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Google Pixel 6 Pro review

Introduction

Google is officially back. The Google Pixel 6 Pro is leagues ahead of its predecessors in hardware, software, and design with a brand-new set of camera sensors, a new and unique design, and plenty of new software features that leverage Google’s custom-made Tensor chip. All packaged in stylish new hardware, the Pixel 6 Pro is what Google believes is the “best expression of Android”.

The Pixel 6 Pro has been totally redesigned and features dual-tone glass finishes, along with a camera array that sits in a bar all the way across the rear of the phone. There’s now an in-display scanner (as is the trend across Android flagships), and the 120Hz LPTO AMOLED is the largest (and smoothest) of any Pixel smartphone.

Google believed that conventional chipsets weren’t enough for what it wanted to be possible on a smartphone, and the Google Pixel 6 Pro is a culmination of years of research and development that led to Google’s first customized Tensor chipset (produced by Samsung), along with the integration of that chipset with advanced software features and improving camera performance all around. The new chipset enables quicker and more efficient on-device language processing, and it allows for Google’s computational photography to work faster than before.

Google Pixel 6 Pro review

The Google 6 Pro has new camera sensors all around, all of which are larger than previous Pixel phones. The main camera is a 50MP Samsung ISOCELL GN1 that Google says can capture 2.5X more light than the Pixel 5’s 12.2MP main sensor. There’s a 48MP periscope telephoto camera capable of 4X optical zoom, and an updated ultrawide camera with a new 12MP sensor. The front camera is now 11.MP and capable of recording 4K video. Google also improved the camera’s facial recognition and introduced Real Tone: a series of tweaks and improvements to the camera to accurately capture people of all skin tones.

Google Pixel 6 Pro specs at a glance:

  • Body: 163.9 x 75.9 x 8.9 mm, 210g; Glass front (Gorilla Glass Victus), glass back (Gorilla Glass Victus), stainless steel frame; IP68 dust/water resistant (up to 1.5m for 30 mins).
  • Display: 6.71″ LPTO AMOLED, 120Hz, HDR10+, 1440×3120 px resolution, 19.5:9 aspect ratio, 512ppi;
  • Chipset: Google Tensor (5 nm): Octa-core (2×2.80 GHz Cortex-X1 & 2×2.25 GHz Cortex-A76 & 4×1.80 GHz Cortex-A55); Mali G78 MP20 GPU.
  • Memory: 12GB of RAM and 128GB/256GB/512GB of UFS 3.1 storage (non-expandable).
  • OS/Software: Android 12 with 5 years of Pixel updates.
  • Rear camera: Wide (main): 12 MP, f/1.85, 26mm, 1.2µm, dual pixel PDAF, laser AF, sensor-shift OIS; telephoto: 48 MP, f/3.5, 104mm, 1/2″, 0.8µm, PDAF, OIS, 4x optical zoom; Ultrawide: 12 MP, f/2.2, 114˚, 1.25µm
  • Front camera: Wide (main):11.1 MP, f/2.2, 20mm, 1.22µm
  • Video capture: Rear camera: 4K@30/60fps, 1080p@30/60/120/240fps, HDR, Dolby Vision HDR (up to 60fps), stereo sound rec; Front camera: 4K@24/25/30/60fps, 1080p@30/60/120/240fps, EIS.
  • Battery: 5003mAh; Fast charging 30W, 50% in 30 min (advertised), USB Power Delivery 3.0, fast wireless charging up to 23W, reverse wireless charging
  • Misc: Titan M2 security coprocessor, In-display fingerprint scanner, accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer; NFC; Google Pay; Google Assistant

You can expect 80% faster CPU performance and 370% faster GPU performance compared to the Snapdragon 765G that ran in the Pixel 5. Tensor will enable new language processing features that Google touted during its presentation. It also integrated the ISP and Context Core within Tensor to make image processing and background tasks more power-efficient.

Google Pixel 6 Pro review

We’re excited to dive into the Google Pixel 6 Pro and check out the improvements in photography and videography, as well as expected improvements to battery life given the huge 5,003 mAh power cell. There are also some huge changes in Android 12, which coincide nicely with Google’s new design identity. Let’s start with the phone’s packaging, which comes in a slimmer box.

Unboxing

The Pixel 6 Pro comes in a more compact box, now that a charger is no longer included. Underneath the handset in the box, you’ll find a USB-C to USB-C charging cable, SIM-eject tool, documentation, and a ‘Quick Transfer Adapter’. This lets you connect a USB-A cable into the Pixel to transfer data from another Android or iOS device.

Google Pixel 6 Pro review

Next, we’ll take an in-depth look at Google’s drastically new design identity.

Design, build quality, handling

Google said that its inspiration for the design and aesthetic of the Google Pixel 6 Pro comes from “high-quality finishes from jewelry and watches”. The dual-tone design on the back is subtle but stunning. This dual-tone look feels like it evolved from the first three generations of the Google Pixel, the “glass window” on the back in particular.

Google Pixel 6 Pro review

Our Stormy Black unit has a dark graphite back panel and an upper accent glass of what might be described as a cross between gray and silver above the pitch-black camera bar. The Google Pixel 6 Pro is the first Pixel phone with three main cameras. These include a new 50MP main camera, an updated 12MP utlrawide, and the 48MP periscope camera with optical zoom is the one behind the rectangular opening in the camera bar. This camera bar is reminiscent of the days of the Huawei-made Nexus 6P.

Google Pixel 6 Pro review

Both glass panels on the rear use 3D glass made of Gorilla Glass Victus and curve evenly over the edges of the Pixel 6 Pro’s frame. The front panel is also protected by Gorilla Glass Victus, which Google claims has up to 2 times better scratch resistance than the Pixel 4a 5G’s Gorilla Glass 3.

Even with the fingerprint-resistant coating, the phone is easily smothered in fingerprints with its glossy finishes all around. Perhaps the lighter colors are better at hiding smudges.

Google Pixel 6 Pro review

The Pixel 6 Pro measures 163.9 x 75.9 x 8.9 mm (including the camera hump) and weighs in at 210g. The hardware is designed to withstand up to 1.5m deep of water for up to 30 minutes with its IP68 dust and water resistance rating.

The 6 Pro’s dimensions are identical to the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra and roughly the size of the Google Pixel 4 XL. It is also just slightly taller and slightly narrower than the Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max.

Google Pixel 6 Pro review

When holding the phone, these curves sit nicely in the palm of your hand, and no hard edges are poking into the palm. There’s no denying that the Pixel 6 Pro is large with its 6.71″ edge-to-edge display with HDR10 support, 120Hz refresh rate, and great brightness. This is also the first Pixel to ever feature curved glass on display.

Google Pixel 6 Pro review

The rounded corners of the display are a bit more squarish for a bolder look here, compared to the more rounded corners of the Pixel 5 lineup. At the top of the display is a centered punch-hole cut out that houses the 11.1MP camera, and there’s a thin slit across the top edge of the glass where the phone’s in-call speaker is housed. We’re glad to see Google reverted from its decision to use an under-display speaker on the Pixel 5.

Google Pixel 6 Pro review

The frame that wraps around the phone is made of a “polished alloy” made of recycled aluminum. The top edge of the frame is capped with plastic, though it blends nicely with the metal. This is so that radio signals can pass through the top of the phone, especially when mmWave 5G is concerned. On the underside of the phone, there’s a USB-C port, microphone, and loudspeaker ports.

Google Pixel 6 Pro review

Ever since the Google Pixel 2, the accented power key was a staple of the Pixel brand. We’re sad to see the colorful trend go the wayside, but perhaps adding accent colors to a single button across multiple color schemes would have delayed the production of the Pixel 6 models more than Google wanted to. The keys themselves are very tactile and emit a satisfying, clicky sound when you press them.

Google Pixel 6 Pro review

The left side doesn’t have any keys, but this is where the nanoSIM tray is. These side views also give us a really good idea of how large the camera hump is.

Google Pixel 6 Pro review

Google was known for making fabric cases for its Pixel smartphones since the Pixel 3, but the company has dropped them for unknown reasons. It has instead switched to vibrant translucent covers made from more than 30% recycled plastic. We are not sure whether the new cases will be susceptible to turning yellow over time like other translucent cases. The first-party case isn’t snug, and dust is quickly introduced between the case and the phone, which could cause marks on the frame if it isn’t frequently cleaned out.

