Google Pixel 6 Pro in the test: evolution instead of revolution
An in-house processor, AI-optimized photos and a 120 Hertz display. In my test, the Google Pixel 6 Pro convinced as a contemporary flagship – but despite the tensor chip, it is more of an evolution than a revolution. And not all smart functions appear fully developed.
Design: imaginative and slippery
The Google Pixel 6 Pro has its own style. Image:
The Pixel 6 Pro stands out stylishly from the smartphone crowd. This is ensured by an independent design , there is certainly no risk of confusion with a common cell phone. On the back made of sturdy gorilla glass Victus, a large black camera strip separates the top and bottom, which have different colors. Our "Sorta Sunny" model has light yellow below and a skin tone above.
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Otherwise, the back is minimalist with the "G" logo in the middle. The frame is made of metal and matches the color of the back. The display is very slightly curved on the sides , similar to my Samsung Galaxy Note 9 . In contrast to more pronounced curvatures, this does not interfere with operation. The selfie camera is in a hole in the display above – a matter of taste.
The screen is slightly curved on the sides. Image:
The selfie camera is housed in the display. Image:
But one thing bothers: the smartphone is extremely slippery with its glass back. It is not recommended to use it without a case. And the look suffers with a cover. But many modern smartphones have the problem. After all, the Pixel 6 Pro is waterproof to IP68, so it can easily withstand rain showers. On the software side, thanks to Android 12, it is possible to adapt the colors of the settings and icons to the colors of the wallpaper. That looks nice. It's not a huge step up compared to third-party themes.
The style of the various Android elements can be set up so that they harmonize visually. Image:
Display: Large AMOLED display with 120 Hertz
The Pixel 6 Pro offers a 6.71-inch display with a sharp QHD + resolution of 3,120 x 1,440 pixels. Contents such as texts, pictures and videos look wonderfully sharp on the screen. In addition, there is the high-contrast AMOLED technology with pixel-perfect lighting and a dynamic frame rate of up to 120 Hertz. This means that it is automatically increased from 60 to 120 images per second for certain content.
The 6.7-inch AMOLED display doesn't need to hide – it couldn't be. Image:
I tried the 120 Hertz while scrolling through websites in Chrome, next to it my Samsung Galaxy Note 9 with a 60 Hertz AMOLED screen. On the Google Pixel 6 Pro, it scrolls through the pages much smoother and sharper. 120 Hertz is a function that you have to have been using in everyday life for a while before you know that you want it. And then you never want to go back to 60 Hertz . But this advantage alone is still no reason for me to switch to a new smartphone.
When viewing an HDR test video on YouTube, it is noticeable that the screen of the Pixel 6 Pro makes a little more impression than that of my Note 9. The reason is the higher maximum brightness. The new Google smartphone can therefore display HDR highlights such as sunlight even more intensely – in general, high-contrast images, as the name suggests, benefit from high contrast, and the higher brightness of the pixel screen creates more leeway here.
The bright display is easy to read even outside. Image:
Technology & equipment: Flagship worthy
Google's tensor chip ensures a performance that is roughly on par with other current Android flagships . In everyday life, apps start quickly, games load quickly and run smoothly. I notice the speed difference to my Note 9, not so much to the ZenFone 8 with its Snapdragon 888 from my last smartphone test. Only the Apple iPhone 13 is noticeably faster in benchmarks; corresponding synthetic tests can be found in many reviews such as that of GSMArena . Like the 120 Hertz display, the higher performance would not be a reason for me to switch to a new smartphone. The somewhat slow optical fingerprint sensor, which is also less secure than the capacitive one on my Note 9, is also a little annoying.
In addition to the tensor chip, there is a generous 12 GB of RAM for smooth multitasking. In addition to the current Bluetooth 5.2 for a stable wireless connection, ultra-broadband for finding lost things and the new Wi-Fi 6E are also offered. The battery has a capacity of 5003 mAh, which is normal for its size, but fast charging only works with 30 watts. The Xiaomi 11T Pro has already reached 120 watts.
