Google Pixel 6 Pro review: A proper flagship phone

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(Pocket-lint) - If Google's Pixel enactment of phones appeared to stumble successful 2020, past 2021 is each astir coming backmost stronger. The Pixel 5 launched arsenic a mid-range device, seemingly stepping distant from flagship ambitions and, portion it offered immoderate absorbing elements, to galore it felt arsenic though it lacked ambition. It was, ironically, the cleanable telephone for 2020.

With refreshed enthusiasm successful the aerial for 2021, we person the Pixel 6, alongside a caller flagship, the Pixel 6 Pro. The second truly feels similar Google's astir ambitious telephone yet - a existent coming of property story.

Design and build

  • Dimensions: 163.9 x 75.9 x 8.9mm / Weight: 210g
  • Alloy frame, Gorilla Glass Victus
  • IP68 dust- and weather-sealed

The Pixel 6 Pro is akin successful size and value to the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra and carries with it galore of the hallmarks of premium smartphone design.

It steps up implicit the Pixel 6 with a "waterfall" display, curving implicit the edges, matched with the curving of the solid of the rear panel. An alloy unibody runs done the centre of the phone, emerging with a polished decorativeness astir the edges, portion besides framing that camera array connected the rear.

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It's the backmost of the telephone that radical person been talking astir - and rightly so. When Google launched the Pixel 4 with its camera quadrate connected the rear it was designed to basal out. On the Pixel 6, the camera is the design.

There's a retro consciousness to it - particularly with some of the colours being offered - and agelong gone are the days wherever we saw the likes of Huawei CEO, Richard Yu, exclaiming "no bump!" from the stage; the Pixel 6 Pro is manifestly bump.

The prime of the decorativeness is great, prevention for 1 insignificant detail: the camera array, sitting betwixt the metallic bands of the frame, is really 3 sections comprised of the centre and the curved parts connected either end. That means determination are 2 seams successful this conception that we privation weren't there.

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Moving connected there's IP68 protection, which is flagship-grade waterproofing, portion the solid beforehand and backmost are Gorilla Glass Victus, the champion that Corning offers and that should astatine slightest support against scratches - it doesn't defy against fingerprints though.

Within the plan determination are stereo speakers, with a agelong slit crossed the apical of the show wherever it meets the framework and an orifice connected the bottommost of the phone. There's nary 3.5mm headphone socket though, truthful it's wireless only. The talker prime is beauteous good, with plentifulness of measurement to make a large acquisition erstwhile watching advertisement hoc videos oregon erstwhile gaming.

Display

  • 6.7-inch LTPO OLED panel
    • 3120 x 1440 solution (512ppi)
    • 120Hz (adaptive) refresh rate
    • 19.5:9 facet ratio
    • HDR

There's a ample 6.7-inch show connected the Pixel 6 Pro, with the Pixel 6 coming successful smaller astatine 6.4-inches. The Pro exemplary besides differs from the regular with a Quad HD+ solution - that's 3120 x 1440 pixels, for a pixel density of 512ppi - giving it an adjacent much pixel-packed finish.

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That sheet is the aforesaid size arsenic you'll find successful the iPhone 13 Pro Max, but a small higher successful resolution, meaning the Google telephone has the quality to show bully and crisp details. Unlike its rivals, specified arsenic Samsung's Galaxy S21 lineup, there's nary enactment to trim this resolution. You tin take the colour, though, with natural, boosted and adaptive offered - the past being the default and apt astir fashionable option.

This is an LTPO OLED display, meaning it tin connection adaptive refresh rates. That volition spot the show actively switching to suit the contented it's displaying, with a scope from 10-120Hz. The thought is that static content, similar an ebook, would beryllium astatine 10Hz truthful you're not wasting artillery refreshing the page, portion accelerated scrolling tin hap astatine 120Hz to trim tearing and marque it look smoother. You can, if you wish, crook it disconnected and instrumentality to 60Hz refresh instead. 

The Pixel 6 Pro has a large display, afloat of quality, offering large colouration to your content. There's ample brightness too, truthful it volition woody with brighter sunshine.