The Google Pixel 6 Pro is certainly a large device. Its design is both curvy and angular. Its dual-tone finishes are stunning, though they aren’t smudge-proof. Aside from this, some may or may not prefer the curve of the display’s edges. Let’s talk about this in the display section of the next page, where we’ll also talk about battery life, charging, and the loudspeakers.

LTPO AMOLED panel with 120Hz

The Google Pixel 6 Pro is equipped with a high-end LTPO AMOLED display. The 6.71″ panel features a 120Hz refresh rate which automatically scales down to 10Hz to conserve power. There are a couple of firsts for Google Pixel with this screen: the Pixel 6 Pro’s display is the first Pixel to support a 120Hz refresh rate and the first Pixel to feature a display with curved edges. With a QHD+ resolution of 1440 x 3120 px, it has a sharp pixel density of 512ppi and an aspect ratio of 19.5:9. This display also supports HDR10 content and 24-bit color depth.

Google Pixel 6 Pro review

In our display brightness tests, the Google Pixel 6 Pro scored 497 nits of maximum brightness using the manual slider. Peak brightness reached 860 nits when set to Adaptive Brightness. These numbers are excellent considering Google’s Pixel phones have historically been behind the competition in screen brightness. Even so, display panels of current flagships from Apple, Samsung, and vivo have already broken past the 1000 nits mark for peak brightness.

Sunlight legibility is great, nonetheless. Menus and screens are visible enough to use, even with dark theme enabled, and the viewfinder is bright enough to see exactly what you’re shooting.

Display test 100% brightness
Black,cd/m2 White,cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Google Pixel 6 Pro 0 497
Google Pixel 6 Pro (Max Auto) 0 860
vivo X70 Pro+ 0 458
vivo X70 Pro+ (Max Auto) 0 1022
Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max 0 852
Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max (Max Auto) 0 1050
Apple iPhone 13 Pro 0 856
Apple iPhone 13 Pro (Max Auto) 0 1063
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G 0 458
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (Max Auto) 0 1023
Google Pixel 5 0 475
Google Pixel 5 (Max Auto) 0 699
Google Pixel 5a 5G 0 508
Google Pixel 5a 5G (Max Auto) 0 861
Google Pixel 4 XL 0 436
Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra 0 514
Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra (Max Auto) 0 943
Xiaomi Mi 11T Pro 0 516
Xiaomi Mi 11T Pro (Max Auto) 0 837
Asus Zenfone 8 Flip 0 518
Asus Zenfone 8 Flip (Max Auto) 0 735
OnePlus 9 Pro 0 525
OnePlus 9 Pro (Max Auto) 0.038 871 22921:1
Samsung Galaxy S21+ 5G 0 459
Samsung Galaxy S21+ 5G (Max Auto) 0 883
Apple iPhone 13 0 802

There are three preset color modes on the Pixel 6 Pro. The default color mode is “Adaptive” based on the DCI-P3 color space, there’s a “Natural” color mode based on the accuracy of the sRGB standard, and there’s a “Boosted” mode that’s a slightly more saturated version of the Natural profile.

With the default Adaptive profile, we determined an average deltaE of 2.5 and a maximum deviation of 5.3 units on the DCI-P3 color space. The most accurate mode was the Natural profile with an average deltaE of 1.5 and a maximum deviation of 2.8 in the sRGB color space. The Boosted profile yielded an average deltaE of 1.9 and a maximum deviation of 3.9 on the sRGB space.

There’s no advanced tuning of the color modes, and there’s no changing the resolution mode of the display. This keeps it simple for the user, but if you want to be able to tune color temperature or switch between FHD and QHD resolutions, then the Pixel 6 Pro’s display might not be for you.

Battery life

The Google Pixel 6 Pro has a hefty 5,000 mAh battery with support for 30W charging, but this year Google decided that chargers don’t need to be included in the box anymore. Google released a new 30W adapter that will be available on the Google Store website. Still, you should be able to use any PPS-compatible charger that outputs 30W or higher to achieve maximum charging speeds.

Google Pixel 6 Pro review

There is also support for up to 23W via wireless charging but only with the new version of the Google Pixel Stand. It isn’t available from Google just yet, although the Pixel 6 Pro supports Qi wireless charging and reverse wireless charging.

Google’s Pixel 6 Pro is advertised for “Beyond 24-hour battery life” or “Up to 48-hour battery life with Extreme Battery Saver”.

Battery menu - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Battery Saver - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Extreme Battery Saver - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Extreme Battery Saver - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Extreme Battery Saver - Google Pixel 6 Pro review

Battery menu • Battery Saver • Extreme Battery Saver

We lament to tell you that the Pixel 6 Pro did not reach our expectations in the battery department. Google Tensor is a first-generation chip that debuts with the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro, and the numbers corroborate that battery life is not this device’s strong suit. This is despite the LTPO display and mentions of Tensor being able to perform certain tasks with half the power.

Google Pixel 6 Pro review

Our battery tests were automated thanks to SmartViser, using its viSerDevice app. The endurance rating denotes how long the battery charge will last you if you use the device for an hour of telephony, web browsing, and video playback daily. More details can be found here.

Video test carried out in 120Hz refresh rate mode. Web browsing test done at the display’s highest refresh rate whenever possible. Refer to the respective reviews for specifics. To adjust the endurance rating formula to match your own usage patterns check out our all-time battery test results chart where you can also find all phones we’ve tested.

Overall, the Google Pixel 6 Pro scored 84 hours of endurance in our standardized testing. With it, we saw 26:21h of talk time, around 12:32h of web browsing time, and 15:35h of video playback. We were most disappointed with the standby numbers, which weren’t representative of a phone with this large of a battery pack. We think this draw may be due to some inefficiency in the modem used in the Google Tensor chip, which is believed to be a Samsung-made one. Perhaps this could be tweaked via future firmware updates from Google.

Loudspeakers

The Pixel 6 Pro has a typical dual-loudspeaker setup: one speaker is bottom-firing, and the other doubles as the in-call speaker. The Pixel 5 had the in-call speaker embedded behind the display, and we didn’t love its execution. With the 6 Pro, audio is plenty loud, and it sounds great at maximum volume.

Google Pixel 6 Pro review

There’s no distortion at maximum volumes, but mids and trebles may sound tinny when playing music. Otherwise, the phone is plenty loud for spoken word content, but you shouldn’t rely on these speakers if you want to play some music while cooking or something.

Now that we’ve covered all the hardware and lab tests, let’s look at the software features that make the Pixel 6 Pro unique.

Android 12 and Tensor-exclusive features

We’ve recently posted our full review of Android 12 so for this review, we’ll focus on the features that are debuting with the Pixel 6 phones leveraged by the new Tensor chip including Voice Typing, Live Translate, and Calling Assist. There’s also deeper integration with apps that use the camera.

Google Pixel 6 Pro review

Let’s look at a couple of new hardware nuances that are specific to the new Pixel 6 Pro’s software. There’s an optical in-display fingerprint scanner now for both the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro models. You can see its placement in the screenshots below.

In-display fingerprint - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
In-display fingerprint - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
In-display fingerprint - Google Pixel 6 Pro review

In-display fingerprint

The other change comes with Google’s built-in keyboard app. Now that the 6 Pro’s display has curved edges, there’s cushion space on either side of the keyboard as to improve the typing experience. Otherwise, palm rejection is present throughout the UI, and it doesn’t seem to get in the way.

It was always possible to input text using voice with Gboard, but the Tensor chip brings Assistant Voice Typing: a far better way to type by voice. This will even work without an internet connection since the language model is on-device and processes language near-instantaneously.

To start typing with voice, you can press the microphone button or say “Hey Google, type” and start yapping away. You’ll be able to reply with your voice far more naturally since the Assistant will take care of punctuation, so you don’t even have to say things like “period” or “question mark”.

