Pixel 6 review: Google’s most significant phone upgrade

    The Pixel 6 exemplifies one of the best of what Google providers and Android 12 have to supply. So a lot in order that I’d declare that the Pixel 6 is probably the most vital telephone improve Google has made because it launched the Pixel line in 2016. The telephone’s new cameras, Google’s Tensor chip and premium ambitions comply with months of hype — partly stemming from Google saying the telephone months earlier than it was launched — and its daring two-tone design. All of those modifications come whereas protecting the Pixel 6 at a midtier $599 worth, which simply washes away the dangerous style left by the understated Pixel 5. Previous Pixel telephones have lived in that protected, quiet and crowded midtier area the place telephones price between $600 and $800. For most individuals, they had been good and typically nice telephones however lacked the luster, specs and enchantment of extra premium telephones from Samsung and Huawei.

    LikeTwo-tone designValue for the worthThe major digicam is Google’s finest

    Don’t LikeUnder-display fingerprint reader could be irritatingBattery life is nice, however exhausting to get greater than a dayThe ultrawide digicam is respectable however not on the identical degree as the primary digicam

    So what’s the issue? Well, in brief, Pixel telephones have not bought properly. It jogs my memory of the early days when Michael Jordan joined the Chicago Bulls however they weren’t successful championships but. The Pixel 6 is an try and construct the telephone as much as be extra profitable and interesting. It’s like when the Bulls determined to construct a workforce round Jordan to assist him win championships.Instead of powering the telephone with a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, Google made its personal chip, referred to as Tensor. This permits the Pixel 6 to do computations and AI extra securely and rapidly on the telephone than continuously utilizing the cloud. Tensor opens up a slew of recent software program options Google would not have been in a position so as to add utilizing a special processor.Google prolonged its three years of OS and safety updates to 5. In the US, the Pixel 6 is on the market each by means of Google and all main carriers. And Google even created a subscription program a la Apple’s iPhone Upgrade program. It’s referred to as Pixel Pass and prices $45 a month for 2 years.Even the Pixel’s crown jewel — its cameras — obtained upgraded lenses and {hardware} that is extra premium. Now that Google has improved every part in, on and across the Pixel, is it prepared for its championship? (I promise that is the final Bulls reference.) In brief, sure.This is the Pixel telephone I all the time needed from Google. I spent over per week with the brand new telephone and it lives as much as lots of the hype. The Pixel 6 begins at $599 (£599, AU$999) and comes with 128GB of storage. For that worth, I am unable to consider a greater telephone to advocate proper now.If you are in search of an in-depth have a look at the Google Pixel 6 Pro, try the overview my colleague Andy Hoyle wrote.At $599, the Google Pixel 6 is likely one of the finest telephones you should buy.
    Patrick Holland/CNET
    The Pixel 6’s daring two-tone design makes me swoonThe Pixel 6 has a 6.4-inch, 1080p display. It could be set to routinely change from 60Hz to 90Hz relying on the content material onscreen. There’s an hole-punch cutout for the selfie digicam and the display is flat with thick, Sharpie-like bezels that bleed into the matte-finish aluminum sides. For comparability’s sake, it jogs my memory a little bit of the iPhone XR and iPhone 11, which additionally had related bezels and rounded sides, and that is not essentially a foul factor.In use the display is nice. The decision is nice, however the Pixel 6 Pro’s is best. The entrance is roofed in Gorilla Glass Victus. Under the display is a fingerprint reader, which at first labored for me half of the time. It was irritating and never an excellent expertise. After a maddening few days, I double-registered my thumbprints and it labored practically each time. Now I do not even have to smash my finger into the display.My overview unit’s shade is named Sorta Seafoam. The again under the digicam bar is mild grey however relying on the sunshine it could actually look mild blue.
    Patrick Holland/CNET
    The again is the place the telephone’s design actually makes me swoon. It’s product of Gorilla Glass 6 and has a two-tone shade scheme. My overview unit is Sorta Seafoam, which implies the underside of the again is kind of mild grey or kind of mild blue relying on the lighting. The prime again strip is a lightweight lime inexperienced, which contrasts properly in opposition to the deep black of the digicam bar. The general look of the Pixel 6 jogs my memory a tad of the Pixel 2 XL and its panda shade. The horizontal digicam bar runs throughout the width of the again and appears daring and completely different. The digicam bar is not simply designed to be a Google branding aspect; you may put the Pixel 6 and not using a case on a desk and it does not wobble.Overall, the match and end are good. If you seize a Pixel 6 Pro, which prices $300 extra, you may see a number of small methods it feels extra premium than the Pixel 6.The digicam bar homes a major wide-angle digicam and an ultrawide-angle digicam.
