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Pixel 6 vs. Pixel 6 Pro: Every big difference you should know

There's a $300 price difference between the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. We'll break down how the two compare, and how they stack up against the Pixel 5 and 5A.

The Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro were both unveiled this fall, and the Pro model has since made CNET's list of best smartphones for 2021. If you're considering a new Pixel phone, you may be wondering what's the difference between the latest models. (If you already have a Pixel 6, you should really change these default settings.) The pair come with a collection of welcome upgrades including Google's own Tensor chip, but there are a few differences between each Pixel 6 model and the Pixel 5 series.  

With the Pixel 6 lineup, Google seems to have course-corrected from the Pixel 5, which marked a departure from the pricey Pixel phones of years past. Out goes last year's midrange processor, in comes the company's years-in-the-making Tensor chip. Out went the generic, tried-and-tested hardware design. In comes a statement device with a signature camera bar running across the width of the chassis, which is available in splashy new colors including sorta seafoam (green) and sorta sunny (orange).

This year, there are two phones in the flagship Pixel series, the $599 (£599) Pixel 6 and $899 (£849) Pixel 6 Pro. Of the two phones, the more affordable Pixel 6 is priced to compete with the iPhone 13, Samsung Galaxy S21 as well as other Android midtier phones like the Motorola Edge (2021). Check the table below for a full pricing breakdown.

Now playing: Watch this: First impressions of the new Pixel 6 and 6 Pro

But beyond the fact that the Pixel 6 lineup is made by Google, boasts top-of-the-line cameras and the best Android update policy around, what also makes it an interesting buy is what's found inside the device's revamped chassis. At the heart of the Pixel 6 series is that aforementioned Tensor system-on-a-chip. Tensor promises up to 48 hours of battery life, better "real-time language translations, highly accurate voice transcription and high-end camera features like the ability to unblur the face of a person in motion," according to a report from CNET. This marks the first time the company has built its phones without a Qualcomm chipset, endeavoring instead to build its own in-house. And because Google created Tensor, it's extending security and OS support to Pixel owners to five years.

Read more: Forget the iPhone 13. Google's Pixel 6 is surprisingly more exciting

By the way, if you want to cut to the chase, scroll down to our specs chart below, which compares the Pixel 6 series with the Pixel 5 series side-by-side.


The Pixel 6 Pro and Pixel 6.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro differences

As for Pixel 6 and 6 Pro, there are similarities in many ways, but there are also a lot of differences. First of all, there's a $300 price difference between the base and pro models. For ponying up the extra cash, you get a slew of added features including a larger and higher-res screen, a bigger battery, support for both sub-6 and millimeter-wave 5G (the ultrafast but less reliable flavor of 5G) and the third rear camera, a telephoto lens with 4x optical zoom. As a reference point, that's higher than the iPhone 13's 3x optical zoom. 

Read more: Google Pixel 6 vs. Pixel 6 Pro: Which camera takes better photos?

How does Pixel 6 compare to the Pixel 5 and 5A?

The Pixel 5 and 5A sit squarely in the midrange category, especially compared to the new Pixel 6 series. The Pixel 5 was Google's flagship phone last year, but its midrange position marked a departure from the pricey Pixel phones of years past. The Pixel 5 launched at $699 (£599, AU$999) and included 5G connectivity along with the fantastic cameras that have become the line's main selling point. But with that lowered asking price, Google chose to scale back on some features including the processor -- it went with Qualcomm's Snapdragon 765G.

Read more: Pixel Pass: Google's bundling the Pixel 6 with Google One, YouTube Premium and more

Like all phones in Google's A series, the 5A is a stripped-down version of the flagship Pixel 5. Again, you can see how these phones stack up against each other in the specs chart below. You can also check out more on how the Pixel 6 and Pixel 5 compare here

Pixel 6 series vs. Pixel 5 series

Google Pixel 6 Pro Google Pixel 6 Google Pixel 5 Google Pixel 5A 5G
Display size, resolution 6.7-inch LTPO OLED; 3,120x1,440 pixels; 10-120Hz 6.4-inch OLED; 2,400x1,080 pixels; 60 or 90Hz 6-inch OLED; 2,340x1,080 pixels 6.34-inch OLED, (2,400x1,080 pixels)
Pixel density 512 ppi 411 ppi 432 ppi 413 ppi
Dimensions (Inches) 6.5x3.0x0.4 in 6.2x2.9x0.4 in 5.7x2.8x0.3 in
Dimensions (Millimeters) 163.9x75.9x8.9 mm 158.6x74.8x8.9 mm 144.7x70.4x8.0 mm 156.2x73.2x8.8 depth mm
Weight (Ounces, Grams) 7.41 oz; 210g 7.3 oz; 207g 5.33 oz; 151g 6.45 oz; 183g
Mobile software Android 12 Android 12 Android 11 Android 11
Camera 50-megapixel (wide), 12-megapixel (ultrawide), 48-megapixel (telephoto) 50-megapixel (wide), 12-megapixel (ultrawide) 12.2-megapixel (standard), 16-megapixel (ultrawide) 16-megapixel (ultrawide), 12-megapixel (wide)
Front-facing camera 11-megapixel 8-megapixel 8-megapixel 8-megapixel
Video capture 4K 30, 60fps (rear), 4K 30fps (front) 4K 30, 60fps (rear), 1,080p 30fps (front) 4K 4K
Processor Google Tensor Google Tensor Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G
Storage 128GB, 256GB, 512GB 128GB, 256GB 128GB 128GB
Expandable storage No No No
Battery 5,003 mAh 4,614 mAh 4,000 mAh 4,680 mAh
Fingerprint sensor Under display Under display Rear
Headphone jack No No No Yes
Special features 5G Sub-6 and mmWave support, Wi-Fi 6E, Ultrawideband, 30W fast charging, Magic Eraser, Motion mode, Real Tone, Face Unblur, Cinematic Pan, 5 years OS and security updates, IP68 dust- and water-resistance, Gorilla Glass Victus (front and back) 5G Sub-6 (some carrier models also have 5G mmWave) support, Wi-Fi 6E, 30W fast charging, Magic Eraser, Motion mode, Real Tone, Face Unblur, Cinematic Pan, 5 years OS and security updates, IP68 dust- and water-resistance, Gorilla Glass Victus (front), Gorilla Glass 6 (back) 5G enabled; IP68 dust- and water-resistance; 90Hz refresh rate display; dual SIM capabilities (nano-SIM and e-SIM); reverse wireless charging; fast charging 5G-enabled, Titan M chipset (security chip), dual main camera, IP67 water-resistance, dual SIM, stereo speakers; 18W fast charging
Price off-contract (USD) $899 (128GB) $599 (128GB) $699 $449
Price (GBP) £849 (128GB) £599 (128GB) £599 £330 (converted)
Price (AUD) AU$999 (128GB) AU$1,299 (128GB) AU$999 AU$610 (converted)
Patrick Holland/CNET

With a starting price of $599, Google's Pixel 6 is the best Android phone you can get for the money. In terms of design, power, features and performance, the Pixel 6 is a big step up from its predecessor, the Pixel 5. Google's latest and greatest offers improved cameras, Android 12 and the company's in-house Tensor chip.

Stephen Shankland/CNET

The Google Pixel 6 Pro's unique design, great software additions, superb camera quality and solid all-around performance have already earned the phone an excellent rating in our full review. With performance that's every bit as good as its design, it's the best phone Google has ever made. The main camera is on par with the best iPhones. And at $899 for the base 128GB model, it trounces its premium phone rivals in price. Read our Google Pixel 6 Pro review.