Voice Type into any text field - Google Pixel 6 Pro review

Voice Type into any text field

If you tap on a dictated word, suggestions will now show alternatives that are phonetically close to what you are saying, versus suggestion words that are meant for text Input. You can also say “Clear” to delete the last thing you entered with voice, “Send” (in supported apps), “Clear all” to wipe the entire text field, or “Stop” to discontinue voice input. You can tap on a word and re-speak it to correct it, or you can move the cursor prior to inserting more text, all without having to press the voice button again. Some emojis can be inserted by voice too like “smile with teeth emoji” and you can spell out words that Assistant may not understand.

Voice Typing: Settings - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Voice Typing: Commands - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Voice Typing: Commands - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Voice Typing: Commands - Google Pixel 6 Pro review

Voice Typing: Settings • Commands

The new language model enables much quicker and more reliable transcription of voice to text, thus speeding up Google Assistant’s turnaround times for voice queries. Translation is added to the mix as well, which improves Google’s Interpreter mode when you need help speaking to someone in their native language, or if you are using a supported messaging app. If you wanted to carry on a text conversation with someone in another language, you can do so, and Google will translate both directions on the fly.

Google Pixel 6 Pro review

Live Translate worked well enough, except for a couple of bugs. This feature is hidden away in the System Settings and you have to manually download the language that’s to be translated from. The translations were okay, and results will depend on whether the other person writes in complete sentences. Even still, after setting everything up, the feature works as advertised and beats having to manually translate each message you send and receive.

Live Translate via Instagram DM - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Live Translate via Instagram DM - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Live Translate via Instagram DM - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Live Translate via Instagram DM - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Live Translate via Instagram DM - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Live Translate via Instagram DM - Google Pixel 6 Pro review

Live Translate via Instagram DM

Live Translate for messaging is currently only supported on a dozen or so messaging apps, and in the following languages: English, French, Japanese, Spanish, German, Italian, Portuguese, Simplified Chinese, Hindi, Polish, and Russian.

Live Translate also works to translate spoken-word content, so long as it’s in English, French, German, Italian, or Japanese (Beta). Sound coming from a video or audio source can be transcribed and translated in real-time.

Live Caption with translation - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Live Caption with translation - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Live Caption with translation - Google Pixel 6 Pro review

Live Caption with translation

The downside to using this feature is that the actual translation is still a bit slow and clunky. Since the words begin to appear as they are said in their native language, the text you read in the translated language morphs the whole duration of its recital until the sentence is completed and the punctuation is added. This can make reading Live Translated subtitles disorienting and difficult to understand.

Live Captions translated from French and Japanese content - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Live Captions translated from French and Japanese content - Google Pixel 6 Pro review

Live Captions translated from French and Japanese content - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Live Captions translated from French and Japanese content - Google Pixel 6 Pro review

Live Captions translated from French and Japanese content

You may not be able to use Live Translate for apps with copyrighted content. For example, Live Translate wouldn’t work for captioning a Japanese TV show on the Netflix app as the feature was disabled for the app. While the feature works as advertised and the concept is quite useful, it seems like it needs another few years before it’s fully fleshed out.

Performance

The Pixel 6 Pro comes with Google’s first-generation Tensor chipset. Co-developed and manufactured by Samsung, you can expect 80% faster CPU performance, and 370% faster GPU performance with Google Tensor compared to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G that ran in the Pixel 5.

Since 2017, Google has been working on creating a custom chipset for Google Pixel that would place it ahead of the competition in terms of what could be achieved using Google’s machine learning and advances in computational photography. Google took a different approach with the Tensor chipset, integrating different processing units that handled different instructions from the software simultaneously and harmoniously. For example, the Google Lens app needs to send instructions to the CPU, GPU, ISP, and TPU (Tensor Processing Unit) to return a query.

Google Pixel 6 Pro review

Google’s approach to this chipset is different with its 2+2+4 core layout. This is made up of two powerful Cortex-X1 cores maxed out at 2.8GHz, a pair of Cortex-A76 cores at 2.25Ghz, and a low-power quad-core cluster of Cortex-A55 cored clocked at 1.8GHz. Google’s Tensor is optimized for the dual X1 cores to handle medium-level tasks by using a portion of the workload more efficiently rather than maxing out the mid-cores. For graphics, there’s a 20-core Mali G78 MP20.

This TPU inside the Tensor chip has a machine learning engine that is built for “where ML engines are heading, not where they are today.” This component of the Tensor chip handles new camera features, including the new HDRnet algorithm for shooting video, and an updated language model used by Google Assistant that enable improved translation speed and accuracy.

Google Pixel 6 Pro review

This model also enabled the new Live Translate features built into Pixel 6 Pro. The Tensor chip is able to perform with other parts of the chipset like the ISP or the CPU to perform tasks while using less power. There’s also a “Context Hub” which handles background tasks or “ambient experiences” like the always-on display and Now Playing features without draining power.

Quoted from Google’s press event: “As software applications on mobile phones become more complex, they run on multiple parts of the chip. This is heterogeneous computing.” Google’s aim with the Tensor chip is that all the components inside work together efficiently rather than optimizing for peak speed.

Google’s Tensor chip is designed for more efficient performance of simultaneous app tasks, language transcription, and translation. This improves the speed of voice queries with Google Assistant and processes information to and from Google more efficiently. Although Google Tensor is an advanced chipset by today’s standards, it does not mean that it will be breaking benchmark charts.

Starting with Geekbench 5, the Pixel 6 Pro fared well in the single-core test, showing scores sitting between devices using the Snapdragon 870 and Snapdragon 888. Multi-core scores placed Tensor right around the Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G’s Snapdragon 778G and the OnePlus Nord 2’s Dimensity 1200 5G. Otherwise, it scored behind other devices with the Snapdragon 865, Snapdragon 870, and Snapdragon 888.

GeekBench 5 (single-core)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max
    1741
  • Apple iPhone 13
    1727
  • Apple iPhone 13 Pro
    1709
  • nubia Red Magic 6S Pro
    1140
  • Sony Xperia 1 III
    1130
  • OnePlus 9 Pro
    1126
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (Snapdragon)
    1109
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G
    1107
  • vivo X70 Pro+
    1106
  • Google Pixel 6 Pro
    1042
  • OnePlus 9R
    969
  • Oppo Find X3 Pro
    926
  • Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
    906
  • OnePlus Nord 2
    814
  • Realme GT Master
    785
  • Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G
    771
  • Google Pixel 5
    594
  • Google Pixel 4 XL
    591
  • Google Pixel 5a 5G
    574
  • Oppo Reno3 Pro
    398

GeekBench 5 (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max
    4706
  • Apple iPhone 13 Pro
    4687
  • Apple iPhone 13
    4645
  • nubia Red Magic 6S Pro
    3660
  • OnePlus 9 Pro
    3636
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G
    3518
  • Sony Xperia 1 III
    3515
  • vivo X70 Pro+
    3469
  • Oppo Find X3 Pro
    3316
  • Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
    3296
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (Snapdragon)
    3244
  • OnePlus 9R
    3117
  • Realme GT Master
    2917
  • Google Pixel 6 Pro
    2831
  • Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G
    2801
  • OnePlus Nord 2
    2792
  • Google Pixel 4 XL
    2267
  • Google Pixel 5
    1647
  • Oppo Reno3 Pro
    1517
  • Google Pixel 5a 5G
    1337

Antutu 9 ranked the Pixel 6 Pro just below the Snapdragon 888, but ahead of the Snapdragon 870, Dimensity 1200 5G, and the Snapdragon 778G.

AnTuTu 9

Higher is better

  • nubia Red Magic 6S Pro
    866437
  • vivo X70 Pro+
    837833
  • Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max
    801691
  • Apple iPhone 13 Pro
    794348
  • Apple iPhone 13
    775519
  • Sony Xperia 1 III
    749132
  • Google Pixel 6 Pro
    719815
  • OnePlus 9R
    676913
  • OnePlus Nord 2
    598022
  • Realme GT Master
    529263
  • Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G
    506432
  • Google Pixel 5
    386220
  • Google Pixel 5a 5G
    373168

The 20-core Mali-G78 MP20 GPU keeps the Pixel 6 Pro on its toes. Graphic-intensive tests showed the Pixel 6 Pro’s performance was on par with other devices running the Snapdragon 888 in the offscreen tests, bested only by the Snapdragon 888+.