Neither a microSD port nor a jack connection: The Pixel 6 Pro is a typical modern smartphone. Image:
In the interests of sustainability, a power supply is not included and since most people already have one, probably not a 30-watt power supply. I found the battery life to be quite decent and comparable to that of my Note 9 when it was new. The juice should be enough for a day. Current flagships such as the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G and the iPhone 13 Pro Max offer a longer battery life. The missing headphone jack is already standard, but I can still criticize the missing microSD port.
Smart functions: partly immature
The Pixel 6 Pro has a number of clever features. Smartphone fans probably already know them to some extent from third-party apps and other smartphones, but the Google mobile phone would like to perfect them. This includes the "Now Playing" function, which detects music that is playing near the cell phone and displays the respective track on the lock screen. That works very well, the Pixel 6 Pro also recognized my cryptic punk music such as titles by the band Masked Intruder – albeit only after a search request by tapping the corresponding option. The Google mobile phone recognizes some titles automatically.
From success to failure: The "automatic subtitles" function works poorly in my test – really poorly. I would go so far as to say that the gibberish that the mobile phone gives as subtitles for YouTube videos is incorrect or incomprehensible and the function is unusable. However, colleague Patrick has tested the related function "Subtitles for calls" and is of the opinion that it does its job much better and is really useful. The "automatic transcription", which shows what is spoken as text, works better, but it also has its quirks. For example, she insisted vehemently that the Google Pixel 6 Pro should be called "Google Pixel Sex Pro", and punctuation is not exactly reliable either.
The quality of the automatic subtitles ranges from "you can guess" … Image:
… up to "is complete gibberish". It's certainly not because of Linus from Linus Tech Tips.
Automatic transcription could be helpful in some cases. Image:
Under " Security & Emergencies ", users can enter medical information such as their blood type, as well as set up emergency contacts and emergency SOS. There is also a disaster warning and car accident detection. I was so free not to test these out, but that sounds like useful and responsible features. Also of interest is the "Noise notifications" function, which uses a notification to indicate unusual noises at home, such as a smoke detector and a crying baby, for example on a wearable. However, I didn't start a fire or borrow a baby to test.
Cameras & Sound: Magic Show
The photos are always one of the most exciting aspects of Google smartphones. This is less due to the hardware than to the powerful image processing. Pixel phones are known to take great photos in virtually any situation, even in low light. The Pixel 6 Pro finally offers fresh hardware, in addition to the tensor chip, new camera sensors , which sounds promising in combination with the software.
The new sensors include an optically stabilized 50-megapixel main camera, an optically stabilized 48-megapixel telephoto lens and a wide-angle lens with 12-megapixel resolution. The selfie cam has a resolution of 11.1 megapixels and relies on a 94-degree field of view in order to get several people in the picture.
Photography with the Pixel 6 Pro is fun. Image:
However, the photos from the main camera and the telephoto lens actually have a resolution of around 12 megapixels. The reason is a pixel binning process that combines several pixels for better light output. There is no mode for taking pictures with full 50 or 48 megapixel resolution. This is a shame, because in several mobile phone tests such as that of the ZTE Axon 10 Pro and theHonor View 20 , I have already found with pixel binning cameras that the full resolution can have advantages for certain purposes. Thanks to the telephoto camera, up to 4x optical zoom is possible for photos in good quality.
A subject with an ultra-wide angle … Image:
… 2x optical zoom … Image:
… 4x optical zoom … Image:
… and 10x hybrid zoom. With even more zoom, photos are no longer beautiful to look at. Image:
The photos of the Pixel 6 Pro can generally be summed up with one term: show effect . The automatic HDR technology increases the contrast, and pictures also appear more saturated than I perceive the subjects with the naked eye. The already overwhelmingly beautiful Hayns Park in Hamburg in autumn was given an additional magical shine by the Pixel 6 Pro. Of course, that doesn't look like it, but the HDR bombast is quite impressive. There is nothing to complain about when it comes to the richness of detail and sharpness.
The Google Pixel 6 Pro hits the viewer with the colors around the ears or on the eyes (here a photo with the main camera in Hamburg's Hayns Park) .
A photo with the ultra wide angle camera. Image:
When it comes to selfies, the Pixel 6 Pro likes to cut off part of my glasses. Image:
The Google Pixel 6 Pro turns night into day . Even motifs that can no longer be seen with the naked eye can be seen in the photos. Purists could be bothered by this, however, because: The night is not a day. The night is the night. And a high-quality professional camera would capture the night lifelike, sharp and without noise. For sharing photos of the nightly party on social media, Google's solution is probably better.
