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Google Pixel 6: Australian price, specs and release date

Google Pixel 6 launch_Supplied_1800x1000

Google's re-entry into the premium phone market relies strongly on the smarts of its new Tensor processor.

After months of smaller-scale reveals, Google has finally and formally lifted the curtain on its 2021 flagship phone family. The Google Pixel 6 (and the larger, even more premium Google Pixel 6 Pro) promise the best in a pure Android experience, but then every big phone maker promises that its flagship model will be the best in class.

Buy Pixel 6 phones at eBay

Buy Pixel 6 phones at eBay

Where Google has an advantage is in the fact that it's responsible for the core operating system, which means that Pixel phones always get the newest Android releases and features before other handsets do. Google's backing that up with its usual 3 years of core OS updates promise for the Pixel 6, and upping the ante with 5 years of security updates.

Google Pixel 6

That's due to the presence of a special new Google-designed processor called "Tensor" that Google hopes will be a real game-changer for its mobile ambitions.

Google Pixel 6: Australian pricing

The Google Pixel 6 sees a slight departure from Google's pricing for its prior generation of handsets. The Google Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G were very much sold as more affordable, mid-range options, but the new tech in the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro does see a shift upwards in Google's pricing ambitions.

However, it's not all bad news because it's still very competitive against the likes of Samsung and especially Apple. The entry level 128GB Pixel 6 will cost $999 outright in Australia, while the 256GB model costs $1,129.

Google Pixel 6: Availability

The Google Pixel 6 will go on pre-order from 20 October 2021 through the Google Store, Telstra, JB Hi-Fi, Optus, Vodafone, Harvey Norman and Officeworks. It will then be available to buy from 28 October 2021.

We're yet to see full details of carrier plans and any bonuses that individual carriers may offer, but we'll update as soon as we have that information

Google Pixel 6: Design

The Google Pixel 6 will ship in Australia in 3 different colours, which in typical Google style have slightly unusual names. There's Kinda Coral, which is mostly pinkish, Sorta Seafoam which is mostly green..ish and Stormy Black, which is... black. Each phone has a dual tone colour effect, with a deeper tone above the rear camera module than below on the main rear body.

Controls are kept simple, with the power button sitting above the volume rocker on the right hand side of the phone. There's no physical fingerprint sensor, with Google opting for an optical under-display fingerprint reader instead. While Google did offer up facial recognition via its "Soli" radar system in the Pixel 4, fingerprints are meant to be the primary biometric system for its 2021 flagships.

Google Pixel 6

The Pixel 6's display is a 6.4-inch FHD+ panel with support for up to 90Hz refresh rates. Unlike the pricier Pixel 6 Pro, you don't get the full dynamic refresh rate support for as low as 10Hz to preserve battery life, but you do get that faster refresh rate for smoother scrolling and gameplay enhancements in supported titles.

Undeniably the most contentious part of the Pixel 6's design is at the back, where the more traditional camera bump has been replaced by something we can really only refer to as a camera shelf. (Pictured above.)

The cameras on the rear of the Pixel 6 are arranged horizontally in an enclosure that runs the entire back of the phone. That does give your hand a somewhat natural resting position beneath the lenses, but it also means that without a case (which would add bulk) it's 100% incapable of resting flat on any surface. It also means that you'll have to carefully place it when using some wireless chargers to ensure it grabs power properly.

Google Pixel 6: Cameras

For the longest time, Google relied on its AI software to make its Pixel phone cameras pop, shipping many models with single lenses. While the tastiest camera specifications sit in the larger Google Pixel 6 Pro, the Pixel 6 can still match up some interesting camera features alongside improved physical hardware.

At the rear of the Pixel 6, there's a 50MP primary wide sensor joined by a 12MP ultrawide sensor. Google's claim here is that you'll get substantially improved low light performance from the Pixel 6 compared to previous generations, and that's a big claim considering just how good prior Pixel generations have been in this specific area.

Pixel 6 camera

That's been largely because of Google's AI work on low light computational photography, and it's still very much a core part of how Google pitches the Google Pixel 6's camera muscle. New features coming to the Pixel 6 (and Pixel 6 Pro) include "Magic Eraser", which gives you a Photoshop-style tool for removing unwanted background images from your photos. While some software tools – including Google's own Snapseed – have offered similar features, Google's claim on Magic Eraser is that it'll offer a simpler, in-camera method for removing unwanted objects even if you're not a photoshop wizard.

The Pixel 6 also offers new exposure modes for dedicated background or foreground focus effects, with Long Exposure and Action Pan modes in its camera. As you'd expect, Long Exposure lets you take shots that can artistically blur the subject of your photo – think of those classic waterfall shots where the water appears as a silky sheet for example – while Action Pan lets you keep your subject sharp in motion while blurring the background behind them.

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The same technology that enables Action Pan also lets the Pixel 6 capture moving faces without the annoying blur that so many parents will know when they've tried to capture shots of their exuberant youngsters. Face Unblur will kick in if the Pixel 6 detects a face in motion when a camera shot is taken, automatically placing a still facial image into your photo for more pleasing results.