Meanwhile, onscreen tests show a noticeable advantage over the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, both the Snapdragon 888 and Exynos 2100 versions. This makes a good reference for comparison since both the Pixel 6 Pro and the S21 Ultra have identical resolutions.

GFX Manhattan ES 3.1 (offscreen 1080p)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 13 Pro
    181
  • Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max
    178
  • Apple iPhone 13
    150
  • nubia Red Magic 6S Pro
    127
  • OnePlus 9 Pro
    119
  • Oppo Find X3 Pro
    113
  • Sony Xperia 1 III
    111
  • Google Pixel 6 Pro
    110
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (Snapdragon)
    109
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G
    107
  • vivo X70 Pro+
    105
  • OnePlus 9R
    93
  • Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
    89
  • OnePlus Nord 2
    75
  • Google Pixel 4 XL
    69
  • Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G
    56
  • Realme GT Master
    56
  • Google Pixel 5a 5G
    37
  • Google Pixel 5
    22
  • Oppo Reno3 Pro
    20

GFX Manhattan ES 3.1 (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • nubia Red Magic 6S Pro
    107
  • Sony Xperia 1 III
    91
  • Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
    77
  • Google Pixel 6 Pro
    65
  • Apple iPhone 13
    60
  • Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max
    60
  • Apple iPhone 13 Pro
    60
  • OnePlus 9R
    60
  • vivo X70 Pro+
    58
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G
    58
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (Snapdragon)
    58
  • OnePlus 9 Pro
    57
  • OnePlus Nord 2
    57
  • Oppo Find X3 Pro
    55
  • Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G
    49
  • Realme GT Master
    46
  • Google Pixel 4 XL
    34
  • Google Pixel 5a 5G
    33
  • Google Pixel 5
    22
  • Oppo Reno3 Pro
    17

GFX Car Chase ES 3.1 (offscreen 1080p)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max
    121
  • Apple iPhone 13 Pro
    119
  • Apple iPhone 13
    98
  • nubia Red Magic 6S Pro
    74
  • Google Pixel 6 Pro
    70
  • Oppo Find X3 Pro
    70
  • OnePlus 9 Pro
    70
  • Sony Xperia 1 III
    68
  • vivo X70 Pro+
    66
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (Snapdragon)
    66
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G
    64
  • OnePlus 9R
    57
  • Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
    52
  • OnePlus Nord 2
    46
  • Google Pixel 4 XL
    41
  • Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G
    33
  • Realme GT Master
    33
  • Google Pixel 5a 5G
    21
  • Google Pixel 5
    13
  • Oppo Reno3 Pro
    7.3

GFX Car Chase ES 3.1 (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • nubia Red Magic 6S Pro
    62
  • Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max
    60
  • Apple iPhone 13 Pro
    60
  • Apple iPhone 13
    59
  • Sony Xperia 1 III
    54
  • OnePlus 9R
    49
  • Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
    45
  • Google Pixel 6 Pro
    39
  • OnePlus Nord 2
    38
  • OnePlus 9 Pro
    36
  • vivo X70 Pro+
    33
  • Oppo Find X3 Pro
    33
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G
    33
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (Snapdragon)
    33
  • Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G
    28
  • Realme GT Master
    27
  • Google Pixel 4 XL
    21
  • Google Pixel 5a 5G
    19
  • Google Pixel 5
    12
  • Oppo Reno3 Pro
    7.4

In 3DMark, the Pixel 6 Pro ranked highest amongst Android smartphones, besting even the Snapdragon 888+.

3DMark Wild Life Vulkan 1.1 (offscreen 1440p)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max
    9751
  • Apple iPhone 13
    8986
  • Google Pixel 6 Pro
    6602
  • nubia Red Magic 6S Pro
    5865
  • Sony Xperia 1 III
    5807
  • OnePlus 9 Pro
    5701
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G
    5691
  • Oppo Find X3 Pro
    5653
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (Snapdragon)
    5547
  • vivo X70 Pro+
    5332
  • OnePlus Nord 2
    4224
  • OnePlus 9R
    4154
  • Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G
    2491
  • Realme GT Master
    2481
  • Google Pixel 5a 5G
    1674
  • Google Pixel 5
    1033

The Google Tensor’s raw performance numbers show that it isn’t best in CPU tasks, but it does fare very well in graphics-intensive situations thanks to its 20-core GPU. Proverbially, we shouldn’t take these numbers to heart. With Google Tensor, we experienced excellent day-to-day performance, and you can expect the same.

Games run well on the Pixel 6 Pro. If you are expecting to play high-performance video games like Genshin Impact or Call of Duty Mobile, you should know that the phone will be prone to getting very warm. We played a 20-minute session of Genshin Impact without a case in an air-conditioned room and the CPU temperatures reached upwards of 150 F/65 C. Battery temperature was around 110 F/43 C.

Rocking two Cortex-X1 cores is no small feat, not to mention alongside two Cortex-A76 ones. This is a power-hungry setup with plenty of potential for heat output, which shows in the thermal throttling behavior of the phone. Granted, a sustained all-core load is not really a viable real-world scenario, but it does clearly showcase that the Pixel and its cooling system can’t sustain peak performance on the tensor chip for long at all.

Performance stability test graph - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Performance stability test graph - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Performance stability test graph - Google Pixel 6 Pro review

Performance stability test graph

On the plus side, even if the drops in performance are aggressive, they are not sudden but rather controlled and likely implemented deliberately at a CPU governor level. The important bit is that a gradual ramp down shouldn’t result in stutters in games or heavy apps. We guess it’s the best Google could manage with the hardware at hand.

While the Pixel 6 Pro will handle the occasional high-end game session, there are other smartphones better suited for playing graphic-intensive games for hours at a time. Ones with better in-game settings, active cooling, and advanced performance optimizations.

Otherwise, daily use of the Pixel 6 Pro fared well. The phone barely warmed up after a 20-minute editing session on Cap Cut. The phone can handle day-to-day tasks with ease, but situations that require peak performance sustained for longer periods are where the Pixel 6 Pro shows weakness.

Revamped triple camera setup

The Google Pixel 6 Pro brings completely revamped camera hardware that was long overdue and highly appreciated. All four cameras (three main + one selfie) bring newer, larger sensors, while the Google Tensor chip leverages the new camera hardware and shooting modes.

Google Pixel 6 Pro review

The main camera is a 50MP Samsung ISOCELL GN1 1/1.31″ sensor with omni-directional phase-detection autofocus and optical image stabilization behind an f/1.85 lens, and 1.2µm sized pixels – with pixel binning math that comes out to 2.4µm pixels compared to the Pixel 5’s 1.4µm. This sensor can pick up 2.5X more light than the previous 12.2MP sensor. There’s also a laser-assisted autofocusing module in the camera cluster, and the Spectral/Flicker sensor is back. Despite the 50MP main sensor, images are output in 12.5MP.

The Pixel 6 Pro has an updated 11.1 MP Selfie camera with a wide 20mm compared to the Pixel 5’s 24mm lens. Pixels here are slightly larger at 1.22µm compared to 1.12µm on the Pixel 5. On the Pro, 4K video recording is possible with the front camera, though only in 30fps.

Google Pixel 6 Pro review

The other headlining camera is the 48MP periscope zoom camera with 4X optical zoom. This 1/2″ sensor has 0.8µm pixels and sits behind an f/3.5 aperture lens assembly. This camera also features PDAF and OIS. Using a combination of Super Res zoom and this optical 4X zoom, the Pixel 6 Pro can achieve up to 20X zoom. Finally, the updated ultrawide camera is a 12MP sensor with 1.25µm pixels and an f/2.2 aperture lens. The front camera is now 11.MP with an ultra-wide lens and is capable of recording 4K video.

Google talked about its Real Tone feature that’s baked into Pixel 6 cameras. It’s a result of collecting thousands of photographs from visual artists whose works highlight communities of color. These samples, along with feedback from dozens of photographers and cinematographers, let Google improve every aspect of capturing a person of color with the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro’s cameras.

