said the company is working with Google to bring other Pixel-exclusive features like Live Translate to Snapchat. Once available, it will allow you and your friends to converse in 10 different languages with real-time translations. The two companies are also working together to launch exclusive augmented reality lenses.

Spiegel described Quick Tap to Snap as a "Pixel-first" feature, suggesting it will make its way to other devices at a later date. But securing an exclusive Snapchat feature, even if it's only a timed one, is still a big win for Google. A lot of Snapchat users, many of whom are teens, prefer the iPhone for the simple reason that the app works best on iOS. If this is the start of a better Snapchat experience on Android, it could do a lot to change that dynamic.     

Catch up on all the latest news from Google's Pixel 6 event!

Google's Pixel 6 can translate text as you type

Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro have a lot of AI tricks up their sleeves, and among them is a Live Translate feature. With Google's first mobile chip, Tensor, Pixel 6 can translate text as you type. Translation is handled by the Private Compute Core rather than in the cloud, so the device can convert what you're writing into other languages (including English, French, German, Italian and Japanese) almost instantaneously.

The phones can also translate messages someone sends to you. The Pixel 6 can detect when text in a chat app, such as WhatsApp or Snapchat, is in a different language to your own one and it offers a translation. 

The feature should come in handy for chatting with friends from other corners of the world who have a different mother tongue and might not understand all the nuances of your language. Live Translate could also prove useful when you're traveling somewhere with limited data and WiFi connectivity.

Google is placing a big focus on Tensor-powered AI features in Pixel 6 devices. Along with Live Translate, the phones have other language detection features and improved speech recognition. There's a Wait Time feature that shows the expected length of time you'll be on hold for thousands of prominent companies in the US. Pixel 6 can also convert automated call center menus into an onscreen interface.

Catch up on all the latest news from Google's Pixel 6 event!

MLB is in talks to end local blackouts for streaming games

MLB is notorious for blackouts on streaming home games — you still need a cable TV subscription. The league might just loosen its stance in the future, though. As The Vergereports, New York Postsources claim MLB is in "talks" to launch a national streaming service that would offer home games without requiring cable. While details aren't finalized, it would cost between $10 to $20 per month depending on the market. The NBA and NHL are even "considering" partnerships, according to the sources.

If it goes ahead, the service would launch as soon as the 2023 season. MLB.tv would still be available for those who don't mind out-of-market games. A deal is "not yet close at hand," so it wouldn't be surprising if talks fell apart. An MLB spokesperson declined to comment.

The pitch would be simple, according to the insiders: MLB sees this as a service for young baseball fans who are either cord-cutters or never subscribed to cable in the first place. Viewership and in-person attendance have both dropped sharply (12 percent and 34 percent respectively) since 2019, and the pandemic wasn't entirely to blame. This could shore up numbers and keep baseball relevant for an audience that would rather not pay $100-plus for cable just to root for the home team.

There's little doubt this would be a gamble, though. Sports channels and cable providers are highly protective of their broadcast rights, and Sinclair alone owns the digital rights for 14 of 30 teams. Sinclair reportedly asked to run the service for "several years" before MLB shot it down. While MLB is in a strong-enough position to reject Sinclair's overtures, it could face a backlash from cable companies that would pay less to air games.

How to pre-order the Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro

Google finally revealed the long awaited (and much rumored) Pixel 6 smartphones today. The $599 Pixel 6 and the $899 Pixel 6 Pro have revamped designs and run on Google's new Tensor processor, plus they have under-display fingerprint readers as well. The Pixel 6 handset has an OLED display, a dual-camera setup plus support for dual SIM cards, WiFi 6 and USB-C charging, while the Pixel 6 Pro has a 120Hz LTPO OLED screen, a triple rear camera system and 12GB of RAM. Here's how you can pre-order the Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro smartphones. 

Google Pixel 6

Google Pixel 6
Google

The Pixel 6 smartphone is available for pre-order today for $599 and will be widely available starting October 28. Instead of buying the phone outright, you can get it for $45 per month with Pixel Pass, Google's new subscription service that also includes access to Google One, YouTube Premium and YouTube Music Premium, Google Play Pass and Preferred Care.

Pre-order Pixel 6 at Google starting at $599Pre-order Pixel 6 at Best Buy starting at $599Pre-order Pixel 6 at B&H starting at $599

The Pixel 6 is the smaller of the two new Google handsets, with a 6.4-inch 1,800 x 2,400 OLED display that supports HDR and refresh rates up to 90Hz. One of the smartphone's kicker lies under the screen — fingerprint reader that you can use to unlock the device. The handset also has Google's Titan M2 security chip for enhanced security, along with camera and mic toggles.

When it comes to cameras, the Pixel 6 has a 50MP wide lens and a 12MP ultra wide shoot on the back, plus an 8MP front-facing camera. The rear setup can shoot video in up to 4K/60fps while the front camera tops out at 1080p/30fps. Google added a bunch of new camera features to the smartphone, too, including Magic Eraser, which automatically suggests objects like random people or cars to remove from a shot, Face Unblur and Motion Mode.

Inside the Pixel 6 is Google's Tensor processor, 8GB of RAM and either 128GB or 256GB of storage. Google claims it has a "beyond 24-hour" battery life and that you can get up to 48 hours of use in Extreme Battery Saver mode. It supports fast charging, so you can get 50 percent of juice in just 30 minutes, and you can power up with wireless chargers, too. It has one USB-C port along with support for 5G, WiFi 6 and dual SIM cards.

