For the last two days, the Google Pixel 6 Pro has been my main smartphone, with the Pixel 6 in tow, and although that’s not enough time to fully evaluate it for a review, it is enough time to be seriously impressed by several aspects. Here are the best parts of the Pixel 6 Pro that I couldn’t wait to tell you about, along with a few not-so-good things that I will be looking at very closely over the next week or so as I prepare my final review.
Let’s start with what has really impressed me.
Design, materials, and colors
What an absolute breath of fresh air the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro are. A far cry from the boredom of the old Pixel models, the new phones look and feel like they cost more than they actually do. They are very different, happily, from the understated-to-the-point-of-invisibility design ethos of their predecessors.
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While you may initially think these are two-tone phones, they’re actually not at all. The Sorta Sunny 6 Pro in our photos is cream, pink, black, and gold, and it’s lovely. What’s clever is despite using a light color palette it’s balanced and classy enough for everyone.
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The Seafoam Pixel 6 is fresh and fun, but toned down compared to the Sorta Sunny through the use of a matte black chassis. On each phone the chassis is metal, the back is made of glossy glass, and even though the camera module protrudes from the body quite a lot, it doesn’t ruin the style. In fact, it adds to it — Pixel 6 phones look different, interesting, and individual.
Pixel 6 (left) and Pixel 6 Pro (right). Andy Boxall/Digital Trends
The build quality is also excellent, with all the panels and the curved screen meeting the chassis perfect for a comfortable grip. These are without a doubt the best looking Pixel phones Google has made and my favorite design to date.
The improved camera specs and Google’s track record means we are all expecting great things from the Pixel 6 Pro’s camera. The large 1/1.31-inch 50-megapixel main camera is joined by a 48MP telephoto camera for 4x optical zoom, plus a 12MP wide-angle camera too. The main and telephoto cameras have optical image stabilization, and of course, it all makes use of Google’s famed computational photography technology.
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I’m around 100 photos into using the Pixel 6 Pro, and it’s already been giving me impressive results. Color accuracy, white balance, and exposure are practically perfect, giving photos a breathtakingly natural look, without compromising on HDR effects or other tweaks to make pictures pop, and to instantly provide that shareability we want. All the desirable versatility is there too, with the wide-angle and telephoto camera.
The main camera’s large sensor adds lovely natural bokeh, the Pixel’s autofocus, and tracking is still superb, while the app is well designed, fast, and easy to use. What am I looking out for, the more I use it? The large sensor has trouble focusing if you get too close to your subject, and there doesn’t seem to be a macro mode onboard, but switching to the optical zoom does help alleviate problems. I’m also going to keep looking at the consistency between the main and wide-angle cameras, as it’s not great so far.
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However, as you’ll see from the examples, the Pixel 6 Pro still looks to continue the tradition of having among the very best cameras found on a smartphone.
Once only available to Photoshop experts, the Android 12 feature that arrives on the Pixel 6 called Magic Eraser removes those unwanted distractions from your photos, all with a simple gesture. Tap or circle the offending article in your photo, and Google’s artificial intelligence (A.I.) and object recognition technology removes it in a flash. Found in the Google Photos app, you can even see it working after you select the area to remove, as it highlights the edge of whatever it is that’s about to be zapped into digital oblivion for just a second.
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It’s very easy to use, and takes just a second to work, but is it any good? It’s really is, but with a few caveats. If you zoom in, you’ll definitely be able to spot some blurring and pixelation where something was removed, but it’s not all the time. It depends on the object. Simple shapes are removed without too much fuss, but anything too complex will confuse it. The secret is not to go mad and try to delete everything. I kept Magic Eraser and its effectiveness in mind when taking photos, choosing a slightly different angle based on what it can and cannot cleanly remove.
Take a look at the photo example with the blue car. I could easily remove the lamppost, the paved sections along the bottom of the frame, some items in the road, and even the window in the building in the top left of the picture. However, it has a harder time removing the two cars on the right, due to the complexity of both the shape and the background. It also doesn’t recognize the shadows as part of the object to remove, and this makes it a little messy. It’s impossible to remove the silver car due to it blending into the front of the blue car. It’s not perfect, but for the basics, like the lamppost, it’s incredibly effective.
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Magic Eraser’s speed and simplicity makes it even better. You don’t have to learn anything or have any experience of photo editing, and while taking your time to make selections or redo them can produce better results, it’s not essential if it’s a basic shape. It’s easy to undo actions, and Google Photos saves the modified image as a copy automatically so you don’t lose the original. Anyone will be able to use Magic Eraser, and with no consequences.
Assistant Voice Typing
Using Google Assistant to type, edit, and send messages is an Android 12 feature exclusive to the Pixel 6, and it’s excellent. Using the command, “Hey Google, type,” the Assistant listens and transcribes what you say into your message, and will even send the message when you ask, making the process almost entirely handsfree. The best thing is, it’s incredibly accurate.
I’ve voice typed SMS messages, WhatsApp messages, and even tweets, but you can seemingly use it throughout the operating system, and provided I speak clearly and at normal conversational speed, it has been almost faultless, and that includes adding punctuation without me asking. I can even tell it to add an emoji, clear the last sentence, or start all over again, all without touching the screen. It’s genuinely faster than typing.
Downsides? It’s not so natural to edit messages with your voice, as you have to tap any wrongly heard message and spell it out. It’s quicker to manually change it by typing on the keyboard. However, it doesn’t happen very often, and that’s what makes the feature so impressive. The Pixel 6’s new Tensor processor plays a big part in the Assistant Voic