Home » Google Pixel 6 Full Review – The Smartest Phone of 2021

Google Pixel 6 Full Review – The Smartest Phone of 2021

The Google Pixel 6 provides the greatest Android experience for the buck. With outstanding cameras, smart picture editing tools, and new Google Assistant skills in Android 12, although battery life should be improved.

Verdict

The Google Pixel 6 provides the greatest Android experience for the buck, with outstanding cameras, smart picture editing tools, and new Google Assistant skills in Android 12, although battery life should be improved.

 At 599$ there is no Better or rather smarter phone I can think of rather than the Pixel 6. Well, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have any problems. 

Pros/ Advantages

Cons/ Disadvantages

  • Smartest Phone of 2021
  • Great Pricing
  • Android 12 fluid Experience
  • Outstanding Design
  • Best Speech to text 
  • Slow fingerprint sensor
  • Poor Battery Life
  •  Video quality issues
  • Storages capped at 256GB

Key Features

  • Body: 158.6×74.8×8.9mm, 207g; Glass front (Gorilla Glass Victus), glass back (Gorilla Glass 6), aluminum frame; IP68 dust/water resistant (up to 1.5m for 30 mins).
  • Display: 6.40″ AMOLED, 90Hz, HDR10+, 1080x2400px resolution, 20:9 aspect ratio, 411ppi; Always-on display.
  • Chipset: Google Tensor (5 nm): Octa-core (2×2.80 GHz Cortex-X1 & 2×2.25 GHz Cortex-A76 & 4×1.80 GHz Cortex-A55); Mali-G78 MP20.
  • Memory: 128GB 8GB RAM, 256GB 8GB RAM; UFS 3.1.
  • OS/Software: Android 12.
  • Rear camera: Wide (main): 50 MP, f/1.9, 25mm, 1/1.31″, 1.2µm, omnidirectional PDAF, Laser AF, OIS; Ultra wide angle: 12 MP, f/2.2, 17mm, 114˚, 1.25µm.
  • Front camera: 8 MP, f/2.0, 24mm (wide), 1.12µm.
  • Video capture: Rear camera: 4K@30/60fps, 1080p@30/60/120/240fps; gyro-EIS, OIS; Front camera: 1080p@30fps.
  • Battery: 4614mAh; Fast charging, 50% in 30 min (advertised), Fast wireless charging 21W, Reverse wireless charging, USB Power Delivery 3.0.
  • Misc: Fingerprint reader (under display, optical); NFC.

After spending a month using Google Pixel 6 its time to give a full detailed thought 

Unboxing Google Pixel 6

In terms of accessories, inside the box, you’ll find a USB-C cable and USB-A-to-C adapter, should you choose to plug in a USB stick or maybe transfer data from an old micro USB-equipped phone using its own cable.

 

First Impressions

Google joins in on the no-charger trend this time around, and the Pixel 6 arrives in a half-height box as has become the norm in the high-end market segment. The lid has a print of the actual phone on top, and the sides are color-matched as well – hence boring black on our review unit.

 

Design, build quality, handling

 

We have had the iPhone stand Out coz of its design and the Pixel 6 is not trying to hide as an ordinary phone but stands out as a genuinely interesting greatly designed phone.

The camera strip is the 6s’ distinctive design feature. While being one telephoto module short, the Pixel 6 non-Pro features the same visor-style camera assembly as the Pro. The strip, which spans the whole width of the phone, provides enough space for the two cameras, an LED flash, a laser AF emitter/receiver, spectral and flicker sensor,’ and a microphone.

The visor sticks out by nearly 3mm from the back, but since it goes all the way from one end to the other, it doesn’t cause any wobble. That’s the good bit. Less so is the tendency for lint and dust to accumulate along the edges of the camera strip.

No glossy glass panel is immune to fingerprints, including the Gorilla Glass 6 back. It’s about as grippy as the rest of them, too – better than a frosted panel, but not spectacular. The Pixel 6s has a unique function in that you can hold them by the camera assembly or prop them up with your index finger to lift part of the weight of your pinkie.

pixel 6 Review

User Interface, Tensor Performance

Android 12 has been out for some time now.

It was always possible to input text using voice with Gboard, but the Tensor chip brings Assistant Voice Typing: a far better way to type by voice. This will work without an internet connection since the language model is on-device and processes language near-instantaneously.

To initiate typing with voice, you can press the microphone button or say “Hey Google, type” and start yapping away. You’ll be able to reply with your voice far more naturally since the Assistant will take care of punctuation, so you don’t even have to say things like “period” or “question mark”.

Live Translate for messaging is currently only supported on a dozen or so messaging apps, and in the following languages: English, French, Japanese, Spanish, German, Italian, Portuguese, Simplified Chinese, Hindi, Polish, and Russian.

Live Translate also works to translate spoken-word content, so long as it’s in English, French, German, Italian, or Japanese (Beta) – not in Finnish, for example. The sound coming from a video or audio source can be transcribed and translated in real-time.