Google Pixel 6 Pro

Google Pixel 6 Pro
Google

The Pixel 6 Pro smartphone is available for pre-order today for $899 and will be widely available starting October 28. Instead of buying the phone outright, you can get it for $55 per month with Pixel Pass, Google's new subscription service that also includes access to Google One, YouTube Premium and YouTube Music Premium, Google Play Pass and Preferred Care.

Buy Pixel 6 Pro at Google starting at $899Buy Pixel 6 Pro at Best Buy starting at $899Buy Pixel 6 Pro at B&H starting at $899

The higher-end Pixel 6 Pro has a 6.7-inch 1,440 x 3,120 LTPO OLED display that supports HDR and refresh rates up to 120Hz. It automatically adjusts the refresh rate depending on what you're doing and it can go as low as 10Hz to save battery. The key differences between the Pixel 6 Pro and the regular Pixel 6 are in battery size and cameras. The 6 Pro has a slightly larger battery, but Google gives the same battery life estimations for both handsets. Both also support fast charging and wireless charging.

The Pixel 6 Pro has one extra rear camera: a 48MP telephoto shooter that supports super-res zoom up to 20x. That's on top of the 50MP wide camera and the 12MP ultra wide lenses that also appear on the regular Pixel 6. The 6 Pro also has a slightly better front-facing camera, which is a 11MP shooter with a wider, 94-degree field of view.

The Pixel 6 Pro has all of the same security features that its smaller counterpart does, including the under-display fingerprint sensor. It also runs on the same processor but comes with 12GB of RAM — storage options remain the same, too.

Catch up on all the latest news from Google's Pixel 6 event!

The Pixel 6 Pro vs. the competition: Telephoto, Tensor and more

Last year's Pixel came and went with only one screen size available, and for this year's flagship Google's giving you two options again. But instead of dubbing it the "XL" the bigger phone now carries the "Pro" moniker. The company says it's because it offers more professional features like a telephoto lens, but it also means it's named similarly to rival handsets from Apple and OnePlus. Check out the specs of some of the competition in the table below, and be sure to check out our hands-on with this fancy new phone while you wait for the full review later this month.

Pixel 6 Pro

iPhone 13 Pro Max

Galaxy S21 Ultra

OnePlus 9 Pro

Pricing

$899 / $999

$1,099 / $1,199 / $1,399 / $1,599

$1,200 / $1,250 / $1,380

$1,069

Dimensions

163.9 x 75.9 x 8.9 mm (6.5 x 3 x 0.4 inches)

160.8 x 78.1 x 7.65 mm (6.33 x 3.07 x 0.3 inches)

165.1 x 75.6 x 8.9 mm (6.5 x 2.98 x 0.35 inches)

163.2 x 73.6 x 8.7 mm (6.43 x 2.9 x 0.34 inches)

Weight

210g (7.41 ounces)

240g (8.46 ounces)

229g (8.07 ounces)

197g (6.95 ounces)

Screen size

6.7 inches (170 mm)

6.7 inches (170.18 mm)

6.8 inches (172.72 mm)

6.7 inches (170.18 mm)

Screen resolution

3,120 x 1,440 (512 ppi)

2,778 x 1,284 (458 ppi)

3,200 x 1,440 (515 ppi)

3,216 x 1,440 (525 ppi)

Screen type

LTPO OLED

Super Retina XDR

Infinity-O Dynamic AMOLED

Fluid AMOLED with LTPO

Battery

5,003 mAh

4,352 mAH

5,000 mAh

4,500 mAh

Internal storage

128 / 256 / 512 GB

128 / 256 / 512 GB / 1 TB

128 / 256 / 512 GB

256 GB

External storage

None

None

None

None

Rear camera(s)

Three cameras:
Ultra-wide, 12MP, f/2.2
Wide, 50 MP, f/1.85
Telephoto, 48MP, f/3.5

Three cameras:
Ultra-wide, 12MP, f/1.8
Wide, 12MP, f/1.5
Telephoto, 12MP, f/2.8

Four cameras:
Ultra-wide, 12MP, f/2.2
Wide-angle: 108MP f/1.8
Telephoto 1: 10MP, f/2.4
Telephoto 2: 10MP, f/4.9

Four cameras: Main, 48 MP, f/1.8
Ultra-wide, 50 MP, f/2.2
Telephoto, 8 MP, f/2.4
Monochrome, 2 MP

Front camera(s)

11.1MP, f/2.2

12MP, f/2.2

40MP, f/2.2

16MP, f/2.4

Video capture

4K at 30 fps

4K at 60 fps

4K at 60 fps

8K at 30 fps

SoC

Google Tensor

Apple A15 Bionic

Qualcomm Snapdragon 888

Qualcomm Snapdragon 888

CPU

2.8 octa-core

3.23 GHz hexa-core

2.8 GHz octa-core

2.84 GHz octa-core

GPU

ARM Mali G78

Apple hexa-core GPU

Adreno 660

Adreno 660

RAM

12 GB

6 GB

12 / 16 GB

12 GB

WiFi

802.11ax

802.11ax

6 GHz 802.11ax

6 GHz 802.11ax

Bluetooth

v5.2

v5.0

v5.2

v5.2

Operating system

Android 12

iOS 15

Android 11

Android 11

Other features

USB-C, Qi wireless charging

IP68 certified, Lightning connector, MagSafe and Qi wireless charging

IP68 certified, USB-C, Qi wireless charging

USB-C, Qi wireless charging

Catch up on all the latest news from Google's Pixel 6 event!

