Google Pixel 6 and 6 Pro review: Still the phone to get for Android purists

Google Pixel 6 (left) and Pixel 6 Pro (right).
PHOTO: Hardware Zone

Overview

Google Pixel 6 (left) and Pixel 6 Pro (right).
PHOTO: Hardware Zone

The Google Pixel 6 series (which sees a Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro at launch) consists of many firsts for the Internet giant.

It’s the first Google Pixel phone to move away from using Qualcomm processors, instead opting for an in-house Google Tensor chipset to power all the AI capabilities of the phone. It’s also Google’s first flagship handset in Singapore for a long while (since the previous Pixel 5, Pixel 4a, and Pixel 4a 5G had mid-range processors instead). 

Beyond its firsts, Google understood that camera hardware is only half of what makes smartphone imaging great. Its AI strengths confer several post-processing tools for avid shooters on the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro, ranging from better focusing on faces to complete removal of photobombers, living or otherwise.

The Google Pixel 6 Pro touts an extra 48MP telephoto camera with 4x optical and 20x hybrid zoom, while both models offer a 50MP main and 12MP ultra-wide camera. Of course, we’re interested to learn if the Pro’s extra camera (and bigger 5,003mAh battery) matters enough for a price difference.

Finally, Google offers one thing that other Android phone makers don’t. Pixel phones let users enjoy the Android operating system as Google intended. But, it would take a review to know if Google’s Android 12 is the best kind of Android 12 out there.

The late arrival of both devices also puts Singapore users in a unique position. Unlike most phones that ship out with minimal errors and glitches, the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro has (shall we say) teething issues since launch. In fact, several overseas publications put out entire laundry lists of resolved and unresolved Pixel 6 series issues (Android Police, TechRadar, Android Authority, and many more). 

This makes the Pixel 6 series an interesting handset to take apart. On the one hand, it’s a tough sell for Google to tell people to buy a bug-filled device. On the other hand, Google has some advantages in making phones, and has diligently worked on fixing its glitches. So, it’s down to us to finally experience the Pixel 6 series ourselves to see how far it has come, and whether it holds up in the market.

How will these offbeat phones fare among its more competitive brethren touting better-known processors that are tried and tested? Is Android 12’s supposedly default UI indeed the best way to experience a modern Android phone? Is it really a flagship handset like how Google marketed it at launch? Let’s find out.

Disclaimer: Given its local arrival timing and review period, we’ve tried the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro phones with their March 2022 firmware. Your mileage may vary depending on your firmware updates.

  Google Pixel 6 Google Pixel 6 Pro
Launch SRP
  • From $999
  • From $1299
Network:
  • Up to 5G Sub 6GHz
  • Up to 5G Sub 6GHz
Operating system
  • Android 12
  • Android 12
Processor
  • Google Tensor
  • Titan M2 security co-processor
  • Google Tensor
  • Titan M2 security co-processor
Built-in Memory
  • 8GB RAM (LPDDR5)
  • 12GB RAM (LPDDR5)
Display
  • 6.4-inch, LTPO AMOLED, 2,340 x 1,080 pixels resolution, 90Hz refresh rate, HDR, 24-bit colour
  • 6.7-inch, LTPO AMOLED, 3,120 x 1,440 pixels resolution, 120Hz refresh rate, HDR, 24-bit colour
Camera
  • Rear:
  • (Main) 50MP, f/1.85 aperture, 1.2μm pixel size, Octa PD, Quad Bayer
  • (Ultra-wide) 12MP, f/2.2 aperture, 1.25μm pixel size, 114° FOV
  • Laser detect Autofocus, OIS
  • Front:
  • 8MP, f/2.0 aperture, 1.12μm pixel size, fixed focus
  • Rear:
  • (Main) 50MP, f/1.85 aperture, 1.2μm pixel size, Octa PD, Quad Bayer
  • (Ultra-wide) 12MP, f/2.2 aperture, 1.25μm pixel size, 114° FOV
  • (Telephoto) 48MP, f/3.5 aperture, 0.8μm pixel size, 4x optical zoom, 20x Super Res zoom
  • Laser detect Autofocus, OIS
  • Front:
  • 11.1MP, f/2.2 aperture, 1.22μm pixel size, fixed focus
Video Support
  • (Rear) 4K60FPS, Slow motion 240FPS, OIS
  • (Rear) 4K60FPS, Slow motion 240FPS, OIS
Connectivity
  • Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC, USB Type-C 3.1 Gen 1, Google Cast, Dual Band GNSS, GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS, BeiDou
  • Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC, UWB, USB Type-C 3.1 Gen 1, Google Cast, Dual Band GNSS, GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS, BeiDou
Storage Type
  • 128GB (UFS 3.1)
  • 128GB (UFS 3.1)
Battery
  • 4,614mAh
  • 30W wired fast-charging (PD 3.0)
  • 21W wireless fast-charging (Qi-certified)