Google Pixel 6 Pro review

In addition to improved face detection, it improved exposure and color reproduction of darker skin tones, so they more accurately represent these communities without skin tones looking too bright, dark, saturated, or washed out. Real Tone will work with third-party camera apps as well. The Google Photos app will include Real Tone in its Auto-enhance feature so you can apply the Real Tone to older photos.

Camera app

The camera app is new for Android 12. In the main viewfinder, you’ll see a Settings cog in the upper left corner and a location option in the upper right corner where you can decide whether to save photos or videos taken to the Photo Gallery or the Locked Folder.

Save location - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Camera settings - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Camera settings - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Camera settings - Google Pixel 6 Pro review

Save location • Camera settings

The camera app will always default to the “Camera” photo mode. From left to right, the shooting modes are: Night Sight, Motion, Portrait, Camera, Video, and Modes which lets you access the Panorama, Photo Sphere, and Google Lens modes. Lens has modes for Translate, Text, Search, Homework, Shopping, Places, and Dining.

Viewfinder modes - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Viewfinder modes - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Viewfinder modes - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Viewfinder modes - Google Pixel 6 Pro review

Viewfinder modes

There’s a new meter to adjust the white balance right in the viewfinder, along with the Shadow and Light sliders. There’s an option to shoot RAW images as well, but you need to enable this in the settings first. Despite there being a 50MP camera sensor, the phone is only capable of outputting 12.5MP images, and there’s no setting to take full-res images. It also looks like “Motion Photo” has been renamed to “Top Shot” as to not confuse the user with the Motion camera mode that’s new to the Pixel 6 Pro.

Viewfinder settings - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Manual adjustments - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Top Shot *Selfie settings - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Top Shot *Selfie settings - Google Pixel 6 Pro review

Viewfinder settings • Manual adjustments • Top Shot *Selfie settings

The Motion camera mode has two shooting options. One is called “Action Pan” and the other “Long Exposure”. When equipped, Action Pan will capture an object that’s moving quickly when you are following its motion with the camera. This captures the subject while blurring the background.

Long exposure is the inverse: you press the shutter button to capture something like a train, car trail lights, or something that’s moving quickly, and the background stays clear. Motion modes are currently in Beta but available out of the box.

Motion Modes: Action Pan - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Motion Modes: Long Exposure - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Motion Modes: Long Exposure - Google Pixel 6 Pro review

Motion Modes: Action Pan • Long Exposure

Daylight Image quality

In daylight, images rendered great details with outstanding dynamic range, vibrant colors, and high contrast.

We also notice Google’s white balance leans slightly cool as is customary with the Pixel cameras. Photos are ridiculously clear, maybe too clear sometimes. It doesn’t always happen, and it will depend on the lighting situation.

1X camera samples - f/1.9, ISO 44, 1/1919s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
1X camera samples - f/1.9, ISO 35, 1/913s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
1X camera samples - f/1.9, ISO 36, 1/2833s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review

1X camera samples - f/1.9, ISO 21, 1/1038s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
1X camera samples - f/1.9, ISO 39, 1/1984s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
1X camera samples - f/1.9, ISO 41, 1/984s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review

1X camera samples - f/1.9, ISO 34, 1/1572s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
1X camera samples - f/1.9, ISO 38, 1/326s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
1X camera samples - f/1.9, ISO 43, 1/173s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review

1X camera samples - f/1.9, ISO 45, 1/913s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
1X camera samples - f/1.9, ISO 35, 1/455s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
1X camera samples - f/1.9, ISO 26, 1/1471s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review

1X camera samples - f/1.9, ISO 24, 1/1019s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
1X camera samples - f/1.9, ISO 42, 1/1689s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
1X camera samples - f/1.9, ISO 27, 1/1508s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review

1X camera samples

Sharpness is up there. There’s a certain “softness” to other cameras that is missing here. That separation from what’s in focus to what’s out of focus or in the background is what gives us depth perception. With the Pixel 6 Pro’s images, however, images look like they are over-sharpened and perfectly manicured, and we have to rely almost entirely on lighting and shadows for us to perceive depth.

Speaking of lighting and shadows – we think shadows could be a little darker and highlights could be a little brighter. Look at these comparison photos that we shot with the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra.

1X camera samples from Galaxy S21 Ultra - f/1.8, ISO 16, 1/449s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
1X camera samples from Galaxy S21 Ultra - f/1.8, ISO 25, 1/119s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
1X camera samples from Galaxy S21 Ultra - f/1.8, ISO 16, 1/336s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review

1X camera samples from Galaxy S21 Ultra - f/1.8, ISO 16, 1/251s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
1X camera samples from Galaxy S21 Ultra - f/1.8, ISO 16, 1/599s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
1X camera samples from Galaxy S21 Ultra - f/1.8, ISO 16, 1/366s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review

1X camera samples from Galaxy S21 Ultra

You can’t see this while looking at the overall image, but when pixel peeping, you’ll notice that the S21 Ultra’s images, aside from being slightly more color-accurate, all have some grain towards the edges of the photo. Meanwhile, there may be a noticeable amount of noise towards the corners of the frame on the Pixel 6 Pro’s images, signaling that HDR+ is trying to make everything look clear, even where it doesn’t need to be. HDR+ is a bit too aggressive and doesn’t let white be white or blacks stay dark.

As with Pixels before this one, the camera tends to expose higher-than-reality in scenes that are packed with darker tones or shady areas. Now that the larger 50MP sensor can capture more light, it feels like the camera is still trying to maximize the exposure in darker areas, and usually in high dynamic range situations (particularly when the subject is backlit), shadows are more exposed than they need to be, resulting in a flat-looking image. Take a look at these comparison shots taken with the Pixel 5.

1X camera samples from Google Pixel 5 - f/1.7, ISO 60, 1/1560s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
1X camera samples from Google Pixel 5 - f/1.7, ISO 45, 1/900s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
1X camera samples from Google Pixel 5 - f/1.7, ISO 46, 1/1799s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review

1X camera samples from Google Pixel 5 - f/1.7, ISO 43, 1/1560s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
1X camera samples from Google Pixel 5 - f/1.7, ISO 66, 1/2924s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
1X camera samples from Google Pixel 5 - f/1.7, ISO 48, 1/3344s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review

1X camera samples from Google Pixel 5

The Pixel 5 seemed to be more consistent overall. It’s not to say that Google’s approach to photography here is the wrong way to go about it, we just think that the camera’s computational photography model, which is phenomenal in itself, might be carrying the camera hardware just a little further than it needs to. Perhaps a slight tweaking is all that’s needed to achieve consistency, and this is possible with firmware updates.

In the viewfinder, there’s a preset for 2X zoom, which crops an image from the main camera. There’s a very subtle softness to these photos that only an experienced eye could notice, but they do look nice. There’s a slightly more processed look to these shots, and when looking up close, details have more of a “watercolor” texture to them.

2X Super Res Zoom - f/1.9, ISO 46, 1/976s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
2X Super Res Zoom - f/1.9, ISO 45, 1/1825s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
2X Super Res Zoom - f/1.9, ISO 46, 1/10309s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review

2X Super Res Zoom - f/1.9, ISO 42, 1/3236s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
2X Super Res Zoom - f/1.9, ISO 29, 1/499s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
2X Super Res Zoom - f/1.9, ISO 180, 1/388s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review

2X Super Res Zoom - f/1.9, ISO 40, 1/1471s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
2X Super Res Zoom - f/1.9, ISO 41, 1/1167s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
2X Super Res Zoom - f/1.9, ISO 44, 1/4049s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review

2X Super Res Zoom

The periscope camera supports 4X optical zoom, and images shot with this camera don’t match up exactly with those that came from the main camera sensor. These images aren’t getting as much of that over-processed look that we are seeing from the main camera.

4X camera samples - f/3.5, ISO 30, 1/45s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
4X camera samples - f/3.5, ISO 30, 1/279s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
4X camera samples - f/3.5, ISO 27, 1/956s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review

4X camera samples - f/3.5, ISO 60, 1/572s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
4X camera samples - f/3.5, ISO 122, 1/232s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
4X camera samples - f/3.5, ISO 71, 1/43s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review

4X camera samples - f/3.5, ISO 29, 1/559s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
4X camera samples - f/3.5, ISO 31, 1/233s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
4X camera samples - f/3.5, ISO 49, 1/230s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review

4X camera samples

These photos look more accurate than those coming from the main camera. Here, the details look less later watercolor, and images aren’t over-sharpened, so images look more natural. Dynamic range is excellent, and colors are true to life. We do wish there was more contrast here, though.

