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Google Pixel 6 review: first hands

Availability

  • United KingdomListed Price: £ 599
  • USAListed Price: $ 599
  • Europenot available
  • Canadanot available
  • Australianot available

Introduction

The Pixel 6 went on sale unlike any other phone I can think of, and Google has revealed pretty much every aspect of the device over the past few months in the form of a slow stream of information.

Couple that with an inordinate amount of leaks, including everything that Google itself leaked, and we knew very little about this phone prior to its actual release.

But the launch of this phone has finally arrived, and the Google Pixel 6 will be available for purchase from October 28th. The last few days I’ve had the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro in my hands, and while a full review of both devices will come later, I’ll say they certainly make a good first impression.

With a new look, a chip designed to Google specs, and an all-new camera sensor – plus a very tempting price tag – the search engine giant could be a winner here.

Price and release date

Below are the prices for the Pixel 6. The phone will be available from October 28th in the UK. We’ll update this when we learn more details about the region.

Design and screen

  • 6.4-inch OLED display
  • Smooth display 90 Hz
  • Brand new design

When Google first unveiled the Pixel 6 in August, I was amazed at how different it was from other Pixel phones, especially in some of the brighter hues.

It looks a lot like a Samsung phone from different angles, but flip it over and a distinctive visor on the back makes it stand out from the crowd.

It’s weird that Google opted for a glossy glass back, while a matte surface seems to be the smarter way to go. The Pixel 6 tends to collect fingerprints, and I’m not a huge fan of its finish.

Another odd design choice is the location of the volume keys, which are located directly below the power button. Even though I only had this phone for a few days, I pressed the volume key instead of the power button countless times. Hope this changes as I have been using the device for a longer period of time.

With all that said, the Pixel 6 is still an attractive phone. The sides have an industrial matte finish, and the visor covering a pair of camera sensors is more pleasing to the eye than the huge camera bump.

The phone has an IP68 rating that protects against any kind of water-related accidents, and the glass back allows for wireless charging. These are two features that are not final for phones at this price point.

One of the notable design differences between the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro is the latter’s curved screen. The regular Pixel 6, on the other hand, has a more traditional flat panel, which I prefer.

The screen on both models is decent, but those who want the very best display should go for the Pro model. The Pixel 6 has a 6.4-inch HDR OLED panel with built-in fingerprint reader (this is the first time we’ve seen this on a Pixel phone), refresh rates that can switch between 60 and 90Hz, and 1080p resolution. While these specs are nothing special, in practice they translate into a great screen with vibrant colors and great viewing angles.

Performance and battery life

  • Google’s tensor chipset
  • 8 GB of RAM
  • 4600mAh battery with Qi charging

One of the most interesting parts of the Pixel 6 is the new chipset. Instead of the usual Qualcomm SoC (system-on-a-chip) you’d normally find on a Pixel phone (or any other Android phone, for that matter), the Pixel 6 runs on Google’s own Tensor die.

Tensor is rumored to be made by Samsung and is similar to one of the Korean brand’s Exynos chips. However, it also includes a number of elements that Google has perfected over the years, including AI and ML (machine learning). Tensor should give Google more control over the phone, and that’s probably one of the reasons the search giant is now promising minimum five years of security updates. The Tensor SoC is paired with the Titan M2 coprocessor, which covers all aspects of phone security.

Tensor looks like an impressive chip, although it will take me longer with the phone to gauge its performance compared to other devices. More importantly, it will be interesting to see how the chip affects other aspects of the phone’s performance, such as camera handling. Most phones these days — even the best mid-range phones and the cheapest — will be more than fast enough for most people; how they use chip skills in other areas will determine how well they are used.

Pixel 6

The Pixel 6 has 8GB of RAM and 128GB or 256GB of storage. Please note that there is no way to increase this amount, so choose wisely.

Another highlight of the Pixel 6 is the Android 12 version it runs on. Android 12 and the Material You theme engine is a step forward in terms of software look and feel, and it really feels fresh and fresh. The default icons and apps now mimic the colors of your wallpaper, while there are a number of redesigned widgets that look great – I’m a fan of the updated clock in particular. It’s a shame that these new widgets from Google itself are so few.

Android 12 will of course be available on older Pixel phones (and other Android devices, although you shouldn’t expect the same functionality everywhere), but it seems like it was designed specifically for these Pixel phones.

It’s too early to judge the battery life, so I’ll focus on the technical specifications. There’s a 4,600mAh battery that can be charged up to 30W, although you’ll need your own charger. Google says that if you use its own 30W plug, you get 30% in 30 minutes. There’s also a new wireless Pixel Stand that can charge up to 21W.

Camera

  • Two cameras in the back
  • 8MP front camera
  • Brand new sensor for Google Pixel

The final piece of the Pixel 6 puzzle is the camera. In the past, Pixel phones have stood out from the crowd for their amazing photography skills – and I so wish it were. First impressions are good: Google has finally unveiled a new primary sensor after years of using the same module.

The Pixel 6 has dual cameras on the back. There is a 50MP primary wide-angle sensor (1.2μm, f / 1.85, 1/13-inch sensor) and a 12MP ultra-wide one with a 114-degree field of view. These hardware features are combined with Google’s very good photo processing algorithms.

One feature is clearly missing – any lens with optical zoom. Like Apple with its iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro, the telephoto zoom is exclusive to the more expensive model. If you want 4x optical zoom, you’ll have to go for the Pixel 6 Pro.

Pixel 6 back and cameras

All of the scaling skills on the Pixel 6 are based on digital scaling, so I wouldn’t expect too much if this AI really couldn’t work wonders.

The Tensor chip also leverages its machine learning and artificial intelligence skills to add some new features, such as the Magic Eraser tool, which makes it easy to remove photo bomber from your shots. There’s also a cinematic blur option that will add a spice to your shots of fast-moving subjects such as cars. In terms of video, you can shoot up to 4K at 60fps.

First impressions

At £ 599 / $ 599, the Pixel 6 already looks very promising. The Tensor chip, new camera sensor, and redesigned design certainly help it stand out.

Google Pixel 6 specifications

Here are the key specs of the Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro.

RRS UK

RRS USA

RRS EU

CA RRP

AUD RRP

Manufacturer

Screen size

Spaciousness

Rear camera

Front camera

Video recording

IP rating

Battery

Wireless charger

Fast charging

Size (Dimensions)

Weight

Operating system

release date

Date of first review

permission

HDR

Update frequency

Ports

Chipset

ram

Colors

A “hands on review” this is only our first impression of the product – this is not a complete test and verdict. Our author must have spent some time with the product to describe an early understanding of how to use it. We call them “how-to reviews” so they can be seen in searches. However, they are never evaluated or recommended. Learn more about our review policy.


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