 

  • 5.003mAh
  • 30W wired fast-charging (PD 3.0)
  • 23W wireless fast-charging (Qi-certified)
Dimensions
  • 158.6 x 74.8 x 8.9mm
  • 163.9 x 75.9 x 8.9mm
Weight
  • 207g
  • 210g

Design and handling

PHOTO: Hardware Zone

Google’s camera bar design on the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro has been talked about enough times elsewhere, so we’ll just go straight into how their design holds up during daily use.

PHOTO: Hardware Zone

The matte rear with a half-polished coating is surprisingly resistant against smudges. This gives both Pixel 6 phones a premium appearance without using glossy, shiny, metallic aesthetics as a shortcut to premium looks, and it finds a nice balance between playful and smart. 

PHOTO: Hardware Zone

While we found the overall design pleasant, we can’t say we particularly enjoyed the ergonomics of a camera bar. Despite Google’s best efforts, it still looks out of place, and it even adds a tilt when you place the phone face-up on a desk. When you take the phone out of a pocket or bag, it’s also prone to catching corners of fabric or other personal effects. 

PHOTO: Hardware Zone

The sides are also pretty sensitive to touch given the curved display. You may encounter accidental input from time to time, but it’s never too frustrating to use.

PHOTO: Hardware Zone

Another input issue is the power and volume buttons layout along the phone’s edge. In our experience, it’s easy to “miss cue” and hit the wrong button, i.e. accidentally locking the phone when you want to adjust the volume in one hand. Strangely, Google didn’t think of creating distinct textured buttons or using the opposite side for different functions.

All this can be fixed with an official phone case from Google (or other adequately tuned third-party cases), but that would also exclude users from its amazing in-hand feel and well-made rear. 

These phones are flagship-grade, as far as basic design features go. They have IP68 dust-and-water resistance, Gorilla Glass armament (Glass Victus for front, Glass 6 for back), and alloy frames (with the 6 Pro being high-polished).

Display and audio

PHOTO: Hardware Zone

Google Pixel 6 offers a 6.4-inch LTPO AMOLED, Full HD+ display (2,340 x 1,080 pixels resolution) that has maximum 90Hz refresh rate, HDR support, and 24-bit colour depth.

The Google Pixel 6 Pro is similar, but it’s bigger at 6.7 inches with QHD+ (3,120 x 1,440 pixels resolution) and a 120Hz refresh rate. 

PHOTO: Hardware Zone

The adaptive brightness feature is not as intuitive as other phone brands before firmware updates. On both models, we’ve encountered aggressive dimming during indoor use. The phones automatically dim their displays even after we’ve manually corrected the brightness for use. All that went away after we’ve updated both models. Weird, but at least that’s addressed.

Unless you’re scrutinising both devices, you won’t see much real-world difference in the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro panels. Both come with sufficient pixel density (Pixel 6 is 411 PPI versus Pixel 6 Pro at 512 PPI), great colourisation, and have refresh rates faster than most online content, so you’re getting a sharp and smooth viewing experience on both handsets.

Pixel 6 and 6 Pro have a dual speaker configuration that grants it stereo sound – the call speaker also acts as a loudspeaker. Like many phones of their calibre, the audio is functional but not something you’d want to write home about. We’d do Google a favour and tell you to use these mobiles with a pair Pixel Buds, but they aren't really top of the line stuff, so you’ll have to look for third-party alternatives. Perhaps our latest recommendations would better fit your personal audio needs?

