It looks like Google will finally offer improved camera hardware in a smartphone with the upcoming Pixel 6 and 6 Pro.
Don’t get me wrong — Pixel phones have always had great cameras. But Google has used the same 12.2-megapixel IMX363 sensor since the Pixel 3. As good as Google’s software wizardry is, that sensor has started to show its age.
However, according to details from XDA Developers, the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro could bring a significant camera hardware improvement. The publication obtained an unreleased version of Google’s Camera app and details about the new Pixel camera system.
Starting with the main camera, the hardware will leap significantly to Samsung’s ISOCELL GN1 50-megapixel sensor. The ultra-wide camera will use a 12-megapixel IMX386 sensor, while the 4x optical telephoto camera on the 6 Pro will use a 48-megapixel IMX586 sensor. The phone will reportedly support up to 20x zoom in photos and videos (except 4K, where zoom is capped at 7x) and 4K/60fps video recording.
Although certainly some exciting hardware, it wouldn’t be a Pixel camera without software enhancements to match.
The Pixel 6 cameras will reportedly allow for manual white balance, giving photographers more control over how their images look. There’s also a ‘magic eraser’ feature, which sounds like it could be a tool for removing objects from an image. Android Police points out that this could be a version of the object removal promised (but never delivered) for Google Photos.
XDA highlights a few other possible camera features, including a ‘face deblur’ feature already confirmed by Google. It works to deblur faces in HDR images by capturing multiple photos with the main and ultra-wide sensors and combining the information to fix faces.
Finally, there were mentions of ‘motion blur,’ ‘portrait spotlight,’ ‘nima aesthetic’ and ‘baby mode,’ which might work as follows (based on the limited information we have so far):
- Motion blur: in-development feature will add “creative blur effects to your photos.”
- Portrait spotlight: Not entirely clear what it is, but XDA notes the feature is enable in Pixel 6 and 5a configuration files.
- Nima aesthetic: Appears to be related to existing ‘Top Shot‘ feature, but unclear what it does.
- Baby mode: Possibly a feature meant to detect babies and capture photos of them, but unclear.
All in all, it sounds like the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro could have really powerful camera hardware and software, a welcome change for the Pixel line. Of course, it’s essential to keep in mind that these are leaks, and some of the information may be inaccurate or could change in the future.