The 2021 Google Pixel 6 series gets a bold new design and hardware platform, and after a long string of teasers and leaks dating back from July, the phones have now officially launched.
The color scheme is very Google-like, with pastel colors. I’ll let you judge the aesthetics, but the design is an excellent visual differentiator from what you can find at major OEMs. Design aside, the build quality seems plain and on par with competitors. Google is sticking to proven materials, design, and assembly techniques.
The Pixel 6 Pro looks a bit nicer and has a more “premium” feel, with seemingly slightly fancier materials. You can see where the money is going and if you are wondering, both phones are waterproof.
The chassis design keeps the phone’s body thin and agreeable to hold while allowing for a substantial camera bump that allows for large camera sensors.
The Google Pixel series is well-known for its camera software. However, the hardware didn’t evolve that much between Pixel 3 (read our Pixel 3 camera review) and Pixel 5 (read our Pixel 5 camera review), at least for the Primary camera. This time, Google made a significant update by switching to a much larger camera sensor, and we’re expecting a much-awaited image quality improvement from this.
Once again, this proves that camera software is essential, but the camera hardware is the foundation of image quality. The Google Pixel 6 should score much higher in our CAMERA HW benchmark than the Pixel 5 did. Stay tuned.
The Pixel 6 also has an Ultrawide camera, and the Pixel 6 Pro gets an additional telephoto camera, making it very well balanced. These phones also have noticeably different Selfie cameras with 8 MP and 11.1 MP for the 6 and 6 Pro, respectively.
Both phones are large, with 6.4 (1080p) and 6.7 (1440p) inches displays and a variable 120 Hz refresh rate (The fingerprint sensor is located under the screen). 120 Hz is now standard at this price level, and I love how smooth things are when scrolling quickly. Gaming could also benefit from these refresh rates, especially older games that can actually reach these FPS.
These phones are powered by the Google Tensor processor (official page), which is rumored to be built in cooperation with Samsung. Google hints that this chip is competitive with the Snapdragon 888, but you’ll know soon enough when the embargo on the benchmark numbers lifts.
There’s an emphasis on machine learning (ML) performance, and Google says that it has hardwired key functionalities in the ISP (image signal processor) to raise the power efficiency. Google seems to be geared toward executing complex image algorithms in apps such as video-recording or AR, and we’ll have to see if they bring a lot of value to the average user.
As a former Pixel user, this looks like a very good upgrade. People who love the Pixel software experience should also be satisfied with the Pixel 6 hardware experience – more so than with Pixel 5. At least, that’s my first impression.
The hardware objectively brings much more value than Pixel 5 did, as the pricing is very reasonable. It remains to be seen how good the camera is, and what the competition will come up with. If you want the absolute best tech, there are other options, but I like what I see for the price.
The Pixel 6 series enjoys a wide distribution and is will be available via Google of course, but also Verizon (mmWave+sub6), AT&T (up to $700 off via trade-in), and Xfinity mobile.
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