When I switched to an iPhone last year, the Google Pixel series was in disarray. His latest flagship at the time, the Pixel 5was discontinued in less than a year, and unlike the middle class Pixel 4a’s above-average figures, that was of little use to Google. It seemed like the end of the road for its premium smartphone lineup, leaving me with no choice but to drop ship. The latest Pixel 6 represents in many ways a new line of phones with a fresh direction and Google’s internal chip, and for a moment it looked like Google had finally hit a home run. Then the insects came.
The Pixel 6 was supposed to be the knight in shining armor of Google’s hardware division, and it had the ingredients to be one. It received rave reviews across the board, was reasonably priced, and covered just about everything its predecessors were criticized for. Heck, I even considered going back to it from the iPhone. However, shortly after it started shipping to customers, reports emerged left and right about the same kind of bugs that proved to be the Achilles heel of previous generations. Some automatically rejected incoming calls, others were ghost calling contacts, others’ fingerprint scanners refused to work — the list goes on.
The bugs coupled with the Pixel’s existing bad reputation for performance issues drove sales up. Carriers love Verizon had a hard time to get it off the shelves despite generous sales incentives. Sure, Google’s annual sales have gone up, but that’s a low bar considering the Pixel 5 was killed in months.
However, since its launch, Google has released regular updates to patch the Pixel 6 bugs, and most of the major ones seemed to be fixed now. I used the Google Pixel 6 weeks to see how big of a difference these recent updates have made and whether what we initially thought was “the best Android value ever” still holds up. This is what I found.
Is the Google Pixel 6 now bug-free?
I’ll get straight to the point: the Pixel 6 isn’t out of the woods yet. While Google has fixed specific bugs like the one that prevented owners from calling 911, the Pixel 6 still suffers from what appears to be standard first-generation silicone hiccups. The Pixel 6 is the first phone to feature Google’s custom Tensor processor, and the company is working out the kinks as it goes.
In practical terms, that means the Pixel 6 will grind to a halt about once a week and even struggle to perform mundane tasks like multitasking between apps or recording a video, and your only escape would be to restart it. to start. App crashes are more frequent and every day at least one of the apps I actively rely on, like Twitter, stops abruptly.
What’s even more concerning, though, is the Pixel 6’s cellular issues. The phone frequently disconnects from its cellular network, and the only way you can tell the problem has reappeared is if someone you know texts you that they’re sending you a message. unable to call. It’s arguably the biggest deal-breaker for the Pixel 6 right now, especially for someone who relies more on cellular data than Wi-Fi. Again, the workaround is to restart the phone or turn on airplane mode and turn it off again.
Back in December, a beta update to Google Carrier services is said to have fixed the Pixel 6’s network issues, but it didn’t, at least for me, and switching to the Android 13 beta doesn’t matter either. The buggy experience extends to a few other aspects. Android Auto, for example, occasionally freezes on the Pixel 6. The Wi-Fi hotspot also often refuses to turn on until I reboot the phone.
It is in no way unusable. As we found out in the review, Tensor’s octa-core processor is perfectly capable of handling everything from multitasking between different apps to playing resource-intensive games. Daily tasks like scrolling web pages are fast enough and are further complemented by the smooth 90Hz display. However, occasionally the bugs occur and the Pixel 6 experience falters. Rebooting shouldn’t take more than a few seconds, but it’s still unacceptable on a premium phone.
Another controversial part of the Pixel 6 is the fingerprint reader under the display. Buyers and critics alike lament the sensor for its inaccurate and slow response times. Late last year, Google rolled out an update to “improve” performance and clarified that the sensor relied on a series of security algorithms, which sometimes took longer than usual to verify the identity of the biometrics. The update would have optimized these algorithms to process your finger faster, and in my experience it has been proven effective.
The Pixel 6’s fingerprint reader now functions properly and it certainly doesn’t take as long to authenticate as it used to. You do have to press harder on it than with other phones, but it’s pretty instant once you’ve built up the muscle memory for it.
