Pixel 6 review: Google’s flagship phone at a reduced price | Smart phones

TThe Pixel 6 is Google’s most affordable flagship phone for 2021 and proves to be a leader in the field with a first-class camera and an advanced new chip at its core – while cutting most of the price competition.

The phone costs £ 599 ($ ​​599 / A $ 999), which is £ 250 less than the Pixel 6 Pro, while still offering 90% of what you get with Google’s top model.

It has a 6.4-inch 90Hz OLED display that is flat and not curved on the sides. The display is slightly less crisp, slower, and smaller than that of the 6 Pro, but still very good with excellent brightness and viewing angles.

The Pixel 6 (right) is slightly shorter but otherwise similar in dimensions to the Pixel 6 Pro (left). Photograph: Samuel Gibbs / The Guardian

The sides are black painted aluminum, the back is glass, and there is a large camera bar similar to the 6 Pro. Despite the reduced screen size, the Pixel 6 is not a small phone and is only 1.1mm narrower and 3g lighter than its big brother. Those with smaller hands will find it difficult to hold it in one hand without attachment.


  • Filter: 6.4 inch 90Hz FHD + OLED (411ppi)

  • Processor: Google tensor

  • RAM: 8 GB RAM

  • Storage room: 128 or 256 GB

  • Operating system: Android 12

  • Camera: 50MP + 12MP ultra wide, 8MP selfie

  • Connectivity: 5G, eSIM, wifi 6E, NFC, Bluetooth 5.2 and GNSS

  • Water resistance: IP68 (1.5m for 30 minutes)

  • Dimensions: 158.6 x 74.8 x 8.9 mm

  • Weight: 207g

Tensor chip

Google Pixel 6 Reviews
The Pixel 6 takes just under two hours to fully charge, reaching 50% in 33 minutes using a 30W USB-C adapter (not included). Photograph: Samuel Gibbs / The Guardian

Along with the Pixel 6 Pro, the Pixel 6 is the first phone to feature Google’s custom Tensor processor. It matches the rivals of Qualcomm and Samsung in terms of speed, but is better optimized for Google’s various AI systems.

Battery life is good but not great, lasting around 34 hours between charges, on par with rivals Samsung and a little behind the iPhone 13 at 46 hours. It was with the screen on for about five hours in various messages, note taking and utility apps, the browser and taking about 20 photos, spending about two hours on 5G and the rest on wifi.


Google Pixel 6 Reviews
The two-tone back looks pretty dull in the ‘stormy black’ variant, but hits home in the bolder color options. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs / The Guardian

Google does not provide an expected battery life. Those of similar devices typically retain at least 80% of their original capacity after 500 full charge cycles. Pixel 6 is generally repairable by google and third party repair shops. Screen repairs cost £ 129, rear glass repairs cost £ 139 and battery replacement costs £ 89 out of warranty.

The Pixel 6 contains 100% recycled aluminum in its frame, which is about 14% of the phone’s weight. The company publishes environmental impact reports for some of its products. Google goes recycle all Pixel devices free.

Android 12

google pixel 6 review
Super fast simultaneous voice and finger typing is one of Pixel-only new additions to Android 12 powered by the Tensor chip. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs / The Guardian

The Pixel 6 comes with Google’s latest Android 12, which includes a host of customization options and enhancements. For more, check out the Pixel 6 Pro review.

Google will provide at least three years of major Android updates and monthly security patches. It will then provide two more years of updates with “the frequency and categories of updates based on capabilities and hardware needs”. Samsung supports its best phones for four years, while Fairphone is aiming for six years and Apple supports its iPhone for up to seven years.


Google Pixel 6 Reviews
The camera app is excellent, with simple but useful photography aids, although it lacks a dedicated macro photography mode. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs / The Guardian

The Pixel 6 has the same 50-megapixel and 12-megapixel ultra-wide main camera as the 6 Pro and produces very similar results. This makes it one of the best cameras you can get on a smartphone, especially under £ 600. It lacks an optical zoom camera, and while Google’s digital zoom up to 7x is one of the best, it is no substitute for optical magnification.

The 8MP selfie camera is good, producing detailed shots with a lot of drama, but at times the images were a bit soft, especially in lower light levels.


google pixel 6 review
The fingerprint scanner is less reliable than the 6 Pro and while it’s not that great, it’s not as good as the one used by Samsung or OnePlus. Registering my fingerprint twice has helped me. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs / The Guardian
  • Call quality and 5G reception were good, as was the Bluetooth performance of several headsets.

  • The bottom corners were noticeably hard, digging more than the other devices into my palm when I held it in one hand.

  • The volume and power buttons work well but are a bit loose, causing them to shake a bit.


The Google Pixel 6 costs £ 599 ($ 599/$ 999) with 128 GB of storage.

For comparison, the Pixel 6 Pro costs £ 849, the Pixel 4a costs £ 349, the OnePlus 9 costs £ 629, the Samsung Galaxy S21 + costs £ 949, the Xiaomi 11T Pro costs £ 599, the iPhone 13 costs £ 779 and the Fairphone 4 costs £ 499.


Where the Pixel 6 Pro competes on a par with the best smartphones on the market, the Pixel 6 offers everything that makes Google phones great while reducing the price competition significantly.

You get fast performance, decent battery life, Google’s best new chip, and a smooth experience with all the software features you can’t get anywhere else. Google’s local AI-powered voice and keyboard typing is something, and you’ll get at least five years of security updates from release. In addition, the phone comes with the main and ultra-wide lenses of Google’s next-generation camera system.

The lack of an optical zoom and a slightly picky fingerprint scanner can be forgiven for the price. Costing just £ 599, the Pixel 6 is priced more in line with Chinese brands than the top Samsung and Apple devices it competes favorably with.

This makes the Pixel 6 a real godsend for a high-end phone. You have to spend a lot more to get a better Android phone than this one.

Advantages: cutting edge camera, great screen, great performance, good battery life, recycled aluminum, five years of security updates, Android 12, awesome local AI features, very competitive price.

The inconvenients: fairly slow charging, no optical zoom, fingerprint scanner can be picky, no face unlock option, only three years of Android version updates despite five years of security support.

Google Pixel 6 Reviews
Unlike most of its competition, the Pixel 6 doesn’t tip over when placed flat on a table because of the horizontal camera bar. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs / The Guardian

Other notices

This article was last modified on November 2, 2021. The Pixel 6 has 6E wifi connectivity.

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