July 12, 2024


Unlimited Technology

Google Pixel 6 Pro Review

The Pixel 6 Pro is Google’s most serious contender for the smartphone crown yet. Google has brought everything to the table here, with its own self-made Tensor processor, a massive 6.7-inch 120Hz refresh rate display, 50-megapixel main camera, 4x telephoto camera, and a remarkably reasonable $899 starting price. In short, the Pixel 6 Pro is trying its hardest to top the iPhone 13 Pro – not to mention all the other Android phones from companies like Samsung and OnePlus. After using it for a little under a week, Google defied all expectations by actually pulling it off.

Google Pixel 6 Pro – Design and Features

From the get-go, the Google Pixel 6 Pro looks unlike any of the five Pixel phones that preceded it. The gentle curves and modest screen size are all thrown to the wayside to make way for a massive 6.7-inch screen with curved edges, sharp corners, a center-positioned hole-punch camera, and a huge camera bar on the backside.

What’s even harder to get over is how much bigger it is. Coming from the 5.7 x 2.77 x 0.31-inch Pixel 5, Google’s latest high-end phone measures in at a massive 6.45 x 2.99 x 0.35 inches. It’s easily as big as the other gargantuan Android phones like the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra (6.5 x 2.98 x 0.35 inches) and the OnePlus 9 Pro (6.43 x 2.90 x 0.34 inches).

In many ways, these drastic changes make the Pixel 6 Pro a less distinct smartphone among the sea of glass rectangles. But at the same time, it feels like an overdue modernization of Google’s best phone.

That camera bar is easily the most distinguishing feature of the Pixel Pro 6; it gives it an unmistakable look from the back. Which is to say, the way it stretches across the entire width basically makes it look like the Geordi La Forge of smartphones.

On the plus side, the full-width camera bar props up the phone at an even angle so that it doesn’t rock about like an iPhone with just a corner camera bump. The flipside of having such a massive camera bump is that it acts as an easy ledge for dust and lint to gather on. I’ve had to scrape dust out of this area at least once a day in my time with the phone.

Having a glass visor stick out two millimeters out from the rest of the phone might sound prone to breaking, but thankfully it feels plenty rigid. The metal rails frame the whole camera bar and protect it from scratches. The camera bar also gives me some extra leverage while holding the phone, which helps keep it from slipping down in my hand.

Going back to the new 6.7-inch display, it’s an LTPO OLED with a gorgeously sharp QHD+ (1440 x 3120) resolution and a 19.5:9 aspect ratio, perfect for movies. It also features an adaptive 120Hz refresh rate, which is a step up from most Android phones – including its little Pixel 6 brother.

Although the display only hits 800 nits in high brightness mode – which might seem dim compared to the iPhone 13 Pro’s 1,000 nits of sustained brightness – it’s more than enough for me to comfortably use it in bright sunlight.

Just like on the iPhone 13 Pro, the new 120Hz screen makes scrolling through apps and news, flicking between screens, and generally navigating around the interface feel incredibly snappy. Unfortunately, just like the iPhone 13 Pro, you won’t be able to experience everything animating at 120Hz because only some apps have 120Hz support as of this writing. I can see that the Google Now feed and Facebook operate at 120Hz, but Twitter jerks around at 60Hz. At the very least, the crop of 120Hz Play Store games has been growing steadily over the past two years.

Google Pixel 6 Pro – Gaming and Performance

Under the hood, the Pixel 6 Pro rocks Google’s first-ever self-made Tensor chip, rather than one of the Qualcomm chips that’s powered almost every Android device until now. After almost a week of usage, the handset seems just as capable, if not faster than, any top-of-the-line Qualcomm Snapdragon 888-powered smartphone I’ve used this year.

Just like on those phones, apps launch almost instantly and the whole interface feels snappy in general, from opening menus to switching between apps. Thankfully, the 12GB LPDDR5 RAM makes the Pixel 6 Pro a lot better about keeping apps cached in memory, so you rarely have to wait for apps to relaunch themselves completely.

