Pixel and Pixel XL could have flagship-beating power

Nexus 6P

Google's upcoming Pixel and Pixel XL handsets could be the last high-profile phones of 2016, and they may be even more impressive than previous Google handsets, by including a top-end processor that no other major phones are yet using.

That's according to David Ruddock (managing editor of Android Police), who tweeted that "as far as I can tell, the Pixels will be the first US devices with Snapdragon 821 by a long shot."

With the Asus Zenfone 3 Deluxe expected to hit the US before the end of the year that "by a long shot" bit might not be entirely accurate, but if the Pixel phones do have the Snapdragon 821 they'll certainly be the first high profile handsets to launch with the chip.

Pixel tweet

The Snapdragon 821 offers a 10% performance increase over the Snapdragon 820 (found in the likes of the HTC 10 and the LG G5), so it's not an enormous jump, but could make the Pixel phones some of the most powerful handsets this year, where previously Nexus phones have often stuck with simply 'good' specs.

Simply speculation

That's if they actually sport the new chip, as Ruddock later tweeted that his claims were based on "informed speculation", so he doesn't sound entirely certain of it, and early benchmarks suggest the new phones will use the Snapdragon 820.

But the Snapdragon 821 would make a lot of sense, as it's built with VR in mind, and Google is likely to launch its Daydream VR platform on the Pixel handsets.

We may soon know for sure what chip the phones have, as rumors suggest the Pixel handsets will be announced on October 4.

James Rogerson

James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps. James also contributes to 3G.co.uk, 4G.co.uk and 5G.co.uk and has written for T3, Digital Camera World, Clarity Media and others, with work on the web, in print and on TV.