Feature Articles

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

By Liu Hongzuo - 14 May 2022

Design & Handling, Display & Audio, UI & Features

Note: This feature was first published on 19 April 2022.

Google Pixel 6 (left) and Pixel 6 Pro (right).


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.

Google Pixel 6 (left) and Pixel 6 Pro (right).

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
  Google Pixel 6 Google Pixel 6 Pro
Launch SRP
  • From S$999
  • From S$1299
  • Up to 5G Sub 6GHz
  • Up to 5G Sub 6GHz
Operating system
  • Android 12
  • Android 12
  • Google Tensor
  • Titan M2 security co-processor
  • Google Tensor
  • Titan M2 security co-processor
Built-in Memory
  • 8GB RAM (LPDDR5)
  • 12GB RAM (LPDDR5)
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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)
  • 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)
  • 158.6 x 74.8 x 8.9mm
  • 163.9 x 75.9 x 8.9mm
  • 207g
  • 210g

Design and Handling

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.

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. 

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. 

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.

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

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

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

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.

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% or 100% of maximum brightness.

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).

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.

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.Neither did "Can I sit here?" (in a cafe context) work correctly.

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.

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.

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