UI and features

PHOTO: Hardware Zone

A huge part of what Pixel 6 and 6 Pro offers is Android 12 itself, untarnished by OEM reskins or redesigns. By now, most users would already be familiar with Android 12’s offerings (either through existing phone updates or checking out Pixel 6 opinions elsewhere), so we’ll just give our two cents for features that did stand out during our trials.

PHOTO: Hardware Zone

One thing that we’ve always wanted was a numerical indicator for screen brightness in addition to a slider. We felt we had more control over our Pixel phones and eye comfort when we knew if it was running on 50 per cent or 100 per cent of maximum brightness.

PHOTO: Hardware Zone

Such attention to detail cut across the entire Android 12 UI by Google. Menus make sense and are well-designed. It’s clutter-free and it lets users get to the features they want without any interruption or distractions. In a way, it’s as if Google did create a “pure Android” experience, but with an added flair for a personal touch (thanks to its Material You customisations).

PHOTO: Hardware Zone

The in-display fingerprint sensors on Pixel 6 and 6 Pro are fast, but nowhere like the rapid-fire, touch-and-go unlocking seen on the Galaxy S22 series.

The Pixels require at least 0.25 seconds to unlock: any quicker and it would ask you to hold a little longer to read. While it’s secure (since it doesn’t recognise non-registered prints), it still requires a more conscious gesture than other handsets. Even with the firmware updates in place, there’s no avoiding the fact that the fingerprint sensor is functional and fluid, but it’s still slower than Galaxy S22 series.

On a 5GHz Wi-Fi network, the Pixel 6 Pro could clock in ~390Mbps downlink and ~270Mbps upload speeds (with a Cloudflare test server and 1Gbps router, repeated attempts). We only gave this a shot because of Wi-Fi complaints from other Pixel 6 users seen online, but we certainly didn’t see the same issue on our units post-update.

Auto Translate in action.
PHOTO: Hardware Zone

We were also able to try out Google Pixel 6 and 6 Pro’s Auto Translate feature, which supposedly does a better job at providing near-accurate, real-time translations. 

"You look familiar, can I have your number?" didn't translate quite well in Korean.
PHOTO: Hardware Zone
Neither did "Can I sit here?" (in a cafe context) work correctly.
PHOTO: Hardware Zone

We’ve tried translating several Asian languages (Thai, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, and Vietnamese) to English, and found that the feature struggles plenty for languages with subject-object-verb typology (Korean, Japanese). But, the phones were able to translate Thai, Vietnamese, and Chinese with relative ease. 

Even though it’s highly accurate at transcribing text outside of English, we’d say that the translation itself still has an extremely long way before it reaches the sci-fi levels seen in videogames like Cyberpunk 2077.

Both Pixel 6 and 6 Pro let you gather approximate meanings and intentions, but they’re not fluid enough for holding entire conversations, like how Google showed it off with Marie Kondo during the Pixel 6’s keynote.

PHOTO: Hardware Zone

Other features worth noting include the Pixel 6’s and 6 Pro’s single physical nano-SIM card slot. If you wish to run a second SIM on it, it’ll have to be an eSIM. Its USB port uses Type-C 3.1 Gen 1, making it plenty fast for file transfers. Yes, it has NFC, which works seamlessly with Google Pay (which requires cards, banks, and payment methods already supported in Singapore). 

128GB storage (both models) with no microSD card expansion might be too little space for some users, so you may need to consider cloud storage for photos and videos.

PHOTO: Hardware Zone

Imaging performance

Google Pixel 6 series rear camera specs
Google Pixel 6 Google Pixel 6 Pro
  • (Main) 50MP, f/1.85 aperture, 1.2μm pixel size, Octa PD, Quad Bayer
     
  • (Ultra-wide) 12MP, f/2.2 aperture, 1.25μm pixel size, 114° FOV
     
  • Laser detect Autofocus, OIS 
  • (Main) 50MP, f/1.85 aperture, 1.2μm pixel size, Octa PD, Quad Bayer
     
  • (Ultra-wide) 12MP, f/2.2 aperture, 1.25μm pixel size, 114° FOV
     
  • (Telephoto) 48MP, f/3.5 aperture, 0.8μm pixel size, 4x optical zoom, 20x Super Res zoom
     
  • Laser detect Autofocus, OIS

This time around, Google Pixel 6 and 6 Pro imaging capabilities focus on its AI processing.

