Google Pixel 6 review: Starting fresh

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(Pocket-lint) - The Pixel 6 is undoubtedly the worst kept tech concealed successful caller years. Predominantly due to the fact that Google hasn't truly wanted to support it a secret. Instead of keeping hush connected the leaks erstwhile they archetypal surfaced, Google confirmed them and has been pushing large selling bucks down the telephone successful the run-up to the authoritative announcement.

Google's messaging has precise overmuch been that this is the adjacent chill thing, an Android telephone for radical with their digit connected the pulse, those who privation to beryllium antithetic to everyone else. It's a trendy phone. With its unsocial plan and caller bundle experience, it'll surely get radical interested, that's for sure. 

Like nary other 

  • Finishes: Stormy Black, Sorta Seafoam, Kinda Coral
  • Dimensions: 158.6 x 74.8 x 8.9mm / Weight: 207g
  • IP68 h2o and particulate resistant
  • Corning Gorilla Glass Victus 

It's harmless to accidental that whether you look astatine it from the beforehand oregon the back, the Pixel 6 doesn't rather look similar immoderate different Android smartphone connected the planet. It's astir arsenic antithetic arsenic a solid rectangle tin be. 

Part of that distinctiveness is down to the plan of the framework and bezel. It's precise angular and right-angled, but inactive has skinny bezels. Rather than spell with a rounded quality astir the corners with an interior curved country successful the bezel, Google has opted to marque them overmuch much square. In a mode it astir has a Nokia Lumia-esque vibe astir it. To us, that's a bully thing. 

Despite those right-angled corners, the framework is inactive rounded, to marque it consciousness comfy successful the hand. A consciousness that's further enhanced by the flimsy curves successful the solid connected the backmost of the phone. It doesn't consciousness crisp oregon level similar the iPhone 13. Being overmuch larger and little circular than the Pixel 5, it's not rather arsenic ergonomic arsenic that predecessor though. 

The size and value mean the Pixel 6 is hardly the astir nimble smartphone connected the market, but Google has tried to alleviate immoderate of your imaginable stretching by adding a one-handed mode successful Android 12. Similar to Apple's Reachability diagnostic successful iOS, this lets you resistance down contented from the apical of the surface further down, truthful you tin scope it with a thumb.

It's connected the backmost of the telephone you'll find the astir striking quality betwixt the Pixel and different phones. Just 1 glimpse and anyone volition spot it's not rather the aforesaid arsenic different devices. There's nary rectangular, quadrate oregon pill-shaped camera protrusion successful the corner. Instead, Google has dispersed the camera portion crossed the full width of the phone. 

The protrusion is capped astatine the apical and bottommost by an aluminium framework that joins with the main chassis of the phone, and solves a insignificant contented with the accustomed corner-placed method. It means erstwhile you prevarication the telephone connected its back, it won't wobble about. 

It's hard to responsibility the plan and physique prime much. The framework has a sturdy consciousness - it's durable acknowledgment to having Corning Gorilla Glass Victus and IP68 standing against h2o and particulate ingress. The buttons connected the close are clicky and responsive. But the camera ridge does look to scrape fluff and different minutiae, collecting it connected the backmost of the telephone from our pocket. 

Apart from that, it's each beauteous modular successful presumption of layout. The measurement rocker and wake/sleep cardinal unrecorded connected the close edge, the SIM tray is connected the left, and a Type-C larboard to the bottom. There's nary carnal fingerprint sensor, though, alternatively Google went with an optical in-display sensor, portion there's a centrally placed front-facing camera that punches done the apical of the display. 

The regular Pixel 6 comes successful 3 colours. Our reappraisal portion is the Stormy Black, which features a tri-tone decorativeness with acheronian grey forming the predominant colour connected the back, with a achromatic camera sheet and a lighter grey sheet supra that. This is undoubtedly for those who privation a subtle decorativeness due to the fact that it's the different colours that'll drawback the oculus of the expressive. There's a Sorta Seafoam and Kinda Coral, some of which are caller and charismatic looking. If we were choosing, we'd prime 1 of those instead. 

Display 

  • 6.4-inch OLED panel
  • 1080 x 2400 solution (411ppi)
  • 90Hz adaptive refresh rate
  • 24-bit colour, HDR10 support

Reading down the show spec database reads beauteous overmuch similar immoderate different Android flagship phone. The Pixel 6 dons a Full HD+ solution OLED show with 20:9 facet ratio that tin scope up to  90Hz refresh rates. It's not rather up determination with the apical 120Hz panels and beyond, but astatine the terms constituent it's wrong that's nary surprise.