The Pixel 6 vs. the competition: The Tensor chip goes up to bat

Last year's Pixel phone might have been unambitious, but this year's pair look to be a real treat. Google's finally got its own chip, the Tensor, alongside the Titan M2 coprocessor for better security. (Given the Pegasus spyware incident this summer, it's a welcome and well-timed addition.) There's plenty of new software features, like Live Translate and Material You, the latter of which will allow you to customize your home screen's look even more. But this past year has been a pretty decent year for phones, and below you can see how the Pixel 6's new gussied-up insides compare to some of the other stellar flagships we've seen in 2021. And be sure to check out our hands-on, as well as our full review later this fall.

Pixel 6

iPhone 13

Galaxy S21

OnePlus 9

Pricing

$599 / $699

$799 / $899 / $1,099

$800 / $850

$729

Dimensions

158.6 x 74.8 x 8.9 mm (6.2 x 2.9 x 0.4 inches)

146.7 x 71.5 x 7.65 mm (5.78 x 2.82 x 0.3 inches)

151.7 x 71.2 x 7.9 mm (5.97 x 2.8 x 0.29 inches)

160 x 74.2 x 8.7 mm (6.3 x 2.92 x 0.34 inches)

Weight

207g (7.3 ounces)

174g (6.14 ounces)

171g (6.03 ounces)

192g (6.77 ounces)

Screen size

6.4 inches (163 mm)

6.1 inches (154.94 mm)

6.2 inches (157.48 mm)

6.55 inches (166.37 mm)

Screen resolution

2,400 x 1,080 (411 ppi)

2,532 x 1,170 (460 ppi)

2,400 x 1,080 (421 ppi)

2,400 x 1,080 (402 ppi)

Screen type

OLED

Super Retina XDR

Infinity-O Dynamic AMOLED

Fluid AMOLED

Battery

4,614 mAh

2,775 mAh

4,000 mAh

4,500 mAh

Internal storage

128 / 256 GB

128 / 256 / 512 GB

128 / 256 GB

128 GB

External storage

None

None

None

None

Rear camera(s)

Dual cameras:
Ultra-wide, 12MP, f/2.2
Wide, 50MP, f/1.85

Dual cameras:
Ultra-wide, 12MP, f/2.4
Wide, 12 MP, f/1.6

Three cameras:
Ultra-wide, 12MP, f/2.2
Wide, 12MP, f/1.8
Telephoto, 64MP, f/2.0

Three cameras:
Main, 48MP, f/1.8
Ultra-wide, 50MP, f/2.2
Monochrome, 2MP

Front camera(s)

8 MP, f/2.0

12 MP, f/2.2

10MP, f/2.2

16MP, f/2.4

Video capture

4K at 60 fps

4K at 60 fps

4K at 60 fps

8K at 30 fps

SoC

Google Tensor

Apple A15 Bionic

Qualcomm Snapdragon 888

Qualcomm Snapdragon 888

CPU

2.8 GHz octa-core

3.23 GHz hexa-core

2.8 GHz octa-core

2.8 GHz octa-core

GPU

ARM Mali G78

Apple hexa-core GPU

Adreno 660

Adreno 660

RAM

8 GB

6 GB

8 GB

8 GB

WiFi

802.11ax

802.11ax

802.11ax

802.11ax

Bluetooth

v5.2

v5.0

v5.2

v5.2

NFC

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Operating system

Android 12

iOS 15

Android 11

Android 11

Other features

IP68 certified, USB-C, Qi wireless charging

IP68 certified, Lightning connector, MagSafe and Qi wireless charging

IP68 certified, USB-C, Qi wireless charging

USB-C, Qi wireless charging

Catch up on all the latest news from Google's Pixel 6 event!

The Pixel 6's camera will feature larger image sensors and smarter photo editing AI

The Pixel 6 smartphone has finally been unveiled. On Tuesday, Google explained what sorts of cameras and image capture systems the new handsets will offer when they go on sale October 28th. 

Both the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro will come equipped with a 50-megapixel Octa PD Quad Bayer wide camera (the base 6 will additionally feature 7x Super Res Zoom) as well as a 12-megapixel ultra-wide camera. Their new 1/1.3 inch rear sensors reportedly capture up to 150 percent more light than the Pixel 5. The 6 Pro will also sport a 48-megapixel telephoto camera with 4x optical and 20x Super Res Zoom functionality. Around front, the base 6 will offer an 8-megapixel camera while the 6 Pro gets a 12-megapixel camera. 

Both models can capture video in 1080p and 4K (at either 30 or 60 FPS) with their rear cameras, as well as 240 FPS slo-mo. The 6 Pro's front camera can record at both 1080p (30 and 60 FPS) or in 4K at 30 FPS. The base 6's front however can only record at 1080p resolution at 30 FPS.

Editing photos should be a much more streamlined process than with past models, thanks to the Pixel 6's Tensor SOC integration. Users will be able to leverage the Magic Eraser which can quickly and seamlessly remove random objects and even people from the background of shots. What's really cool is that Magic Eraser will work on any photo you have, whether you just captured it using the Pixel 6 or dug it out of your Google Photos archive. The system will automatically recommend distractions to remove from your shots, though you can just as easily manually circle items that you want erased. 

Another cool feature is Face Unblurring. The camera is already automatically scanning for faces in the scene you're pointing it at, using Face SSD (single-shot detector). If it detects one that is blurry, the Pixel will activate a second camera so that you'll actually take two photos with the press of the shutter button — a short exposure from from the ultra-wide and a standard exposure from the main. Machine learning then stitches the sharper face captured by the ultra-wide onto the image captured by the main to create a clear hybrid image. 

