The launch of the Google Pixel 6 has created a lot of buzzes, regardless of whether or not it is good.
Smartphones made by other companies than Samsung and Apple are competing for attention. The Pixel 6 is undoubtedly different than any other Google phone, thanks to its distinctive design and the Tensor processor designed by Google that powers the company’s flagship phones. The Pixel 6’s affordable price of $599 is another reason it stands out. However, you will pay more through some carriers.
The Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro are worthy of your attention. This Google Pixel 6 review will focus on whether the phones are able to keep your attention. The Tensor chip in the Pixel 6 is responsible for a lot of the work. It allows the phone to recognize text and translate it automatically if necessary. The new chip powers Pixel features such as voice-powered typing, robocall screening, and a variety of photo processing capabilities.
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However, the Pixel 6 is more than Tensor. We take a closer look at Google’s new flagship phone and compare it to its competitors.
Google Pixel 6 cheat sheet: Top features
- Machine learning features are powered by new Tensor chips; overall performance is better than the Snapdragon 888
- The main camera of the Pixel 6 is a 50MP sensor, while the ultrawide angle camera has a 12MP sensor with a 114-degree field.
- Magic Eraser removes objects and people easily from your photos
- Battery life is variable, with battery life being inconsistent over 5G connections and below-average times on LTE.
- Android 12 brings a new interface to Pixel with wallpapers, icons, and themes that reflect the design of your phone.
- Google Assistant has many Tensor-powered features, including voice-powered detection and calling assistants.
- OLED displays with a 6.4-inch resolution feature a 90Hz adaptive refresh rate
Google Pixel 6 Review: Price and Release Date
The Pixel 6 is now available in stores. Prices vary depending on where you purchase your phone. The 128GB model costs $599 if you buy it unlocked from Google Fi, T-Mobile, or Xfinity Mobile. You can add $100 to the price by increasing the storage.
You’ll pay more at Verizon and AT&T for the Pixel 6 — $699 for Verizon and $739 for AT&T. This is due to 5G. Verizon and AT&T sell Pixel 6 models that are compatible with their 5G-based mmWave networks. Only the sub-6GHz 5G models of the lower-priced Pixel 6 models work. The lower-priced Pixel 6 models only work with sub-6GHz 5G. Our hub explains where you can buy the Pixel 6, and what you can expect in terms of price.
Google’s subscription-based Pixel Pass is another option to purchase your Pixel 6. The $45 monthly cost will get you a phone and subscriptions to Google One storage. You can also stream from YouTube Premium, YouTube Music Premium, and Google Play Pass. Pixel Pass also includes preferred care for repairs or replacements. This is our review of PixelPass. Do you think it’s a good deal?
It’s unfortunate that the pricing strategy is so complicated. This makes it less attractive for phones with the features we will be discussing in detail. The Pixel 6 costs $699, which is $100 less than the Samsung Galaxy S22. The new phone is cheaper than its replacement, the Pixel 5. The Pixel 6 is the same price as the Pixel 5 at Verizon. However, you get a better phone for your money.
You can see our Google Pixel 6 and iPhone 13 comparisons to find out how it compares to Apple’s latest comparable-priced smartphone. If you prefer Android, check out our guide to the Google Pixel 6 vs. Samsung Galaxy S22 vs. Samsung Galaxy S21 vs. Google Pixel 6 matchup.
To help you find the best price on Google’s new smartphone, we have compiled a list of top Pixel 6 deals. Our Pixel 6 starter guide can help you set up your new phone or help you locate the best case.
Google Pixel 6 Review: Design
The Pixel 6 would stand out if Google held a reunion for all previous models. It is unlike any other Google flagship.
This unique look is entirely due to the horizontal camera bar running across the back of your phone. This is a very different approach to other camera arrays that are usually limited to the upper left corner. The Pixel 6’s horizontal bar extends from its back. This prevents the phone from wobbling when it is placed on its back.
The front of the Pixel 6 has a cutout for an 8MP selfie camera in the middle of the 6.4-inch screen and a fingerprint sensor beneath the glass panel at the bottom. To get the sensor to work, you will need to press down and hold your finger on it. It’s slower than phones like the Galaxy S21 Ultra. While this is not a major issue, it is a problem with the Pixel 6 Pro. We hope Google will fix it soon. An update has been released to address the fingerprint issues in the Pixel 6 Pro. We’ll be watching to see if it improves things. We may soon see Face Unlock on the Pixel 6 series if it doesn’t.
