Earlier today, Google surprised everyone by teasing its upcoming Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro smartphones which are set to be released sometime this fall. The company made its move about a month ahead of Apple’s expected iPhone 13 event.
While Google’s announcement didn’t reveal everything or even most things about the new Pixel phones, it did reveal two incredibly important details: Google made its own custom chip, and Google is coming for the high-end smartphone market.
The Pixel has so far survived by playing in the low to the mid-range smartphone market. While the Pixel 5 technically landed close to the price of the iPhone 12 lineup, the Pixel brand has still struggled to reach a wide audience to really care about the Google phone. While some of that has been because of Apple and Samsung’s dominance in the iOS and Android markets, a lot of it has also been Google’s lack of marketing to really get the message out and say “hey, look at our phone! It’s actually pretty great!”
It’s always been an odd problem, especially when you consider that the Pixel is part of the company that has built one of the most impressive and effective advertising platforms in history. Thankfully, that all appears to be changing for this round of Pixel phones. While Google could attempt to take market share away from Samsung, I have a feeling they’ve set their eyes squarely on iPhone owners.
Before you say “that’s impossible. I’d never switch because [insert whatever here],” hear me out on why Google is going after Apple and why that’s a good thing.
For one, Google announced more than just a slate of new, higher-end Pixels today. It also announced the Google Tensor, its first system-on-a-chip specifically designed for the Pixel. Most likely comparable to Apple’s A-Series chips for the iPhone, the Google Tensor will enable the company to optimize its hardware and software on a level previously unattainable. The chip was also based on the company’s Tensor cloud-computing hardware, so Google plans to impress with its AI capabilities and what that will mean for on-device machine learning. Google has a chance to not only shame Siri even more but also adopt similar levels of privacy claims if they can pull it all off without having to use the cloud.
Some are already also glancing at the Google Tensor chip and then turning their eyes squarely at Fitbit, which recently was acquired by Google. The rumors of a Pixel Watch continue to switch and, if Google expands the Tensor chip to other devices, we could finally have a solid competitor to the Apple Watch.
Google getting into high-end smartphones could also mean that the company has some tricks up its sleeve to take the Pixel camera to the next level. The camera wars continue between Apple, Samsung, and Google, but Google has so far been able to keep up or even beat the rest without the hardware. The company’s camera software is almost too good and, with the hardware to finally back it up, Google has the chance to photobomb everyone here.
One of the best things about Google pushing the Pixel forward in the past has also been the benefits customers get with the A-series of Pixel phones that come out afterward. With the Google Pixel 3A and 4A, the company managed to pack most of the features of its higher-end phone into a device that costs less than $400, an incredible feat for a time when $1200 smartphones seem to be the norm for many.
While the Pixel has been an actually great phone and solid choice compared to the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy phones, it’s never gotten the spotlight as the others have. That’s really been on Google and the lack of ad dollars to get the word out. That appears to be changing with the Pixel 6, however. During the company’s earnings call, they announced that they would be putting significant marketing dollars behind new product launches for the next quarter. If that stays true, Google is going to be shouting from the rooftops about its new phones for the holiday season.
In the end, the entrance of the Pixel into the high-end smartphone space is just good for competition. The iPhone and Samsung Galaxy phones have dominated the market for years now. Sure, there are other brands that compete and compete well in certain regions, but everyone knows that iPhone is the default for iOS (by design of course) and Samsung has become the default for Android.
Google getting into the fray along these two giants helps all of us by shaking it up, because neither Apple nor Samsung want to lose customers to the Pixel. So, if that begins to happen, we’re going to get even better products from everyone. Competition is good, and so the Google Pixel 6 Pro is good for everyone who wants more innovation from our favorite tech companies.