If you’re looking for the best Android has to offer, whether you’re switching over from an iPhone or you’re due an upgrade, the Google Pixel 6 is still a good place to start whether on offer or refurbished. It delivers the best Android experience with excellent cameras, superfast 5G speeds and a clever interface that’ll tweak the colours of your operating system to match your wallpaper.
But what really sets it apart? It’s the first phone on the market powered by Google’s in-house Tensor processors. The tech giant says it can drive more machine learning by using its own chips, delivering improvements to its computational photography and live translation features without ruining its battery life.
Google Pixel 6 key specs
- Screen size: 6.4in
- Resolution: 2400 x 1080
- Processor: 2.8GHz Google Tensor
- Cameras: 2 rear cameras (50MP wide and 12MP ultra-wide angle) and 8MP front camera
- RAM: 8GB
- Storage space: 128 GB or 256 GB
- MicroSD card slot: No
- Weight: 206g
Google Pixel 6 design
Love it or hate it, that chunky camera bar at the back of the google Pixel 6 means Google’s flagship lineup has a distinctive design identity that’s far from generic. We think it looks sleek but would benefit from a case, as it can feel super slippery without one. With its 6.4-inch screen, this is a large phone closer in size to the Nothing (1) – so if size matters to you, it might be worth buying the smaller and more affordable Pixel 6a.
It comes in a range of colours, all with a two-tone aesthetic and “quirky” names to match. You can pick it up in “Kinda Coral”, “Sorta Seafoam” or “Stormy Black”. In reality, those names refer to a mix of peach and red, a teal and green pairing, and a black and grey variant (this is the one we tried).
Google Pixel 6 camera
Photography is a massive part of why Pixel diehards love the handsets (it’s in the name, after all) and Google has packed all of its latest advancements into this phone. When it comes to the actual camera, you’re getting a typical pairing of a 50MP wide-angle and an ultra-wide-angle lens on the back, and a decent 8MP front camera.
There are several computational enhancements the Pixel can make to your snaps – Google says its camera is now better at recognising darker skin tones in portraits and making sure they don’t look washed out, it can also add blur to scenes with movement (like cars zooming through a cityscape) to add dynamism, and it has a “Face Unblur” feature that’ll use machine learning so you don’t end up with unusable photos when you’re snapping pics of kids running around.
On test, we found that the rear camera delivers excellent results no matter the lighting conditions. The colour-grading of the photos is a little more saturated and warm than the neutral treatment that we’re used to from iPhones, but this also cuts down on editing time. You can post snaps straight onto social without having to worry about post-processing. We also found the Pixel is more accurate with its treatment of the sky – if clouds are grey, they’ll show up as dramatic and grey, rather than becoming blue as they often do on iPhones.
Below we’ve included a few photos we’ve shot with the Pixel 6, including some that use portrait mode (and several from our first trip on London’s new Elizabeth line) – these are all completely unedited, so you can see the colours that you’ll get without any tweaking:
Google Pixel 6 battery life
We’ve been testing the Pixel 6 out for over a month and haven’t noticed any battery issues. It consistently gets us through a day of normal use and often lasts into the next day without needing a charge. We got the same results when keeping the brightness high and when using the always-on display feature too (which will show some key info like the time, date and battery percentage on the display at all times). If you tax it with loads of video streaming or mobile gaming, though, don’t be surprised if it doesn’t quite last until the end of the day.
5G on the Google Pixel 6
We put the 5G capabilities of the Pixel 6 to the test for our review too. Connected to Vodafone’s network, we hopped on Netflix to download a two-hour movie – in this case, Senior Year – and watched as it arrived on our device in a frankly outrageous 41 seconds. That’s faster than any previous 5G smartphones we’ve tried and means it would be possible to grab whole movies, shows or playlists in a couple of minutes, loading your phone up with entertainment ahead of a flight or trip without having to hunt down a public wifi network. Just make sure you have an unlimited data SIM!
Google Pixel 6 verdict
As developers of the Android operating system, it will come as no surprise that Google’s flagship handset is impressive. The Pixel 6 is an easy recommendation for anyone looking for a smartphone upgrade. We love its unique design, sharp display, customisable interface and excellent camera. While the more affordable Pixel 6a is the best value Google phone in 2023, the Pixel 6 has a better 50MP camera, a higher refresh rate and wireless charging.