Speaking of pleasing, it's also notable that Google says that the Pixel 6's camera will gain access to what it's calling Real Tone. For some time there's been issues with a lot of AI facial recognition, and especially how it treats non-Caucasian skin tones, or indeed how they get post-processed by camera software. Google's claim here is that Real Tone will more accurately represent the nuances of the wonderful variety of human skin tones.

Google Pixel 6: Performance

Google doesn't quite have the advantages Apple has when it comes to building both hardware and software for optimal performance, because Android has to be able to run on everything from bargain basement processors to the highest-flying CPUs.

Or, at least it didn't, until it designed its own processor. Called Tensor, it's the heart of the Google Pixel 6, with its own Google-designed system for optimal performance and security for some years to come. To an extent that's something that will have to be seen to work over multiple apps, but for launch, Google does have a few new features that it claims are only feasible thanks to the Tensor chip.

These include new language translation options with advanced speech recognition across a number of languages. Google's still ultimately using its own Google Translate engine here, but the claim is that you can keep all translations on the device itself for selected languages, rather than relying on Translate heading to a Google server and back again.

Google Pixel 6

This will enable features like sending messages in English to a Japanese speaker and having them appear in Japanese to them, while their replies can be quickly switched to English so that even if you have zero 日本語 fluency, you'll still be able communicate.

At launch, the Pixel 6 will support translation in English, German and Japanese offline, with support for 48 further languages in an online-only capacity.

Beyond the Tensor chip, the Google Pixel 6 ships with 8GB of onboard RAM and storage at 128GB or 256GB. As with prior Pixel models, storage expansion via microSD is not supported – but Google would sure love to sell you some Google Drive cloud storage for your documents and photos if you do run out.

The Pixel 6 is also 5G capable, but here there's a significant difference between the regular and Pro models. The Pixel 6 is a pure sub-6Hz 5G model only, matching the capabilities of every other 5G phone to launch in Australia to date. The Pixel 6 Pro will support the faster mmWave standard, making it the first 5G handset in Australia to offer access to faster 5G networks in the future.

Google Pixel 6: Battery

The Pixel 6 ships with a sealed 4,640mAh battery, ever so slightly larger than the standard we tend to see in this sized handset. We'll have to more formally test out the Pixel 6 to see where it sits in the battery rankings, because this is an area where Google's phones really have dipped and dived in terms of battery endurance.

To assist with that, the Pixel 6 has a range of onboard battery-saving features. The adaptive battery feature learns your favourite apps so that it doesn't shut those down, while suspending less-used apps in the background to give you a balance between battery life and speed. We've seen that from many Chinese phone makers in the past, typically leaning heavily into shutting lots of apps down, so it'll be interesting to see just how well balanced Google's approach is here.

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You'll also be able to set up what Google calls its "Extreme" battery saver, a feature that enables you to define your most critical apps for when the battery gets particularly low. At that point, the Pixel 6 blocks off other apps but lets you keep working on just those apps, presumably also while you desperately hunt for a nearby charger.

There's no supplied charger in the box with the Google Pixel 6, but it will support both Qi wireless charging and wired USB C charging at up to 30W. Google will sell its own 30W Pixel charger separately.

Google Pixel 6: Specifications

If you're looking to upgrade, it's worth knowing what you're getting. Here's how the Google Pixel 6, the Google Pixel 5 and Google Pixel 6 Pro compare.

ModelGoogle Pixel 6Google Pixel 6 ProGoogle Pixel 5
Screen size6.4 inches6.7 inches6 inches
Rear cameras50MP/12MP50MP/12MP/48MP12.2MP/16MP
Front camera8MP11.1MP8MP
ProcessorGoogle TensorGoogle TensorSnapdragon 765G
DimensionsTBCTBC144.7x70.4x8 mm
Water resistanceIP68IP68IP68

Buy Pixel phones

The Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro weren't on sale at the time of writing, but you should be able to preorder them on 20 October 2021. Alternatively, you can currently get your hands on the Pixel 4a, Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G at reduced prices. Here are a handful of deals that caught our eye on Amazon.

Google Pixel 4a - $619
Google Pixel 4a - $619

Up to 24-hour adaptive battery | 5.8-inch FHD+ OLED screen | 12 MP rear camera | Night Sight, Live HDR+, Super Res Zoom

Buy now

Google Pixel 4a with 5G - $995
Google Pixel 4a with 5G - $995

Up to 24-hour adaptive battery | 5.8-inch FHD+ OLED screen | 12 MP rear camera | Night Sight, Live HDR+, Super Res Zoom | 5G network enabled

Buy now

Google Pixel 5a - $995
Google Pixel 5a - $995

128GB | ‎6.3-inch FHD+ OLED screen | 12.2 MP rear camera | Unlocked for all carriers

Buy now

Compare Pixel 6 plans

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