Corning’s Gorilla Glass Victus provides scratch resistance and an IP68 rating for water resistance. Google has a $29 option for a Pixel 6 case that is made from 30% recycled materials and can absorb shocks.
The Pixel 6 measures 6.2×2.9×0.4 inches and is thicker than both the iPhone13, Samsung Galaxy S21. The Pixel 6 however has a larger display of 6.4 inches. The OnePlus9 has a larger screen than the Pixel 6. However, it boasts a smaller form factor. The Pixel 6 weighs in at 7.3 ounces. Meanwhile, the OnePlus 9 is 6.77 ounces.
Google Pixel 6 Review
The Pixel 6 is the Goldilocks display for smartphones. At 6.4 inches it’s neither too large nor too small but will be just right for most people. Apps will take up most of the screen space thanks to the sharp 2400x1080p resolution.
The Pixel 6 Pro will have a display that refreshes at 120Hz. However, Google doesn’t leave those who choose the cheaper option out of pocket. The Pixel 6 has an adaptive 90Hz refresh rate. This allows for smoother scrolling, better gameplay, and a lower battery drain.
The Pixel 6’s display is more consistent than similar-priced phones with AMOLED panels. The Pixel 6 displays 100.9% of sRGB with its display set at Natural. This is slightly lower than the iPhone 13 (110.2%), Galaxy S21 (109.2%), and OnePlus 9 (104.1%). The Pixel 6’s 0.28 Delta-E score is slightly lower than that of the iPhone 13 (0.26) and OnePlus 9 (0.27).
Cruella streaming on Disney Plus, with the brightness turned up to the maximum, made colors look a bit muted. However, the brighter tones were bright enough. Bright red clothing stood out among a subdued sea dominated by black and white clothes as Emma Stone transformed into Cruella.
The Pixel 6 is still bright enough. We measured the Pixel 6’s brightness at 843 nits using the Adaptive display feature. This is brighter than comparable phones from Apple and Samsung, as well as OnePlus.
Google Pixel 6 review: Cameras
The Google Pixel 6 Pro has a fancy telephoto lens, but the Pixel 6 keeps the standard wide angle/ultrawide angles setup. The Pixel 6 isn’t a disappointment. Its main wide-angle lens will be boosted to 50MP. This is a significant increase from the 12.2MP sensors that Google used on its previous flagships.
The Pixel 6 cameras come with Google’s usual assortment of tricks that are powered by computation photography. The new tools this year include the ability to quickly erase people and other objects from the background of your photos, transform static photos into action shots with artistic blurs, software cleavers that remove blurred faces, and improvements in how the cameras capture skin tones, especially for people of color.
Because the Pixel 6’s camera has the same camera array as the iPhone 13, Apple’s new phone also has an ultrawide and a main lens. It is therefore ranked among the top camera phones. This shot of the statue at the marina is a good example. This scene is a masterpiece of color, with the iPhone 13 capturing the perfect colors, including the pink suspenders on the statue and the redhead carved by the vulture. The blue-and-yellow houseboat really pops in the background.
Although the Pixel 6 shot looks great, the colors seem muted. It could have been an overcast, rainy day but the Pixel 6 chose to be accurate with its colors and the result is less vibrant.
Indoors, the same comparison is made. The Pixel 6’s photo of the taco plate is cooler than the iPhone 13, which has a more vibrant color. You can see the lime wedge and pickled carrot slices in the background. It is amazing to see how both phones handled the apple in the upper left corner of the photo. In the iPhone’s version, it is sharp and bright green. The Pixel renders it duller and blurrier. The Pixel 6 may have been a little too fast to see the light coming in from the background, but the iPhone shot is clearly superior.
The Pixel 6’s color approach finally pays off at the marina. Instead of giving the rainclouds above the Oakland skyline the blueish hue that is seen in the iPhone’s photo, the Pixel 6 keeps them looking gray and foreboding. The iPhone 13 photo is sharper, with the Dulcinea name on the boat visible to the right. However, the Pixel 6 does a great job here.
Although the Pixel 6 does not have a telephoto lens it has a Super Res Zoom feature that can assist with digital zooms up 7x. This allows for clear, focused shots. The camera captured the Oakland skyline across the San Leandro channel at 4x. I was happy with the results. The buildings are still in focus, especially the Tribune Tower that I zoomed in on. There’s also minimal noise in the shot. With a 4x zoom, the iPhone 13 did not fare as well. The shot became darkened significantly and the buildings blended together.
