Tech & Electronics
Google Pixel 6 review
Although there isn't much information that hasn't been leaked about Google Pixel 6, here are some key facts. The Pixel 6 is a great deal, and it's cheaper than all the high-end flagship launches this year.
The regular Pixel 6 appears alongside the more expensive Pixel 6 Pro. Google still calls it its "premium-tier" Pixel for 2021. It also claims that it has the "just the right amount" of everything, but this really doesn't do justice to the Pixel 6.
It is important to remember that the Pixel 6 is Google's first smartphone to use the Tensor chipset. Tensor, which is a departure from Qualcomm and Exynos, promises some performance and efficiency enhancements over the Snapdragon 765G mid-range processor. It represents a bold future for Google.
The company is refocusing its efforts to improve the Pixel's camera capabilities. The rear camera now has a 50MP resolution (up from 12.2MP), and is complemented by a 12MP ultrawide unit on the front, as well as a 12MP selfie snapper. You can now remove people and objects from images using the camera's "Magic Eraser", which allows you to circle them in the edit.
The Pixel 6's 6.4in AMOLED screen is slightly larger than last year. It supports a maximum refresh rate of 90Hz and HDR10+ playback. The standard version comes with 8GB RAM and 128GB internal storage. However, a 256GB option is not available in the UK at this time.
The Pixel 6's most striking feature is undoubtedly its low price. The Pixel 6 starts at only PS599 for the 128GB model (I don’t have prices yet for the elusive and expensive 256GB model). It is remarkable affordable. It's a great deal, especially when you consider the iPhone 13 (PS779) or Samsung Galaxy S21(PS769).
For a moment, you might want to put your wallet in your pocket. The Pixel 6 Pro is another option, with a larger display (6.71in) and 120Hz resolution. It also has a 48MP 4x optical zoom camera, a bigger battery, and a higher quality processor. All this and more for PS250 less (PS849).
The Pixel 4a is at the opposite end of the price spectrum, and it costs only PS299, half as much as the Pixel 6. Although it's an older phone, the Pixel 4a's low-end features are not as impressive (e.g. 5G) but it's still a viable option if you have limited budget.
The Pixel 6 looks great and is smaller than the Pixel 6 Pro. It has a screen that is just 0.3in smaller. This does not mean that the Pixel 6 is a small handset. It measures 159x75x8.9mm (WHD), and weighs in at 207g.
The panels have glass at the front as well as the rear. This is a significant departure from recent Pixel phones with plastic bodies. Both panels are made from Corning's most tough phone glass, Gorilla Glass Victus. In addition to IP68 dust and water resistance, there's an optical under-screen fingerprint scanner. This is a departure from the rear-mounted fingerprint sensors on recent Pixels.
For the second consecutive year, the Pixel does not support face unlocking. Although I am sure Google has a method to its madness, it feels odd that the Pixel doesn't support face unlocking for the second year in a time where we are used to holding our phones up to our faces and unlocking them.
The Pixel 6's wired charging speed has been increased to 30W. This means that the Pixel 6 can charge 50% in 30 minutes. The Pixel 6 also supports reverse wireless charging and wireless charging, with a doubled power supply to 21W. The Pixel 6 is available in three colours at launch: Stormy Black (pictured above), Kinda Coral, and Sorta Seafoam.
The Pixel 6's AMOLED screen has a variable refresh rate up to 90Hz and a resolution of 2,400x1,080. It also supports HDR10+ content. The Pixel 6's AMOLED display is 6.4in wide from corner to corner, compared to the Pixel 5's 6in. The selfie camera cutout, which is now located in the middle screen, switches positions with the one that was on the previous phone's top-left corner.
The Pixel 6's colour performance is almost flawless. The Pixel 6's colour accuracy was very good, with a Delta E of 1.73 in RGB with the phone's Natural setting selected. There were only minor issues with some greyscale tones and minor inconsistencies. You can dial up the saturation of colours by switching to the Adapted and Boosted display modes.
With a torch pointed at the ambient light sensor and the auto-brightness settings turned on, the Pixel 6's screen shines brightly in sunny conditions. The Pixel 6's screen is bright enough to view HDR10+ material. It reaches a peak brightness of 758cd/m2, 13% brighter than the model last year.
The most interesting upgrade to the Google phones this year is perhaps the one that is least obvious. The first Google-produced processor, the Google Tensor, is housed in the Pixel 6. This is an octa core part that looks very similar to the Snapdragon 808. It was manufactured in 5nm and features a pair 2.8GHz cores for high-performance tasks, two 2.25GHz cores of the ARM A76, four cores that are low-power at 1.8GHz, and four cores that run at 1.8GHz.
Google claims Tensor offers "up to 80% better performance than Pixel 5", which is based on a Snapdragon 765G. In typical Google fashion, the search giant says its AI features enable better performance across a slew of machine-learning-specific tasks.
These include the ability do on-the fly translation and the ability insert punctuation. There are also a few clever computational photography tricks that can be used with the camera. With a simple touch of your finger, you can remove distracting features and objects, such as overhead electric cables or people in background, from photos. We'll be discussing this feature shortly.
Although this is not something I can actually test, Google promises a boost in security with a dedicated Tensor Security Core that works in tandem to the Titan M2 security chips to protect your passwords and PINs.