The Pixel 6 can also intentionally increase blur through Motion Mode (using the same basic technique as Face Unblur but working in reverse) by first taking multiple shots of a scene, then identifying the subject of the photo via machine learning and computational photography techniques and applying aesthetic blurring effects to the parts that are in motion, while keeping the static aspects crisp and sharp. Best of all, these features will extend to any first- or third-party app that relies on the Pixel 6's camera, such as Snapchat.

Catch up on all the latest news from Google's Pixel 6 event!

Real Tone is Google's attempt at a more inclusive Android camera

At Google I/O in May, Android VP Sameer Samat announced an initiative to build a more racially inclusive camera for the company's Pixel devices, with better support for non-white hairstyles and darker skin tones. Today, Google confirmed the cameras on the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro will support this technology, and gave it a name — Real Tone.

Google partnered with "a diverse set of expert image makers and photographers" to tune its new camera algorithms, including adjustments to automatic white balance, automatic exposure and stray light settings. The goal, in the company's words, is to "ensure that Google’s camera and imagery products work for everyone, of every skin tone." Considering Google's consumer base has always included humans of every skin tone, and this is the sixth iteration of the Pixel, it's about time these considerations were made.

Real Tone is built into the cameras of the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, and there's no way to disable it. While the software is going live in Pixel devices first, Samat said in May that Google was committed to sharing its inclusivity solutions with the wider Android ecosystem.

Google said it hopes the Pixel 6 cameras will better represent "the nuances of different skin tones for all people beautifully and authentically." The updates are designed to make all photos look better in all instances, which is something everybody should be able to get behind.

Catch up on all the latest news from Google's Pixel 6 event!

Google details the Pixel 6's unique Tensor chip

Google was all too excited to unveil Tensor, its first system-on-a-chip, in August. We knew it would be powering the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro, and much like Apple's A-series mobile chips, it was an attempt at tying together Google's software with some custom-tuned hardware. In particular, Google positioned Tensor as something of an AI powerhouse, giving its new phones better hardware for image processing and voice recognition. Now, we know exactly what makes Tensor tick.

Google's SoC is a 5nm eight-core design broken down into big, medium and small cores. Leading the way is two ARM Cortex-X1 cores running at 2.8GHz. That's notable since Qualcomm's flagship Snapdragon 888 chip, which powers Samsung's Galaxy S21 and many other high-end phones, only has a single X1 core. It'll be interesting to see just how much faster Tensor is in comparison. 

Below that, the SoC also features two Cortex A76 cores running at 2.25GHz, as well as four 1.8GHz A55 cores as the "small" bits. Thankfully, Google didn't skimp on graphics: the Tensor also has a Mali-G78 graphics core, which you'll also find on other flagship Android phones. 

Google Tensor chip breakdown
Google

All of the talk of custom hardware may bring to mind the ill-fated (but gloriously inventive) Moto X, Google's 2013-era attempt at building a smarter smartphone. It wasn't the most powerful mobile around, but its always-on voice commands were a decent step towards ambient computing, something Google is still focused on today with the Tensor chip. 

The new SoC allow the Pixel 6 to translate videos and messages quickly with its Live Translate feature, and it'll be smarter about recognizing your voice as well. That should be particularly helpful when it comes to using your voice to type, edit and send messages. Most importantly, though, it'll be able to do all of that work without consuming much battery life. Overall, the Tensor chip will perform around 80 percent faster than the Pixel 5, according to Google. That's a lofty figure, so we'll definitely be testing the Pixel 6 heavily to confirm those numbers.

Additionally, Google says Tensor also gives the Pixel 6 an extra layer of security. It'll work together with the Titan M2 chip in the phone to protect against malware and other potential attacks. That's a good step forward for Google, and we're hoping to see more security hardware in other Android phones down the line.

At this point, Tensor appears to offer everything we'd want in a new mobile chip: Fast speeds, and plenty of forward-thinking AI features. It could eventually make the Pixel phones Google's true iPhone equivalent: Flagship hardware that dances in concert with a custom mobile chip. (And if Google is truly successful, maybe Tensor could make its way over to devices from other companies.)

Catch up on all the latest news from Google's Pixel 6 event!

Pixel Pass bundles a phone with Google services for $45 per month

The rumors were true: Google has an answer to the Apple One bundle. The company has introduced a Pixel Pass subscription that includes a Pixel 6 or 6 Pro phone (with an upgrade in two years), an extended warranty, 200GB of Google One storage, Google Play Pass, YouTube Premium and YouTube Music Premium. In theory, you'll have everything you'd want for one monthly rate.

The Pass starts at $45 per month for the regular Pixel 6, and climbs to $55 for the Pixel 6 Pro. You can subscribe through either the Google Store or Google Fi depending on your choice of carriers, but it's only available in the US for now.

Google's strategy is familiar: like Apple, it's hoping to boost adoption of its services and keep you ensconced in the company's ecosystem. You may be less likely to switch to a competitor (even another Android vendor) if you feel you're getting a better bargain with the Pixel Pass. This takes things a step further by including the phone, though — you're buying the whole experience rather than just a spate of extras.

Even so, the subscription may be helpful simply by recognizing a practical reality. Many people want more than just a phone, and Google is including those modern must-haves rather than asking you to pay for them after the fact. Don't be shocked if other phone makers take this approach before long.

