Google’s Pixel smartphones made a name for themselves because the camera was so good. Then, the competition caught up.
In recent years, the phones have been good but not the best you could get. Now, that’s all changing thanks to the Pixel 6 series. There’s a smart simplicity to these phones that make them easy to use and the camera is spectacular.
For my review, I used a Pixel 6 Pro provided by Google for the past few weeks. It is one of the few phones I didn’t want to put down.
In my time with the phone, I identified two key issues: a super slow fingerprint reader and its enormous size. The size I could get used to. I tried a bunch of different cases to make it more grippy in my hand and settled upon the Spigen Ultra Hybrid.
Google has promised a fix for the slow fingerprint sensor in a major software update that is currently rolling out to devices right now, but so far it hasn’t hit mine so I can’t say if it truly makes it faster. Apparently, there are also nearly 100 other small fixes included in the update.
As expected, the camera is excellent. The Pixel takes great shots 99.9% of the time and often, shots that look even better. There’s a certain wow factor to photos that come off the Pixel, and no doubt that’s Google’s AI at work.
There are also fun camera features including Magic Eraser, which instantly removes unwanted people or objects from your photos. This makes a great party trick, as I was often showing it off to friends and family checking out the phone. It’s useful, too.
FYI, if you’re on another Android or iPhone, you can get a similar feature from an app called TouchRetouch.
Other cool camera tricks include Motion Blur, which gives a long exposure effect, and Face Unblur, which ensures the faces in your photos aren’t blurry due to movement.
The Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro also have a Google designed chip inside for the first time called Tensor.
“So it’s the first time we’ve built a chip that we put in our mobile devices and that allows everything to work generally a lot better and it allows us to infuse the Google smarts into the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 pro as well,” said Justin Burr, a Google spokesperson.
The main thing I noticed about this phone is that it finally felt powerful. Not iPhone powerful and not even Samsung top of the line powerful, but powerful enough to support the things you want to do on this phone.
It just means that everything is snappy and there aren’t many hiccups when you’re juggling multiple apps or trying to edit a photo or video. I had zero issues with the performance on this device.
Keep in mind, I tried the Pixel 6 Pro which starts at $900 and is their top-of-the-line unit. But, I expect similar performance from the much more budget friendly Pixel 6. The Pixel 6 is $300 less than the Pro and the main difference is that you get a screen that isn’t as high quality (but still great), slightly less RAM (so it’s probably a tiny bit slower) and there is no zoom on the camera.
Still, I think for most people the Pixel 6 is the way to go due to its combination of price and features.
I’m not saying you need to switch from the iPhone to jump over to Pixel, but it finally feels like Android users have a choice that’s just as good. Samsung’s devices are excellent and unique, but like I said earlier, there is a smart simplicity to Google’s devices.
In fact, Google’s smartphone feels really smart, with proactive alerts and useful notifications that let you take direct action right from them.
Overall, Google got it right this time around.