Both phones performed well at night. Each phone’s night mode was able to capture Halloween decorations in an orange tree. Night Sight on the Pixel 6 is the better shot. It has a cooler cast and retains the shadows of the skull. The iPhone 13 enhances the orange tree leaves and brings out the white skull. The Night mode of the iPhone 13 makes the skull seem less prominent. This is achieved better by the Pixel 6.
My daughter’s portrait is a tale about two colors — the Pixel 6 has a cold cast, while the iPhone 13 has a warm one. The iPhone 13 was the better choice, both because the shot looks autumnal and because my daughter’s striped shirt is whiter than it should be. It also doesn’t have that blue tint the Pixel 6 has. The blurred effect on the phones is not convincing. Perhaps my daughter is too far back in the persimmon tree which confuses both phones’ computational photography.
The front camera takes better pictures, but the Pixel 6 loves cool colors. Although it does remove some wrinkles from my face, it’s still a great effort. However, I believe the iPhone 13 shot looks more real, especially the way it captures my different hair colors, as well as the graying patches. Friends, we all get older.
Google Pixel 6 review: Photo editing features
Google’s Pixel 6 camera experience goes beyond lenses. It also includes new photo editing tools that allow you to enhance and improve your photos. The new features in the Pixel 6’s camera toolbox make it easy to use. Sometimes, they don’t even need your intervention.
Magic Eraser will be the most popular feature. Most of us have taken perfect shots only to discover that the background is cluttered with people and objects. Magic Eraser is available in the editing tools of Photo. It will automatically choose people and objects that you want to be removed. You can tap it with one touch.
Do you remember the Pixel 6 selfie that I posted above? The background is occupied by a person standing over my left shoulder. Magic Eraser is able to identify the person and any other clutter in the shot and offer to take them out. You can tap on other areas to delete objects. Or, in the case where the No Time to Die poster is over my right shoulder tell Magic Eraser to let Daniel Craig go.
Motion mode is a new feature in the Pixel 6’s camera, which takes flat images and blurs them to indicate movement. This is especially useful for enhancing action shots, and can even be used to improve dull photos of cars passing by movie theaters. The Motion mode was enabled on the Pixel 6, which added background blurs and other effects to keep the SUV in focus. This transforms a boring downtown drive into a thrilling chase scene.
Action Pan can be selected to focus on the moving object. This is how I took my car photo above. You can also choose long exposure where moving objects are blurred.
The Pixel 6 also features software enhancements, such as the ability to unblur the face of anyone moving just as you are taking the shot, and the ability to process HDRnet 4K videos for brighter colors. Google is working with experts in color to improve the appearance of skin tones in photos taken by its cameras. The result should show people of color better in your photos.
Google Pixel 6 Review: Performance
Tensor, the Google system-on-chip which powers many of the machine-learning capabilities featured on the Pixel 6, has been the main focus of the Pixel 6 launch. Tensor is the engine behind some of the photo-enhancing capabilities that we have just mentioned. However, silicon drives performance. One of the biggest questions about Tensor is how it will perform against the Snapdragon 888 chipset used in the top Android smartphones.
The tensor is in the same ballpark as the Snapdragon 888, even though it’s a bit further back. Geekbench 5 showed that the Pixel 6 scored single-core and multicore scores respectively of 1,029, 2,696, and 2,696, respectively. These numbers are comparable to what we have seen on Snapdragon 888-powered devices such as the Galaxy S21 (3,048 and 3 3032) and the OnePlus 9 (3,126 and 3 618). The Tensor is no match for the iPhone 13 with its A15 Bionic Chip, which outperformed Snapdragon 888 phones in this test.
The Tensor’s graphics performance is better than other flagship Android smartphones. 3DMark’s Wild Life Unlimited test showed that the Pixel 6, OnePlus 9, and Galaxy S21 produced frames of around 34 frames per second. The iPhone 13 scored 55.9 FPS.
The Pixel 6 can be encouraged by the results of a real-world test in which we used Adobe Premiere Rush to convert 4K video into 1080p. The task took the OnePlus 9 and the Galaxy S21 a little over a minute, while the Pixel 6 completed it in 49 seconds. Although it is not as fast as the iPhone 13, the Pixel 6 finished the task in 49 seconds.
Check out our Google Pixel 6 benchmark overview to see how it compares to other devices. It includes charts and analysis. The tensor is superior to what you might think.
Despite playing PUBG Mobile on my Pixel 6, the graphics were sharp and response times were quick, even though I wasn’t aiming for that. Several other games offer Pixel 6-specific optimizations via Game Dashboard. This allows you to choose whether you want the best graphics or preserve your battery life.