Namely, they are Magic Eraser (subject or distraction removal at the user's will), Face Unblur (stacking wide and ultra-wide image data to sharpen subject faces), and Motion Mode (simulating panned and long exposure effects to give an illusion of speed in photography). Finally, there's Real Tone for self-loving owners of all skin tones and colours.

Pixel 6 and 6 Pro also check the boxes for high-quality video recording, allowing up to 4K60FPS via their rear cameras.

Folks deciding between 6 or 6 Pro should know that the 6 Pro touts an extra 48MP telephoto camera with 4x optical and 20x hybrid zoom. Both models offer a 50MP main and 12MP ultra-wide camera. If you're only concerned about hardware, the extra money you pay literally grants you an easier time to shoot clearer long-range photos. 

Magic Eraser

Below is a sample of how effective Magic Eraser can be. We used the feature to remove one object, and boy, was it clean. It's not new for sure, given how other Android phones and their respective default image editors have similar removal tools. But, Magic Eraser is extremely easy to use, requires very little thought, and it's undoubtedly ready right out of the box. 

Before Magic Eraser (original image) on the Pixel 6 Pro.
PHOTO: Hardware Zone
After applying Magic Eraser. Can you notice what's missing here?
PHOTO: Hardware Zone

Now, on to its sample images. We've categorised them based on each scenario, so you'll know how each device handles photography for that shot, at one glance. Just remember that Pixel 6 is always the first shot, while the follow-up belongs to the Pro model.

Sample images

In general, the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro still deliver high-quality photos like their predecessors with great ease. If photography for social media usage is important to you, you won't find much to gripe about with the 2021 Pixel handsets.

At the shop (daytime and shaded)

Pixel 6, Main Camera.
PHOTO: Hardware Zone
Pixel 6 Pro, Main Camera.
PHOTO: Hardware Zone

Outdoor at the playground

Pixel 6, Main Camera.
PHOTO: Hardware Zone
Pixel 6 Pro, Main Camera.
PHOTO: Hardware Zone

Outdoor at the park

Pixel 6, Main Camera.
PHOTO: Hardware Zone
Pixel 6 Pro, Main Camera.
PHOTO: Hardware Zone

Outdoor landscape

Pixel 6, Main Camera.
PHOTO: Hardware Zone
Pixel 6 Pro, Main Camera.
PHOTO: Hardware Zone

Outdoor landscape (Zoom performance)

Note the differentiated zoom performance as the Pixel 6 Pro has a dedicated telephoto lens, and it naturally fares a lot better than the Pixel 6 relying only on its main camera.

Here, we've chosen to show each phone's max native zoom performance, followed by what combining digital zoom allowed, thus the differentiated zoom levels captured on each phone.

Pixel 6, 2x Zoom
PHOTO: Hardware Zone
Pixel 6, 7x Zoom
PHOTO: Hardware Zone
Pixel 6 Pro, 4x zoom.
PHOTO: Hardware Zone
Pixel 6 Pro, 20x zoom.
PHOTO: Hardware Zone

Outdoor landscape (Ultrawide performance)

Pixel 6.
PHOTO: Hardware Zone
Pixel 6 Pro.
PHOTO: Hardware Zone

Benchmark Performance

Is it strange that the 2021 representative of pure Android OS doesn’t use a Qualcomm mobile platform? Google Pixel 6 and 6 Pro comes with its proprietary Google Tensor chipset, much in the same style as Apple’s Silicon, Samsung’s Exynos, and Huawei’s Kirin processors.