The "night vision" makes subjects look brighter than in reality. Image:
This is what the subject looks like without night vision. Image:
Motifs such as the pavilion, which can no longer be seen with the naked eye, make night vision recognizable (Hamburg should be happy to install a few lanterns in Hayns Park – another topic). Image:
After all, Google has further developed some of the tricks that have long been known from cell phone cameras. About the long exposure . I wrote about such a function in 2017 in one of my first smartphone tests for. With the Huawei P10 , the effect was called "light painting" at the time. However, the Pixel 6 Pro handles long exposure much better. A moving subject is displayed out of focus, the background in focus. "Action photo with panning effect" does the opposite.
The long exposure is suitable for light games. Here she is dragging a passing bus. Image:
The "action photo with panning effect" is used to stage movement. Image:
There was also a lot of fuss about the "magic eraser" of the Pixel 6 Pro. Memory is short – there have been numerous eraser apps for removing unwanted objects in photos for smartphones for a long time. The Pixel 6 Pro just makes that easier, faster, and better . Not perfect for a long time, however. At second glance, you can almost always see that the place where the objects were before looks somehow wrong.
A meadow with ducks … Image:
… which I removed with the magic eraser. Here the illusion worked out quite well. Image:
The small ship in the background has to give way … Image:
… but it is immediately noticeable that the photo was tampered with. Image:
Overall, the photo quality of the Google Pixel 6 Pro is worthy of a flagship . But it is not a revolution, but is simply on the usual smartphone flagship level. Personally, I'm still waiting for the moment when I can no longer recognize cell phone photos as such and they tend to be reminiscent of photos from my DSLR. In any case, the photo quality does not motivate me to switch from my Note 9 to a Pixel 6 Pro.
For a stress test of the built-in stereo speakers, I listened to the metal cover of " Skyrim – Age of Aggression & Oppression " by Skar Productions and Jonathan Young on the Pixel 6 Pro and the Galaxy Note 9. This is a song that could shred everything from mid-range smartphone speakers to entry-level stereos. The Note 9 copes very well with hard metal, it is reproduced clearly and bass can also be heard. The Pixel 6 Pro tops the Note 9 in terms of volume and space , but the mids and highs sound a bit tinny at high volume. Still a good performance overall.
Conclusion & alternatives: successful high-end cell phone
You can be satisfied with the Pixel 6 Pro. Image:
The Google Pixel 6 Pro is a successful flagship smartphone . It is made from high-quality materials, has an original design, a large display, can be operated quickly in everyday life and the cameras deliver high-quality photos. The battery life is okay, even if it is not a highlight.
Smarte Funktionen entwickelt das Gerät einen Schritt weiter, auch wenn nicht alle ausgereift sind. Die große Revolution ermöglicht der Tensor-Chip nach aktuellem Stand aber nicht, das Pixel 6 Pro liegt schlicht ungefähr auf dem Niveau anderer aktueller Flaggschiff-Handys wie dem Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G. Und auch der Neupreis von rund 900 Euro für das 128-GB-Modell geht für das Gebotene in Ordnung, ohne ein überwältigendes Angebot darzustellen. Für mich sehe ich keinen hinreichenden Grund, von meinem Samsung Galaxy Note 9 auf das Pixel 6 Pro umzusteigen oder auf ein anderes aktuelles High-End-Handy. Dafür müsste der Entwicklungsschritt noch größer ausfallen.
Beim regulären Pixel 6 ohne den Pro-Zusatz ist das Preis-Leistungsverhältnis besser. Dieses bietet einen mit 6,4 Zoll auch recht großen AMOLED-Bildschirm mit 90 statt 120 Hertz. Es gibt keine Telefotokamera und die Selfie-Cam löst nur mit 8 Megapixeln auf. Der Arbeitsspeicher beträgt 8 statt 12 GB, was aber ziemlich egal ist. Die übrige Ausstattung teilt sich das Pixel 6 mit dem Pixel 6 Pro. Dafür kostet es mit rund 600 Euro ganze 300 Euro weniger.
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