    Patrick Holland/CNET
    The Pixel 6 takes superb photosOut of all of the enhancements, I used to be most hyped to attempt the Pixel 6’s cameras, and Google undoubtedly delivered. The Pixel 6, with its higher-specced lenses and sensors, takes improbable photographs. Let me instantly undercut that to remind you that that is nonetheless a telephone. A mirrorless digicam or DSLR can constantly take higher photographs in a wider vary of lighting and circumstances. But folks do not all the time have a mirrorless digicam with them.The Pixel 6 has two rear cameras: a major digicam with a wide-angle lens and a second digicam with an ultrawide-angle lens. These are the very same broad and ultrawide cameras discovered on the Pixel 6 Pro. The ultrawide digicam affords 0.7x magnification as a substitute of the 0.6x magnification on the Pixel 5. Overall the ultrawide is nice however not nice. Details in photographs are OK however usually gentle.Under shiny gentle lighting, the ultrawide can seize some respectable photographs.
    Patrick Holland/CNET
    Check out the highlights within the flames.
    Patrick Holland/CNET
    The dynamic vary is respectable however restricted. 
    Patrick Holland/CNET
    In shiny lighting, the ultrawide is able to good pores and skin tones.
    Patrick Holland/CNET
    In medium to low-light conditions like right here, the ultrawide reveals its limits.
    Patrick Holland/CNET
    There is a noticeable step down in high quality going from the primary digicam to the ultrawide. Take a have a look at the photographs under that I took of the Transamerica constructing in San Francisco.I want the ultrawide digicam had been wider. I favor the attitude from the ultrawide cameras on the Galaxy S21 Ultra and iPhone 13 Pro extra. Check out a comparability under.The major digicam has a 50-megapixel sensor, which makes use of pixel binning to create 12.5-megapixel photos. Photos from the Pixel 6 are superb. Details are nice.The colours and readability on this picture are glorious and correct.
    Patrick Holland/CNET
    For a telephone, the Pixel 6 has a superb dynamic vary.
    Patrick Holland/CNET
    Look on the colours and element of this matcha ice cream cone.
    Patrick Holland/CNET
    Another instance of the Pixel dealing with a large dynamic vary properly.
    Patrick Holland/CNET
    Notice the distinction of the small print in direct daylight and people within the shadows.
    Patrick Holland/CNET
    Textures look excellent. Check out the paint brush marks on the previous hearth hydrant.
    Patrick Holland/CNET
    I like how the Pixel captured the feel of the fur on every canine.
    Patrick Holland/CNET
    In medium and low mild, I seen some ghosting and flaring when a lightweight supply is within the body, just like the cafe string lights right here. This wasn’t problematic and never practically as dangerous as another telephones bought at present.
    Patrick Holland/CNET
    There are so many Pixel 6 digicam modes and instrumentsGoogle’s Tensor chip permits for much more digicam modes and instruments. There is Night Sight, Google’s model of mixing a number of photos collectively when it is too darkish. It’s glorious on the Pixel 6.I just like the dramatic manner Night Sight renders photographs.
    Patrick Holland/CNET
    This Night Sight picture was taken with the ultrawide digicam.
    Patrick Holland/CNET
    In actual life, this was just about all in shadow other than the sunshine and home windows.
    Patrick Holland/CNET
    There’s the brand new Motion mode, which has two choices: Action Pan and Long Exposure. Action Pan offers the background of a photograph a dramatic movement blur. It’s enjoyable. It’s not going to reinvent images but it surely’s fairly enjoyable to make use of.Action Pan can take what may be an in any other case atypical picture and add pizzazz.
    Patrick Holland/CNET
    The second Motion mode is Long Exposure, which mimics a long-exposure picture. There are apps that do one thing related however I obtained some respectable mild trails from site visitors and a few silklike water from a fountain. Again, it is enjoyable. It does not change doing long-exposure images on a devoted digicam.Google’s Motion mode for Long Exposure works properly sufficient. It’s much like changing a Live Photo in iOS to Long Exposure.
    Patrick Holland/CNET
    But that is not all. Google offers you a neat software referred to as Magic Eraser. It helps you to decide an object, an individual or part of a photograph to take away. You can get to this software in considered one of two methods. In Photos, you will see a suggestion about eradicating folks within the background. Or if you go to edit, faucet on Tools to disclose the function.

