Google seemed to have beaten Apple at being stingy when it came to camera upgrades. Ever since the OG Pixel half a decade ago, Google barely upgraded the line’s main camera, preferring to rely on software magic to compensate. As indicated by its new design and new processor, the Pixel 6 is a marked departure from its predecessors. A teardown of Google’s Camera app for Android 12 now suggests that the same will apply to the phone’s main camera in a very big way.
It’s almost amusing to see how a short string of characters can lead to an almost explosive revelation. Part of the upcoming Camera app’s code refers to a certain “gn_wide_p21” that is believed to refer to the Samsung ISOCELL GN1 headed for the 2021 Pixel phones. Compared to the Sony IMX363 from last year’s Pixel 5, that’s a huge jump in pixels and sensor size.
The 2020 ISOCELL GN1 is a 1/1.31-inch sensor with a 12.21mm big while the 2016 IMX363 measures only 7.06mm with a 1/2.55-inch sensor, making Samsung’s sensor three times larger. More than just the size, though, the GN1’s 50MP density far surpasses the IMX363’s 12MP. Samsung’s sensor may have smaller pixel sizes, but it also uses more advanced technologies as well.
On a purely technical level, the Pixel 6’s main wide camera will be on par with many high-end smartphones today. Given how impressive Google’s AI-powered image processing already is, the combination of more powerful hardware and powerful software definitely sounds more promising. At the very least, it could blow the rather old Sony IMX363 out of the water.
Android Police also got hints that the Pixel 6 will use a Samsung 5G modem, which isn’t surprising given how the Google Tensor processor is believed to be a Samsung Exynos variant. Google could still use a Snapdragon 5G modem for some or all models in the end, but this sighting could at least address concerns about the Pixel 6’s support for mmWave 5G in the US.