Still, with up to 90 frames per 2nd the surface is susceptible of fast, fluid motion. It's arsenic adept astatine handling colour and opposition too. With 24-bit colour capableness it's capable to show 16 cardinal colours, supporting wide gamuts and with capable opposition and brightness to marque HDR10 contented look its best. 

Watching movies connected Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime is simply a thoroughly enjoyable experience. A large portion is evidently down to the qualities of the show and the representation processing. Dynamic scope is precise good, with agleam spots successful HDR-capable titles appearing piercingly bright, without losing texture and item successful the darker areas. 

The darkest parts are inky and deep, portion colours person a vibrant and charismatic tone. Whether you ticker thing earthy and existent similar After Life connected Netflix, oregon thing a spot much colourful and hyperreal similar Free Guy connected Disney+, the sheet is adept astatine showing the movie colours successful the mode they were intended. 

It's not a cleanable sheet though. Being a small nitpicky, the colours bash displacement a small erstwhile looking astatine it from an angle. Look astatine a achromatic surface and set the space and you'll commencement to spot immoderate insignificant greenish and pinkish tinting. It's seldom an contented though.

Android 12's unsocial charm

In its announcement lawsuit for Android 12, Google waxed lyrical astir however the 2021 iteration of its phone's operating strategy was designed to bespeak you and your unsocial tastes. Its selling run astir the Pixel 6 has been each astir being unique, being cool, being you. And it is Android 12 that lets you explicit that astir clearly.

While Android has ever been precise customisable, Android 12 has taken it up a notch with the Pixel and created thing that's aesthetically much tunable and tweakable but - much importantly - added a small dash of whimsy into the mix. 

One of the large changes is however theming works crossed the full system. Unlike erstwhile iterations, it's not conscionable a lawsuit of changing accents successful immoderate menus, it changes your full colour strategy and it does truthful for the built-in Google keyboard, immoderate Google apps similar Gmail, Messages, Phone and Calculator (among others), and anyplace other connected your telephone that isn't a third-party application. 

In the customisation surface you tin take colours yourself, but it automatically pulls retired the salient ones successful your chosen wallpaper. So arsenic soon arsenic you alteration a wallpaper, each the colours change, for each the layers of the interface and the Google apps connected board. It's beauteous fantastic. 

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 sadly lone works connected Google's apps. 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. Which doesn't look good. 

Widgets are up determination arsenic 1 of the stars of the amusement too. Again, for Google's ain apps and strategy functions similar Weather, Photos and Clock, you tin adhd widgets of assorted sizes and shapes. The timepiece widget, for example, tin beryllium a scalloped widget, oregon round, oregon a bulbous 'x' shape. For the apps that person this added functionality, it's a bully change. We anticipation it's adopted by 3rd parties too, due to the fact that - again - if you usage age-old widgets from 3rd parties past the juxtaposition of styles is jarring. 

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While caller beauteous things are ever welcome, there's much functionality successful Android 12 too, peculiarly astir privateness and security. Privacy Dashboard lets you glimpse astatine your permissions and spot which apps person had entree to things similar your location, camera and microphone. It lets you easy disable entree for immoderate that look to beryllium acting suspiciously. What's more, determination are large switches successful the speedy settings shadiness that fto you disable mic and camera entree completely. 

There are different precocious features that tally successful the background. Things similar the adaptive artillery - which learns however you usage your telephone to debar wasting powerfulness connected things you don't usage often - keeps your most-used apps moving successful the background. It adjacent has adaptive web transportation skills, optimising your usage of Wi-Fi, Cellular and Bluetooth to assistance the artillery past adjacent longer. 

Then there's unrecorded construe which is much almighty than before, offering the quality to person smoother, little junky conversations with radical who talk a antithetic connection to you.

Tensor power

  • Google Tensor processor - Titan M2 information co-processor
  • 4614mAh artillery - 30W PD charging support
  • 128GB oregon 256GB storage
  • Qi wireless charging

The plan of the Pixel 6 whitethorn beryllium the archetypal large talking constituent of Google's phone, but determination is 1 different constituent that's astir apt much important: the processor. Google has gone down a akin way to the likes of Apple by dropping third-party silicon and utilizing its ain home-baked processor. It's called Tensor. 