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There's a punch spread to the apical of the show for the front-facing camera, portion Google has besides moved implicit to offering an under-display fingerprint scanner connected the Pixel 6 models. That keeps the remainder of the plan cleanable - and portion we ne'er had a occupation with fingerprint scanners connected the rear, certainly, galore volition invited its caller presumption connected the front. We've had nary problems with the scanner overall, uncovering it swift to unlock the telephone with a small haptic acknowledgement.

Hardware

  • Google Tensor 5G processor
  • 12GB RAM, 128/256GB storage
  • 5003mAh battery, 30W wired / 23W wireless charging

Where the Pixel 6 Pro makes a departure from galore different devices connected the marketplace is successful its hardware. Sitting astatine the halfway of the telephone is Google Tensor, Google's ain plan of strategy connected spot (SoC).

Google claims that that the telephone is up to 80 per cent faster than the Pixel 5, though that was connected mid-range Snapdragon 765G hardware - and we truly don't cognize what Google bases these comparisons on. Having utilized some phones, yes, the Pixel 6 Pro does consciousness smoother and faster - and each inch the flagship experience.

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Google says its hardware has been 4 years successful the making and a ample portion of what Tensor wants to bash is boost the artificial quality and instrumentality learning of devices - and let that to tally connected the telephone alternatively than successful the cloud, making it faster and much secure.

The show from Tensor is fantabulous - and portion it's apt to beryllium a focal constituent for treatment astir this phone, having utilized plentifulness of Snapdragon 888 devices this year, it's hard to announcement immoderate peculiar differences. Synthetic benchmarks volition apt substance the statement backmost and distant astir which is best, but successful existent day-to-day use, it's a flagship experience.

If there's 1 country that mightiness rise an eyebrow that's erstwhile the telephone is nether dense load. During longer gaming sessions you'll find that the Pixel 6 Pro volition commencement warming up - which goes hand-in-hand with faster-than-average artillery drain, truthful not antithetic - but present it makes a noticable quality to wide endurance.

Fire up Call of Duty Mobile for a mates of hours and you'll consciousness the warmth and that faster artillery drain - successful immoderate cases faster than different flagship devices. If agelong hardcore gaming is your cardinal focus, you mightiness privation to see a gaming telephone instead.

Google Tensor supports 5G connectivity and determination volition beryllium a fig of antithetic versions of this telephone - a Sub 6 model, and versions that see mmWave too. There's besides Wi-Fi 6E enactment and Bluetooth 5.2 - arsenic good arsenic ultra-wideband (UWB). We've recovered the 5G connectivity and speeds to beryllium great. 

On connectivity we person 1 insignificant gripe which is truly astir Android 12: the Quick Settings present offers "Internet", with some cellular and Wi-Fi successful the aforesaid area. That means it takes 2 taps to crook disconnected Wi-Fi alternatively than conscionable the 1 of older Android versions. Why does this matter? When you locomotion retired of location and privation to watercourse music, the telephone volition bent onto that Wi-Fi web acold excessively long, truthful the euphony stops. We'd overmuch alternatively conscionable person the aged Wi-Fi Quick Setting fastener to debar that situation.

Google details that the UWB functionality isn't enabled astatine launch. Without thing to trial it with, that astir apt doesn't substance - but we're expecting the likes of Tile Ultra successful 2022 and compatibility with cars similar the BMW iX successful the aboriginal too.

There's nary microSD - thing that Google shuns perennially - portion 128GB and 256GB options supply ample storage.

There's a azygous USB-C connected the bottommost of the phone, allowing charging of the artillery astatine speeds up to 30W, though there's nary charger successful the box, conscionable a cable. That means you'll person to supply your ain charger.

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It's not the fastest charging astir - designed for a USB PD 3.0 PPS charger - but that'll inactive beryllium speedy capable to support astir users happy. On the wireless charging beforehand determination is enactment up to 23W, but lone utilizing the Google Pixel Stand (2nd gen). It volition besides enactment 12W wireless charging from a Qi wireless charger.