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    Magic Eraser finds and determine the silhouettes of individuals within the background. You can even use your finger to color out the half you need gone. Overall it really works properly, but it surely’s removed from excellent. Sometimes I obtained completely superb outcomes like eradicating folks from the picture under of a pedestrian walkway — although on nearer inspection, you may see the blurry patches the place components of the picture had been eliminated.Other occasions, like within the picture under, there have been transition artifacts. It eliminated two folks within the background right here, but additionally disfigured the hand of the girl to the correct.There are so many extra digicam options that I wasn’t in a position to spotlight on this overview, like Face UnBlur. But CNET may have an much more in-depth have a look at the Pixel 6 cameras quickly.The Pixel 6 digicam treats complexions extra equitablyOne enchancment Google talked about was Real Tone, which was a significant rethink and exploration about how photographs, particularly Google’s algorithms and engineers, deal with folks with completely different complexions. I nonetheless wish to discover this function extra, however the photographs I took of buddies, co-workers and different folks with darker complexions look good, even when they don’t seem to be beneath probably the most flattering mild. Often once I confirmed somebody a photograph I took with the Pixel 6, even when it is them doing a secular factor, they requested for a duplicate.This is considered one of my favourite photographs I took with the Pixel 6.
    Patrick Holland/CNET
    Even beneath harsh fluorescent lighting, Laban’s pores and skin appears to be like good.
    Patrick Holland/CNET
    This was taken in a really dim restaurant. The Pixel raised the general brightness however protected the colour, tone and particulars of the pores and skin.
    Patrick Holland/CNET
    Below is a photograph taken with harsh backlight. Admittedly, this is not a good way to take a photograph, however I needed to see what would occur. Google stated the Pixel 6 handles stray mild higher. See the way it did in opposition to a photograph taken with the iPhone 13 under.The variations between the 2 photographs aren’t drastic, however Eric, who’s the topic, most well-liked the picture from the Pixel 6. He favored the way it dealt with the colour and highlights in his pores and skin. You can actually discover this in his arms.Videos from the Pixel 6 are higher and selfies are simply OKThe Pixel 6 information one of the best video from any Pixel telephone. Details and shade accuracy are higher. In phrases of evaluating the picture high quality between photographs and movies, there’s a smaller distinction than there was on prior Pixels. Don’t get me improper, photographs are nonetheless the energy of the Pixel.When recording video in medium and low mild, picture noise is fairly obvious. Also, the enhancements Real Tone brings to photographs are unmatched with how movies deal with completely different complexions. Take a glance under at some pattern movies I recorded with the Pixel 6.
    On the entrance, the Pixel 6 has an 8-megapixel digicam that shoots 1,080p video. The Pro has a wider selfie digicam that may file 4K. Selfies photographs from the Pixel 6 are good however in medium and low mild begin to look noisy.Here is a Portrait mode selfie from the Pixel 6.
    Patrick Holland/CNET
    My colleague Lexy took this low-light selfie. The high quality is OK, however general there’s a contact of movement blur.
    Lexy Savvides/CNET
    The Pixel 6 is outlined by Google’s Tensor chipThe Pixel 6 does not run on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chip present in practically each different flagship Android telephone just like the Galaxy S21 and OnePlus 9 Pro. Instead, it runs on Google’s Tensor processor. It’s the primary chip Google has made and was particularly designed by Google for the Pixel. I discovered the Tensor chip and the 8GB of RAM made the telephone peppy to make use of. Opening the digicam app is quick, app animations look clean and it handles video games properly.In phrases of efficiency benchmark exams, the Tensor chip does not set any new information. In reality it is largely on par with the Snapdragon 888 and that is OK. The benefits Tensor brings are its safety and on-device machine studying and AI.GEEKBENCH V.5.0 SINGLE-CORE

    Longer bars point out higher efficiency


    Longer bars point out higher efficiency


    Longer bars point out higher efficiency

    Google quotes a day on a completely charged battery and in common use I’d say that’s correct. But in heavy use, like capturing a number of photographs and movies, it had a battery lifetime of extra like three-quarters of a day. During the 10 days I examined the telephone, the Pixel 6 averaged a screen-on time of 6 hours, which is nice, however not nice.Android 12 is strong on the Pixel 6The Pixel 6 runs Android 12 and it is in all probability probably the most underrated side of the telephone. Android 12 is a delight to make use of. I like the massive apparent buttons and sliders. The general look of Android 12 is welcoming and prioritizes readability over animations. I like that its system colours can match and complement my telephone’s wallpaper.The Pixel 6 runs Android 12 and even has a handful of particular options.
    Patrick Holland/CNET
    Android 12 mixed with the Tensor processor supplies quite a lot of welcomed privateness and safety upgrades. The Pixel 6 comes with a number of of its personal Android 12 particular options, a few of that are powered by Tensor. A standout for me is voice recognition. I discovered there to be lots of enchancment with translation, particularly once I had a dialog with a Portuguese speaker. Translations had been quick and correct. For voice typing particularly, it appears to know context higher and punctuate extra precisely and it is simpler to command it and clear errors.I examined the Pixel 6 on Google Fi, T-Mobile and Verizon right here in San Francisco. The Pixel 6 helps sub-6 5G. There are particular service variations of the Pixel 6 that additionally assist mmWave 5G and begin at $699 as a substitute of $599.The Pixel 6 has 30W fast-charging over USB-C and helps wi-fi charging, as pictured above.
    Patrick Holland/CNET
    Google improved the Pixel 6 in some waysWith the entire upgrades to software program and {hardware}, you need to surprise if that can be sufficient to make the Pixel 6 profitable. And that is actually the one factor I am unable to reply. I can say that is one of the best telephone Google has ever constructed. As tempting because the Pixel 6 is, for $300 extra you may improve to the marginally extra premium Pixel 6 Pro, which provides a telephoto digicam; a 6.7-inch show with curved edges, the next decision and excessive refresh charge; extra RAM; an ultrawideband chip and Gorilla Glass Victus on the again. But when you’ve got $600 and are in search of a brand new telephone, the Pixel 6 is my suggestion.Google Pixel 6 specs vs. Google Pixel 6 Pro, Google Pixel 5, Apple iPhone 13