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Performance and Benchmark

The Pixel 6 is powered by the proprietary Tensor chipset, a joint effort between Google and Samsung. It enables advancements in machine learning and computational photography that Google wouldn’t have been able to achieve by using a Qualcomm chip.

Google Pixel 6 Tensor chip — what it is and why it's a big deal | Tom's  Guide

 

The CPU is in a different setup than competing designs, offering a 2+2+4 core configuration, as opposed to the prevailing 1+3+4 arrangements. You get two powerful Cortex-X1 cores going all the way up to 2.8GHz, a pair of Cortex-A76 cores at 2.25Ghz, and a low-power quad-core cluster of Cortex-A55 cores clocked at 1.8GHz. Google’s Tensor is optimized for the dual X1 cores to handle medium-level tasks by using a portion of the workload more efficiently rather than maxing out the mid-cores. For graphics, there’s a 20-core Mali G78 MP20.

The TPU (Tensor Processing Unit, after which the whole chip is named) has a machine learning engine that is built for “where ML engines are heading, not where they are today.” This component of the Tensor chip handles new camera features, including the new HDRnet algorithm for shooting video and an updated language model used by Google Assistant that enables improved translation speed and accuracy.

Quoted from Google’s press event: “As software applications on mobile phones become more complex, they run on multiple parts of the chip. This is heterogeneous computing.” Google’s aim with the Tensor chip is that all the components inside work together efficiently rather than optimizing for peak speed.

With that premise, we weren’t expecting chart-topping benchmark results, and, indeed, we got rather meh numbers in GeekBench for both single-core and multi-core performance.

This peak performance proved difficult to sustain, and in the 3DMark Wild Life stress test, the Pixel 6’s result dropped from a class-leading first run to less than half that at the very last loop. CPU stability wasn’t stellar either, with a drop to 61% of peak performance in the CPU throttling test. Naturally, these are synthetic loads and very extremes ones at that, so they shouldn’t be taken as a representation of real-world usage.

 

Camera: Hardware, app, photo quality

The Pixel 6’s back camera is a spiritual heir to the Pixel 5’s, with a’main’, relatively wide sensor and an ultrawide one, but no telephoto, which is a Pro-only feature this year. The Pixel 6 does, however, share its cameras with its more expensive brother.
The 50MP main camera is hidden behind the black strip on the rear of the Pixel 6. It is built around the Samsung GN1 sensor, which is a 1/1.31″ imager with 1.2m pixels and a Tetrapixel color filter array (or Quad Bayer). Because of the 4-to-1 binning, you’d obtain 12.5MP photos. The sensor is paired with a 24mm-equivalent (according to EXIF; we’ve heard 25mm listed elsewhere) lens with an f/1.85 aperture.

Google specs say a 114-degree field of view, which is a rather extreme 14mm equivalent, but that’s explicitly when you’re shooting RAW. The EXIF data in our JPEGs says 16mm, and we’ve also seen documents stating 17mm, and those narrower FoVs are more in line with what we see with our eyes.

The selfie camera appears to be directly carried over from the Pixel 5. It’s an 8MP unit with 1.12µm pixels behind a 24mm-equivalent lens with an f/2.0 aperture. No autofocus here either.

 

The camera app has been thoroughly reworked for this generation. In the main viewfinder, you’ll see a Settings cog in the upper left corner and a location option in the upper right corner where you can decide whether to save photos or videos taken to the Photo Gallery or the Locked Folder.

 

The camera app will always default to the “Camera” photo mode. From left to right, the shooting modes are Night Sight, Motion, Portrait, Camera, Video, and Modes which lets you access the Panorama, PhotoSphere, and Google Lens modes. Lens has modes for Translate, Text, Search, Homework, Shopping, Places, and Dining.

The Pixel 6 and 6 Pro’s camera systems are also wholly new, with new sensors, new lenses, and new capabilities. Google has finally upgraded the camera hardware in the Pixel line for the first time since 2017, and it’s gone big — literally. The new main camera sensor is much larger than the one used in the Pixel 5 and earlier, and the Pixel 6 Pro is the first in the line to have ultrawide, wide, and telephoto cameras.

Both phones have the same main wide camera and ultrawide. The main camera is a 50-megapixel sensor that is hard-coded to produce 12.5-megapixel images behind an optically stabilized f/1.85 lens. That means you can’t actually capture the full 50-megapixel resolution and the images produced aren’t especially sharper or more detailed than other 12-megapixel cameras, including the Pixel 5’s.

 

Still, the images are very good in both normal and low light, and very competitive with the best from Apple. I won’t say there’s a clear winner here; some images from the Pixel 6 look better, some images from the iPhone 13 Pro look better, and which you prefer really comes down to your own personal preferences, something we’ve been saying about smartphone cameras for a few years now.

