Google gave us a review unit for one of our writers to test. Read about their big picture.
They were all affordable and decent phones, but with the Pixel 6, Google seems to have focused entirely on making a really great phone, rather than settling on Apple and Samsung.
It’s a very good phone at a ridiculously attractive price, and at just $599 it’s a steal. Here’s why you should consider it (even if you’re considering buying an iPhone):
Design: head turning
2021 was the year of the camera boom, and the year of the Pixel 6 is so big it has its own side ramp. Above and below the bar you see two color nuances that provide a nice look. Pixel 6 color options include Cloudy White, Kind of Coral, Sort Seafoam, Sort Sunny and Stormy Black (our model).
This phone should be able to withstand most scratches, but be careful of drops. The front and back of the phone are covered with a chemically reinforced glass known as Gorilla Glass with the strongest goggles on the front. It’s slippery to hold and can slide off the table if you’re not careful.
In addition to creating space for the cameras, the camera bump also provides a comfortable place to rest your fingers, helping to keep the phone in place and less likely to fall. In fact, the bump is so big that I could hang the phone on plates with just the bump.
Google also claims that the phone has an IP68 rating for dust and water resistance, which is an industry standard measure, meaning it can last up to 1.5 meters in clean water for 30 minutes. Salt and chemicals can still corrode the phone, so it can survive in the rain, but not so well in the sea or pool.
Performance: fast, with some hitches
In terms of performance, this phone can hold its own against the competition. Gaming is really smooth and I found Call of Duty Mobile to play flawlessly, although I ran into a vibration issue with a few apps.
IMDB and Amazon both experienced quite a bit of lag while scrolling. This only happened once during my testing period, and it’s hard to tell if the problem was with the app, the processor, Android 12, or a combination of the three. The behavior hasn’t been repeated, so it could also be a coincidence, but it’s definitely something to keep in mind.
Connectivity: Solid everywhere
I used the Pixel 6 on T-Mobile in Chicago, Washington and rural Virginia and had a versatile connection. Sometimes in the countryside and in the mountains the phone lost its signal completely, which is not unusual in the area.
For comparison, I also had an iPhone 13 on T-Mobile’s network. The Google Pixel 6 had slightly better connections than the iPhone, but sometimes one phone had a signal and the other didn’t, and vice versa.
Display: Smooth as butter
Colors pop on this screen and it’s easy to read, even in bright sunlight. The text is sharp, clear and easy to read. You also get great viewing angles with a slight color change if you look at the phone screen from the side. It’s up there with other flagship phones like the iPhone 13.
This means much smoother scrolling and animations when opening apps or turning on the phone. When you’re doing something that doesn’t require changing the screen content, such as reading a book, the refresh rate can drop to as much as ten updates per second, saving a lot of battery life.
Camera: cool tricks
If there’s one thing Pixel phones are known for, it’s great cameras. Since it’s Google’s flagship phone, there’s quite a legacy, so where does the Pixel 6 stand? Let’s talk about the hardware first.
The first is a 50 megapixel main camera and a 12 megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera. This is pretty standard for phones these days and is more than good enough for anyone but professional photographers. However, most flagship phones today have a third sensor with a real physical zoom. This means that the phone’s physical lenses are set to inflate the photo anywhere between 2x and 10x.
Battery: easy power all day
The Pixel 6 has a battery that’s big enough to last all day easily, and I found that even after taking a lot of photos, I still averaged 34% in the tank before going to bed. Since I was in a wildlife area during my testing period, much of my time was spent taking photos, listening to downloaded podcasts, and getting in and out of network coverage areas. More frequent use will likely extend battery life.
My standard battery test includes 30 minutes of phone browsing at 75% brightness, followed by Netflix streaming over WiFi at 75% brightness and 30 minutes of gaming at 100% brightness. These three functions put the most strain on a phone’s battery, so it seems to me that this is a pretty good representation of how phones relate to each other.
After the test, the Pixel 6 was at 81 percent. By comparison, the Pixel 5a scored 83 percent and the iPhone 13 Pro also scored 81 percent. In terms of capacity, batteries are measured in milliamps per hour, which measures power over time, and the Pixel 6 has 4614 mAh. However, this is not a good guide because the life of the phone depends a lot on the software.
Software: Great, but buggy
The Pixel 6 comes with the latest version of Google’s Android, namely Android 12. In addition, Google promises three years of extensive operating system updates (up to Android 15) and five years of monthly security updates. From a support perspective, this is intruding into Apple territory (but not quite there). It’s a big step for Google, and it makes the Pixel 6 much more future-proof than other phones running Google’s Android software, which don’t know about timely updates.
Pixel 6 vs iPhone 13 mini
The best comparison we can make for this phone is the iPhone 13. The Pixel 6 has better specs in almost every category and costs $200 less. Of course, the technical data does not tell everything. Google’s Tensor chip is in its first generation, while Apple’s been doing it for a while, so if you’re wary of first-gen hardware (and we wouldn’t blame you if you were), you might want to wait. Will iPhone owners change? Probably not. But the Pixel 6 will undoubtedly keep many Android phone owners from switching to an iPhone.
The Google Pixel 6 isn’t just the company’s most popular phone, it’s also the most popular phone released this year. This is not just a phone to recommend to anyone who doesn’t want Samsung or Apple, but a phone to recommend even if they do want Samsung or Apple. He can walk with any other flagship and walk out with a smile when all is said and done.