Google Tensor is also Google’s first homebrew in a Pixel mobile, having traditionally used Qualcomm chipsets in previous Pixel iterations

We’ll compare the Google Pixel 6 and 6 Pro based on price – indeed, if you set aside $1,000 - $1,300 for your next phone, you’re probably looking at getting the most out of your money.

Also, because it’s a 2021 phone, we’ll pit it against other 2021 alternatives for a better understanding, but know that it’s more likely to compete with rising 2022 options like the Samsung Galaxy S22 too. 

  Google Pixel 6 Google Pixel 6 Pro Samsung Galaxy S22 Vivo X70 Pro Xiaomi 11T Pro ASUS ZenFone 8
  Google Pixel 6 Google Pixel 6 Pro Samsung Galaxy S22 Vivo X70 Pro Xiaomi 11T Pro ASUS ZenFone 8
Launch SRP
  • From S$999
  • From S$1299
  • From S$1178
  • From S$1199
  • From S$799
  • From S$999
Network:
  • Up to 5G Sub 6GHz
  • Up to 5G Sub 6GHz
  • 5G (NSA/SA), 4G, 3G
  • 5G/4G/3G/2G
Operating system
  • Android 12
  • Android 12
  • Android 12 (One UI 4)
  • Android 11 with Funtouch 12
  • Android 11 on MIUI 12
  • Android 11 on ZenUI
Processor
  • Google Tensor
  • Titan M2 security co-processor
  • Google Tensor
  • Titan M2 security co-processor
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, 4nm
  • MediaTek Dimensity 1200
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
Built-in Memory
  • 8GB RAM (LPDDR5)
  • 12GB RAM (LPDDR5)
  • 8GB RAM
  • 12GB RAM, LPDDR4X
  • 8GB RAM (LPDDR5)
  • 12GB RAM (LPDDR5)
  • 8/16GB RAM (LPDDR5)
Display
  • 6.4-inch, LTPO AMOLED, 2,340 x 1,080 pixels resolution, 90Hz refresh rate, HDR, 24-bit colour
  • 6.7-inch, LTPO AMOLED, 3,120 x 1,440 pixels resolution, 120Hz refresh rate, HDR, 24-bit colour
  • 6.1-inch, Flat QHD+, Dynamic AMOLED 2X
  • 2,340 x 1,080 pixels (423ppi)
  • 120Hz adaptive refresh rate
  • 240Hz touch sampling rate
  • Eye Comfort Shield
  • Vision Booster (1,750-nits peak brightness)
  • 6.56-inch / 2,376 x 1,080 pixels (~398 ppi) / 120Hz refresh rate / HDR10+ / AMOLED Display
  • 6.67-inch, 2,400 x 1,080 pixels, AMOLED DotDisplay, 20:9 ratio, 120Hz refresh rate, 480Hz touch sampling rate, HDR10+, DCI-P3
  • 5.9-inches 2,400 x 1,080 pixels (445 ppi) AMOLED, 20:9 ratio, 120Hz refresh rate, HDR10+, 1,100-nits brightness
Camera
  • Rear:
  • (Main) 50MP, f/1.85 aperture, 1.2μm pixel size, Octa PD, Quad Bayer
  • (Ultra-wide) 12MP, f/2.2 aperture, 1.25μm pixel size, 114° FOV
  • Laser detect Autofocus, OIS
  • Front:
  • 8MP, f/2.0 aperture, 1.12μm pixel size, fixed focus
  • Rear:
  • (Main) 50MP, f/1.85 aperture, 1.2μm pixel size, Octa PD, Quad Bayer
  • (Ultra-wide) 12MP, f/2.2 aperture, 1.25μm pixel size, 114° FOV
  • (Telephoto) 48MP, f/3.5 aperture, 0.8μm pixel size, 4x optical zoom, 20x Super Res zoom
  • Laser detect Autofocus, OIS
  • Front:
  • 11.1MP, f/2.2 aperture, 1.22μm pixel size, fixed focus
  • Rear:
  • 50MP, f/1.8, wide-angle 1.0µm, Dual Pixel PDAF, OIS
  • 12MP, f/2.2, ultra-wide, 1.4µm, 120° FOV, Super Steady