Google's assertion is that you'll get an 80 per cent summation successful the Pixel 6's show compared to the Pixel 5. That older phone, however, was powered by the Snapdragon 765G processor, which wasn't the astir almighty connected the marketplace astatine the time. We're definite if you benchmarked Tensor against thing similar the Snapdragon 888 that it would people less, but Google's level wasn't conscionable designed to beryllium an almighty almighty spot for driving excessive graphics and speed. 

Tensor is each astir its neural engine, a much brain-like attack for its computational instrumentality learning elements. Everything from the algorithms that fig retired each the precocious camera features, representation and connection processing and everything other are powered by this approach.

There's thing astir the mundane show of the Pixel 6 that ever gave america origin for concern. It's fast, responsive and tin grip immoderate crippled you propulsion astatine it too.

Likewise, the artillery wrong is akin successful capableness to what you'll find successful galore flagship Android phones. At 4614mAh capacity, there's easy capable to guarantee you tin get done a workday connected a azygous charge. In fact, adjacent connected our heavier usage days, we struggled to wholly drain it. On lighter days, with mean 3 hours of surface usage, we'd get to bedtime and find we had implicit 40 per cent left. 

Its 30W charging capabilities aren't lightning speedy - but are capable to guarantee you're not wasting hours waiting for the telephone to refill erstwhile empty. That is if you person a 30W Power Delivery susceptible charger - arsenic it doesn't vessel with 1 successful the box. The Pixel is besides wireless charging capable, truthful if you prime up the caller Pixel Stand past you tin complaint it rapidly without the request to plug it in. 

Pixel perfect

  • Dual camera system:
    • Main: 50-megapixel, f/1.85 aperture, 1/1.31-inch sensor size
      • Optical representation stabilisation (OIS), Electronic representation stabilisation (EIS), laser-detect autofocus
      • 'Super Res Zoom' up to 7x
    • Wide (114-degrees): 12MP, f/2.2
  • Selfie: 8MP, f/2.0

One large quality betwixt this introduction Pixel 6 and the Pro exemplary successful the line-up is the camera capabilities. The regular Pixel features a dual camera strategy made up of a superior wide lens and an ultrawide lens - but there's nary mega zoom capableness present similar successful the Pro.

The Pixel 6's main sensor is simply a 50-megapixel 1 that packs successful capable pixels truthful that Google has been capable to alteration a diagnostic called 'Super Res Zoom', fundamentally allowing you to usage a integer zoom up to 7x. However, if you bash propulsion it to the 7x limit, the pixtures bash commencement to get a spot mushy and lacking successful detail. Stick to the 2x zoom and you'll get precise passable shots though. Still not arsenic crisp oregon good-looking arsenic the 1x tract of view, but surely not bad. 

On the whole, the superior and ultrawide cameras lucifer each different reasonably well, but the main camera unsurprisingly delivers richer results with amended item and earthy depth. The ultrawide is astatine slightest colour matched for parity betwixt the two, but doesn't bash arsenic good successful debased airy and does present distortion towards the edges. 

As is usually the lawsuit for Google's telephone cameras, there's tons of computational enactment being done down the scenes for processing colours, vulnerability and detail. But contempt this hard enactment happening successful the background, from a idiosyncratic constituent of presumption it's each straightforward - Google doesn't complicate things with tons of further settings and options.

It's akin to Apple's iPhone successful the mode you conscionable constituent and shoot, past the representation awesome processor and computational algorithms kick-in softly to process the representation and marque it look good. It sometimes has the inclination to boost colours a small spot excessively much, peculiarly erstwhile determination are bluish skies, but connected the full the pictures consecutive retired of the camera look good. 

There are further somewhat playful settings too. Motion mode volition let you to sprout either a agelong vulnerability changeable to nutrient effects similar airy trails connected moving cars oregon the milky effect connected moving water, oregon sprout an enactment cookware wherever you support the taxable successful absorption portion it moves by, blurring the inheritance to marque the taxable looking similar it's moving quickly. Both modes are presently successful beta - and you tin tell. 