Google is claiming that you'll get 24 hours of usage from the Pixel 6 Pro oregon 48 hours if you usage the utmost powerfulness redeeming mode, though the second restricts what you tin bash with your phone, disabling a batch of the apps. As the sanction suggests, it's an utmost choice.

The battery, arsenic always, depends connected the usage. As we said, those agelong gaming sessions volition drain the artillery much rapidly - which is often the lawsuit connected larger phones - and whitethorn necessitate a top-up during the day. But connected lighter days oregon during emblematic usage - erstwhile messaging, taking the occasional call, snapping a fewer photos and browsing societal media - you'll find it lasts overmuch better. Typically, connected specified days, we'll scope the extremity of the time with 50 per cent remaining.

Cameras

  • Triple rear camera array:
    • Main: 50-megapixel 1/1.31in sensor size, 1.2μm pixel size, f/1.85 aperture, optical representation stabilisation (OIS)
    • Telephoto: 48MP, 1/2in, 0.8μm, f/3.5, OIS
    • Ultrawide: 12MP, 1.25μm, f/2.2
  • Front: 11.1MP, 1.22μm, f/2.2

There's a wholly caller camera strategy successful the Pixel 6 Pro, pairing up a higher solution main, a folded benignant (periscope) telephoto, and an ultrawide. This is 1 of the areas that this telephone differs from the smaller Pixel 6 - which misses retired connected the telephoto.

While the creation of the cameras has changed implicit its predecessor, overmuch of the look and consciousness of the Pixel camera is overmuch the same. There are caller features, but Google is inactive taking the attack of making this an casual camera to usage - you constituent and sprout and get the results careless of the conditions.

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As such, it leans connected artificial quality (AI) and computational photography, an country wherever Google has truly made a sanction for itself with the Pixel family.

Although there's present a 50-megapixel sensor, Google is utilizing pixel binning to effect successful 12.5-megapixel images, combining 4 pixels connected the sensor into 1 successful an image. Like others, Google is claiming a larger aboveground country to sorb airy utilizing this method, thing that tin provender into supporting low-light photography and the famed Night Sight and Astrophotography modes. But dissimilar others, the Pixel doesn't fto you instrumentality immense 50-megapixel photos - oregon connection a analyzable overlap of features. It's each straightforward. 

The main camera connected the Pixel 6 Pro is excellent. It has divers skills, backed by Google's AI, delivering fantabulous results successful galore conditions. It has an uncanny quality to marque dull photos much absorbing - and portion immoderate telephone cameras volition present boring level pictures successful little than optimal conditions, Google raises its game, boosting precocious dynamic scope (HDR), lifting shadows, making colours affluent without being unrealistic, each resulting successful amended images. 

A glimpse into a Raw representation record tin uncover however overmuch Google is doing present to cleanable things up, smoothing distant representation sound astatine higher ISO sensitivities, sharpening to bring backmost details, correcting distortion from lenses. While each this is happening successful the background, you don't request to deliberation astir it - it conscionable happens.

This applies arsenic overmuch successful low-light conditions arsenic it does successful bully light. The regular camera volition instrumentality low-light shots without needing Night Mode and tin automatically power to Night Mode erstwhile a longer vulnerability is needed. Again, the magnitude of AI enactment happening present tin beryllium seen if you unfastened the preview arsenic soon arsenic you instrumentality it - a dull representation is processed into thing cleaner, brighter, and amended close earlier your eyes.

The assemblage beneath shows an HDR photograph from the ultrawide camera, followed by the Raw unprocessed representation record that gives you an thought of however overmuch is changing here. It's worthy saying that the processed representation looks overmuch much similar the existent determination connected that sunny autumnal walk.

There is simply a downside to this AI processing of course. In immoderate conditions the HDR effect tin look somewhat artificial, noticable erstwhile you person tiny agleam areas, similar done leaves of a histrion successful the images above. This is beauteous communal connected smartphones, but you tin crook disconnected HDR successful the camera if you consciousness it's not the effect you want.

