Google Pixel 6 And Pixel 6 Pro: Exploring The Hardware, Camera And Android 12
However, silicon engine performance is only one part of the equation. Google apparently pulled out all the stops on features and capabilities of its new Android 12-driven flagships as well, with everything from wireless charging to IP68 water and dust resistance on board, along with a keen focus on Pixel's usual strong computational photography chops and new AI-assisted features. And when you consider all these devices deliver on paper for their respective price points -- starting at $599 for the Pixel 6 and $899 for the Pixel 6 Pro -- it's clear Google was hell-bent on making a splash with these two new flagships.
But do the new Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro live up to the hype of Tensor, and do they add up to more than just the sum of their parts and features? Let's explore, shall we?
Google Pixel 6 And Pixel 6 Pro Features And Specs
Find Google's Pixel 6 & Pixel 6 Pro Starting @ $599 & $899 On Amazon
Under the hood of both the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro is Google's Tensor processor and Titan M2 security co-processor that provides trusted execution environment functionality for multi-layer hardware-based security processing. Also on board is a healthy complement of either 8GB (Pixel 6) or 12GB (Pixel 6 Pro) of LPDDR5 RAM and 128GB, 256GB or 512GB of internal storage, the latter of which is exclusive to the higher-end Pixel 6 Pro. Toss in both 30 Watt wired fast charge and wireless Qi charging in the 20 Watt range, along with Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2, both Sub-6 and mmWave 5G connectivity, well-equipped camera arrays (which we'll get to shortly) and relatively capacious batteries at 4,614 mAh and 5,003 mAh for the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, respectively, and it's clear Google took a no compromise "kitchen sink" approach to these devices. At their respective price points, we have to hand it to Google for delivering the goods.
Pixel 6 And Pixel 6 Pro Design And Build Quality
In terms of design, materials and build quality, both devices feel solid and premium in the hand, with edgeless Gorilla Glass Victus backing on both, a polished alloy frame in the Pixel 6 Pro, and a tactile alloy frame in the Pixel 6. Frankly, the Pixel 6 feels more like a high-end handset than a $599 mid-priced phone. Conversely, the Pixel 6 Pro definitely has a Galaxy S20 kind of vibe, with its curved display and all-glass setup as well, and it stands to reason with what is likely a near-identical display to Samsung's previous-gen device.
Now, whether or not you appreciate the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro's prominent camera bar bump-outs on the back is another question all together. I personally don't mind them, but admittedly it's not the sleekest aesthetic, and without a case on the phone it's just begging to be scuffed up. Screen protector manufacturers are already selling covers for them in fact, and if you're the type to run without a case, we'd highly recommend a screen cover kit like we linked here that provides a camera cover too. Heck you could even go ala carte with just the camera cover, which might not be a bad idea even if you rock a case with your Pixel. The good news is those camera arrays deliver pretty great results, which we'll get to shortly.
Google Pixel 6 And Pixel 6 Pro Bundled Accessories
In the box, Pixel 6 and 6 Pro customers get a fairly spartan offering of a USB-C synch and charge cable, along with a USB-C to USB-A adapter, the tiniest lit pack and a SIM extractor tool, but no charger. Both the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro support dual SIM capability with embedded SIM and a standard SIM tray as well. But, back to the charger -- or lack thereof -- it has been common occurrence lately with Samsung, Apple and others forgoing the cost and possible waste of a charger in their phone bundles. Would we prefer it be included? Absolutely, though again at Google's competitive price points for these new flagships, we'll give them a pass. Finally, the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro cases you see above are optional $29 adders, though there will likely be plenty of aftermarket options as well.
The Android 12 Experience: Smarter, Cleaner And More AccessibleWith each new Google Pixel release we're typically treated to a new version of Android, and this time around Android 12 delivers some nice refinements and feature-adds. On board are smaller UI tweaks like new widgets and Dynamic Colors, which colors the base text and icons of the interface lightly in pale hues that coordinate with whatever you choose for your home and lock screen background picture.
The interface is now more enabled with search functionality as well, for quickly finding apps, contacts/people, settings, assistant actions and more. Finally, Android's material design has been buffed-out here and there with larger, more rounded and flat touch icons for controls and even a feature called Themed Icons that you can see in the right most shot above. Themed icons are flat, single color representations of primary apps like the phone dialer, the Messages app, etc. and also adapt to your theme colors as well.
You'll also notice the under-display fingerprint sensor here for both devices, and while it's a handy, nicely-integrated feature, you don't have any other choices for biometric security beyond this. And sometimes the sensor is a little finicky letting you into the device. This is something Google can hopefully work on in a future firmware update, however.
Moving on to more convenience features, the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro offer new voice commands for text messaging and dictation. Commands like Send, Clear, Stop, Delete and Clear All, offer control while text messaging for more hands-off functionality. You can also use Google Assistant to answer calls now, with Answer and Decline commands, and there are new Call Assistant features that will analyze and advise on hold times when calling a business line, and can even transcribe automated messages and menu options for you.
Finally, another handy feature is Live Translate, which will translate text messages for you from another language to your native tongue and vice versa, as well as translate media with Live Caption translation capabilities, for many video and audio media types. As you can see in the right hand shot above, a couple of nice Italian fellows were having a little chat about the pizza in New Haven. Fuggettaboutit. But we digress, Live Translate for text works fairly well but the interface takes a little getting used to, with respect to getting it to translate to or from a language to another and controlling which is input and output text at any given time. It seems like Google could streamline the functionality here a little bit in the future hopefully.
Google Pixel 6 / 6 Pro Camera Hardware, Experience And PerformanceIsocell JN1), so there really is a lot of Samsung going on in these phones, from the display to processors and cameras. The Google-Samsung partnership was obviously strong with this new product release.
As usual, Google's main camera interface is clean, straight forward and optimized for point-and-shoot Auto mode efficiency. Android 12's UI again here has been refined a touch with a carat dropdown menu that exposes settings, along with the usual mode selections horizontally just below the trigger button. You also get a few new thoughtful features with Google's latest Pixels, like Speech Enhancement in selfie recording mode for noisy environments. It actually does a really good job of isolating voice audio and muting down background noise.
In fact, on the still shooting side of the equation, however, is where most of the new features reside, like Action Pan and Long Exposure modes that capture cool blurred affects of moving objects, and of course the much rumored Magic Eraser.
Starry night shots over Hopedale Pond here also look pretty fantastic. This shot was captured with very little close proximity natural light, but the street and house lights across the pond are picked up nicely along with the night sky. Color us impressed yet again with Google Pixel Night Sight mode, and also with Pixel 6/Pro 4K60 video shooting as well.
Alright, so with the pixel peeping portion of our review out of the way, let's take a gander and the performance benchmark numbers, next...