Catch up on all the latest news from Google's Pixel 6 event!

Pixel 6 and 6 Pro hands-on: Google’s return to premium phones

The Pixel 6 and 6 Pro are finally here, and they’re the most promising phones from Google in years. That’s largely thanks to Tensor, the company’s first mobile chip. We’ve already seen plenty of pictures and videos of the Pixel 6, but now we actually have devices to play with and detailed specs to share. One of the highlights of the Pixel 6s are the cameras, which not only received a processing boost thanks to Tensor, but also a serious hardware upgrade.

Additionally, these handsets bring faster-refreshing screens, Android 12-exclusive features and significant voice recognition enhancements. But the best thing about the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro is the reasonable price. Starting today, you can pre-order a Pixel 6 for $599 and a 6 Pro for $899, and they’ll be available on shelves October 28th.

Pixel 6 and 6 Pro hardware differences

That’s a surprisingly low price for the Pixel 6. You’re getting a 6.4-inch Full HD screen with a 90Hz refresh rate, not to mention a 50-megapixel main rear camera (with pixel-binning), 12-megapixel wide angle lens and an 8-megapixel selfie camera. For $300 more, the Pixel 6 Pro offers a sharper 6.7-inch 1,440p screen that goes up to 120Hz and has narrower bezels. The Pro also adds a 48-megapixel telephoto lens with 4x optical zoom, and its 11.1-megapixel selfie camera is both sharper and packs a wider-angle lens.

Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro
Cherlynn Low / Engadget

The other main differences between the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro are that the Pro has a larger battery and comes with 12GB of RAM, while the smaller model has 8GB. Oh, and only the Pro goes up to 512GB of storage and has an ultra wideband chip for ranging and spatial orientation.

Pretty much every other feature is standard across the two devices. They’re both powered by Google’s new Tensor chip — an octa-core system comprised of two "Prime" Arm X1, two big and four small CPU cores. Both phones also have in-display fingerprint sensors, IP68 protection ratings, support for sub-6, mmWave 5G and pretty much every other standard you’d expect from a flagship in 2021.

A return to premium design and fun colors

The two also differ slightly in design, which marks a departure from previous years. Right off the bat, the phones feel markedly different from the Pixel 5 and Pixel 4. Instead of a matte soft-touch texture, both Pixel 6 phones are covered in glass with gently curved edges, lending them a premium feel. I’m not a fan of their new blocky shape, and the Pro in particular feels very similar to Samsung’s Note 20 Ultra. Thankfully, the Pro is lighter than the Note 20 Ultra and the iPhone 13 Pro Max.

The Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro in coral and blush
Cherlynn Low / Engadget

Both phones are also much larger than the Pixel 5, and though their screen sizes differ, they have almost the same footprint. As you’ve probably noticed in the images circulating around the internet, the focus of the backside is an approximately inch-tall bar that spans the width of the device. It houses the cameras (two for the Pixel 6 and three for the 6 Pro), and while it does protrude about half an inch from the back, it doesn’t cause much wobble when you place the handset on a flat surface. 

As mentioned, the Pixel 6 has noticeably thicker bezels and its edges have a matte texture compared to the Pro’s shinier finish. They also come in a different trio of colors, and the Pixel 6 arguably has the better palette. I’m a fan of the minty blue option, and the blush version is nice too. Meanwhile, the Pro only has one fun shade that's not black or silver: the almost yellowish hue. Not everyone’s going to love it.

Android 12 and voice recognition

Both phones run Android 12 with some Pixel-exclusive features. The most obvious refresh is the Material You UI, which took a really long time to roll out to the beta (and arrives on Pixels first). If you’ve been following our coverage of Google’s software, you know that Material You adapts by taking the primary color elements of your home screen’s wallpaper and then applies that throughout the system.

That means you get colorful, matching hues for things like your keyboard, menu buttons, settings panel and notifications shade. Seeing it fully realized on the Pixel 6 was a treat. Good news for current Pixel owners: It will roll out to the Pixel 3 and newer devices today.

But when Google introduced Tensor earlier this year, it also promised big things were coming in areas like voice recognition and camera processing. The company teased us with some limited demos then, but at a recent briefing I was shown more of the features coming to the Pixel 6 and they’re truly intriguing.

First of all, Google has revamped its speech recognition software. Not only will the engine be better at understanding you, but it also suggests alternatives that might make more sense. For example, if you have a friend whose name is Bryan (with a ‘y’), and you’ve changed the spelling a few times from Brian (with an 'i'), the system will note the correct spelling going forward.

Live Translate on the Pixel 6 messages app. An animation showing a message being typed out in English in the Messages app and simultaneously translated to Japanese.
Google

Google will also let you insert emoji by saying things like “smiley face emoji.” During my demo, I said “hot pot emoji” and the fire and pot symbols appeared. (Sadly, Unicode doesn’t have an icon for hotpot yet. Shame.) You’ll also be able to say the words “Send” or “Clear” to submit or delete your message, and go into the text to edit it while you’re speaking by tapping the error and saying what it should be. No need to switch in and out of voice typing mode.

Arguably the most interesting of the Pixel 6’s voice features is the ability to translate languages as you’re typing. A Google rep pulled up a WhatsApp chat with a friend who uses Japanese, and typed “Certainly, I will do that.” Almost simultaneously, the Japanese characters (hiragana) appeared in the text field.

