Robert Triggs / Android Authority
Google has often touted the Pixel series as an iPhone alternative, but this is not how the competition has developed in practice. In most cases, the Pixel has served as a foil for other Android phones. This is what you get when you don’t feel like cluttered surfaces, overcomplicated cameras or ultra-premium prices from Google partners. While that’s fine, there was a lingering feeling that Google didn’t understand what makes iPhone fans so loyal.
The Pixel 6 seems to be changing all that. While there’s no guarantee that Pixel will become a household name on par with the iPhone or Galaxy brands, it does suggest that Google is finally aiming straight at Apple. And not just in terms of specs, design, or even marketing – Google is pursuing this tight integration that has proven elusive for many Android device manufacturers. This is Google’s best chance to convince not only iPhone users but also Android fans who have longed for some of the advantages of the iPhone.
Hardware and software could achieve an Apple-like harmony
Ask iPhone owners why they don’t switch to an Android smartphone like the Pixel and they will often say that a lot of things “just work”. Whether they know it or not, they believe that hardware and software work closely and harmoniously together – and that on a fundamental level. Apple can optimize iOS features and performance for a limited number of devices; It can develop chips and other components to support iOS features that may be years away. They know you’re getting a fast, well-supported phone with benefits that aren’t always easy to replicate elsewhere.
Google has tried its hand at custom hardware in the past. The Pixel Visual Core helped handle image processing on the Pixel 2 and Pixel 3, while the Neural Core on the Pixel 4 was an internal machine learning processor that took this one step further by adding better speech recognition, transcription capabilities, and more made possible. The Pixel 4 also implemented Google’s Soli radar technology for touchless gestures.
Continue reading: Why the Pixel 6‘s tensor chip is actually a big deal (and why not)
Even so, Google didn’t have much control over its hardware destiny. Like many Android vendors, it is largely chained to its main chip provider Qualcomm. Despite all of Google’s best efforts, the latter company’s roadmap largely dictated the limits of pixel performance, updates, and features that allowed Apple to go in virtually any direction with iPhones.
With the Pixel 6, that won’t be such a big problem. Google has unveiled its first mobile system-on-chip, the Google Tensor, that focuses on machine learning. The company has more freedom to prioritize performance, security, and CPU-related features like speech recognition. Google will still have to use some standard components and not have as much control as Apple. Still, it should have more of the iPhone-like integration that many Android vendors only want.
The Pixel 6 is a real flagship on par with the iPhone
We’re going to say it right away: Google’s pixel phones have just really flirted with flagship status. Though they often had high-end chips and the occasional convenience, they were rarely all-out devices winning specification or design wars. They used much of the same basic camera hardware, and their design can best be described as … economical. While Pixel phones are occasionally better value for money than the iPhone and similar flagships, they have never been the absolute best (or most eye-catching) devices to put in your pocket.
The Pixel 6 doesn’t make these concessions, at least not at first glance. Of course, Tensor promises unique performance advantages, but you can also expect a thoroughly up-to-date camera array with an improved main sensor and the long overdue switch to a triple camera array on the Pixel 6 Pro. We also expect a 120Hz display on the high-end model, and leaks suggest that memory and storage will catch up with modern expectations. This pixel could easily compete with the iPhone and the best Android phones, not just competitors in the same price range.
See also: What to Expect from the Google Pixel 6 Cameras
And yes, the design is important. Whether you think the Pixel 6’s two-tone look is brilliant or tricky, there’s no doubt it screams “flagship” in ways that even a Pixel 4 never did. This is one pixel that you want to flaunt in front of your friends, and it might make iPhone owners a little jealous. This, in turn, could attract the attention of everyday shoppers who ignored earlier Pixels in favor of premium-like (if not necessarily technically superior) competitors.
Google will also sell it like a flagship
C. Scott Brown / Android Authority
Android fans like to argue that the iPhone triumphed over the Pixel thanks to marketing, not technology. However, it would be fairer to say that Google briefly sold the Pixel compared to its biggest competitors. Aside from the initial marketing flash and the occasional ad, it’s hard to believe that Google, one of the most influential tech companies in the world, made its own phones. Pixels are great devices – most people just don’t know they exist.
That shouldn’t be a problem with the Pixel 6. Google’s Rick Osterloh told the story The edge that the company believes the Pixel 6 “really is Google’s phone now,” and that the company wants to claim market share. Accordingly, Google CFO Ruth Porat warned of a huge spike in marketing spend on product launches later in 2021. The tech giant finally has the confidence to sell the Pixel like a flagship on par with the iPhone and Galaxy S, and that could be key his google is collecting some long overdue sales.
Google briefly sold the Pixel in the past compared to its biggest competitors.
Google will have a little more control over how it sells the Pixel 6. While Google only has one permanent retail store as of this writing, a larger store network could help reduce the company’s reliance on freight forwarders and large tech stores, which are often not very interested in promoting Google hardware. Apple’s retail stores made the iPhone a success by providing an easy way for customers to see and try the device – Google won’t repeat that success anytime soon, if at all, but it could get the ball rolling during the Pixel 6 lifecycle bring.
However, the surge in spending suggests that Google may not have to rely as much on its own businesses. This marketing money could lead to wider vendor availability, not to mention greater brand awareness. You can buy a Pixel 6 simply because it is more likely to show up at a store near you. Simple exposure is also important. Apple and Samsung often flood the market with ads for their latest flagships. If Google can market the new Pixel with roughly the same intensity, it could have a flagship that is as popular as it is powerful.