Now, for fun, we took the Pixel 6 Pro’s 4X zoom and tuned it up to 10X Super Res Zoom to compare it directly to the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s 10X periscope zoom. Let’s see how they did.

10X Super Res Zoom - f/3.5, ISO 44, 1/200s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
10X Super Res Zoom - f/3.5, ISO 36, 1/966s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
10X Super Res Zoom - f/3.5, ISO 33, 1/307s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review

10X Super Res Zoom - f/3.5, ISO 164, 1/232s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
10X Super Res Zoom - f/3.5, ISO 34, 1/24s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
10X Super Res Zoom - f/3.5, ISO 30, 1/307s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review

10X Super Res Zoom - f/3.5, ISO 38, 1/248s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
10X Super Res Zoom - f/3.5, ISO 30, 1/131s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
10X Super Res Zoom - f/3.5, ISO 47, 1/278s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review

10X Super Res Zoom

The Pixel 6 Pro’s 10X shots are very clean, resolved details are a little on the noisy side as they are remnants of Super Res Zoom, but the shots are quite usable.

10 optical zoom from Galaxy S21 Ultra - f/4.9, ISO 40, 1/184s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
10 optical zoom from Galaxy S21 Ultra - f/4.9, ISO 80, 1/60s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
10 optical zoom from Galaxy S21 Ultra - f/4.9, ISO 200, 1/60s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review

10 optical zoom from Galaxy S21 Ultra - f/4.9, ISO 40, 1/120s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
10 optical zoom from Galaxy S21 Ultra - f/4.9, ISO 40, 1/245s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
10 optical zoom from Galaxy S21 Ultra - f/4.9, ISO 40, 1/504s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review

10 optical zoom from Galaxy S21 Ultra

You’ll notice that the shots from the Galaxy S21 Ultra are a bit darker in the shadows, and they more accurately represent the live scene. The Pixel 6 Pro’s 10X zoom shots, however, might be favored by some over the S21 Ultra’s due to their vibrant colors and easy-to-see clarity.

Here are some shots taken with the Pixel 6 Pro’s ultrawide camera, and we’ve added some shots from the Google Pixel 5’s ultrawide camera as well.

Ultrawide camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 43, 1/567s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Ultrawide camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 48, 1/4049s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Ultrawide camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 44, 1/3205s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review

Ultrawide camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 48, 1/3003s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Ultrawide camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 32, 1/612s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Ultrawide camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 46, 1/560s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review

Ultrawide camera samples

Ultrawide shots with the Pixel 5 - f/2.2, ISO 40, 1/487s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Ultrawide shots with the Pixel 5 - f/2.2, ISO 37, 1/2667s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Ultrawide shots with the Pixel 5 - f/2.2, ISO 39, 1/2959s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review

Ultrawide shots with the Pixel 5 - f/2.2, ISO 48, 1/2222s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Ultrawide shots with the Pixel 5 - f/2.2, ISO 36, 1/550s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Ultrawide shots with the Pixel 5 - f/2.2, ISO 36, 1/441s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review

Ultrawide shots with the Pixel 5

The Pixel 6 Pro’s ultrawide camera is able to capture more light thanks to its larger pixels. Dynamic range is the most noticeable improvement, followed by the improved vibrancy of the colors. Noise suppression is also better with this new ultrawide camera sensor, but there are some situations where the Pixel 5 and Pixel 6 Pro’s ultrawide shots are more difficult to tell apart. At the end of the day, improvement is good. Just know that there’s no autofocus on this ultrawide camera, so macro photos are not possible with the Pixel 6 Pro.

Portrait photos can be shot in either 1X or 2X mode, but bear in mind that the latter is only a crop of the 1X camera.

Portrait 1X - f/1.9, ISO 45, 1/1244s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Portrait 1X - f/1.9, ISO 44, 1/1121s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Portrait 1X - f/1.9, ISO 39, 1/3425s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review

Portrait 1X

Portraits look awesome with the Pixel 6 Pro. Google’s subject separation is pretty good and can find its way around loose hair to make the image really pop. We have to admit that portraits don’t look as good as they did on the Pixel 4 XL with its 2X telephoto camera, which was used to calculate depth for a more believable bokeh that gradually blended with the natural depth of the background. With the Pixel 6 Pro, the main camera is doing all the heavy lifting, and we can see some details left behind here and there.

Portrait 2X - f/1.9, ISO 46, 1/1451s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Portrait 2X - f/1.9, ISO 37, 1/803s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Portrait 2X - f/1.9, ISO 39, 1/1953s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review

Portrait 2X

Portrait photos are meant to be shot from further away, but the 2X portraits simply don’t look as good as those shot at 1X. We think it has to do with the computational aspect of combining both Super Res Zoom with the artificial bokeh. We also notice the bokeh of the 2X zoom isn’t as aggressive as that of the 1X zoom. Thankfully you can adjust blur natively in the Google Photos app.

Selfies look about the same as before, though the wider lens is a welcome feature. The 1X view is the default, but 0.7X uses the full sensor. Regardless of which mode you use, images always come out at 11MP.

1X Selfies - f/2.2, ISO 57, 1/1502s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
1X Selfies - f/2.2, ISO 55, 1/661s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
1X Selfies - f/2.2, ISO 55, 1/2058s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review

1X Selfies

By default, the front-facing camera opens up in the cropped 1X mode. These selfies generally look great, but harsher lighting reveals this camera’s weakness in processing. Details in the subject’s face may sometimes appear over-processed and noisy, particularly on the highlights of the face and hair. Dynamic range is otherwise great, and details in the background are well-preserved.

0.7X Selfie - f/2.2, ISO 57, 1/1449s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
0.7X Selfie - f/2.2, ISO 54, 1/1046s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
0.7X Selfie - f/2.2, ISO 53, 1/2092s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review

0.7X Selfie

Using the 0.7X full frame mode on the selfie camera yielded much better details and textures on the subject’s face. Users concerned about the amount of details in the face could opt to enable the face smoothing feature, which has two levels of intensity. Overall, the dynamic range is excellent, but the colors are a little strange, particularly with white clothing.

Even with the main camera, white clothing is represented inconsistently, and it has to do with the way that the camera exaggerates whenever a splash of light reflects on a subject. The most accurate representation of Ricky’s shirt in the selfies is in the last selfie in front of the bridge, where he’s getting a bit of direct sunlight.

Here are some selfies shot with the Pixel 5 and Galaxy S21 Ultra.

Selfies from Google Pixel 5 - f/2.0, ISO 48, 1/1471s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Selfies from Google Pixel 5 - f/2.0, ISO 47, 1/1013s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Selfies from Google Pixel 5 - f/2.0, ISO 45, 1/2141s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review

Selfies from Google Pixel 5

Selfies from Galaxy S21 Ultra - f/2.2, ISO 50, 1/594s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Selfies from Galaxy S21 Ultra - f/2.2, ISO 50, 1/404s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Selfies from Galaxy S21 Ultra - f/2.2, ISO 50, 1/1417s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review

Selfies from Galaxy S21 Ultra

The Pixel 5’s selfies don’t have as much dynamic range, but they look truer to the scene. Here’s where you can note the improvement in details on the Pixel 6 Pro’s selfie camera.

Meanwhile, you’ll notice that Galaxy S21 Ultra’s selfies show a more consistent white in the clothing across the different lighting conditions, but you can also notice how the Pixel ended up with vastly different renditions in each light. Details are also vastly superior here – they are softer and look less processed, but Samsung has the edge here with a 40MP selfie camera and an autofocusing lens.

As is the case with regular selfies, Portrait selfies look better when shot from the full view (0.7X) of the camera.