  • 10MP, f/2.4, telephoto, 1.0µm, Dual Pixel AF, 3x Optical Zoom
  • Front:
  • 10MP, f/2.2, portrait, 1.22µm, Dual Pixel PDAF
  • Rear:
  • 50MP main camera, f/1.75, Gimbal Camera System
  • 12MP ultra-wide, f/2.2, 116° FOV
  • 12MP telephoto, f/1.98 2x optical zoom
  • 8MP periscope telephoto, f/3.4, 5x optical zoom
  • Front:
  • 32MP main, f/2.45
  • Rear:
  • 108MP main, 0.7μm pixel size, 2.1μm 4-in-1 Super Pixel, f/1.75
  • 8MP ultra-wide, 120° FOV, f/2.2
  • 5MP telemacro, f/2.4, 3-7cm AutoFocus
  •  
  • Front:
  • 16MP, f/2.45
  • Rear:
  • 64MP main, 1/1.7-inch sensor size, 0.8μm pixel size, 1.6μm with Quad Bayer, f/1.8, 4-axis OIS, 2x1 OCL PDAF
  • 12MP ultra-wide, 113° FOV, f/2.2, Dual PDAF, 4cm macro shooting
  •  
  • Front:
  • 12MP, 1.22μm pixel size, Dual PDAF
Video Support
  • (Rear) 4K60FPS, Slow motion 240FPS, OIS
  • (Rear) 4K60FPS, Slow motion 240FPS, OIS
  • 8K30FPS, 4K60FPS, 1080p60FPS (front)
Connectivity
  • Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC, USB Type-C 3.1 Gen 1, Google Cast, Dual Band GNSS, GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS, BeiDou
  • Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC, UWB, USB Type-C 3.1 Gen 1, Google Cast, Dual Band GNSS, GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS, BeiDou
  • LTE / 5G (NSA, SA, Sub6)
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/6e, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot, Bluetooth 5.2, A2DP, LE
  • GPS with A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS, GALILEO
  • NFC
  • Up to Wi-Fi 6 (2.4GHz, 5GHz), Bluetooth 5.2, NFC, GPS, OTG, Type-C USB 2.0
  • Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, L1+L5 GPS, G1 GLONASS, E1+E5a GALILEO, Beidou, USB-C, NFC
  • Wi-Fi 6/6E (802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax, 2x2 MIMO), Bluetooth 5.2, L1+L5 GPS, L1 GLONASS, E1+E5a GALILEO, USB-C, NFC, 3.5mm audio jack
Storage Type
  • 128GB (UFS 3.1)
  • 128GB (UFS 3.1)
  • 128GB or 256GB
  • No microSD card slot
  • 256GB internal storage
  • 128/256GB internal storage (UFS 3.1), no MicroSD slot
  • 256GB internal storage, UFS 3.1
Battery
  • 4,614mAh
  • 30W wired fast-charging (PD 3.0)
  • 21W wireless fast-charging (Qi-certified)
  • 5.003mAh
  • 30W wired fast-charging (PD 3.0)
  • 23W wireless fast-charging (Qi-certified)
  • 3,700mAh
  • 25W Super Fast Charging
  • 15W Wireless Fast Charging
  • Wireless PowerShare
  • 4,500mAh
  • 44W FlashCharge
  • 5,000mAh
  • 120W wired fast-charging
  • 4,000mAh
  • 33W wired fast-charging
Dimensions
  • 158.6 x 74.8 x 8.9mm
  • 163.9 x 75.9 x 8.9mm
  • 146 x 70.6 x 7.6mm
  • 1.58.3 x 73.21 x 7.99mm (Cosmic Black)
  • 1.58.3 x 73.21 x 8.08mm (Aurora Dawn)
  • 164.1 x 76.9 x 8.8mm
  • 148 x 68.5 x 8.9mm
Weight
  • 207g
  • 210g
  • 167g
  • 183g (Cosmic Black)
  • 184g (Aurora Dawn)
  • 204g
  • 169g

 

JetStream 2.0

JetStream 2 is a combination of a variety of JavaScript and Web Assembly benchmarks, including benchmarks that came before like SunSpider and Octane.

