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Pixel 6 vs. Pixel 5: Is It Worth the Upgrade?

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Google's Pixel 6 series includes several improvements over the previous generation Pixel 5, from the camera to the chip, the design, and the battery. However, the question of whether or not to upgrade doesn't seem so obvious.

Here's a Pixel 6 vs. Pixel 5 comparison to help you make an informed choice. We compare the two in all the critical areas, including display, battery, camera, design, software, and performance.

Design and Display

The Pixel 6 series is packed in a new design, with the rear camera housed in a camera bar that covers the whole back horizontally. The Pixel 5, on the other hand, has a square-shaped camera back and a corner-placed hole punch notch.

pixel 6 camera

Unlike the Pixel 5, the Pixel 6 includes a hole punch cutout at the center. The Pixel 6 also replaces the rear fingerprint sensor with an in-display fingerprint scanner.

The Pixel 6 devices feature a slightly larger display than the 6-inch FHD+ OLED panel on the Pixel 5. The Pixel 6 includes a 6.4-inch FHD+ flat OLED panel with a 90Hz refresh rate. In contrast, the Pixel 6 Pro has a curved 6.7-inch QHD+ OLED display with an adaptive refresh rate that varies between 10Hz and 120Hz.

The Pixel 6 and 6 Pro have normal brightness levels of 500nits and 800nits peak brightness. The OLED panel on the Pixel 5 tops out at 610nits. Google also swapped Gorilla Glass 6 and the aluminum back on the Pixel 5 for Gorilla Glass Victus and a glass back on the Pixel 6, which has twice the scratch resistance.

Camera

This is another critical area of difference between Pixel 5 and 6. The Pixel 6 series has upgraded cameras. Both rely on a new 50 MP primary wide camera with a larger sensor that captures 150% more light than the Pixel 5's 12.2MP primary shooter.

That should translate to more detailed and clearer images. The phones also include a 12MP ultrawide camera, and you get an extra 48MP telephoto camera on the Pixel 6 Pro.

But the camera upgrades don't stop there. The Pixel 6 camera also features several features like Face Unblur, Magic Eraser, and Motion Mode.

Besides the 12.2 MP primary camera, the Pixel 5 has a 16MP ultrawide lens. Moving to the front, the Pixel 5 and Pixel 6 have an identical 8MP wide camera, while the Pixel 6 Pro features an 11.1 MP ultrawide camera with 4K support.

Performance

Google's AI-powered Tensor chip powers the Pixel 6 series under the hood. Besides its artificial intelligence and machine learning prowess, it performs better than the mid-range 7nm Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G on the Pixel 5. Tensor delivers an 80% and 370% boost in CPU and GPU performance, respectively, compared to the Pixel 5.

Google Tensor chip
Image Credit: Google

Thanks to Tensor, Google Pixel 6 series brings improvements in AI and ML features like Live Translate. The Pixel 6 series also enjoys lower battery consumption than the Pixel 5. Tensor also uses a 5nm die, unlike the 7nm on the Snapdragon 765G.

Tensor is paired with 12GB of memory on the Pixel 6 Pro and 8GB on the standard Pixel 6. Google Pixel 5 has the same 8GB of memory paired with the Snapdragon 765G. However, including UFS 3.1 storage in place of the old UFS 2.1 on the Pixel 5 also helps the Pixel 6 improve performance.

Battery and Charging

When it comes to battery capacity, Google Pixel 6 series has an advantage over the Pixel 5. Google Pixel 6 and 6 Pro swap the 4080mAh battery on the Pixel 5 for 4614mAh and 5003mAh batteries. Google claims an uptick in battery life, although Google shared no specific numbers.

Pixel 6 series supports up to 30W charging speeds, up from the 18W on the Pixel 5. To put it in perspective, Google claims the Pixel 6 can go from 1% to half in about 30 minutes. But there's a catch: the Google Pixel 6 series doesn't include a power brick in the retail box.

And like the Pixel 5, the Pixel 6 series is also capable of wireless charging. Pixel 6 supports up to 21W, while the Pixel 6 Pro supports up to 23W wireless charging. Both are a step up from the 12W wireless charging cap on the Pixel 5.

Software Support

It's unusual to touch on software support when comparing Pixel smartphones. The reason for this is Google's latest software update policy. The Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro will enjoy the usual three Android OS updates, but they will receive security updates for two more years, a total of five.

material-you-google-pixel-6-series
Image Credit: Google

In other words, Google Pixel 6 series will receive Android 13, 14, and 15 and will receive security updates until 2026. For the Pixel 5, it's the previously standard update cycle: three major OS updates and at least three years of security updates. The Google Pixel 5 came out in October 2020, so it will get Android 14 and reach its end of life in October 2023.

Price

Google Pixel 6 series is decently priced. The standard Pixel 6 starts at $599, while the standard Pixel 6 Pro goes for $899. The cheapest models ship with 128GB of storage. That storage is paired with 8GB and 12GB of RAM on the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, respectively.

Pixel 5's launch price was $699, $100 less than the Pixel 4 before it. The Pixel 6 takes it a notch further by reducing the cost by $100. Even better, the Pixel 6 is available with different storage options. The standard Pixel 6 includes another 256GB storage option that sells at $699.

But if you need more storage, Pixel 6 Pro is your only option. It's available in 512GB, the highest memory configuration available, which will set you back by $1099. A 256GB Pixel 6 Pro goes for $999.

Should You Upgrade?

Should you upgrade to the Pixel 6 series with all the new features if you have the Pixel 5? It depends. Overall, the Pixel 6 series is quite a significant upgrade over the Pixel 5. The entry price is also cut by $100, making the standard Pixel 6 a better deal for most people.

The Pixel 6 Pro delivers its QHD+ 6.7-inch panel and up to 120Hz refresh rate if you need a bigger and better display, plus a telephoto camera and an ultrawide selfie camera.

The Pixel 6 series is an inevitable upgrade, especially if you're coming from older Pixels. But if the extra deliverables on the Pixel 6 series don't matter that much, you might as well wait for a year before upgrading to the next Pixel series smartphone.

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