1X Portrait selfie - f/2.2, ISO 57, 1/1502s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
1X Portrait selfie - f/2.2, ISO 54, 1/755s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
1X Portrait selfie - f/2.2, ISO 55, 1/1934s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review

1X Portrait selfie

0.7X Portrait selfie - f/2.2, ISO 57, 1/1466s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
0.7X Portrait selfie - f/2.2, ISO 54, 1/1110s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
0.7X Portrait selfie - f/2.2, ISO 56, 1/2165s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review

0.7X Portrait selfie

These portrait selfies look really nice, and there’s noticeable improvement around the subject’s outline, particularly around hair and glasses.

There are two Motion photo modes, and these effects will only apply to the photo if they are activated before you shoot the images. You need to have the intent to shoot a Motion photo, or you won’t really get a nice-looking shot. Again, these modes are in beta.

Action Pan (2X) - f/1.9, ISO 32, 1/544s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Action Pan (2X) - f/1.9, ISO 39, 1/578s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Action Pan (2X) - f/1.9, ISO 46, 1/1471s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review

Action Pan (2X)

Action Pan shots are difficult to shoot with the main 1X camera since a moving subject needs to be moving close to you to capture it in the frame. Sometimes the effect won’t trigger properly even if it is enabled. Shots look better if the subjects were further away and the 4X camera was used. The resulting images will look better if you capture them in the 1X or 4X modes.

Long Exposure - f/3.5, ISO 29, 1/343s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Long Exposure - f/1.9, ISO 42, 1/1133s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Long Exposure - f/1.9, ISO 45, 1/1205s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review

Long Exposure

Long exposure: 0.7X - f/2.2, ISO 44, 1/1408s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Long exposure: 1X - f/1.9, ISO 41, 1/2358s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Long exposure: 4X - f/3.5, ISO 43, 1/347s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review

Long exposure: 0.7X • 1X • 4X

There are few situations for when it’d be appropriate to use either of the Motion modes: Action Pan is for racing or sporting events where subjects are moving swiftly, and Long Exposure is for adding drama to the movement of something like a train, car taillights, or flowing water.

Lowlight with Night Sight

With each of the Pixel 6 Pro’s cameras sporting newer, larger sensors, you can expect there to be an improvement to lowlight photography. As before, you don’t need to do anything to activate Night Sight mode. If you’re in the main Camera mode and Night Sight is set to Auto, it’ll kick in when it needs to, and you’ll know when it does by the moon symbol that appears on the shutter button.

Google Pixel 6 Pro review

Google mentioned that the Pixel 6 Pro’s main camera sensor can capture 2.5X more light than the Pixel 5’s main sensor. That, along with pixel binning and HDR+ should make for an unbeatable low-light photography package. All three cameras work with Night Sight. First, let’s see how the cameras did without Night Sight’s help.

Low light 1X - f/1.9, ISO 1796, 1/24s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Low light 1X - f/1.9, ISO 972, 1/24s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Low light 1X - f/1.9, ISO 722, 1/54s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review

Low light 1X - f/1.9, ISO 3406, 1/24s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Low light 1X - f/1.9, ISO 629, 1/40s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Low light 1X - f/1.9, ISO 4533, 1/21s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review

Low light 1X

The main camera’s images were decently great. With the exception of some expected noise in darker areas, the main camera can see plenty at night without activating Night Sight. In these shots, scenes are accurately represented, and white balance is quite consistent and accurate, even when there’s more than one light source.

Low light 4X - f/3.5, ISO 3399, 1/24s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Low light 4X - f/3.5, ISO 704, 1/24s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Low light 4X - f/1.9, ISO 622, 1/75s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review

Low light 4X - f/1.9, ISO 957, 1/10s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Low light 4X - f/3.5, ISO 1030, 1/24s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Low light 4X - f/1.9, ISO 777, 1/5s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review

Low light 4X

Now, zooming all the way into the periscope camera shows us that this 4X zoom mode can still see what’s further away while relying purely on HDR+. The fuzz factor is significantly higher, though.

Low light 0.7X - f/2.2, ISO 2327, 1/15s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Low light 0.7X - f/2.2, ISO 1495, 1/24s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Low light 0.7X - f/2.2, ISO 930, 1/24s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review

Low light 0.7X - f/2.2, ISO 2712, 1/15s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Low light 0.7X - f/2.2, ISO 715, 1/24s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Low light 0.7X - f/2.2, ISO 5178, 1/15s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review

Low light 0.7X

The ultrawide camera shouldn’t be used at night without Night Sight enabled. You can see there’s significantly more noise and fuzz all over. Now let’s look at these same shots with Night Sight enabled.

Night Sight 1X - f/1.9, ISO 607, 1/6s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Night Sight 1X - f/1.9, ISO 391, 1/11s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Night Sight 1X - f/1.9, ISO 194, 1/14s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review

Night Sight 1X - f/1.9, ISO 510, 1/4s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Night Sight 1X - f/1.9, ISO 298, 1/12s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Night Sight 1X - f/1.9, ISO 730, 1/3s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review

Night Sight 1X

Google’s Night Sight sees tremendous improvement out of the main camera and there’s so much detail out of these Night Sight photos. As appealing and bright as these shots look, they aren’t natural-looking, but they sure do capture a lot out of the scene with very little light needed.

Here’s just a few Night Sight shots from the Pixel 5’s primary camera for comparison.

Night Sight 1X on Pixel 5 - f/1.7, ISO 862, 1/10s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Night Sight 1X on Pixel 5 - f/1.7, ISO 289, 1/10s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Night Sight 1X on Pixel 5 - f/1.7, ISO 1095, 1/4s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review

Night Sight 1X on Pixel 5

Next up, here are Night Sight shots with the auxiliary cameras. If you look closely, you can tell which shots failed to properly activate the 4X periscope zoom camera conditions – which results in a very fuzzy photo with no details.

Night Sight 4X - f/3.5, ISO 3533, 1/24s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Night Sight 4X - f/3.5, ISO 611, 1/24s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Night Sight 4X - f/3.5, ISO 358, 1/24s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review

Night Sight 4X - f/1.9, ISO 313, 1/3s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Night Sight 4X - f/3.5, ISO 747, 1/24s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Night Sight 4X - f/1.9, ISO 752, 1/5s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review

Night Sight 4X

The zoom camera normally kicks in when you set the zoom at 4X or above, but the camera may not activate under really low-light conditions. Keep this in mind when shooting zoomed photos at night – it should kick in so long as there’s a light source nearby.

Night Sight 0.7X - f/2.2, ISO 713, 1/4s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Night Sight 0.7X - f/2.2, ISO 502, 1/6s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Night Sight 0.7X - f/2.2, ISO 283, 1/8s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review

Night Sight 0.7X - f/2.2, ISO 989, 1/4s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Night Sight 0.7X - f/2.2, ISO 317, 1/15s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review
Night Sight 0.7X - f/2.2, ISO 1353, 1/3s - Google Pixel 6 Pro review

Night Sight 0.7X

The ultrawide camera is capable of some decent-looking ultrawide shots, but why bother shooting with the ultrawide camera in this mode when there are such crisp-looking ones from the main camera?

Although accurate for the most part, white balance may see inconsistencies between the main and ultrawide cameras when shooting in low light.

HDRnet Video with Tensor

During Google’s launch presentation, the company explained that Google’s Tensor chip supports a new algorithm called HDRnet for processing video frames. While leveraging Tensor, the Google Pixel 6 Pro can record up to 4K video at 60fps with HDRnet that basically allowing tone mapping to be processed, and an HDR correction is applied to every frame of video. Video frames are partially processed directly on the ISP. The number Google used was 498 million: the number of pixels per second that Tensor can process per second of video recording.

Google Pixel 6 Pro review

For some strange reason, the Pixel 6 Pro will only record video using the 4X periscope zoom camera when the resolution is set to 4K @30fps. The Full HD recording modes only crop 4X from the main camera, and we’re not sure why.

That said, here’s 4K video from all zoom modes.

4K video from the main camera looks amazing. There’s hardly any noise, and dynamic range is excellent while colors are vibrant and dynamic range is accurate. Details look really good as well. Something cool about this footage is that any still frame from the video is usable as an image. 4X video from the periscope camera looks quite good as well, with great details and dynamic range. The same bit about using a still-frame applies here, too.