However, I am able to test whether the Pixel 6 can live up to Google's high-performance claims. The Pixel 6 scored 1,031 versus 2,843 in the Geekbench 5 test. This tests single-core and multicore CPU performance. Comparing these numbers to the Pixel 5, we see a 75% increase in raw speed.
How does Tensor compare to the rest? Comparing the two, the single-core speeds of the Snapdragon 888, Exynos 2100 and Snapdragon 888 are equal, but Qualcomm's and Samsung's top mobile chipsets outperform Google's when it comes to multi-core processing. Both metrics are still dominated by the Apple A15 Bionic, which is found in the iPhone 13.
Gaming is also a big advantage for the Pixel 6. The Pixel 6 scored a frame rate of 79fps in the GFXBench Manhattan 3 test. This is nearly three times the speed of last year's smartphone. Blimey.
However, the Pixel 6's battery life is not its forte. The regular model lasts a little longer than the Pixel 6 Pro. It lasted just 18 hours 34 minutes in our video-rundown testing, which is a 19% decrease in stamina compared to the 2020 Pixel 5 (22hrs 54mins). It will be charged more frequently, which is a shame.
The hardware is not the only thing that has undergone a major overhaul. Android 12 is also included with the Pixel 6, which has a completely new look and feel thanks to Google's new "Material You” design language.
New pastel color-themes are included, as well as revamped icons for the pull-down menu. There are many other features. Most noticeable is the fact that icons that are used to change wallpapers will reflect the overall colour scheme.
Android 12 also includes improvements to widget settings, one-handed mode, and an AppSearch feature. This feature allows you to search within an app's settings menu rather than opening the app.
You will get all these updates, and Google also promises five years of security upgrades to anyone who buys a new Pixel 6 Pro or Pixel 6 Pro. This is a huge improvement over the previous Google phones that promised only three years of updates.
The Pixel 6 also has a dual rear camera setup. However, it now includes a 50MP main camera which captures 150% more light than the previous model and a 12MP ultrawide cam. The main camera sensor measures a staggering 1/1.3in in diameter (larger than the iPhone 13 Pro Max's main sensor sensor) and has pixels that measure 1.2um wide.
The Pixel 6 does not have the 4x tertiary telephoto zoom camera like the Pixel 6 Pro. Although the Pixel 6 has a "2x” setting in its camera app, it is a digital zoom. You will need to pay an additional PS250 if you require optical zoom.
Good news: What you get for your dollar still sets the standard in smartphone photography. The quality of portrait photos has improved dramatically, with skin textures and hair capturing almost as accurately as you might see them. The skin tone is pleasantly neutral, with a lot of detail separating my subject and the artificial blurred background.
The Pixel 6's "Face Unblur", a new feature, works extremely well. The ultrawide camera detects faces in portrait mode and captures images with a faster shutter speed. In an effort to reduce blurring on moving subjects, the Pixel 6 combines both images. After telling my fiancee that she should spin around for a while, here's the final image.
The Pixel 6's camera is also very user-friendly. The shutter delay is negligible (the iPhone 12 Pro is painfully slow by comparison), and you can tap the shutter any number of times you like in rapid succession without the Pixel 6 causing a fuss. The camera app is easy to use.
The Pixel 6's HDR implementation impressed me. The Pixel 6 was able to dim the light and cut through the shade at sunset, despite being facing the sun. However, lens flare can still be a problem as you can see in the image below.
What about the Magic Eraser tool. It's magic in a word. You can edit an image and select Magic Eraser from the Tools section to remove any strangers, lampposts, or overhead cables. In a matter of seconds, the Pixel 6 will take care of all the rest.
It is also quite efficient at removing things. The below two examples show me how I removed a lamppost as well as a skyscraper. While it isn't seamless, you can see where they were deleted. However, the Pixel 6 was able to get rid of the things I wanted.
The Pixel continues to outperform the competition in low-light photography. Night sight photos lack the warm tint of the iPhone 12 Pro's iPhone 12 Pro. Instead, they have subdued colours that show detail in dark environments and lots of detail. These photos are also extremely fast.
The Pixel 6 still offers 4K video at 60fps, fully stabilized. It also captures great footage with lots of detail. The screen did flicker when I tried to pan towards or away from sunlight. It almost seemed like the Pixel 6 was trying to decide what level of exposure to choose.
The Google Pixel 6 is quite different from other Pixel phones. It is unabashedly premium in design and cost, and it is also significantly faster than the Pixel 5 at launch.
Google has a winner with this device, which is so affordable and offers so many features. The only problem with the Pixel 6's battery-life is its "love it, or hate it" design. It's not a dealbreaker, at just 20 hours.
Google's Android-waving Pixel 6 can be a solid choice if you can handle the stamina hit, and you want the best Android has to offer.
|Google Pixel 6 specifications|
|Google Tensor (2x2.8GHz, 2x2.25GHz, 4x1.8GHz)|
|Screen resolution||2,40 x 1,080|
|Screen refresh rate||90Hz|
|Front camera||8MP (f/2.0)|
|Rear camera||50MP (f/1.9), 12MP (f/2.2) ultrawide|
|Dust and water resistance||IP68|
|3.5mm headphone jack||No|
|Wireless charging||Yes (21W)|
|USB connection type||USB-C|
|Storage options||128GB; 256GB|
|Memory card slot (supplied)||No|
|Cellular data||5G, 4G|
|Dimensions (WDH)||159 x 75 x 8.9mm|
|Operating system||Android 12|