The Pixel 6 Professional. 

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Google’s new Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Professional, launched at Google’s Oct. 19 Pixel occasion, each appear poised to rival the iPhone 13 and the Galaxy S21 as the perfect telephones of 2021. They boast spectacular cameras, quick processors and classy designs. The place Google seems to vary from its Apple and Samsung rivals, at the very least on the primary few days of preorders, is in whether or not its new telephones will work with the newest 5G networks. 

The brief reply? It is difficult, notably in case you’re trying to purchase a telephone immediately from a service or unlocked from Google itself, or from a 3rd occasion like Finest Purchase. Whereas you should purchase a brand new iPhone 13, put your SIM card in and know that it will likely be in a position to make use of the newest networks out of your service, the identical cannot be stated proper now concerning the Pixel 6.

At concern seems to be deciphering a mixture of a number of unclear net pages from the search big. Google’s foremost Pixel 6 and 6 Professional tech specs pages all record two completely different fashions: one which helps all flavors of 5G — millimeter-wave and “Sub-6” (which is a time period that encompasses mid- and low-band 5G) — and one other that helps Sub-6 networks however not millimeter-wave. 

A assist web page, in the meantime, says the Pixel 6 will assist all flavors of 5G within the US, whereas the 6 Professional will likely be restricted to simply the millimeter-wave taste. 

It is a mess, however here’s what we all know proper now and what you must know in case you’re pondering of shopping for Google’s newest telephones.


The difficult record of US service assist on Google’s Pixel assist web page. 

Google/Screenshot by Eli Blumenthal/CNET

The Pixel mess


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

With the Pixel 6, Google initially seems to be sending blended messages. Relying on which web page and positive print you have a look at, the machine might or might not have been listed to work with all variations of your service’s 5G community.

And there does appear to be a discrepancy, each within the units and the pricing. Verizon confirmed to CNET that purchasing a Pixel 6 or 6 Professional immediately from Verizon will get you a telephone that works on all of its flavors of 5G, millimeter-wave and Sub-6. 

There may be, nevertheless, a premium for the Verizon Pixel 6. When shopping for immediately from Verizon the telephone will price you $700, or roughly $100 greater than Google prices for an unlocked Pixel 6 bought immediately from the Google Retailer. The 6 Professional begins at round $900 from each Google and Verizon. 

AT&T tells CNET one thing comparable. When shopping for immediately from AT&T, each the Pixel 6 and 6 Professional will assist millimeter-wave and Sub-6 variations of 5G. AT&T’s concern? Its pricing begins at $740 for the Pixel 6 and $940 for the 6 Professional, each increased than what Google prices for unlocked variations. A consultant for the service didn’t share a motive why its pricing is dearer. 

T-Cellular, in the meantime, matches Google’s pricing of $599 for the Pixel 6, however its mannequin solely helps the midband and low-band variations of 5G, not millimeter-wave. For the 6 Professional, T-Cellular helps all flavors of 5G, and the value is much like Google’s. 

On Wednesday afternoon Google confirmed to CNET that the unlocked Pixel 6 obtainable from its retailer will solely assist Sub-6 5G networks in any respect three US carriers. The unlocked Pixel 6 Professional, nevertheless, will work with each millimeter-wave and Sub-6 variations of 5G. 

The completely different flavors of 5G

Google Pixel 6 Pro

James Martin/CNET

As individuals have been holding onto their telephones for longer, it is smart that when shopping for a brand new machine as we speak you may need it to be able to tapping into the newest 5G networks for the following few years.

US carriers, specifically Verizon and AT&T, have been actively deploying millimeter-wave 5G throughout components of a number of dozen cities (plus stadiums, arenas and airports) across the nation. Verizon, particularly, has been touting its millimeter-wave community (known as “Extremely Wideband”) in its early 5G advertising over the previous few years. 

T-Cellular has finished some millimeter-wave 5G rollouts, however has largely centered on the opposite Sub-6 types of 5G. 

Millimeter-wave is the quickest model of 5G. It has obtain speeds that may attain a number of gigabits per second however it suffers from severely restricted protection, notably open air the place it may be restricted to just some choose blocks in a metropolis or sections in a stadium. It additionally struggles to penetrate indoors. 

Low-band 5G gives the perfect protection and might work positive indoors, however it typically has speeds equal to an excellent 4G LTE connection. 

Midband 5G, as its identify implies, gives a center floor between the 2: considerably sooner speeds than 4G LTE whereas nonetheless masking a wider space and dealing indoors. T-Cellular has been essentially the most lively of the US carriers with deploying midband 5G to date (what it calls Extremely Capability), and has beforehand stated it plans to cowl 200 million individuals nationwide with this service earlier than the top of 2021. 

AT&T and Verizon have every spent billions of {dollars} this yr shopping for up midband spectrum often called C-band, and each plan to start deploying these networks on the finish of this yr and into early 2022. 

Each carriers stated on Oct. 19 that the Pixel 6 and 6 Professional they’re promoting needs to be suitable with their respective C-band networks. T-Cellular stated on Oct. 20 that each Pixel telephones would assist its C-band community that is slated to begin rolling out on the finish of 2023

Google stated on Oct. 21 that unlocked Pixels will be capable to get a software program replace to allow assist for C-band, however that it will likely be as much as the carriers to certify the unlocked telephones to permit the units to work on their respective networks. 

Learn extra: 5G Extremely Wideband, 5G UC, 5G Plus — we clarify the service 5G names

What do you have to do? 

Presently, service assist for the Pixel 6 is a giant drawback. No one needs to purchase a telephone, discover out it would not work as anticipated after which should return it and undergo the method once more. However proper now the one approach to know you are getting a Pixel that works along with your service is to purchase immediately from that service. 

For T-Cellular customers, the Pixel 6’s lack of a higher-frequency 5G equivalent to millimeter-wave is much from a deal-breaker for the common Pixel 6, at the very least within the brief time period. The service already has a strong midband 5G community, has probably not deployed millimeter-wave and its C-band community is not coming till the top of 2023. 

For these with AT&T or Verizon, in case you’re in a position to make the most of a trade-in or improve deal, then shopping for immediately from the service may not be a foul possibility. The promotion and trade-in might offset the value distinction between shopping for from a service or shopping for from Google. 

Shopping for this fashion appears to be the most secure method to make sure that the Pixel you are getting will work with the key community enhancements each carriers are set to ship over the following few years.

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