Battery for days
The battery life has been excellent. The Pixel 6’s commendable 4,614 mAh battery can easily last a day and a half with heavy use. Enabling the always-on screensaver makes several hours disappear, but you can still get through a day without reaching for the charger. It also charges much faster over a wire or wirelessly than the iPhone 13 Pro† With a 30W adapter you can fully charge it from 0 to 100 in about an hour.
Tough and unique design
The Pixel 6’s two-tone look and periscope-style camera setup itself are fine. It’s quintessentially Pixel and polarizing. While I’m not sure if it’s my favorite Pixel, it certainly draws attention. I’m also a fan of the funky color options and if you can, steer clear of the Stormy Black variant because one, it’s boring, and two, it’s a fingerprint magnet and a nightmare to clean.
However, the front is beautiful. The 6.4-inch OLED screen dominates, almost edge-to-edge except for a small selfie camera. At 1080p, it’s sharp, vibrant and clear for reading outdoors. Whether you’re streaming movies or scrolling through Twitter, the Pixel 6’s screen doesn’t disappoint and makes it worth dealing with its size.
I’ve yet to come to terms with the Pixel 6’s tall body. For anyone coming from previous Pixel models, the 6.4-inch screen will be practically impossible to handle. Even after weeks I have not been able to feel comfortable with it and have dropped it twice from a height of 1.2 meters. The smooth glass back, which attracts smudges and fingerprints like everything else, doesn’t help the cause, and I’d recommend putting it in a case. Those drops allowed me to accidentally test how sturdy the Pixel 6 is. It came out unscathed with nothing but a few minor scratches.
Best Android Haptic Feedback
I’ve been a Pixel user since the first came out in 2016, and the one area where Apple’s iPhone could never go from head to toe is the haptic engine. I’m happy to report that the Pixel 6 changes that. It’s equipped with a vibration motor that doesn’t feel like it’s trying to shock you. Like the iPhone, it’s subtle and pleasant, and typing on the Pixel’s virtual keyboard with the haptics on is a joy.
Cameras are a mixed bag
It wouldn’t be a Pixel without unparalleled photography capabilities, and the Pixel 6 is no exception.
The Pixel 6’s 50-megapixel wide sensor can capture detailed and well-lit photos in almost any lighting condition. The HDR algorithms have only gotten better since the beginning of the lineup, and the phone does a fantastic job of balancing the shadows and highlights of a scene. The results therefore have a distinctively contrasting appearance, in contrast to the iPhone’s bright images and Samsung’s saturated approach. However, the wide-angle camera needs an upgrade. While it delivers decent shots, the edges are often soft, lack detail, and aren’t as refined as the main camera.
My biggest complaint about the Pixel 6’s camera is simply how long it takes to process and store shots. Especially when you switch to night mode, the Pixel 6 takes a few seconds to capture, which can lead to blurry and unusable results with moving objects. The video recording capabilities, while Google says they’re vastly improved now, are another disappointment and lag miles behind the iPhone. In videos shot with the Pixel 6, stabilization seems too artificial and the color processing is unnecessarily exaggerated and oversaturated. Sadly it’s just not up to par with its competition
Should you buy the Pixel 6 in 2022?
The Pixel 6 is the phone that Google’s premium line has always deserved. It has all the trappings you’d expect from such a device, and at $600 (which is usually marked down), it’s the best value on the market, period. Google is finally moving in the right direction by going all-in instead of trying to stand out every year with new, experimental plans and provide a premium Android flagship experience.
However, the Pixel 6 is still a first-generation product, and right now, especially with the Pixel 7 (which will have a next-gen Tensor chip) around the corner, I suggest you wait for it if you can. But just in case you need a phone today and get a good deal, the Pixel 6 won’t disappoint, and hopefully Google will iron out the remaining bugs and hiccups in subsequent updates.