Like we’ve seen with the other camera modes, the main and ultrawide cameras are color-tuned a tad bit differently. We noticed that ultrawide footage was more vibrant than the main camera’s, and the ultrawide video also appeared to be tuned cooler than the main camera. Other than that, ultrawide footage was generally great. We just can’t say the same about using a still image from here.

Google Pixel 6 Pro review

There’s a 2X zoom mode for shooting video, and perhaps it doesn’t need one. Maybe it’s just us, but cropped 2X video simply doesn’t look as good. There’s a noticeable tumble in quality, and details suffer too.

4K @60fps is only possible with the main camera. Even then, we wish it didn’t suggest that we shoot 4K@60 with the 2X crop – it just doesn’t look good. Even so, 4K video at 60fps within 1X mode looks very nice. Noise is kept to a minimum, and the resulting video is smooth – we’re also glad to see that there’s no jitter from holding the camera that sometimes happens when shooting 60fps video.

With the exception of a minor moiré effect from a faraway building, we’re quite content with the video output of the Pixel 6 Pro so far.

Video stabilization

The Pixel 6 Pro is equipped with both OIS and EIS for video stabilization of the main camera.

Stabilization is quite good. Google’s stabilization model for previous Pixel phones was great, and we’re glad to see the trend continue. There’s no jelly-effect, and the motion is smooth. We even tried running in the ACTIVE stabilization mode for high movement – this mode only works in 1080p @30fps, though. There are other stabilization modes, including a “Cinematic Pan” mode that shoots at 60fps and automatically slows it down by half.

Selfie video

The Pixel 6 Pro’s new 11.1MP selfie camera can record video at up to 4K resolution, though limited to 30fps. There’s also a ‘speech enhancement’ mode that’s only possible in 4K recording.

Selfie videos look surprisingly good. Resolved details are great, and colors are pleasing. Dynamic range is also quite good, and changes in exposure are handled smoothly. As you can see, stabilization here is quite good as well, the video doesn’t jitter when walking and talking.

Resolved details in the selfie videos look great, but not in the 1080p @60fps mode. There’s a noticeable change in the image quality – video looks over-sharpened and dynamic range takes a hit when in this mode.

We tested the “Speech enhancement” mode while walking over a very busy overpass road above the highway with lots of road noise. This feature works in a pinch, and it really does reduce a lot of background noise. It managed to isolate spoken word, and even though it made the vocals sound weaker and tinnier, they were easier to understand.

The competition

The Pixel 6 Pro competes directly with higher-end smartphones but slightly undercuts them in price with its $899 starting price. The Pixel 6 Pro is only available in select markets, including the US, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Japan, Taiwan, UK, and Ireland.

Google Pixel 6 Pro review

The Pixel 6 (non-Pro) is naturally the first alternative that comes to mind. Though we haven’t reviewed it yet, this Pixel comes at a significantly cheaper price point than the Pro for $599. The Pixel 6 Pro brings a smaller 6.4-inch flat display with a 90Hz refresh rate, there are 8GB of RAM (versus 12GB on the Pro), and there’s no periscope telephoto camera here. Although it has a smaller battery (4614 mAh), we’d have to run tests to tell you which one gets better battery life.

The Google Pixel 5 and 5a come to mind as the only (older) alternatives from Google. The Google Pixel 5 and Pixel 5a are both very well-rounded smartphones with excellent battery life and great all-around Pixel cameras that still hold up today in their price range.

Google Pixel 6
Google Pixel 5
Google Pixel 5a 5G

Google Pixel 6 • Google Pixel 5 • Google Pixel 5a 5G

The iPhone 13 and 13 Pro are the closest to the Pixel 6 Pro in price, though the Pixel 6 Pro’s display more closely matches Apple’s iPhone 13 Pro Max. Google’s Pixel is often considered “The iPhone of Android” due to the first-party support and software updates that come directly from Google. Google’s 5 years of Android updates also now more closely matches Apple’s five to six years. Cameras are both impressive, but the iPhone wins in consistency and battery life on the 13 Pro Max.

Apple iPhone 13 Pro
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G
Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra
Oppo Find X3 Pro

Apple iPhone 13 Pro • Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G • Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra • Oppo Find X3 Pro

The Pixel 6 Pro’s price point sits right between the Galaxy S21+ and the S21 Ultra, but these days – even as we approach the holiday season, it may be possible to snag an Ultra at a decent discount. The Galaxy S21 Ultra is regarded as one of the best smartphones of 2021 with its fully equipped cameras, bright and beautiful AMOLED screen and multi-day battery life. Though the Galaxy is a little behind on software updates, Samsung’s One UI is packed with many features and even brings versatile support for Samsung’s S Pen Pro.

Google Pixel 6 Pro review

The Oppo Find X3 Pro comes to mind with its large AMOLED screen and excellent cameras. As one of the earliest smartphones running the Snapdragon 888 chipset, its battery endurance is slightly behind the Pixel 6 Pro, albeit with a 4,500 mAh battery versus the Pixel 6 Pro’s larger 5,000 mAh one. The Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra has a 50MP main camera and dual 48MP telephoto and ultrawide cameras, and a large display with a high refresh rate. The Xiaomi phone, however, does support 67W fast charging out of the box.

The Verdict

When Google launched the Pixel 5 last year, many (including we) were met with confusion when Google announced that the flagship Pixel phone for 2020 was reverting to a mid-range device with the same camera hardware. In our review of the Pixel 5, we were disappointed that Google would not release a true flagship, but now we realize that it could have been due to supply chain issues that dated back to early 2020.

Google Pixel 6 Pro review

Google has been overdue for a changeup with the Pixel line, and it has been satisfied with the Pixel 6 Pro. The phone looks beautiful, the cameras have finally been updated, and Android is as good as ever with Android 12. In addition, Google has promised up to 5 years of software support, aligning its policies closer to Apple’s.

The cameras are extremely capable with deep colors and well-defined details, even so, we still think it could use a couple of tweaks. HDR+ seems more aggressive than it needs to be, thus making images look slightly overprocessed and sharper than true life. There’s also some inconsistency in color between the main and ultrawide cameras. The resulting images, regardless, are indeed pleasing to look at. Video sees much improvement as well, with excellent dynamic range and great stabilization. We just wish there was a way to use the 4X zoom camera in lower resolution modes, but we think this may be a bug.

So the question that bears asking here: Is the Google Pixel 6 Pro worth it? It depends on where you are located and whether you are willing to wait a bit longer for a new phone. As of the first of November, the Pixel 6 family in the US is backordered through the end of December, and even going into January for some models. In addition, the Pixel 6 duo is only available in a handful of markets across North America, Europe, and Asia.

Google Pixel 6 Pro review

Although it doesn’t score high marks in battery life, the Pixel 6 Pro truly is a wonderful take on Android that many have been waiting for, and we’d recommend it to anyone who has been holding onto an older-generation Pixel smartphone in hopes that Google would eventually pull through. If you’ve a more recent Pixel smartphone like the Pixel 5 or 5a, we’d recommend waiting until another Pixel comes around with the second-generation Tensor chip – one that is better able to manage battery life and one that’s perhaps less prone to throttling.

If you manage to find availability for the Pixel 6 Pro, this is the best Google Pixel that money can buy today. Google has continued to innovate in software features and has even gone out of its way to customize the chipset to leverage more software features that are exclusive to the newest Pixels while pushing its limits with computational photography.

Pros:

  • Gorgeous hardware design with IP68 and durable Gorilla Glass Victus all over
  • Excellent display with 120Hz and great sunlight legibility
  • Beautiful UI with fun and colorful elements; 5 years of Android updates; newly enabled Voice Typing and on-device voice to text processing are excellent
  • Google Tensor chip offers great all-around performance and excellent graphics performance
  • Pixel camera sees much needed improvements in still images and video; excellent shots from 4X periscope camera

Cons:

  • Battery life misses expectations
  • No charger included in the box
  • 30W charging is not the quickest
  • HDR+ is too aggressive in still images and could use some tweaks
  • Color tuning inconsistent between main and ultrawide cameras
  • Google Tensor chip throttles under sustained peak performance
  • Limited availability
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