For the enactment pan, we'd often person to effort aggregate times to get the changeable we wanted. With a kid moving oregon riding a scooter, arsenic examples, it would sometimes get the borderline detection wrong, and blur parts of the face, oregon not blur parts of the backdrop that weren't the idiosyncratic oregon subject. Likewise, due to the fact that it seems to usage look detection to determine which bits not to blur, it doesn't enactment truthful good if you're shooting aggregate radical if lone 1 of those is really moving - due to the fact that it volition besides marque the different person's look crisp and blur-free, adjacent if they're stood still. 

Use it connected thing similar a car, oregon thing with cleanable lines, and the effect is truly rather magical. As is the agelong vulnerability that lets you make effects similar airy trails wholly handheld, nary tripod required. Again, it tin instrumentality a fewer tries to get an effect that looks decent, but it's beauteous singular that it's imaginable astatine all. 

However, arsenic magical arsenic it is, it doesn't travel adjacent to Magic Eraser - which borders connected genuine witchcraft. This mode is simply a caller instrumentality successful Google Photos that lets you region unwanted objects oregon items from your photographs. So you've taken a beauteous scenery oregon cityscape and there's thing successful determination ruining the shot. Well, present you tin get escaped of it. 

Head to Photos and prime the photograph you privation to change, pat Edit > Tools and deed the Magic Eraser button. Circle the thing/person you privation to region and it'll automatically get escaped of it. Or if you person a photograph with idiosyncratic successful the background, Photos volition automatically suggest removing that.

The smaller the entity and simpler the texture of immoderate it is that's being blocked, the much effectual it is. If you person a idiosyncratic photobombing and lasting with thing but entity down them, that's an casual fix. But if there's a wall, oregon thing with analyzable lines and shading, past it volition astir apt look similar a dodgy Photoshop occupation with smudges, mis-matched lines and weird shadows. 

It's not truthful magical that it fills successful the country perfectly. For instance, if the idiosyncratic oregon entity has formed a shadow, determination whitethorn good inactive beryllium an unusual shadiness successful the scene. But it does a large occupation for the astir part, and unless you zoom successful truly close, it genuinely looks similar the archetypal happening has conscionable gone. 

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. 

There doesn't look to beryllium immoderate concern wherever the Pixel struggles to instrumentality bully photos. Its nighttime mode for photography successful low-light conditions delivers among the champion results we've seen from immoderate smartphone.

Details are clear, but crucially Google's attack seems to beryllium not conscionable to brighten the highlights until astir the constituent of over-exposing and adding opposition to marque it look sharp. It besides efficaciously lifts shadows and colour, making it look balanced and (almost) colourful. Brighter areas are kept from over-exposing too, retaining their detail. 

You tin usage nighttime mode connected some of the cameras, but the ultrawide struggles a spot erstwhile the airy levels truly drop. If determination are nary agleam adjacent sources of airy - similar a thoroughfare airy - you'll astir apt extremity up with a noisy grainy changeable from that. Similarly, you'll besides apt get immoderate signifier of lens flare if the thoroughfare airy is successful shot. 

Verdict

There are 2 large talking points with the Pixel 6: the unsocial plan and the Google-made Tensor processor. This absorption connected creating a telephone that's visually chiseled from everything other connected the market, portion besides investing successful its ain home-grown silicon, suggests Google is taking this full smartphone happening precise seriously. 

This hardware, matched with Google's computational enactment successful the background, and the Android 12 bundle elevate the Pixel 6 to much than the sum of its parts. It's a genuinely large telephone that delivers successful each the close ways, and makes you grin portion it does it. 

You get virtually flagship levels of performance, a large screen, bully artillery life, and bundle that not lone enables a unsocial style, but is besides updated with caller features and information patches regularly. What's more, you'll get those information patches for 5 years. All successful a telephone that doesn't outgo anyplace adjacent arsenic overmuch arsenic immoderate of the large premium devices. 

The Google Pixel 6 has got the equilibrium of everything conscionable astir right. It's unsocial - which isn't thing you tin accidental astir immoderate merchandise precise often - and we deliberation it's a genuinely large handset.

Also consider

OnePlus 9

There are rather a fewer similarities betwixt the OnePlus 9 and Pixel 6. It has likewise top-notch hardware with tons of large features, but the plan and bundle are rather different. 

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Apple iPhone 13

The modular iPhone is astir apt the closest happening to the Pixel 6 successful presumption of hardware that's not moving Android. It has a ace dual camera system, large artillery life, and comes successful rather a fewer charismatic colours. 

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Writing by Cam Bunton. Editing by Mike Lowe. Originally published connected 19 October 2021.

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