Pixel 6 Leaks: 5 Years of Safety Updates, ~ $ 749 and $ 1,049 value tags
Time for a Pixel 6 Leak Summary! There are so many leaks.
Over the weekend, UK retailer Carphone Warehouse released an official-looking teaser site (which has since been removed) for the Pixel 6. The site was full of information, mostly claiming that the Pixel 6 comes with “five years of updates.” “That Pixel 6 features Google’s first major SoC, the “Google Tensor” chip, and the company hasn’t said why it decided to ditch Qualcomm and go its own way in the chip market. Google doesn’t develop custom CPU or CPU GPU cores (although configuration gets creative) and only alluded to a small handful of AI use cases as selling points for the SoC.
We’ve long speculated that Google’s chip plans are really about extending Android’s support schedules so the company can better compete with Apple, and now we finally have confirmation. Incidentally, Apple gives support for the iPhone 6S for up to seven years.
Qualcomm poses a huge problem if you want to support a phone for more than three years as that is the limit of the company’s SoC support. Some companies, like Samsung, extend this timeframe slightly with three years of major OS updates and four years of critical security updates, but none of Qualcomm’s customers are authorized to support phones for much longer. With the Tensor-equipped Pixel 6, Google only has to answer for itself in terms of the support schedule. The company makes the operating system, phone hardware, and phone SoC so it can support the Pixel 6 for as long as it wants.
Enlarge / The Pixel 6 will receive updates for five years, but the fine print makes it clear that the updates are only security related.
Car phone warehouse
The “five year updates” claim on the Carphone Warehouse page is clarified in the fine print as “Android security updates for at least five years” so we don’t know how many major Android updates the Pixel 6 will receive. Google could offer major Android operating system updates for five years that will allow the Pixel 6 to last through Android 17, but this site doesn’t promise that. For now, all we can say is that the phone will receive an unknown number of critical operating system updates and five years of security updates.
Google certainly did a lot of software work to make the Pixel 6 the longest-supported Pixel phone ever. Android 12 will dramatically change the way new devices introduce Android’s Linux kernel with the “GKI” or “Generic Kernel Image”. Android phones all run the Linux kernel, but traditionally there are three forks between mainline Linux and what ships on an Android phone – one fork for Google’s “Android Common” kernel, then a fork for the SoC Provider, then a fork of the SoC kernel for your specific device. This process results in devices running all unique forks of the kernel, each about two years old and running up to 50 percent out of tree code.
With the GKI expected to debut on the Pixel 6, Google will reduce the process to a single fork with a modular system for all customizations and drivers and cut the age of the kernel in half. Google is also rolling out a formal kernel update system that allows the company to send Linux kernel updates through the Play Store. Currently the system only applies to Linux’s LTS kernel updates, but there are plans (which may or may not come to the Pixel 6) to allow other kernel updates. All of this work to standardize and update the foundation of Android bodes well for bringing longer life to Android phones.
Enlarge / The “80 percent faster performance” claims aren’t as impressive as they seem, considering the Pixel 5 was a mid-range smartphone.
Car phone warehouse
The site also makes some claims about the Google Tensor SoC. In addition to repeating the usual claims about impressive photo capabilities, the chip offers “up to 80% faster performance, so apps load faster and games are more responsive”. That statement compares to the previous Pixel phones, however, and keep in mind that the Pixel 5 was a $ 700 mid-range device with a Snapdragon 765G. Google is jumping into product categories – from delivering a mid-range phone to releasing a flagship product – so claims like these aren’t as dramatic as they seem after last year’s sandbag.
The promo site also lists the fees. It lists good, but not great, 30W wired charging for the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, as well as a new wireless charging stand that is compatible with both devices. The Pixel 6 charges wirelessly at 21W and the Pixel 6 Pro charges wirelessly at 23W.