My Japanese is rusty, so I’m not entirely sure the translation was accurate, but an earlier message from the conversation did appear to correctly convert “so cool” to “totemo kakkoii.” The translation happens both ways, so if your friend is sending you something in a foreign language, Google can also convert it to something you can read.

Wait Times with Assistant calls on the Pixel 6
Google

One of my favorite things about Pixel phones is their call-related Assistant features. Things like Call Screen and Hold For Me keep me from wasting time on robocalls or waiting for a representative who is “currently helping other customers.” The Pixel 6 will also get a new Wait Time feature that shows you how long you can expect to hold for the top 5,000 businesses in the US and even convert those annoying menus into an onscreen interface. That’s not only great for saving you time, but can help those with hearing impairments. I didn’t get to try it out myself yet, though Google’s rep did call HBO and the Assistant seemed to accurately transcribe what the automated operator said.

A serious camera upgrade

The main area where the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro have improved is their cameras and indeed, this is what I'm most excited about. We're at a point in the smartphone camera race where all the major players deliver excellent image quality regardless of whether they’re using a 108-megapixel or 12-megapixel sensor.

So where Google needs to stand out is with special features. And there’s a long list of new ones here thanks to that Tensor chip, including a Motion mode, object eraser and real tone for more accurate processing for people with different melanin levels.

Few of these are truly new in the smartphone world. We've seen the eraser option before on Samsung phones, where if there's a stray garbage can in your photo, you can select it and the system will remove it for you. During my demo, a Google rep took a picture of their colleague with passerby and a backpack in the background. They then tapped the extraneous person in the Photos app to outline and then delete them. There was a faint shadow on the wall that Google generated in its place, but it was otherwise as if there was never a person there.

Close ups of the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro camera bumps as the phones are laid out on a furry surface.
Cherlynn Low / Engadget

The Motion mode also offers other familiar tools we’ve seen on Huawei and Sony phones. One is a long exposure setting that lets you shoot moving cars at night (or anything with lights, really) and have their tail lights appear in the image as iridescent streaks. Because my meeting took place during the day, a Google rep demonstrated this by taking pictures of videos projected onto a wall, including a waterfall. The Pixel 6 rendered beautiful light streaks and silky cascades of water. So far, I’ve been impressed by the images it produces, especially compared to samples taken with Huawei’s Light Painting mode.

The other feature in Motion mode is called Action Pan. Basically, if you have a fast moving subject, like a dog prancing through a field or a bike zooming down the street, it will let you capture a crisp photo of your subject against a motion-blurred background. Again, based on the demo at my briefing (of a Google rep cycling inside a room in circles), it seemed to work well.

With the Pixel 6 launch, Google is also officially introducing its image equity program. We've heard a little bit about this at I/O, where the company said it’s working to make the Android camera more inclusive. In the Pixel 6, Real Tone is baked in (not something you can turn on or off) and it should render people more accurately, and also better expose and color-balance scenes. Of course, this is something that will require more real-world testing for me to conclude it’s effective.

There's a slew of other photography-related features that I’d love to try outside of a controlled demo, including a Face Unblur tool. But while there’s plenty of software tweaks to check out, I’m also dying to grab some pictures with the new hardware. Both the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro now have a 50-megapixel main sensor with f/1.85 aperture. They also have a 12-megapixel ultra-wide option that has a 114-degree field of view, and the Pro has an additional 48-megapixel telephoto lens with 4X optical zoom.

Close up of the Pixel 6 Pro's camera bump.
Cherlynn Low / Engadget

A Google rep and I stood side by side with him holding the Pixel 6 Pro and me using the iPhone 13 Pro I had on hand. Both of us zoomed to the furthest we could to capture a little Android figurine sitting on a distant couch, and Google appeared to be the clear winner. While both devices rendered the robot, when we zoomed in it was evident the Pixel 6 Pro captured more detail, clearly showing the lines between its head and body, which were basically just smudges on the iPhone.

Up front, the Pixel 6 has an 8-megapixel camera while the Pro goes up to 11.1-megapixels, and the latter can capture selfie videos at up to 4K at 30 frames per second. Both devices can shoot at 4K resolution at 60 fps with their rear cameras, and there’s a new Speech Enhancement mode to play with that will drown out background noise to focus on what you’re saying. All these will also require extended real world testing before I can tell how useful they are.

In fact, there’s plenty more to test, including battery life, Tensor’s performance and the in-display fingerprint sensor’s responsiveness. You can already pre-order the Pixel 6 for $599 and the 6 Pro for $899, which is hundreds less than their Apple and Samsung counterparts, but I’d suggest waiting for our full review before spending your money.

Key specs

Spec

Pixel 6

Pixel 6 Pro

Display

6.4-inch 2,400 x 1,080 (20:9) OLED. 411ppi, up to 90Hz

6.7-inch 3,120 x 1,440 LTPO OLED. 512ppi, up to 120Hz

Dimensions

6.2 x 2.9 x 0.4 inches / 158.6 x 74.8 x 8.9 mm;

7.3 oz / 207 grams

6.5 x 3.0 x 0.4 inches / 163.9 x 75.9 x 8.9 mm;

7.41 oz / 210 grams

Processor, RAM and Storage

Google Tensor with Titan M2 security coprocessor;

8GB LDDR5 RAM;

128GB / 256GB UFS 3.1

Google Tensor with Titan M2 security coprocessor;

12GB LDDR5 RAM;

128GB / 256GB / 512GB UFS 3.1

Rear cameras

50MP octa PD Quad Bayer camera, 1.2-micron pixels, 1/1.31" sensor and f/1.85 aperture

