Feature Articles

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

By Liu Hongzuo - 14 May 2022

Benchmark Performance, Battery Life, Conclusion

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 S$1,000 - S$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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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 parameters:

  • Looping a 720p video with screen brightness and volume at 100%
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity turned on
  • Constant data streaming through email

(Click to view a larger image)

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% (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 parameters. 

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% 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% to 50%, and 120 total minutes for a full 100% 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

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.

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. 

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 S$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. 

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. This reason alone is enough for users to pick up a Pixel 6 or 6 Pro, making them ideal for individuals who want a clean, unblemished experience. They’re not the best Google could’ve put together, but the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro are good enough nonetheless.

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

Ratings breakdown
  Design Features User-friendliness Performance Value Overall

Google Pixel 6
8.0 8.0 8.0 7.5 8.0 Click to view the pros and cons.

Google Pixel 6 Pro
8.0 8.0 8.0 7.5 7.5

Click to view the pros and cons.

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