You can also choose between a healthy 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB of storage when you buy a Pixel 6 Pro. There’s no 1TB option like you can get on the iPhone 13 Pro, but seeing as Google – or Android phones in general – doesn’t have a ProRes or ProRAW-equivalent video format, you should never need that much storage. Just make sure to buy a phone with all the storage you need as it’s not expandable.

The real power of Google Tensor comes into play with its machine learning abilities. Talking to your phone to look up things on Google feels even faster than ever. Likewise, you can dictate messages to your friends with little worry about it misunderstanding your voice. Watching the phone transcribe every word as it’s spoken with uncanny accuracy still feels like magic. Even better yet, it also works with live translations, so I can be part of a conversation when my friends are speaking Spanish, Mandarin, or another language I don’t know.

Another of the Tensor chip’s useful everyday features is that it knows which apps you use most – and avoids wasting power on ones you never use. It’s hard to tell how this feature really works, but the Pixel 6 Pro is much better about managing its battery life than the iPhone 13 Pro – something I’ll get more into later.

The Google Pixel 6 Pro also excels at gaming. I had no problems running graphically intense games like Vainglory or Asphalt 9: Legends. As I mentioned, the crop of 120Hz-enabled games on Android has been growing and the extra-high refresh rate has been fantastic for perfectly timing jumps in Mario Run or tweaking my aim slightly for headshots in Call of Duty: Mobile.

Google Pixel 6 Pro – Cameras

Cameras are easily one of the biggest upgrades of the Pixel 6 Pro. The main wide-angle camera now features a massive 50MP Bayer sensor with a 1/1.31-inch sensor size, as well as optical and image stabilization.

It doesn’t actually shoot 50MP images, but rather it uses pixel binning, which combines the information of four imaging pixels on the camera sensor into one superpixel. This pixel binning process effectively turns the main 50MP sensor into a 12.5MP sensor that captures 150% more light than the previous Pixel 5. The new sensor also takes images with better detail and more accurate colors. True to its word, the Pixel 6 Pro is a huge step up. Its main camera offers a much wider dynamic range, capturing more detail in both the highlights and shadows, as well as sharper details.

It’s a big step up from the Google Pixel 5, which I already thought shot great photos. And up against the iPhone 13 Pro, I favor Google’s warmer colors and wider dynamic range. You can see some comparisons below.

The telephoto camera is just as impressive thanks to its new 48MP sensor and 4X optical zoom lens that completely one-ups the new 3X zoom lens on the iPhone 13 Pro. Having this level of reach from optical zoom in your pocket is fantastic. It’s incredibly fun to use for shooting candid street photos and far-away cityscapes or nature shots.

Even better, with Google’s Super-Res Zoom you can shoot at up to 20x and still capture images that are surprisingly passable. Google’s image processing does an impressive job of cleaning up images so they don’t look like mud despite being digitally cropped-in at such an extreme level. Still, when you look closely there are plenty of visible artifacts. Similar to the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, 10X is the most I would recommend pushing in via digital zoom.

Unfortunately, the 12MP ultrawide camera has seen the least love since the previous version, but at least it uses a bigger sensor and features lens correction now. With the lowest level of resolution out of the three cameras, the ultrawide sensor took the least impressive images. That said, they’re still more than passable for sharing on social networks where images are compressed anyway.

The selfie camera also now uses an 11.1MP sensor and an up to 94-degree ultrawide field of view for group photos. The selfie camera takes very crisp photos that are thankfully devoid of any kind of skin-smoothing beauty filter, and popping the ultrawide angle is great for getting two or more people in the shot.

Alongside the new cameras, Google has introduced a boatload of new features. Most prominently, the new Magic Eraser is an AI-powered editing tool that finds and removes unwanted people and photobombers from your pictures. In rare instances, it works just as promised and you can turn a bustling city street into an abandoned urban corridor as if Thanos snapped all the pedestrians out of existence instead of just half of them.