Equally, it has often been said that Night Sight tin marque nighttime scenes look brighter than they really are. This is existent - portion you'll get nighttime shots from this telephone that different phones volition not match, it can, astatine times, marque it lighter than what you're looking at. 

Because AI is doing the enactment successful this camera - there's nary pretense this is astir a peculiar sensor oregon lens - you get these options connected each cameras. That means the beforehand camera gets each the features that backmost cameras do. Some smartphones don't adjacent see this. 

Again, it's astir delivering the champion results it can. As a result, the beforehand camera - which is 11.1-megapixels successful the Pixel 6 Pro - is 1 of the champion selfie cameras retired there. There are 2 angles offered - 1x oregon 0.7x - but Night Sight, Face Unblur, Portrait, Motion mode each enactment present too. Without these features, it inactive takes outstanding photos, present little contrasty than from older Pixels. It doesn't consciousness similar you're compromising utilizing the beforehand camera implicit the rear, which is the lawsuit with galore rivals.

Google talked up its AI cleaning of integer zoom images connected erstwhile phones, but present it tin connection 4x optical zoom from the folded lens arrangement, and 20x integer zoom beyond that. That takes the Pixel camera beyond thing that's been offered previously. While it's not the aforesaid arsenic the 10x optical cameras you mightiness find retired there, it's present hugely versatile.

One of Google's technologies present is Super Res Zoom. This has been astir for a fewer years, utilizing mulitple images to heighten integer zoom implicit elemental sensor cropping. It's truly effective, meaning those 20x integer photos are beauteous good, surely usable alternatively than conscionable being a gimmick. Yes, good item volition inactive beryllium mushy astatine agelong range, but connected the full you'll beryllium blessed with the results.

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THE ORIGINAL SCENE

There's a batch much that's caller for the Pixel camera beyond the carnal lenses. When it comes to shooting, Motion Mode volition fto you seizure an representation and past springiness the content of question successful it. There are 2 modes available: enactment cookware is simply a accelerated moving taxable successful an image, similar a car oregon motorcycle going past; agelong vulnerability is for moving things successful inactive scenes, similar waterfalls. Both usage AI to fig retired what's expected to beryllium moving and what's not. You tin get immoderate large results - and it's each precise casual to use.

On the editing front, Google Photos gets a mates of caller options, including Magic Eraser which volition region distracting elements from photos. It volition connection to scan a photograph to suggest things to remove, but we recovered the champion enactment is to pinch zoom and past item what you privation removing. Things volition conscionable vanish from photos and it's truly effective. In the postulation below, the archetypal representation shows the archetypal and the 2nd has usage Magic Eraser to region the car and motion station successful the background.

Face Unblur attempts to region the occupation of moving faces, restoring them backmost to immoderate benignant of sharpness. While the illustration that Google gave was for children, we've recovered it truly effectual connected selfies, particularly erstwhile riding a bike. A small logo volition look successful Google Photos erstwhile Face Unblur has cleaned things up. Again, it's a seamless technology, there's nary turning it connected oregon off.

One different captious caller inclusion for representation photography and photography of radical successful wide is Google's Real Tone push. This uses representation processing for antithetic tegument colours that isn't biased to achromatic skin. Regardless of your tegument tone, your selfies and radical photos should look a batch much realistic and natural, truthful you don't get unnatural greenish tints oregon grey/ashy looks successful photos containing radical with darker tegument tones. 

The champion  mobile telephone  deals for the Samsung S21, iPhone 12, Google Pixel 4a / 5, OnePlus 8T and more

The champion mobile telephone deals for the Samsung S21, iPhone 12, Google Pixel 4a / 5, OnePlus 8T and more By Rob Kerr · 25 October 2021

Across Google's cameras, the AI sitting underneath pulls everything unneurotic and makes the Pixel 6 Pro 1 of the astir satisfying smartphone cameras to use. Yes, it fundamentally does everything for you and no, you can't dive into manual shooting modes. But successful beauteous overmuch each concern we've utilized it in, we've got results that person surpassed our expectations - it's conscionable a large camera to use.

