How the Pixel 6 Could Lead to Better Android Phones

Putting some heat on Samsung

Key Takeaways

  • Google officially has revealed that the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro will include a new Google-made System on a Chip.
  • Google looks to be leaving its mid-range and more budget-friendly roots behind with the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro.
  • If Google fully embraces the flagship model, experts say it could bring much needed competition to the mainstream Android market.
Google Pixel 6 in gray and yellow/beige

Google

If Google can fully embrace offering a flagship device with specs that stand up to the competition, experts believe it could push innovation and advancements in the Android market.

Google finally revealed the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro in August, giving users their first glimpse at the company’s upcoming Android smartphone lineup. While it might be tempting to think the move could oust Samsung as the top Android manufacturer, experts say it’s more likely to help foster better competition and innovation.

"Although hardcore tech enthusiasts might think the new Google Pixel models should dominate the Android market, the reality is that Samsung’s existing leadership position and a strong pipeline of upcoming models like the Galaxy S22 will ensure the Android market remains highly competitive," Tim McGuire, the CEO of Mobile Klinik, told Lifewire in an email.

Pulling an Apple

One of the biggest points of contention surrounding the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro is the introduction of Google Tensor, a new system on a chip (SoC) designed by Google specifically for the new Pixel phones. It’s very similar to how Apple created its own chips for the iPhone and iPads, giving the company full control over the performance the device offers.

By taking reliance away from Qualcomm or other chip manufacturers, Google is putting itself in a key position to fully control what Tensor offers and how it performs in the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. This is important because it means Google can offer beefier performance without worrying about charging customers a lot to make up for the cost of buying those chips from another supplier.

"The new Tensor SoC chip is the primary feature in the new Google Pixel 6. It is designed to improve AI and machine learning technology, improving features like the wide lens and camera quality, speech-to-text features, and live captions in videos," McGuire explained. 

The Android market could desperately use more mainstream competition to help continue pushing innovation. Sure, we have companies like Xiaomi and Oppo, and even OnePlus, but they’re still small compared to the massive recognition that Samsung has in the Android market.

Dethroning Samsung

With Google stepping back into the flagship market, it’s inevitably pitting itself against the biggest Android device manufacturer in the world right now: Samsung. In fact, Samsung currently holds 37% of the market share for Android, with no other singular company coming anywhere close to that percentage.

Because Samsung has such a hold on the market, it’s unlikely Google’s new Pixel lineup will do anything to really dethrone the South Korea-based manufacturer. Even if Google Tensor can manage to outperform the other flagship processors from companies like MediaTek or Qualcomm—something that has yet to be proven or really even hinted at by Google—it still has to stand up to Samsung’s overwhelming recognition.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G

Samsung

"I don't think Samsung is in danger of being dethroned any time soon. It's the quintessential Android phone, despite many other phones running on the Android platform," Christen Costa, tech expert and CEO of Gadget Review, told Lifewire in an email. 

"The Pixel 6 will likely be a better phone in every way that matters when comparing it to the Galaxy," added Costa, "but the brand recognition Samsung has gotten is tough to beat. Especially when some people remain convinced Google has a separate phone OS all its own."

What Costa is making note of here is how synonymous Samsung and Android have become over the years. Because Samsung is the most recognized name in the Android market, many everyday users don’t know the intricate relationship Samsung and other Android manufacturers have with Google, and how they take Google’s operating system and add their own layers to it. 

"Samsung’s existing leadership position and a strong pipeline of upcoming models like the Galaxy S22 will ensure the Android market remains highly competitive."

So, for many users, Google phones and Samsung phones—while fundamentally running the same basic operating system—may appear to offer two completely different OS experiences. If Google wants to make Pixel phones more acceptable and mainstream, it’s going to need to make it clear to everyone that they are running the same OS that Samsung is, with some aesthetic differences.

Doing so not only could make Samsung users more likely to pick up a Pixel device, but could bring more competition to the market, which ultimately will prove good for consumers.

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