[REVIEW] : Google Pixel 6 Pro: The best smartphone made in Google

Google’s Pixel line of smartphones has been purring for a few years without really trying to compete with Samsung, Apple and others. The Pixel 4 showed promise, but it failed on several fronts. The Pixel 5 gave the impression that the American giant had simply abandoned all ambition in the smartphone market, going back to basics, without really advancing the Pixel range. In fact, during this period, the Pixel A series – the low-cost versions of Google’s smartphones – established themselves as not just the best deal on Google’s side, but the company’s best phones.

Everything changed in August 2021, when Google announced the development of its own Tensor processor, inaugurated in its future Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. In doing so, the American giant then sent a message that the company was finally getting serious about its smartphone ambitions. Designing, developing and producing its own chips is nothing trivial, especially when Qualcomm launches ready-to-use chips for each level of smartphone every year.

Still, announcing the development of an in-house chip and offering an experience that goes beyond what has been offered in the past are two different things. However, after a few months of use, it seems obvious that with its latest smartphones, Google not only keeps its promise of improved performance, but that the Pixel 6 Pro is the best smartphone ever launched by the American giant. .

A 100% Google design

Early visuals of the Pixel 6 Pro proved that Google is taking a new approach to design. Gone is the plastic back with a square camera matrix in the top corner. Instead, the device features a glass front and back and includes three different color combinations that give the device a quirky edge that sets it apart from the competition. On the back of the Pixel 6 Pro, just below the top edge of the phone, is the camera bar. Instead of a square or vertical camera array, Google opted for a bar that spans the width of the device, protruding from the case and acting almost like a kickstand that places the phone at a slight angle when viewed. sits on your desk.

The smartphone has three rear-facing cameras and a single punch-cut front camera. Unlike the Pixel 6 and its flat-edged design, the Pixel 6 Pro’s 6.7-inch screen has curved vertical edges. This is a choice similar to that made by Samsung on some of its Galaxy smartphones. However, unlike the devices of the South Korean giant, no problem of contacts or accidental taps on the side of the screen is to be noted on the side of the Pixel 6 Pro. On the right side of the phone is the sleep button, with a volume rocker just below. At the bottom, there is a USB-C port. The left edge of the Pixel 6 Pro is bare except for the SIM card slot.

The visuals don’t really do justice to the color schemes or the design as a whole. My first thought after opening the Pixel 6 Pro box was that this design is exactly what I expected from Google. Plus, combine the look of the phone with the Material You design approach we now have in Android 12, and it all makes sense.

The Tensor claw

The Pixel 6 Pro is based on Google Tensor, the company’s first system-on-chip (SoC) that combines the Pixel’s processor with other necessary radios and chips, like Google’s Titan M2 security coprocessor. The Pixel 6 Pro comes with 12GB of memory with storage options of 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB. A 5,003mAh battery also sits inside the phone. By moving away from Qualcomm’s line of Snapdragon processors for phones, Google is able to customize and focus the performance of Tensor chips on what the company prioritizes. For example, Google touts artificial intelligence and battery life as two areas the company has focused on to create a reliable experience with Tensor.

After use, it quickly becomes apparent that Tensor comes out on top. The most obvious example is battery life. The Pixel 6 Pro’s battery lasts as long as Apple’s iPhone 13 Pro Max in my tests. Which means I can last a full day and into the middle of the next day before the 6 Pro’s battery dies. Google claims the performance of the Tensor chip is 80% faster than any other chip previously used in a Pixel phone. This isn’t a huge deal, considering the Pixel 5 (and recent A-series phones) didn’t use Qualcomm’s flagship processors. Instead, they were all fitted with a more affordable 700-series chip at the performance price.

The Pixel 6 Pro shows no slowness or performance issues. Not only do apps open quickly, whether from the home screen, the app drawer, or by swiping across the bottom of the screen when multitasking. But the animations that are part of Android 12 are smooth and stutter-free. To be clear, Tensor isn’t impressively fast compared to other devices, like the iPhone 13 Pro Max and Surface Duo 2. Still, if benchmarks show Tensor to be slower than the competition , the on-device experience does not reflect this.

Still, one downside to Google’s move to Tensor is the lack of Google software updates on the Pixel 6 lineup. update for its Qualcomm-powered Pixel phones. This is currently the biggest flaw that we can find on new Google devices.

In the past, one of the biggest benefits of having a Pixel phone has been the routine and timely software updates on all Pixel devices, but for some reason the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro are lagging behind. compared to older models, equipped with Qualcomm.

A photo aspect far from being neglected by Google

Google’s Pixel phones earned a reputation for having the best smartphone camera available with the first few generations. However, the last two versions have started to show the age of the hardware that Google still relied on to capture and process photos. With the Pixel 6 Pro, Google added a 50-megapixel main camera, a 114-degree 12-megapixel ultra-wide camera, and a 48-megapixel telephoto camera with up to 4x optical zoom. With new camera hardware combined with Tensor and Google’s custom image processing and adjustment algorithm, we had high hopes for the 6 Pro’s camera performance: we weren’t disappointed.

What’s striking about using the Pixel 6 Pro’s camera is how little effort it takes to get a good shot. The quality of photos taken by the Pixel 6 Pro has also improved. Portrait photos seem to identify foreground and background more consistently than previous Pixel phones, and photos are more true to life – a similar approach to what Apple is doing with the camera. the Iphone.

The Pixel 6 Pro incorporates several new software tricks, both for photos and for everyday use. The Magic Eraser is one such tool, promising to remove unwanted elements in a photo, either automatically or simply by having you circle an object. While Google’s demos are impressive, in practice it’s nowhere near as good. Often it is very obvious that an object has been removed from the photo. But when the feature succeeds, it’s great.

The Pixel 6 Pro has also gained a few new call assistant features that all aim to make the process of calling a toll-free number less stressful and easier. For example, when dialing a business phone number, you can now see the average wait time based on time of day to help you decide when to call. Multi-option menus when calling a business are now presented as buttons on your phone’s screen, so you don’t have to actually listen to the recording – and you can even tell the phone to hold for you until someone actually answers.

Android 12, the best version of Android to date

With Android 12 there’s not only a long list of new features, but also a new design, which I’m a big fan of. Android 12 has new animations in the interface that make simple things like waking up or putting your phone to sleep fun. This is a minimal, but effective tip that makes a big difference, even if it takes you a day or two to notice it.