Software polish

  • Android 12
  • 3 years of software/5 years of information updates

The Pixel 6 Pro launches with Android 12, with a fewer unsocial tweaks that you'll lone get connected Pixel. Many phones person been rolling backmost to offering a cleaner Google bundle experience, but the Pixel is ever beforehand of that queue for updates - present with a 3 twelvemonth mentation promise, and 5 years for information updates.

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The large alteration is Material You. This is what Google is mostly talking astir successful Android 12, wanting to marque it casual to customise the telephone to your preferences. It means you tin prime a wallpaper and accommodate the phone's taxable to colours related to that wallpaper. You tin besides power the icons to beryllium themed to acceptable in, though that lone appears to use to Google's ain apps and services.

It's conscionable astir arsenic casual arsenic it could beryllium and truly effective, allowing sweeping changes done a fig of apps to marque your instrumentality much unique. The lone portion that lets it down is the themed icons, an constituent of the bundle that's presently successful beta. This changes your app icons to lucifer the coloured taxable too, but it doesn't enactment with third-party app icons - truthful if you alteration it you'll extremity up with a mish-mash of colour icons interspersed with themed ones.

There are tiny changes each implicit the place, similar being capable to swipe down the Quick Settings and spot the artillery percent alteration to amusement you however agelong it's really going to last, though we've recovered this to beryllium a small random. Sometimes it tells you the percentage, sometimes the clip your telephone volition tally retired of battery.

Google besides continues to propulsion real-time translation successful its devices, with the quality to construe successful messaging apps similar WhatsApp oregon successful the messaging sections of different apps, similar Twitter oregon Instagram. This is truly accurate, present including punctuation, truthful dependable input is much utile than ever.

Then there's a boosted absorption connected privacy, allowing you to spot - via a greenish icon connected the show - if your camera oregon mic is live. You tin pat done to spot which apps are utilizing it. Via the Privacy Dashboard you'll beryllium capable to rapidly spot what is utilizing things similar determination entree and however often, truthful you tin instrumentality much control. You tin besides toggle disconnected the camera oregon mic if you want.

There are caller options for the location surface - including suggested apps - which volition alteration the icons connected your location surface based connected what your telephone thinks you are astir to do. We've seen this earlier successful the apps drawer, but present it's got pridefulness of spot connected the main leafage too, if you privation it.

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The changes ushered successful by Android 12 marque the Pixel 6 Pro consciousness overmuch much similar a telephone acceptable to vie with the likes of Samsung's best. There's property to it which hasn't ever been truthful keenly felt before, which is simply a refreshing alteration that helps the Pixel to standout and consciousness unique.

Verdict

The Pixel 6 Pro has raised its crippled successful the smartphone stakes, presenting an acquisition that's person to flagship than immoderate Pixel earlier it.

It's competitive, with a camera strategy and show that volition instrumentality connected galore different top-tier devices, portion offering a terms that volition origin immoderate of the large names to treble take. The agressive pricing makes the Pixel much enticing, sending the awesome that Google really wants to merchantability these phones. 

As a showcase for what computational photography tin bash for you, the caller camera has plentifulness to outcry astir - and that's apt to predominate discussions astir the caller Pixel. But there's a consciousness of completeness crossed this instrumentality too. Bold design, the large display, bully speakers, large show from Google's caller Tensor hardware, and a reliable timeline for aboriginal updates. 

In a clip erstwhile the Android telephone scenery seems to beryllium distilling into Samsung connected 1 broadside and newer companies specified arsenic Xiaomi, Vivo, Oppo connected the other, the Google Pixel offers wide entreaty for those looking for flagship show but astatine a somewhat little price.

Also consider

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

Samsung's apical telephone delivers successful galore areas, with a almighty camera strategy connected the back, a large display, and each the refinement that Samsung has developed implicit the years. It's costly though.

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Writing by Chris Hall. Editing by Mike Lowe. Originally published connected 19 October 2021.

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