It primarily tests for a system's and browser's ability in delivering a good web experience. It runs a total of 64 subtests, each weighted equally, with multiple iterations, and takes the geometric mean to compute the overall score. The higher the score, the better.

PHOTO: JetStream 2.0

Geekbench 5

Geekbench CPU is a cross-platform processor benchmark that tests both single-core and multi-core performance with workloads that simulate real-world usage. Geekbench 5 scores are calibrated against a baseline score of 1000, which is the score of an Intel Core i3-8100. The higher the score, the better.

PHOTO: Geekbench 5

3DMark Wild Life (Unlimited)

3DMark Wild Life is a cross-platform benchmark for Windows, Android and Apple iOS for measuring GPU performance. Its graphics test consists of multiple scenes with variations in the amount of geometry, lights and post-processing effects, mirroring mobile games that are based on short bursts of intense activity.

Wild Life uses the Vulkan graphics API on Windows PCs and Android devices. On iOS devices, it uses Metal. In Unlimited mode, the benchmark runs offscreen using a fixed time step between frames.

Unlimited mode renders exactly the same frames in every run on every device, regardless of resolution scaling. The higher the score, the better.

PHOTO: 3DMark Wild Life

PCMark for Android - Work 3.0 and Storage 2.0

PCMark for Android is a benchmark for testing the performance of Android phones and tablets. The Work 3.0 test checks how the device handles common productivity tasks such as browsing the web, editing videos, working with documents and data, and editing photos.

Storage 2.0 checks write-in and read-out performance for internal storage, external storage (if applicable), and SQLite database management. Together, the benchmarks can clue us in on how capable a phone is at handling everyday use. Work 3.0 scores are above, while Storage 2.0 scores are immediately below for each device - the higher the score, the better.

Since this is a newly introduced benchmark in our reviews, we're building up our database of PCMark scores for Android phones.

PHOTO: PCMark

Performance remarks

We're surprised to see that the Google Pixel 6 and 6 Pro pull synthetic numbers that can easily compete against 2021 budget flagship alternatives of the same price and grade.

Of course, there are two main challenges with having a powerful processor on board. One, it's still going to fall behind against rising 2022 options (if you can afford to wait for newer handsets), and two, is that powerful performance usually has more demanding battery requirements, as seen below.

Battery Life

Our standard battery test for mobile phones has the following parametres:

  • Looping a 720p video with screen brightness and volume at 100 per cent
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity turned on
  • Constant data streaming through email
PHOTO: Battery Life

Both Google Pixel 6 and 6 Pro offer as much juice (battery) as possible, which gives them unconventional battery capacity values. The Pixel 6 has 4,616mAh while Pixel 6 Pro touts 5,003mAh.

Both still retain the "charging temporarily limited" feature that keeps your phone at 80 per cent (toggled on by default), helping to conserve battery lifespan from not being fully charged. We suspect the bigger display (and higher resolution) was the main culprit of the Pixel 6 Pro's shorter uptime since both devices use almost identical hardware and have the same test parametres.

Both models offer 30W fast-charging (PD 3.0 standard), alongside 21W wireless fast-charging on the Pixel 6 and 23W wireless for the Pixel 6 Pro. According to their website spec sheet, Google said the phones can reach 50 per cent charge in 30 minutes with a compatible 30W Google adapter or PD fast charger.

With a third-party 65W adapter that supports PD (because there is no charger supplied with the phone), our Pixel 6 Pro took 45 minutes to go from 0 per cent to 50 per cent, and 120 total minutes for a full 100 per cent charge, while the Pixel 6 needed 46 minutes and 116 minutes for the same percentages.

These charging speeds are slower than 25W fast-charging on Samsung Galaxy S flagship phones, which typically require 70 to 90 minutes for a full charge (which ranges from 4,200mAh to 5,000mAh, depending on the model). Of course, the Pixel 6 series phones are significantly slower than Chinese Android phones that can do a full charge for 5,000mAh phones in 60 minutes.

Is this a deal-breaker? While two hours for a full charge isn't anything worth shouting about, the phones certainly don't juice up as quickly as advertised.