    Google Pixel 6

    Google Pixel 6 Pro

    Google Pixel 5

    Apple iPhone 13

    Display dimension, decision

    6.4-inch OLED; 2,400×1,080 pixels; 60Hz or 90Hz

    6.7-inch LTPO OLED; 3,120×1,440 pixels; 10-120Hz

    6-inch FHD+ OLED; 2,340×1,080 pixels

    6.1-inch OLED; 2,532×1,170 pixels

    Pixel density

    411 ppi

    512 ppi

    432 ppi

    460 ppi

    Dimensions (inches)

    6.2×2.9×0.4 in

    6.5x3x0.4 in

    5.7×2.8×0.3 in

    5.78×2.82×0.3 in

    Dimensions (millimeters)





    Weight (ounces, grams)

    7.3 oz; 207g

    7.41 oz; 210g

    5.33 oz; 151g

    6.14 oz; 174g

    Mobile software program

    Android 12

    Android 12

    Android 11

    iOS 15


    50-megapixel (broad), 12-megapixel ultrawide

    50-megapixel (broad), 12-megapixel (ultrawide), 48-megapixel (telephoto)

    12.2-megapixel (normal), 16-megapixel (ultrawide)

    12-megapixel (broad), 12-megapixel (ultrawide)

    Front-facing digicam





    Video seize

    4K 30, 60fps (rear), 1,080p 30fps (entrance)

    4K 30, 60fps (rear), 4K 30fps (entrance)


    HDR video recording with Dolby Vision as much as 4K at 60fps


    Google Tensor

    Google Tensor

    Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G

    Apple A15 Bionic


    128GB, 256GB

    128GB, 256GB, 512GB


    128GB, 256GB, 512GB






    Expandable storage






    4,614 mAh

    5,003 mAh

    4,000 mAh

    Undisclosed; Apple lists 19 hours of video playback

    Fingerprint sensor

    Under show

    Under show


    No (Face ID)






    Headphone jack





    Special options

    5G sub-6 (some service fashions even have 5G mmWave) assist, Wi-Fi 6E, 30W fast-charging, wi-fi charging, Magic Eraser, Motion mode, Real Tone, Face Unblur, Cinematic Pan, 5 years OS safety updates, IP68 score for mud and water resistance, Gorilla Glass Victus (entrance), Gorilla Glass 6 (again), dual-SIM capabilities (nano-SIM and e-SIM)

    5G sub-6 and mmWave assist, Wi-Fi 6E, Ultra-wideband, 30W fast-charging, wi-fi charging, Magic Eraser, Motion mode, Real Tone, Face Unblur, Cinematic Pan, 5 years OS safety updates, IP68 score for dust- and water-resistance, Gorilla Glass Victus (back and front), dual-SIM capabilities (nano-SIM and e-SIM)

    5G enabled; water resistant (IP68); 90Hz-refresh-rate show; dual-SIM capabilities (nano-SIM and e-SIM); reverse wi-fi charging; fast-charging

    5G enabled; MagSafe; water resistant (IP68); wi-fi charging; dual-SIM capabilities (nano-SIM and e-SIM)

    Price off-contract (USD)

    $599 (128GB)

    $899 (128GB)


    $799 (128GB), $899 (256GB), $1,099 (512GB)

    Price (GBP)

    £599 (128GB)

    £849 (128GB)


    £779 (128GB), £879 (256GB), £1,079 (512GB)

    Price (AUD)

    AU$999 (128GB)

    AU$1,299 (128GB)


    AU$1,349 (128GB), AU$1,519 (256GB), AU$1,869 (512GB)

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