One of the biggest differences between the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro shows up in the camera department. Sure, there is a 50MP 4X telephoto lens on the Pixel 6 Pro that isn’t found on the Pixel 6, but that’s only one of two really big differentiators in the two phones from Google. The second – and arguably more important – difference in the camera abilities of the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro comes in the front-facing cameras.
The Pixel 6 Pro comes equipped with a 11.1MP selfie camera that looks great, is sharp, and offers up a wide 94-degree field of view. The Pixel 6 is a lesser setup with an 8MP, 84-degree shooter that is clearly less capable. The resolution of the two being quite different isn’t the biggest issue as I’ve seen plenty of 8MP front-facing cameras that do a great job. The Pixel 6 isn’t one of those, however, and when compared with the Pixel 6 Pro, it is clearly deficient.
Putting all of that aside, however, there is a technical difference in the two phones’ selfie cameras that makes for a notable difference when taking videos: 4K. Namely, we’re talking about the fact that the Pixel 6 Pro can capture 4K from the selfie cam while the Pixel 6 simply cannot. I don’t know if this is a technical limitation of the sensor or a choice from Google (8MP captures just enough pixels to make a 4K video), but for those that leverage the front camera for things like vlogging, the Pixel 6 simply isn’t up to the job.
A change is on the way for Pixel 7
Uncovered by 9to5 Google via an APK teardown of the Google Camera app, it looks like Google is adding 4K video to the front-facing camera on the Pixel 7. While it doesn’t specify whether or not the Pixel 7 Pro and Pixel 7 will actually have the same front cameras, it is clear that the lower-priced Pixel will get the better video option this time around.
I personally would love to see both phones get the same front cameras and let the differences be found elsewhere. I loved the fact that the Pixel 6 shipped with the same main and wide-angle setups as the more-expensive Pixel 6 Pro on the rear cameras. The big difference between the two phones when talking about the main sensors came down to an additional 4X telephoto for the 6 Pro; not a degradation of any of the main sensors for the Pixel 6. Likewise, upgrades on the Pixel 6 Pro also came via additions to the RAM and storage, not from some other sort of downgraded quality.
While it is understandable that Google needs to cut corners for their non-Pro devices, I think they should steer clear of doing so at the cost of overall quality to the photo/video experience if they can. The Pixel 6 selfie camera isn’t great, and that’s just not what you expect from a Google phone – Pro or not. While this change to the Pixel 7 doesn’t guarantee the front-facing shooter will be great, it at least looks like Google is aware that they dropped the ball on the Pixel 6 in this area and are making moves to correct that error.