Ever since Google announced their Pixel series of phones, I have been excited about them and many others, mainly due to their competent computational photography capabilities and the stock android experience. When Google announced the Google Pixel 6 and 6 Pro along with their own custom silicon named Google Tensor, I was really excited about and wanted to try out this new chip and see its capabilities.
Spoiler Alert, it didn’t disappoint!
After multiple design horrors created by Google, I am pleased to see them taking a new and unique approach with the Pixel 6’s design. As with any flagship smartphone, the Pixel 6 is made out of glass and aluminum with the front covered with Gorilla Glass Victus on the front and Gorilla Glass 6 on the back, giving it a very premium feel in the hand.
With the basic information out of the way, let’s move on to the front of the phone which houses a 6.4-inch FHD+ 90Hz display with an 8MP hole punch camera at the top of the screen. The display is vibrant and color accurate and is easy to view outdoors under direct sunlight. The 90hZ refresh rate makes the display feel smooth and responsive as it should be, this is combined with an in-display fingerprint scanner. But it is not all perfect; the auto brightness setting on the Pixel works flawlessly during the day, but as soon as I am in the dark for some reason the Pixel cranks its brightness to 100%, making it very difficult for the eyes. This issue is more persistent when I am using a flashlight to navigate in the dark while using my phone. Another issue that I am facing is with the in-display fingerprint scanner, Google is using an optical scanner that is annoyingly slow and inaccurate; it also does not work with wet or sweaty hands.
The back of the Pixel 6 houses a dual-camera setup with laser detect autofocus and a flash that covers the entire length of the device giving it a cyborg look along with the dual-tone finish that the Pixel is famous for. The primary sensor is 50MP with an f/1.85 aperture that bins photos at 12.5MP, the second lens is an ultra-wide sensor at 12MP with an f/2.2 aperture and 114° field of view which is not much; more about it in the camera section. The Pixel 6 looks unique from the back and is easily recognizable from a distance.
The Google Pixel 6 comes with Google's own custom silicon named Google Tensor with 8GB of RAM and with 4614 mAh battery. Looking at the day-to-day performance, the Pixel works flawlessly without any lag and can keep up with my workflow which is taking photos (both in JPEG & RAW), editing using Adobe Lightroom, gaming, browsing social media, reading articles, and content consumption (YouTube, Netflix, Disney+, etc.). The 90Hz refresh rate also makes the phone feel smooth and responsive and pairing that with fast animations makes the phone snappy all the time.
I also ran some performance benchmarks on Geekbench 5 and 3DMark. Starting with Geekbench 5, the phone got a single core score of 997 with a multi-core score of 2403. While it is not as fast as the iPhone 13 series in pure benchmarks, this cannot be noticed while using the device. Running a 3D mark test to see the graphical performance of the Pixel 6, it is seen that the phone is very capable and can easily run any modern mobile game without thermal throttling.
Playing Apex Legends Mobile which recently made its debut on iOS and Android at Ultra HD graphics settings with the frame rate at high. The game played flawlessly providing me with a smooth gaming experience with frame rates being constant at 60fps while sometimes dipping down to 55fps. Next, I played Call of Duty Mobile at a very high graphics setting with the frame rate at Max. Similar to Apex, COD played smoothly without any lag with frame rates at 60fps. During long gaming sessions, the device does get a little warm, but it never got uncomfortable to hold.
The Pixel 6 has a 4614mAh battery isn’t that good and is not able to keep up with my workload which as discussed previously includes gaming, photo editing using Lightroom, photography, content consumption, and browsing social media (Twitter & Instagram). Thus, making me charge the phone twice a day and had to keep a power bank handy.
But after the second charger at the end of the day, I was left with around 10-15% of battery which can easily be topped up with the help of the 30-watt power brick that is sold separately. I know it isn’t anything crazy like Xiaomi, Oppo, and Vivo’s 80 or 120-watt chargers, but I believe it is enough to keep the battery safe while ensuring that it charges quickly in case it is ever needed.
Finally, we get to the interesting bit of this blog, the Cameras. The regular Pixel 6 that I am using contains a dual-camera setup with a 50MP primary lens binned at 12.5MP with an aperture of f/1.85 and the other is a 12MP ultra-wide camera at f/2.2 aperture and a 114° field of view. Both the cameras have optical image stabilization while also having the ability to shoot photos in RAW and they can also record videos up to 4K60fps. The front camera on the Pixel 6 is 8MP with f/2.0 aperture and can record videos up to 1080p at 30fps.
Google offers a variety of different camera modes like Astrophotography, Night Sight, Photosphere, and Panorama along with the usual modes like Photo, Portrait, and Video. But that’s not all, the Pixel 6 brings two new camera modes to the table under the category of Motion; this mode allows the phone to take two types of photos i.e., Long Exposure which allows the user to get those beautiful long exposure shots in handheld mode, and the other is Motion, this mode keeps the moving object sharp while blurring the environment around. The video UI within the Google camera app is easy to navigate and allows the user to easily switch between the various stabilization modes, resolution, microphone switching, etc.
With the specifications and the features out of the way, let’s talk about the camera performance. Thanks to the larger 50MP sensor in the Pixel 6 the photos were taken from the primary camera during the daytime providing crisp photos with natural depth of field, pairing this with Google’s Smart HDR provides well-exposed photos with good dynamic range, balance contrast; adjusted as per the scene giving the photos a natural look. Since there is no telephoto lens, the portrait mode relies on software, but that doesn’t mean that it is bad. Portrait photos are great with some edge inconsistencies here and there.
The ultra-wide angle lens only has a field of view of 114° and is not a big upgrade according to me. During daytime or when it is given enough light the photos taken are sharp and accurate. The ultra-wide lens does work with night mode, but the photos that come out of the camera at night are a little noisy. The front 8MP f/2.0 aperture camera is able to capture photos with rich colors and details, but can sometimes feel overprocessed.
This time around Google is providing some additional features to improve photo quality with the help of AI. The phone is able to compensate for shaky hands and provide crisp photos, the AI is able to recognize faces and ensure that the faces are clear in every photo. Google also announced a new editing feature called the Magic Eraser which is similar to Content Aware Fill in photoshop, it analyzes the picture and uses AI to remove unwanted people and objects from the photo. The AI works really well and is easily able to remove a person or an object from the photo.
The Google Pixel 6 is a remarkable phone providing a stock Android experience and a promise of 3 Years of Android updates with 5 years of security updates. Google’s new SoC “Google Tensor” is able to keep up with modern workflow from editing photos to playing games, it all feels snappy. The new 50MP primary camera provides photos that are natural looking and color accurate which comes as no surprise. The additional camera features i.e., Face Blur and Magic Eraser work flawlessly and have already made life a little easier when trying to remove someone/something from my photo. But it is not all good, the battery life of the phone is not that good with the need to charge the device multiple times a day and there is a weird bug that puts the phone to full brightness when in a dark environment with the flashlight on, but that can be fixed with a software update. I would definitely recommend this phone to anyone.