Google Pixel 6 test: the return of the king photophone

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Miguel Moro Vallina
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Highly anticipated, the Google Pixel 6 has the daunting task of succeeding excellent photophones. A complicated, but nevertheless successful bet, for a smartphone well helped by Google's new in-house processor, the Tensor.

Presentation

For the end of 2021, Google is back in the spotlight with two new smartphones that intend to upset an increasingly competitive market. For this, the American firm relies on an innovative design, an in-house chip, as well as a photo component up to – and even more – than that of previous models and which made the reputation of Google smartphones.



Offered in Spain in a single configuration (8 + 128 GB), the Google Pixel 6 is displayed at €649. A relatively affordable price for its services, which puts it in front of the Xiaomi 11T Pro, Oppo Find X3 Neo and Asus Zenfone 8.

Ergonomics and design

The Pixel 6 abandons the design of the old models. A bit like Apple with its iPhone 12 in 2020, Google seems to be digging into the past by offering a smartphone adopting a long bar at the back reminiscent of the 6 Nexus 2015P. Obviously, with technological advances, the comparison stops there, since this photo block turns out to be quite imposing, adding to the thickness of the Pixel 6. Its extension over the entire width of the phone is however a good point, that of serving as a "tripod" when it is placed on a table. Where competing models aren't stable when handled on a flat surface, Google's smartphone doesn't budge one iota. Apart from the two-tone black and gray finish on the back and the presence of a Gorilla Glass 6 coating – a combo that catches fingerprints beautifully – there is not much to say. The fingerprint reader located on the back bows out this year to come under the screen. Only remains a "G", company logo, in the center.




The Pixel 6's photo island is quite thick.

At the front, the slab stretches 6,4 inches diagonally. Despite everything, irreducible black borders resist and offer this display a coverage of 83% of the facade. It is protected by a layer of Gorilla Glass Victus and houses the fingerprint reader mentioned above. The latter works quite well and is fast.

By adopting a new screen size, this Pixel 6 is necessarily overweight. The contained dimensions of a Pixel 5 are no longer in effect, the device adopting the size of the XL versions of the previous Pixels. Thus, this Pixel 6 measures 158,6 x 74,8 x 8,9 mm and crosses the 200 g mark on the scale (207 g precisely). Rest assured, however, the smartphone is quite well balanced and its weight will be easily forgotten.

The aluminum contours house the volume controls and the unlock button on the right. These buttons are also placed under the photo island, so that they do not interfere too much with the grip. On the opposite edge, we only find the SIM card reader. No microSD. At the bottom are a speaker and the USB-C port. The second speaker is placed discreetly between the screen and the upper edge. The Pixel 6 is IP68 certified and 5G compatible.


Audio

The lack of a 3,5mm mini-jack is no surprise. You will therefore have to rely on the pair of USB-C headphones present in the box or on a Bluetooth headset to enjoy your music without disturbing others. Otherwise, know that the two speakers deliver very good sound, perfect for watching YouTube videos, movies, or even just listening to music without a Bluetooth speaker.


Screen

The Pixel 6 has a very good screen, in line with what we found on the Pixel 5. If it is larger (6,4 inches, 2400 x 1080 pixels and 19,5:9 ratio), it retains the Oled technology with an adaptive 90 Hz refresh rate.

By default, the display is not poorly calibrated, but it is possible to get the best out of it by going to the settings. By choosing the "Natural" color mode, we obtain a delta E of 2,2 and a color temperature of 6716 kelvins; a value very close to the video standard (6500 K).


Delta E colorimetry = 2,2

The maximum brightness is quite low, especially in comparison with the Pro version or even with the Pixel 5. We noted a peak at only 484 cd / m², a value below our average. Too bad, especially since the reflectance is not bad (47,5%). At a minimum, the slab can go down to 0,9 cd / m² by going to the accessibility parameters. Perfect for reading in the dark without damaging your eyes.


Oled technology obliges, the contrast ratio is close to infinity. The touch delay was measured at 45 ms and the afterglow time is 0 ms.

performances

This year, Google is freeing itself from Qualcomm and offering its own chip in its Pixel 6. The Google Tensor allows the American firm to manage smartphone needs from A to Z, in particular those of artificial intelligence and machine learning, used in the mobile photo pane. But as we have seen in our dedicated article, Google's brand new SoC is also very powerful, so much so that it is currently the best Android smartphone.

