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After the last few years of playing it safe, Google has finally experimented and brought something new to the table.
It’s fair to say they’ve gone all-in with the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, with the latter being one of the most enjoyable Android phones we have used in a long time.
I have spent the last few days using the Pro as my daily driver and while the experience is pretty similar to that on the previous phones, it feels like the hardware has been amplified to work with it even better. The combination of Android 12, the Tensor chip and the buttery smooth display makes for a pleasant experience.
In my review of their last device, the Pixel 5, I said the device ‘has all the features you need at a more affordable price’, acknowledging the simplicity and minimalism that appealed to those who wanted a decent experience without paying extortionate prices.
The best place to start with this 6 Pro is with the design, which has taken everyone by surprise. For me personally, this is the first Pixel smartphone that actually feels like a premium device. Famed for its software, the build quality on the previous devices felt like more of an afterthought.
Now with the glass finish and the prominent ‘camera bar’ on the back, this is an entirely new design unlike any other currently on the market right now. When Google originally released images of the phone, I was worried this bump covering the phone from left to right would stick out a little too much for my personal taste. I was pleasantly surprised and actually found that the bar is a great place to put your index finger if you are holding the phone in one hand.
From looking at discussions taking place online, opinions on the design are pretty mixed. It really is a Marmite phone, and I’d leave it up to personal taste as to whether you dig the design. I personally prefer the camera layout to the squares or circles currently on the market, but that may be helped by the hardware of the cameras installed.
The phone comes in three colorways – Cloudy White (white and grey), Sorta Sunny (yellow and orange), and Stormy Black (black and grey). I currently have the Sorta Sunny model, which is not my personal favourite, but I’d be wanting to stick a case on the phone to protect the back anyway. I think there’s room for improvement with the colours available, and I’m looking forward to the next generation of Pixel phones maybe adding some new colours. Midnight blue, aqua green or a deep purple with this dual-toned finish would look absolutely incredible.
Moving onto the front of the phone, it has a 6.7-inch QHD+ display with a 120Hz refresh rate. The screen has slightly curved edges, with extremely thin bezels and a hole-punch camera on the front. This is an absolutely huge upgrade and you can tell when comparing to the Pixel 5, which has a 6-inch OLED display with a 90Hz refresh rate.
The combination of being powered by a Google’s first ever Tensor chip along with the 120Hz refresh rate display makes using the phone fantastic. I found using the display to be fast, responsive and it did not stutter once with any activities including watching videos, gaming or just using the most popular apps.
With Tensor, Google is taking matters into its own hands and betting on its own chip design. In all its previous phones, it relied on Qualcomm processors alongside most other Android devices. The company has joined the likes of Apple in making its own silicon.
Google promises its Tensor chip is 80% faster than the Pixel 5’s CPU and you can feel the difference when using the Pro device. You can definitely feel the difference and while I’m yet to really see the benchmarks compared to other devices like the iPhone, the most important thing for a casual owner is it’s response, and does the main tasks incredibly well.
The benefits of this advanced chip, which uses machine learning, is the ability to do additional tasks like real-time language translation, highly accurate voice transcription and high-end camera features. The main objective for the tech giant is creating a phone that can do these additional tasks without the battery life suffering.
The Pro model of this smartphone has a 5,003mAh battery compared to that of the standard 6, which has 4,616mAh. These are both significantly bigger than the previous phone to work with the tensor chip and I found that my Pro review unit easily lasted ‘beyond 24 hours’ in-line with what Google promised. As well as supporting 30W wired charging, the 6 Pro can also support 23W wireless charging. This does come with a caveat that there isn’t a 30W wired charger in the box, so you will have to get one of those separately. I get why companies are removing chargers out of the boxes but if you promise certain charging speeds, at least provide the chargers so people can enjoy that.
Now it’s time to talk about the cameras, and it’s quite strange to me that this isn’t the main talking point of a Google phone for the first time in a while. The 6 series devices are the first to see significant upgrades to the cameras since the Pixel 2. The last four generations of the phones have all used the same lens and resolutions, heavily reliant on the superior software to make it one of the best cameras on the market.
This was an absolute must upgrade as the rest of the competition was starting to play catch-up and would’ve surpassed the old 12MP sensor this year. You’ve now got a triple camera setup on the back, with a 50MP primary lens, 48MP telephoto, and 12MP ultrawide.
While I’ve only had the device for a couple of days and the weather in Britain has been absolutely dreadful, I’ve not had a proper chance to go out and have a play with the additional features on the Pixel 6 Pro, which includes Face Unblur, Motion Mode, Real Tone, and Magic Eraser that removes background objects from your photos.
I cannot pass judgement on these as we’ve not had the phone long enough to comment on all its features. But when I did get the chance to test the cameras, I was impressed with what I used. The triple camera setup helps the Pixel 6 Pro to be a much more capable shooter compared to the Pixel 5.
It’s fair to say the device is once again raising the bar and can be classed as one of the top-performing cameras you can get on the market. In terms of video, I found the ability to shoot video at 4k 60FPs was fantastic and the colours captured on the camera was impressive. I guess my reviews of the camera are more of an impressions verdict, but so far I’m impressed with what I’ve seen and believe that Google is definitely challenging the iPhone 13 Pro.
Accompanying the new phone is Android 12, which wasn’t announced at the company’s big Fall event. The update includes improvements to the interface, new privacy features like seeing when third party apps have used your camera & mic and the camera upgrades. This device comes with Android 12 straight out of the box and I absolutely love it.
One of my favourite parts of the Android devices has been the software and the hardware goes with it perfectly like garlic and bread. The new look is absolutely fantastic and my favourite so far, with cleaner notifications and the greatest feature of scrolling screenshots which means you now capture an entire web page. Why has this not existed before?!
One of the best ‘iPhone killer’ features is the price of both the standard and pro models. While the price for the Pro starts at £849 for the 128GB storage model, the price goes up to £949 for the 256GB model. With the iPhone 13 Pro Max and Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra both costing more than £1,500, this puts into perspective just how well Google have done with the phone.
The real competition for the Pixel 6 Pro is actually the Pixel 6. While there are some slight differences in display size, battery size and camera features, the price of the standard model is seriously impressive. While we are yet to get our hands on that particular model, the fact that prices start at just £599 is an absolute game-changer. Costing significantly less than the iPhone 13 and the Samsung Galaxy S21, that could be the best priced on the market right now and we really look forward to getting our hands on the device in the near future.
Overall, I am really impressed with the improvements that have been made to Google’s lineup. With the time that I have been using the device, so far I’m really impressed and it has lived up to the hype. I’m pleased Google has finally stepped away from the comfort of the design that has been the same since the Pixel 2 and gone for something more sleek, premium and unique. The cameras are a much-needed refresh and the addition of Android 12 means the look and feel of the phone is a significant jump on the previous generation.
If there was ever a time to make a switch from Apple to Android, I believe this phone is one of the first outstanding devices that would convert users because of the price and software. Only time will tell whether people will feel the need to take the plunge, but if you are an Android user after a decent upgrade, this is a very good model that gives you top-of-the-range specs.
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