The speakers at the top and bottom were also impressive. Phones with this setup can be dangerous because your hands could get caught on the speakers while holding the phone in landscape mode. But the Pixel 6’s sound of gunfire was loud and clear.
Google Pixel 6 Review: 5G
Tensor chipsets include a 5G modem, which is one of Samsung’s Exynos 5123 modes. This modem is a little slower than the Qualcomm Snapdragon X60 found in the current flagships, such as the iPhone 13 or Galaxy S21. You’d expect 5G speeds on the Pixel 6 to be slower.
This was evident in my testing. My review unit was loaded with a Verizon SIM card and I experienced average download speeds of 35.3Mbps using Verizon’s nationwide 5G network. This is not the Ultra Wideband network Verizon has in over 80 cities across the US, where speeds can reach 1 Gbps. The same SIM card was inserted into my iPhone 13 and I got an average speed 35.8Mbps. It’s not a huge gap, but iPhone speeds were consistent in this range. Pixel’s 5G performance was inconsistent.
It’s not likely to be a major issue for most users. However, the fact that Pixel models can have different models depending on which 5G network they connect to creates unnecessary confusion about what kind of performance you can get.
The Pixel 6 received some positive news regarding 5G since its launch last year. It’s now certified to work on Verizon’s 5G network. This means Pixel 6 owners can get faster speeds in more places if they have their service through Verizon.
Google Pixel 6 Review: Battery and Charging
If you want to see the confusing performance, however, then check out the battery test results from the Pixel 6 with its 4,614mAh battery. The test involves setting up a phone to surf continuously over a 5G cellular connection and then timing the time it takes for the battery to run out. To ensure consistency, each phone was set to 150 nits brightness. The Pixel 6 must be set to a demanding 77%.
This is a long way to say that Pixel’s 5G performance numbers aren’t very impressive. The Pixel 6 ran for almost two hours on T-Mobile’s 5G network with its 90Hz refresh rate enabled. But, the same test was done on my home using a Verizon SIM. I can only get an LTE signal. The Pixel 6 was able to last longer without the 5G power requirements. It lasted an average of 10 hours 52 minutes in multiple tests. That’s more than enough.
Check out our Pixel 6 battery performance overview to see how it compares with other flagship phones. This includes runtimes of the iPhone 13 series as well as the Galaxy S21.
We believe that the Pixel 6’s battery performance was below the 5G modem, as it is the same one we tested in early 2020. The Pixel 6’s battery performed well in real-world usage, using a combination of 5G, LTE, and Wi-Fi. It was not strong enough to compete with devices with the longest phone battery life, but sufficient to ensure that you don’t have to look for a recharge mid-day. After charging the Pixel 6, I took pictures and ran some tests, before unplugging it overnight. I had 71% left when I woke up the next morning.
Google’s Pixel 6 supports 21W wired charging when it’s time to charge, which is a slight improvement over the Pixel 5’s 18. W speed.
The original assumption was that the Pixel 6 could support speeds of up to 30W using the new 30W charging block, which is available separately. After digging deeper into the phone, Google revealed that the Pixel 6 supports only 21W speeds. It’s not a very attractive look.
The 30W charger was in our laboratory, and the Pixel 6’s battery readings returned to 29% after 30 minutes. The Galaxy S21 is able to reach 55% within that time. The OnePlus 9 with its crazy 65W charger comes very close to a full charge.
Google Pixel 6 Review: Software and Special Features
The Pixel 6 introduces Android12 to the world, Google’s latest software upgrade for Android phones. Android 12 is more than a tweak. It introduces the new Material You interface from Google that’s built into the Pixel 6. This means that wallpapers will adapt to your Pixel’s color — all wallpapers have been adjusted to match my Kinda Coral review unit. The themed icons are available for Google apps and elements such as the keyboard can be customized to match the shade of your phone.
Sometimes it can be a little too much. It’s not clear if I will appreciate the coral-themed keys of the Pixel 6’s keyboard or if I will continue to think about a bottle of Pepto-Bismol every time I need to send an email. It does show some consistency, as Google integrates its software more closely with its hardware.
Google Assistant is smarter than ever and many of its new features have the potential to be very useful. The assistant allows you to send text messages via dictation. It’s astonishingly accurate. The assistant can recognize commands such as Clear and Send and is smart enough to detect the sound of your voice and where to insert questions marks and periods. Although you must repeat “Hey Google” each time you send a message, a visual cue — the microphone icon flashing with a rainbow band — allows you to know when the assistant is listening for your dictation. Android 12 also offers many ways to launch Google Assistant.