12MP ultrawide camera, 1.25-micron pixels, 114-degree FOV and f/2.2

50MP octa PD Quad Bayer camera, 1.2-micron pixels, 1/1.31" sensor and f/1.85 aperture

12MP ultrawide camera, 1.25-micron pixels, 114-degree FOV and f/2.2

48MP telephoto camera, 4x optical zoom, 0.8-micron pixels, f/3.5

Front camera

8MP, 1.12-micron pixels, f/2.0, 84-degree FOV

11.1MP, 1.22-micron pixels, f/2.2, 94-degree FOV

Battery

4,614 mAh, fast-charging with included Google 30W USB-C charger

Qi-certified, fast wireless charging, battery share

5,003 mAh, fast-charging with included Google 30W USB-C charger

Qi-certified, fast wireless charging, battery share

Sensors and connectivity

Under-display fingerprint sensor, dual-SIM (one nano and one eSIM), NFC, WiFi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2

Under-display fingerprint sensor, dual-SIM (one nano and one eSIM), NFC, WiFi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2, Ultra-wideband chip

Water resistance

IP68

IP68

Catch up on all the latest news from Google's Pixel 6 event!

Android 12 is now rolling out to Pixel phones

Just as Google kicks off its big Pixel 6 event, the company has finally started rolling out Android 12 on Pixel 3 and above. The company released the first public beta of the OS during the I/O developer conference in May, and it's been priming Android 12 for prime time since with several other betas.

Along with a major visual overhaul, Android 12 packs in a bunch of new features, including privacy and security upgrades. A Privacy Dashboard shows which sensors (such as GPS, camera or microphone) apps have accessed in a chart and displays an activity timeline. You'll be able to find out why apps needed access to data from those sensors.

An indicator will appear at the top of the screen when an app is using the camera and/or microphone, and you can shut off those sensors completely for all apps in Quick Settings. There's an option to only allow apps to see your approximate location rather than precisely where you are too. On top of that, Android 12 will handle the processing for more language and audio features on-device, including Live Caption and the Now Playing song recognition tool.

Elsewhere, you can expect redesigned emoji, scrolling screenshots (which capture information from apps or web pages beyond what's on the screen), games you can play while they download, a new one-handed mode and an accessibility option that lets people control the device using face gestures.

Although the Android 12 rollout is underway on Pixel, owners of compatible Samsung, OnePlus, Oppo, Realme, Tecno, Vivo and Xiaomi devices will need to wait a little longer. The OS will hit those phones and tablets, and ones from other companies, later this year. Google released Android 12 on the Android Open Source Project earlier this month.

There's another important thing to note about the Android 12 rollout. The dynamic color experience powered by the Material You design language is only available on Pixel devices for the time being. The color scheme will match the wallpaper you choose across the system and apps, and that look will be mirrored across other Google products, including smart displays, wearables, Chrome OS and the web. Google says other Android devices will get access to the experience later.

Catch up on all the latest news from Google's Pixel 6 event!

Google's Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro deliver flagship features for $599 and $899

Back in August, Google surprisingly announced its upcoming Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro smartphones and said they would run on the company’s own “Tensor” mobile chip. We learned a few other things then and got a good look at the phones, as well, but today Google is finally officially revealing the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro.

Google tends to go back and forth with the Pixel lineup, alternating between phones with cutting edge features and prices to match and more mainstream, almost budget devices (last year’s Pixel 5 is a perfect example of the latter). Both the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro feel like they’re designed to compete with Apple and Samsung’s best, but also at slightly more approachable prices — the Pixel 6 starts at $600 (with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage), while the Pixel 6 Pro starts at $900 (with 12GB of RAM and 128GB of storage). Notably, the $600 Pixel 6 is $100 cheaper than last year's Pixel 5, but it looks to be a far better phone, at least judging from the spec sheet.

Google Pixel 6
Google's Pixel 6
Google

The new Pixel 6 lineup looks unlike any previous phones Google made, thanks to the thick camera bar stretching across the back. The Pixel 6 has a dual-camera system, with wide and ultrawide lenses, while the Pixel 6 Pro adds a telephoto option. On both phones, the standard camera is a 50 megapixel sensor with a quad-bayer filter, which puts four pixels behind each standard color block — effectively, you’re not going to get 50-megapixel photos here, but something more in the realm of 12.5 megapixels.

Google Pixel 6 Pro
And the Pixel 6 Pro.
Google

Despite the fact that this is a 50 megapixel sensor, these pixels are pretty large, and the sensor is pretty big, too. Putting this all together means the Pixel 6’s main camera is gathering more light info per pixel, which should give it better clarity. Combined with that large sensor and large pixels, we’re expecting to see some impressive results here. Indeed, Google says that this allows its “super res zoom” feature to go in up to 7x the standard field of view; we’ll have to wait and see how those results look, but it’s an intriguing camera setup nonetheless.

The second ultrawide camera is a more traditional 12-megapixel sensor with an f/2.2 aperture and a 114-degree field of view. Finally, the Pixel 6 Pro adds another impressive camera, a 48-megapixel shooter with 4x optical zoom. Given all the camera tech on board here, it’s not surprising that the camera bar on these phones is so large — once we get into our review, we can see if all this translates into quality photos, but Google’s track record here is pretty solid.

As for video capabilities, the rear camera array can record both 1080p and 4K video at 30 or 60 FPS, with other features like cinematic panning, slow-motion, timelapse, astrophotography timelapse and optical image stabilization on board. As with Apple’s iPhone 13, it’s safe to say that the video features Google loaded into the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro far exceed what most people need.

