Google Tensor Chip Might Result In Better Video On Pixel 6 Than iPhone
Google shared some tantalizing details about its new Pixel 6 and, combined with a recent hands-on report, it sounds like the Tensor chip could enable video quality that might even surpass that of Apple’s iPhone. This is exciting news for Android users and a welcome change for Pixel owners who may have felt left out in the video regard in recent years. It will be interesting to explore how this might be possible and how far Google could take its chip development with the Pixel 6 and future Pixel phones.
Google brought computational photography mainstream with the introduction of its Pixel phone in 2016, capturing top scores in smartphone photography reviews. The rave reviews about Google’s camera software continued over the years with each generation seeing small but continual improvements. The actual hardware of the camera remained virtually the same, yet quality kept improving as the machine learning model behind the advanced image processing improved. The core technique is called HDR-plus, which is Google’s amazing enhancement of a well-known computer algorithm that combines multiple snapshots taken with varying exposure to create a single high dynamic range image that captures more detail in shadows and highlights than would be possible otherwise.
Google allowed some brief hands-on time with the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro along with the opportunity to ask a few questions by select outlets. There was discussion of video improvements, due to the Tensor chip’s ability to process each frame of a video similar to a photo. In one such YouTube video, The Verge‘s Dieter Bohn mentioned seeing a video sample taken with a Pixel 6, recorded in 4K resolution at 30 frames per second. The same video was recorded with a Pixel 5 and an iPhone 12 Pro Max for the purpose of comparison and the Pixel 6’s video recording was described as the best of the three. This is quite impressive since the iPhone is recognized as excelling at video capture and the iPhone 12 Pro Max uses Apple’s very best camera. The scene was a challenging one, with a backlit subject that would benefit most from HDR. The Pixel 6 video recording was said to reveal better white balance, good detail without over-sharpening, and the best exposure in the shadows.
Google hasn’t officially announced the camera specifications of the upcoming Pixel 6 and 6 Pro, however, the rumors have been fairly accurate so far, based on what has been revealed in the preview and what The Verge shared after going hands-on with the actual devices. The Pixel 6 and 6 Pro will each come with a wide and ultra-wide camera. Both phones will be powered by the exciting, new Google Tensor chip that seems to allow video frame processing, similar to what is possible with Pixel photography. The Pixel 6 Pro will be the only one of the two to include a telephoto camera and Google said this will be a 4 times zoom lens. Rumors suggest that at least two of the cameras will feature high-resolution imaging sensors, in the neighborhood of 50 megapixels. Compared to the standard 12 to 16 megapixels that the Pixel has used since 2016, this should be quite an interesting upgrade.
Google shared with The Verge that the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro are using new image sensors, adding credibility to the rumors, and also mentioned that the cameras will take in 50-percent more light than the previous generation, suggesting a larger aperture for at least one of the lenses. All of this adds to the raw image quality and original video that the Tensor chip will start with before applying its advanced computational processing to refine the quality further. Pixel photos take advantage of HDR-plus, Night Sight, Portrait Blur, and Super-Resolution zoom, among other things. Any or all of these will be possible when recording video in the future and it seems at least some will be available with the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro. The optical 4 times zoom is already nice for video, and cropping in on the high-resolution image from each frame can expand that with a lossless digital zoom, while Super-Resolution might add another layer of magnification with minimal loss. This means Google might be able to offer a high-quality 10 times zoom with the Pixel 6 Pro video, providing the Tensor is fast enough. The Pixel 6 and 6 Pro are shaping up to be among the most interesting new phones to check out this fall and anyone interested in top-quality photo and video should definitely wait for Google’s upcoming Pixel.
Source: The Verge/YouTube