If you thought Apple was stingy when it came to camera hardware, then you may not have seen what Google has been putting on its Pixel phones. The first Google Pixel made headlines because of all the tricks it could do and the beautiful pictures it could produce with a single 12MP camera. AI and algorithms, however, could only go so far, and Google very slowly upgraded its cameras eventually. One of the biggest updates might be coming in the Pixel 6 XL, or Pro based on older leaks, that will have the line’s first telephoto camera and a very powerful one at that.
Even the latest Pixel flagship phone couldn’t boast much when it came to camera hardware. It had a 12.2MP main camera with dual-pixel PDAF, and a 16MP ultra-wide shooter. As always, Google relied on its software prowess to do what most high-end phones can with less premium hardware.
If the rumors are true, the Pixel 6 could be the company’s biggest departure from that direction. The main camera will have a 50MP sensor, though the ultra-wide-angle camera sounds like it got downgraded to 12MP. The more interesting change, however, is the 48MP telephoto camera that is believed to have a periscope-style lens.
XDA’s examination of the Google Camera app version 8.2.400 that came with the latest Android 12 Beta 3 reveals the capabilities of this new camera. The app’s code points to a “zoom_toggle_ultratele” option with “5x” text to be shown in the UI, hinting at a 5x zoom capability that Google could market as “Ultra Tele” Zoom. Rather than just a form of hybrid zoom, it is believed that the camera will offer true 4.3X optical zoom, according to the Google Camera modder who found the clues.
This would definitely be a significant improvement for the Pixel phone family. With more powerful hardware and Google’s software expertise, the Pixel 6 XL could be in the position to be one of the best Android phones this year, and not just in the camera department only.