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Photo

In photo, this Pixel 6 offers a main module of 50 megapixels, coupled with an ultra wide-angle module of 12 megapixels. The Pixel 6 Pro's telephoto lens is absent here. We have extensively analyzed the photo capabilities of the wide-angle and ultra-wide-angle modules of the smartphone in the test of the Pro variant. We therefore refer you to these articles for more information on the part devoted to photography:

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Front module, portrait and video mode

The Pixel 6 has an 8-megapixel front wide-angle sensor. It is therefore a little less defined than that of the Pro version and, above all, does not benefit from the ultra wide-angle. The quality of the selfies is very good, no surprise here. The colors are quite faithful, although a little too warm at times.

Portrait mode, a real success on Pixels, still works just as well. With the main module, the subjects are very well outlined and the final result is really pleasant. When using the 2x optical zoom, the results are variable. In low light, the shots sometimes smudge and grain can be visible. By day, it's something else since the smartphone delivers excellent photos. At the front, the portrait mode is pleasant, but without being equipped with an ultra-wide-angle module, the phone often has trouble capturing more than one person – the second unfortunately appears blurred.

In video, the Pixel 6 can shoot up to 4K at 60 fps. The main module has optical stabilization – a novelty compared to the previous model. Electronic stabilization is present for videos shot with the ultra-wide-angle module.

Autonomy

The Pixel 5 has won back Google smartphone enthusiasts by offering much more decent battery life than previous models. We would have thought that the Pixel 6 would continue on this path with its 4600 mAh battery, but it is clear that a larger accumulator does not necessarily mean better autonomy. In fact, this Pixel 6 manages to last for 16 h 53 min before giving up the ghost. A loss of 2 hours of battery life compared to the Pixel 5, which can be explained in particular by the fact that the Google Tensor (Google's in-house SoC) heats up when it is used.

For charging, Google joins Apple and Samsung and no longer offers a block in its box, but provides a USB-C to USB-C cable. The Pixel 6 accepts a maximum charge of up to 30 W with the Google block sold separately. Not having one on hand, we used a charger equipped with Power Delivery (PD) technology to obtain the most powerful charge. The Pixel 6 regained its full battery in 1h 52min, which is quite long compared to the competition.

The Pixel 6 can also charge wirelessly at 21W with the 2nd generation Pixel Stand. Without it, the smartphone only accepts 12 W. Reverse wireless charging is also on the program.

Our battery tests are automated by viSer, the application developed by the company SmartViser. The results obtained with viSer come from measurements carried out in real conditions of use (calls, SMS, videos, launching of applications, web browsing, etc.).

Repairability

The Pixel 6 has a repairability score of 6,4/10, in the high end of the rating. The smartphone shines with the price of its spare parts as well as what is defined by the "specific criteria", such as update tracking or the possibility of easily resetting the smartphone software. On the other hand, the lack of documentation or the reduced availability of spare parts weigh in the balance.

Sustainability

Our sustainability score helps determine the sustainable aspect of the smartphone for both the consumer and the environment. It is based on the repairability index, durability criteria (protection index, standard connectors, warranty period and updates, etc.) and an assessment of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) policies. . You will find all the details of the analysis in our article presenting the sustainability score.

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Highlights

  • Original design and exemplary finishes.

  • Good Oled display.

  • Surprisingly powerful homemade SoC.

  • Best camera on the market.

  • Good autonomy (but behind the competition).

  • 5G and IP68.

Weak points

  • Google Tensor heater.

  • Horribly slow charging.

  • Absence of a load block.

Conclusion

Note globale

Once again, Google demonstrates its complete mastery of mobile photography. Unfortunately, this does not make the Pixel 6 a perfect smartphone, mainly because of its Oled panel not quite up to the competition, or its limited autonomy and its charging far too slow for the top of the range. Despite this, thanks to its power and the overall experience it offers, it is definitely still one of the best smartphones on the market.

Sub Notes
  • Ergonomics and design
  • Screen
  • performances
  • Photo
  • Autonomy
  • Repairability
  • Sustainability
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