Google Pixel 6 And Pixel 6 Pro's First Custom Kernel Improves Battery Life If You're Brave

Pixel 6 Pro
We're pretty impressed overall with Google's recently released Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro handsets, which marry a premium design and build quality with a whole bunch of features, killer camera performance, and solid battery life. It's great out of the box, for the most part. However, for those who like to tinker, the first custom kernel has materialized giving more control over the knobs and dials that lay beneath the surface.

It was only a matter of time before this happened, following the release of factory images, kernel sources, and device trees for Google's latest flagship Pixel phones. For the initiated, the kernel is what sits at the core of the operating system (Android 12, in this case), handling all the low level chores that take place behind the scenes.

That's oversimplifying things a bit, but that's the high-level gist of it. Whether you'd want to flash a custom kernel or not depends on what you're trying to achieve, and it's now possible courtesy of Freak07, a prominent contributor and forum member at XDA Developers. So what does the custom kernel offer? Here are the highlights...
Main Features
  • Based on latest kernel sources from Google, Kernel is made for Android 12
  • Linux-Stable-Upstream included to 5.10.45 (stock is 5.10.43)
  • Use bbr as default TCP congestion algorithm (fasted algo according to this excellent research from @kdrag0n found here )
  • Enable support for TTL spoofing
  • Include LRNG, see here and here for more info (thanks @arter97 for the work on his op9 kernel)
  • Important patches from kernel/common for 5.10 (here are more details)
Powerhint Module:
  • Restrict little cluster to 1.4GHz, mid cluster to 1.49GHz and big cluster to 1.58GHz during screen off, to reduce battery usage for example during music playback
  • Available as a separate flashable magisk in the downloads section
We have not tested this ourselves, but looking at the list of features we're most intrigued by the potential battery life gains. Noted towards the bottom, clock speeds get restricted when the screen is turned off, which could extend the battery a bit. If you're doing something like streaming music, you should be fine with the clocks running a bit lower.

One thing to note is that this isn't necessarily a quick and easy flash. The site notes Google has begun enforcing the Generic Kernel Image (GKI) design on more recent Android handsets, requiring a set of images be flashed rather than a single TWRP-flashable ZIP file. That's the case here with the first custom kernel for the Pixel 6.

If you know what you're doing and want to embark down this road, you can find the necessary files in the forum thread.