The Pixel 6 images have the classic Pixel look: high contrast, slight overexposure, extreme sharpness, and cooler white balance. You can adjust the white balance easily enough using on-screen sliders in the camera app, but tweaking the sharpness requires a bit more post processing work. Google’s artificial portrait mode is also largely unchanged — it aggressively blurs the background to the point where it almost looks like the subject is a cardboard cutout placed in a diorama.

One area I would like Google to improve is how long its vaunted night mode takes to capture a shot. It’s incredible how much detail the night mode is able to capture in dark scenes, but it takes quite a few seconds to do so, and oftentimes either the subject or the person taking the photo loses patience and things get blurry. The iPhone’s night mode frequently took half as long to capture night scenes as the Pixel.

Overall, the improvements in image quality from the primary camera are not as great as you might anticipate from new, much improved technology. It’s often difficult to discern the difference between it and earlier Pixel phones, especially in excellent lighting.

The Pixel 6’s ultrawide camera is its weakest link – photos are fuzzy, it’s not as wide as others, and there’s a notable color and processing difference between it and the primary camera. It also lacks the macro focusing capabilities seen on the ultrawide camera in the iPhone 13 Pro.

competition

The Pixel 6 Pro is the true Google flagship, and it’s that model’s job to stand up to the competition of the Pro Maxes and the Ultras of this world. The Pixel 6, meanwhile, with its more modest aspirations (and asking price) faces a crowd not quite as tough.

That isn’t to argue that the Galaxy S21, for example, doesn’t have it beat in some way. The Galaxy’s display does allow a faster refresh rate, and while it isn’t precisely telephoto, its zoom camera can provide you greater reach than the Pixel 6’s configuration, and its other cameras aren’t bad either. The Galaxy is also a clear choice if you want a smaller phone, with a weight reduction of 40g. The S21 is more costly, and although a €50 premium isn’t much in Europe, the difference in the US is much more noticeable, at $800 vs. $600 for the Pixel. Despite this, you’d still get a plastic-backed Galaxy.

 

The Pixel 6 has a comparable pricing advantage over the iPhone 13 ($800) in the United States, but it is now also available in Europe, where Apple costs €900 for a base version 13 non-Pro. Both of these cameras are telephoto-challenged, but they will certainly keep you happy with their photography performance, albeit in somewhat different ways. Battery life is identical, charging speed is comparable, and screens are equally brilliant, while the Pixel earns a point for its additional 30 Hertz. If weight is an issue, the iPhone is noticeably lighter. Peak Android vs. iOS is an argument in and of itself. Finally, the Pixel appears to be the superior buy.

 

Speaking of deals, the Zenfone 8 with its $630/€650-ish price tag just about qualifies as one. Another notably smaller handset, the Zenfone is for those that would have liked a mini Pixel, only to be left hanging by Google. The Zenfone has a 120Hz display and charges slightly faster, but neither is a game-changer, and there aren’t any massive differentiators when it comes to objective stuff – unless, that is, you’re a particular fan of the Zenfone’s headphone jack. It’s mostly the size that will settle this and, as with all others here, software.

The OnePlus 9 comes in at $660/€700, so a reasonable stretch if you’re okay with the Pixel’s $600/€650 MSRP. The OP comes with a couple of advantages, including way faster charging and a higher refresh rate display, which is also as big as the Pixel’s – unlike the others above. The OP isn’t IP-rated, so that’s a win for the Google phone. We’re leaning towards the Pixel altogether.

 

VERDICT

The Pixel 6 has us muttering some valid if small-ish, complaints. Competitors have largely moved to 120Hz displays, and this one is still at 90Hz, though the jump from 60Hz to 90Hz is perhaps the more visible one. Charging is slow in the grand scheme of things, but about alright in the Pixel 6’s context where that doesn’t seem to be a priority. Tensor throttles, but so do the competing high-end Snapdragon/Exynos. And for all its tendency to pick up lint from your pockets, the camera strip on the back is a rarely interesting-looking design choice.

Google being a software company in the first place, it’s the Pixel’s take on Android that is a key selling point, and we’re fans of the direction it’s going with UI this year. The on-device software features enabled by that occasionally throttling Tensor are unique to the lineup and can be of real help for the right user. And for all the catching up that the competition has done in the computational photography field, the Pixel 6 remains a class-leading cameraphone – that can be appreciated by everyone.

PROS

  1. The standout rear design is unique to Pixel 6s.
  2. Beautiful UI with fun and colorful elements; extended firmware update support; newly enabled Voice Typing and on-device voice to text processing.
  3. Google Tensor chip offers great all-around performance and excellent graphics performance.
  4. Great all-around photo and video quality across all three cameras.

Cons

  • Camera bump prone to accumulating dust.
  • The display maxes out at 90Hz, others do 120Hz.
  • Charging can be faster.
  • Tensor chip throttles under sustained peak load.
  • Limited availability.

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