Google Pixel 6 is official – but why are we in the dark about its cameras?

Rear of the Pixel 6 Pro showing the camera bar and lock key
(Image credit: Google)

It's official - the Google Pixel 6 is a real phone, and alongside a Pro-tier sibling it's going on sale in 'fall' according to the company – we found this out via a lengthy Twitter thread from the company because it's 2021 and of course we did.

While the thread touched on many topics, like Google's homemade 'Tensor' chipset, the design of the two handsets and some software upgrades that Android 12 would bring, one aspect of the phones was curiously absent.

If you asked a random smattering of people what they knew about Pixel phones - and filtered out the many befuddled looks from people who don't follow smartphone news - the majority would say 'cameras'. For years now, handsets from Google have had led the pack for pocket photography.

So why didn't we get any real details about the phone's cameras in the unveiling Twitter thread?

Need more data

We didn't hear literally nothing about the Google Pixel 6 and 6 Pro cameras from their unveiling, but what scarce information we did get, provides more questions than answers.

The Google Pixel 6 will have a main and ultra-wide camera. The Pro will have those two joined by a telephoto snapper for 4x optical zoom. The standard phone will have a single selfie camera, and we've no idea what the Pro is packing in this department.

Close up of the camera bar on the rear of the Pixel 6

(Image credit: Google)

So what are the resolutions of the cameras? Or the apertures, or sensor sizes? How many selfie snappers does the Pro have? Who made the sensors or lenses? Are there any useful software modes that let you capture cool shots? Has the AI optimization seen any tweaks? How will the new Tensor chipset benefit photography? Does it have an equivalent of earlier Pixel phones' Pixel Chip for improved snapping? 

We've got so many questions about the Google Pixel 6 and 6 Pro camera, and the strange lack of details is curious. Sure, Google didn't unveil everything about the new phones, but since it publicized the big selling points, you'd expect the cameras to be among them.

Not necessarily negative

A few Twitter commenters pointed out the lack of camera information with a skeptical tone (though far more criticized the appearance of the bump). Evidently, the lack of information leads fans to assume there's no good news in the camera department.

Phone companies also have a history of omitting lacking specs on their phones. Apple never reveals the battery sizes of its smartphones, usually because they're tiny. OnePlus recently got slated for failing to mention it throttled performance power in its phones

But we're not convinced in the rainy forecast some are predicting for the Pixel 6 cameras. We think Google is just trying something very different.

The OnePlus theory

Six Google Pixel 6 and 6 Pro lying face down on a surface

(Image credit: Google)

Before the launch of each of its phones, OnePlus does something that some deem annoying, and some love: it gradually drip-teases us information on the new device, via posts in its official forum or tweets from the company.

One day, the company will show us what the phone looks like. A few days later, we'll hear about the screen tech. A week after, we might find out the device's charging speed. By the time the gadget launches, we know most of the information about it - but a fair amount of hype has been created too.

'Hype' is, coincidentally, a word the Pixel team may need to look up. While its phones are certainly respected, and have their share of fans, the company doesn't exactly have a rabid fanbase of supporters like some other brands do. Like OnePlus does, for example.

With the Pixel 6 series comes big changes, like with the bespoke chipset and reintroduction to the premium phone tier, and perhaps that includes a change in marketing strategy too. Perhaps Google is going to provide us snippets of information over a long period of time.

Maybe every week or so, we'll hear about a different aspect of the phones, with Google playing a OnePlus on us - bad news for fans who want all the information straight away, good news for tech journalists who are struggling through one of the quieter periods of the year.

Even if Google doesn't adopt OnePlus' bombastic marketing strategy, it could still be savoring camera details until a perfect time to show them off.

There's a possibility, albeit boring alternative. Phone companies are usually tweaking software right up until the launch of a device - perhaps Google just doesn't want to share photo samples until it's finished working out the kinks of the scene optimization and AI imagery enhancement.

Either way, there's not enough information right now to judge the Google Pixel 6 and 6 Pro's camera capabilities. We don't know the specs, and Google's hush-hush attitude to its camera details doesn't necessarily predict the worst.

Whether or not Google decides to break up its Pixel 6 announcement into a series of tweet threads, or just hosts a proper unveiling later in the year, we'll have to wait until we hear more. And in the meantime, TechRadar will continue to bring you everything you need to know about this sequel to the Pixel 5.

Tom Bedford

Tom Bedford was deputy phones editor on TechRadar until late 2022, having worked his way up from staff writer. Though he specialized in phones and tablets, he also took on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK and now works for the entertainment site What To Watch.

He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working on TechRadar, he freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist. He also currently works in film as a screenwriter, director and producer.