Conclusion

PHOTO: Hardware Zone

We'd caveat our review by stating ours is an anecdotal experience with both models, and may not represent your journey with a Pixel 6 or 6 Pro. But, it's also clear to us that you must update the phones before you start using them in earnest.

If we consider the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro as budget flagship handsets, these devices would fit really well with their well-designed aesthetics, decent displays, excellent camera work, somewhat valuable features, and attention to clean user experiences that represent the best of Android.

That said, Google's excitement over its proprietary chipset and hiked up value proposition might've given the phones unrealistic expectations to meet.

PHOTO: Hardware Zone

Let’s first address the elephant in the room. The Pixel 6 and 6 Pro launched with a range of usability issues, and we've also tried to use the phones without updating their firmware first.

After testing both devices, we’re happy to report that the firmware patches do work, and yes, the phone does become much better once you’ve updated them. Given its relative hotfix consistency, we’d imagine they’d only get better as the months go by.

Even after updating, both phones are also not without flaws. Their somewhat slower than expected charging stood out to us the most because both models charge at a rate as if they have no fast-charging technologies within. If you don’t have the luxury of setting your phone aside for hours to top-off, the slower refueling period may not suit your lifestyle.

Thankfully, the battery uptimes are reasonable enough to get you through a day, plus if you do have wireless charging docks, you could just as easily park them in for hassle-free charging that might lend you all the juice you'll need till you hit the bed.

If you are keen about spending good money on good parts, you might not find that to hold true everywhere on the Pixel phones. The in-display fingerprint sensor isn’t exactly the fastest around town. The chipset has flagship performance, but its delayed arrival here makes them outdated next to newer models that are launching now in 2022.

There’s also some work to be done on the AI side of things. Magic Eraser works amazingly well, but other features like real-time translation are party tricks at best. Google’s hardly the first to oversell what their phones can do, so they do get a pass from us – for now. 

PHOTO: Hardware Zone

With all these considerations, we’d say the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro would be perfect for users who want the basics of flagship phones done right, while skipping past rubbish features (often found on handsets from China) that bog handsets down.

They look premium externally and have an impressive flagship-tier UI. They also check nearly all the boxes on what people expect from such phones, like NFC for cashelss transactions and IP-rated water resistance, making them reasonable options against other $1,000 alternatives here.

Conversely, folks who don’t mind the visual clutter, nifty add-ons, and glitzy photo filters seen on Chinese handsets may not find the same appeal or comfort in Pixel 6 and 6 Pro’s attention to software design. All the more because these phones are not cheap as the alternatives.

The Pixel 6 and 6 Pro are also not nearly as impressive as other premium flagship handsets, given its loose nuts and bolts to their overall user experience. It packs too many hiccups – from its rocky launch, its weird physical handling, having only 128GB of onboard storage with no larger alternatives here, to its slow charging – which prevents these good phones from being great. 

PHOTO: Hardware Zone

You'd imagine we'd dock points for Google being fashionably late with the Pixel 6 series phones, seeing how other territories got theirs at launch while Singapore was sidelined to the next quarter.

We didn't penalise that because we felt Google's choice to work on its own launch timelines and its shift to proprietary chipsets meant that the Pixel 6 phones were a "take it or leave it" deal. They act as if the phones are free from the capitalistic, consumption-driven patterns of KPI-hitting phone makers and demanding phone buyers.

That said, being late also doesn't earn points from us either, and Google can't rely on these reasons (again) to survive the next launch here. Phones with newer, better chipsets have started to appear, and your users' money is on the line.

While the worldwide parts crunch no doubt exaggerated the launch locally, seeing how Google's latest and greatest usually arrives late, we do hope they put in more effort to not treat Singapore like an afterthought.

Setting our critical lenses aside, you'd be hard-pressed to find another modern, flagship-tier Android smartphone that gives you an Android 12 handset free from unwanted bloatware and immediate security updates.

The Google Pixel 6 and 6 Pro can now be officially acquired via the Singapore Google Store online here for $999 and $1,299 respectively. 

PHOTO: Hardware Zone

 This article was first published in Hardware Zone.