The front-facing cameras are different between the two new phones. The Pixel 6 has to make do with an 8-megapixel shooter with an f/2.0 aperture, while the Pixel 6 Pro has an 11.1-megapixel camera with larger pixels but a slightly smaller f/2.2 aperture. That camera lives in a small pinhole cut-out right in the center of the display. Rather than using that camera to unlock the phone, Google has equipped the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro with an under-screen thumbprint sensor, a first for the Pixel series.

While these cameras are definitely intriguing, the most notable thing about the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro is the Google-made Tensor processor. The company says it’s 80 percent faster than the Pixel 5, and it also provides on-device AI for things like faster and more accurate speech recognition as well as image processing. You can read all about Tensor here, but here's a quick breakdown. It's an eight-core chip, starting with two ARM Cortex-X1 cores running at 2.8GHz. It also includes two Cortex A76 cores running at 2.25GHz, and finally four 1.8GHz A55 cores. Those last four are the "small" cores, which are meant for efficiency, and as you step up the ladder you're getting more and more power. We talked to Google about Tensor in August and they said similar things then, but it’s another thing we’ll need to watch for in our review and see how Tensor stacks up to Qualcomm’s processors.

The Pixel 6 and 6 Pro come in one size each. The Pixel 6 is the smaller phone, with a 6.1-inch display, while the Pro counters with a 6.7-inch screen. The Pixel 6 has a 1,080 x 2,400 OLED, which works out to 411 pixels per inch; the 6 Pro’s screen is even more pixel-dense at 1,440 x 3,120, which works out to 512 pixels per inch. Both have high refresh rates, with the Pro going up to 120Hz. The Pixel 6 tops out at 90Hz, unfortunately, the same as the Pixel 5’s refresh rate.

As we’ve seen in the earlier photos Google released, the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro each come in three different colors. Both phones are available in the monochromatic “Stormy Black,” while the Pixel 6 also comes in “Sorta Seafoam” and “Kinda Coral.” The Pixel 6 Pro’s options are a bit more demure; besides black you can choose “Cloudy White” and “Sorta Sunny,” which you could just as easily call silver and gold.

Battery is among the most important factors in a smartphone, and Google is once again promising more than 24 hours of usage, even when the phone is connected to 5G networks. The Pixel 6 has a 4,614 mAh battery, and the 6 pro has a 5,003 mAh battery, both larger than the one found in last year’s Pixel 5. Given that the Pixel 5 managed to last as long as Google promised, we’re expecting these phones should last that day-plus as well, though we’re definitely curious to see how the Tensor processor might play into things this year.

After the rather lackluster Pixel 5, it’s pretty clear Google has re-dedicated itself to the smartphone game with the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro. The spec list, cameras, battery life, design and — of course — the Tensor processor all seem set to impress. But as usual, we’ll have to run these phones through a review to say whether Google has a high-end hit on its hands. You can find out for yourself on October 28th when they hit store shelves; if you’re already convinced, pre-orders are live now.

Catch up on all the latest news from Google's Pixel 6 event!

Dbrand says its latest PS5 faceplates will survive Sony’s legal wrath

Over the weekend, accessory maker Dbrand made headlines when it stopped selling its PlayStation 5 “Darkplates” following a cease-and-desist letter from Sony. At the time, the company promised it would have more to say about the subject, and now it has. On late Monday evening, the company took to Reddit to announce a second version of the faceplates it says Sony won't have a legal case against.

“By creating a brand new design, Darkplates 2.0 successfully closes the loop on this dispute and neutralizes any future infringement claims from Sony,” the company said. It also claims its plates will make your PS5 look “considerably less ugly.” You can be the judge of that last one.

In addition to a new design, the panels feature cutouts for the PS5’s 120mm intake fans. Citing data from Gamers Nexus, Dbrand claims its new plates will maximize your PS5’s thermal performance without the need to run it naked. Sony’s latest console doesn’t have overheating issues. That’s true of both the launch variant and the new revised model that comes with a smaller and lighter heatsink. That said, running components at lower temperatures generally extends their lifespan over pushing them to the limit. If you’re worried about dust making its way into your console, each set of Darkplates comes with a pair of mesh dust filters you can mount inside of the panels.

The new panels are available to pre-order starting today for an introductory price of $59.05 for the set. You can choose from three colors: matte black, retro gray and classic white. Alongside the faceplates, Dbrand is selling lightstrips you can use to tint your PS5’s side LEDs. They’re available in nine different colors, with a single one priced at $5.95. Dbrand will release the panels in waves, with the first, sold-out set shipping in November, and then the second and third waves following in December and January.

We wouldn’t necessarily count on plates making those dates. Dbrand says Sony will “probably” sue it again. It’s bullish on its prospects, but then again, it’s up against a much larger company.

Watch Google's Pixel 6 event with us here at 1PM ET

Google's Pixel 6 is almost here after months of hype. The company is livestreaming the Pixel 6 launch event starting at 1PM Eastern, and you can watch it with us on Engadget's YouTube channel (below) for an extra dash of insight.

The focus is on the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, of course — both are expected to herald Google's return to flagship-class phones with improved cameras, flashier designs and a custom AI-centric processor. We'd also expect to hear news about Android 12 availability, however, and we wouldn't rule out news on Pixel Pass or other service-oriented features. As much as Google has said so far, it might have plenty more to say during its presentation.