Magic Eraser Before (left) and After (right)
Magic Eraser Before (left) and After (right)

More often, though, Magic Eraser adds some hilarious effects in the process. The blending effect looks more like you put a Harry Potter invisibility cloak over everyone in the photo, leaving your image filled with little distortion bubbles. Magic Eraser doesn’t remove the shadows of the people and objects it deletes, either. In one particularly funny test, Magic Eraser spotted and vanished a bike rider, but left a moving, free-standing bike in the photo.

I’m much more of a fan of the new Motion Modes, which help you capture long exposures and action-filled panning shots. Long Exposure mode was the more useful feature of the two because it lets you capture moving traffic and turn the cars into streaks of light. The effect has considerable room to improve, though, as it strangely captures cars frozen in place, while the headlights appear to be projecting forward ahead of vehicles. Normally, when you take this sort of picture with a regular camera and a long shutter speed, the car and headlights should be moving in the same direction all at the same speed.

A far more impressive use case for long exposures is shooting city nightscapes. When shooting cityscapes at night, the long exposure mode shoots slightly darker images, so they don’t look nearly as grayed out as those shot with Night Mode. I’m also very impressed by how it minimizes camera shake without the need for a (mini) tripod.

Google’s other new motion mode, called Action Pan, lets you capture motion blur around a moving subject. For the best action pans, you’ll want to move the camera to keep a moving subject in the frame of your shot as you take it. Once again, like Long Exposure, the results are impressive but upon closer inspection – and with some knowledge of actual photography – they’re clearly not perfect.

Action Pan weirdly produces multi-directional motion blur instead of capturing it all in the direction you were moving the phone. Instead, it captures frames where it looks like I was rapidly moving the photo left and right. Of course, there’s also the issue of the incredibly unnatural-looking artificial bokeh that clips perfectly around people.

Despite all these issues, Google should be lauded for trying to distill these complex photography techniques into a single tap for smartphone users. I hope the company will continue to work on the two motion modes because they are genuinely useful camera tools.

Google Pixel 6 Pro – Battery life

The Google Pixel 6 Pro comes with a massive 5,003mAh battery. On paper, it’s rated for 24 hours of battery life. With Extreme Battery Saver mode, which turns off your non-essential apps, it can last for a whopping 48 hours of ordinary use.

With my general usage – consisting of web browsing, checking social media, streaming video, and taking pictures throughout the day – I would easily end days with close to 70% on my battery. Heavier usage that added playing games took me closer to 55%, but that suggests I could get a second day of similar use before even getting close to empty.

And if you have access to an outlet for even a few minutes, you’ll get a lot more. Google promised the Pixel 6 Pro can get up to 50% battery back in just 30 minutes with a 30W power brick (which doesn’t come in the box). However, in my testing using a 61W MacBook Pro power brick, I was only able to get back 39% in 30 minutes and 79% after an hour. A second test with a 65W Anker Nano power brick gave me faster charging with 46% in 30 minutes and 78% after an hour. I can understand not supplying a power brick as a cost-cutting measure to make these devices more affordable, but considering Google upgraded its Pixel devices to 30W fast charging this year – up from 18W fast charging – it would be nice to include a 30W charging brick.

The Google Pixel 6 Pro brings a lot to the plate in the world of high-end smartphones – and for a reasonable starting price of $899, no less. It’s a huge improvement over the last two generations of Pixel phones, and it feels like Google has finally found a direction. While a few things like support for the 120Hz display and some of the camera-related features could still use some work, I can easily say that this is the best smartphone for its value, performance, and cameras. The only things I can imagine might make someone hesitant to pick up this phone is its massive screen size (which might not fit in smaller pockets) or if you simply prefer iOS to Android.

Source News