Google is making its first tentative steps towards ending every assistant request by starting with “Hey Google.” You can simply say “stop” or “snooze” to stop an alarm on the Pixel 6. You can also say “answer” and “decline” if you get a call. Although it’s not a comprehensive list, I imagine Google is developing other voice commands that will replace “Hey Google”.
The Pixel’s previous releases introduced features such as Hold for Me. This allows you to assign the assistant the task of handling long waits and notify you when someone is on the line. The Pixel 6 brings back this feature and some of its friends. You can type in your phone number to the Pixel 6’s dialer and it will show you a chart showing wait times patterns. This gives you an idea of when is a good time to call.
The Phone app can be adjusted to allow for real-time transcription of automated phone calls, as well as menu options. For easy tapping, the numbers buttons are located at the bottom of your screen. These features are only available for toll-free numbers. We take a detailed look at the new wait times and Direct My Call features Google has added to the Pixel 6.
Recorder now supports Japanese and German transcriptions. A new Live Translate feature, which can recognize different languages in media, messages, and photos and convert them into English, is available.
An interpreter feature allows the Google Assistant to listen to and translate spoken words. It can handle Japanese and German on the Pixel 6, and 48 languages if you have an internet connection. It’s best to use the interpreter feature when you travel overseas and speak with native speakers of the language. I tested it with my wife, who speaks some German. While it worked well, her accent and pronunciation sometimes confused the assistant.
There are many new features, and Google can make it difficult to find them. You will need to go into settings to enable them. If you are new to the phone or need to know how to enable the features that Google is trying to hide from you, take a look at our Pixel6 starter guide.
Google Pixel 6 Review: Security and Updates
Apple has been making a lot of noise by emphasizing privacy features on its phones in recent years. It’s evident that Google is tired to claim all the glory. With its Tensor chipset, and dedicated Titan M2 secure enclosure, the Pixel 6 is designed to protect your data.
Paul Wagenseil, my colleague, goes into greater detail about the Pixel 6’s privacy and security features. Highlights include a Privacy dashboard that shows you the history of apps using the Pixel 6’s camera, microphone, and location; you can also add a camera/microphone toggle into the quick settings to quickly turn off access. You can manage your Google account, passwords, and app permissions from one place: the security hub.
Google can now promise five years of security updates to its Pixel 6 due to the Tensor chip switch. This is not the same as Android software updates. Although it may sound like you will still get three updates per year, it’s an important step towards providing long-term support for the Pixel 6.
Google Pixel 6 Review: Updates and Problems
My experience with the Pixel 6 was relatively positive, but it hasn’t been for others who have purchased the new Google phone. Google has released several software updates since our initial review. Unfortunately, they have a tendency to create more problems than they solve. Software updates have brought many bugs. The February 2022 update affected Wi-Fi connectivity. Google will usually fix these bugs, but we expect more from a company like Google.
We are monitoring the most common Pixel 6 issues. This includes whether there is a fix. Issues range from the display flickering on power off to the phone randomly calling people at odd hours.
Slow response times have been the main problem with the fingerprint sensor. Users are reporting that the fingerprint sensor does not work after the battery has run out. This is a problem that we have not experienced. However, some of my UK-based colleagues have reported issues with their network connections on the Pixel 6. This is a European-centric issue that Google claims it is actively investigating.
The good news is that software fixes can often be used to fix most reported issues, including a recent update that addresses keyboard, Bluetooth, and camera app problems.
Positive is also Google’s policy to add more features to its phones following launch. This is independent of Android OS updates. It has, for example, gained a new adaptive sound setting and heart rate and breathing rate tracking through the Google Fit app.
Google Pixel 6 review: Verdict
The Pixel 6 is Google’s best-ever phone. It’s not ready to replace flagships from Apple or Samsung, but it is the best phone that you can purchase.
The Pixel 6’s cameras are excellent and the editing tools offer some great features. Despite this, the iPhone 13 is able to take better photos, especially in low light, which was an area where previous Pixels excelled. Tensor is a welcome addition to Pixel’s lineup, although the true value of its machine-learning expertise will only be revealed over time.
I would like to see more consistency in battery performance on the Pixel 6 and that 5G connectivity was not a task that required a wall chart. Google is now able to commit to security updates over long periods of time. It would be wise to follow Apple’s lead on software updates.
The Pixel 6 has a lot to offer, including the new capabilities offered by Tensor as well as Android 12. Android lovers who want to get the most out of Google’s software should consider upgrading to the latest Pixel.