Рустам Гулов
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The Pixel 6 is Google's most significant phone upgrade yet.

My review unit's color is called Sorta Seafoam. The back below the camera bar is light gray but depending on the light it can look light blue.

Patrick Holland/CNET

The back is where the phone's design really makes me swoon. It's made of Gorilla Glass 6 and has a two-tone color scheme. My review unit is Sorta Seafoam, which means the bottom of the back is sort of light gray or sort of light blue depending on the lighting. The top back strip is a light lime green, which contrasts nicely against the deep black of the camera bar. The overall look of the Pixel 6 reminds me a tad of the Pixel 2 XL and its panda color. 

The horizontal camera bar runs across the width of the back and looks bold and different. The camera bar isn't just designed to be a Google branding element; you can put the Pixel 6 without a case on a table and it doesn't wobble.

Overall, the fit and finish are nice. If you grab a Pixel 6 Pro, which costs $300 more, you can see several small ways it feels more premium than the Pixel 6.

The camera bar houses a main wide-angle camera and an ultrawide-angle camera.

Patrick Holland/CNET

The Pixel 6 takes amazing photos

Out of all the improvements, I was most hyped to try the Pixel 6's cameras, and Google definitely delivered. The Pixel 6, with its higher-specced lenses and sensors, takes fantastic photos. Let me immediately undercut that to remind you that this is still a phone. A mirrorless camera or DSLR can consistently take better photos in a wider range of lighting and conditions. But people don't always have a mirrorless camera with them.

The Pixel 6 has two rear cameras: a main camera with a wide-angle lens and a second camera with an ultrawide-angle lens. These are the exact same wide and ultrawide cameras found on the Pixel 6 Pro. The ultrawide camera offers 0.7x magnification instead of the 0.6x magnification on the Pixel 5. Overall the ultrawide is good but not great. Details in photos are OK but often soft.

Under bright soft lighting, the ultrawide can capture some decent photos.

Patrick Holland/CNET

Check out the highlights in the flames.

Patrick Holland/CNET

The dynamic range is decent but limited. 

Patrick Holland/CNET

In bright lighting, the ultrawide is capable of good skin tones.

Patrick Holland/CNET

In medium to low-light situations like here, the ultrawide shows its limits.

Patrick Holland/CNET

There is a noticeable step down in quality going from the main camera to the ultrawide. Take a look at the photos below that I took of the Transamerica building in San Francisco.

I wish the ultrawide camera were wider. I prefer the perspective from the ultrawide cameras on the Galaxy S21 Ultra and iPhone 13 Pro more. Check out a comparison below.

The main camera has a 50-megapixel sensor, which uses pixel binning to create 12.5-megapixel pictures. Photos from the Pixel 6 are amazing. Details are great.

The colors and clarity in this photo are excellent and accurate.

Patrick Holland/CNET

For a phone, the Pixel 6 has an excellent dynamic range.

Patrick Holland/CNET

Look at the colors and detail of this matcha ice cream cone.

Patrick Holland/CNET

Another example of the Pixel handling a wide dynamic range well.

Patrick Holland/CNET

Notice the contrast of the details in direct sunlight and those in the shadows.

Patrick Holland/CNET

Textures look outstanding. Check out the paint brush marks on the old fire hydrant.

Patrick Holland/CNET

I like how the Pixel captured the texture of the fur on each dog.

Patrick Holland/CNET

In medium and low light, I noticed some ghosting and flaring when a light source is in the frame, like the cafe string lights here. This wasn't problematic and not nearly as bad as some other phones sold today.

Patrick Holland/CNET

There are so many Pixel 6 camera modes and tools

Google's Tensor chip allows for even more camera modes and tools. There is Night Sight, Google's version of combining multiple images together when it's too dark. It's excellent on the Pixel 6.

I like the dramatic way Night Sight renders photos.

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This Night Sight photo was taken with the ultrawide camera.

Patrick Holland/CNET

In real life, this was pretty much all in shadow aside from the light and windows.

Patrick Holland/CNET

There's the new Motion mode, which has two options: Action Pan and Long Exposure. Action Pan gives the background of a photo a dramatic motion blur. It's fun. It's not going to reinvent photography but it's pretty fun to use.

Action Pan can take what might be an otherwise ordinary photo and add pizzazz.

Patrick Holland/CNET

The second Motion mode is Long Exposure, which mimics a long-exposure photo. There are apps that do something similar but I got some decent light trails from traffic and some silklike water from a fountain. Again, it's fun. It doesn't replace doing long-exposure photography on a dedicated camera.

Google's Motion mode for Long Exposure works well enough. It's similar to converting a Live Photo in iOS to Long Exposure.

Patrick Holland/CNET

But that's not all. Google gives you a neat tool called Magic Eraser. It lets you pick an object, a person or a part of a photo to remove. You can get to this tool in one of two ways. In Photos, you'll see a suggestion about removing people in the background. Or when you go to edit, tap on Tools to reveal the feature.

Magic Eraser finds and identify the silhouettes of people in the background. You can also use your finger to paint out the part you want gone. Overall it works well, but it's far from perfect. Sometimes I got absolutely amazing results like removing people from the photo below of a pedestrian walkway -- though on closer inspection, you can see the blurry patches where parts of the photo were removed.

Other times, like in the photo below, there were transition artifacts. It removed two people in the background here, but also disfigured the hand of the lady to the right.

There are so many more camera features that I wasn't able to highlight in this review, like Face UnBlur. But CNET will have an even more in-depth look at the Pixel 6 cameras soon.

The Pixel 6 camera treats complexions more equitably

One improvement Google talked about was Real Tone, which was a major rethink and exploration about how photos, specifically Google's algorithms and engineers, handle people with different complexions. I still want to explore this feature more, but the photos I took of friends, co-workers and other people with darker complexions look good, even if they're not under the most flattering light. Often when I showed someone a photo I took with the Pixel 6, even if it's them doing a mundane thing, they asked for a copy.

This is one of my favorite photos I took with the Pixel 6.

Patrick Holland/CNET

Even under harsh fluorescent lighting, Laban's skin looks good.

Patrick Holland/CNET

This was taken in a very dim restaurant. The Pixel raised the overall brightness but protected the color, tone and details of the skin.

Patrick Holland/CNET

Below is a photo taken with harsh backlight. Admittedly, this isn't a great way to take a photo, but I wanted to see what would happen. Google said the Pixel 6 handles stray light better. See how it did against a photo taken with the iPhone 13 below.

The differences between the two photos aren't drastic, but Eric, who is the subject, preferred the photo from the Pixel 6. He liked how it handled the color and highlights in his skin. You can really notice this in his arms.

Videos from the Pixel 6 are better and selfies are just OK

The Pixel 6 records the best video from any Pixel phone. Details and color accuracy are better. In terms of comparing the image quality between photos and videos, there is a smaller difference than there has been on prior Pixels. Don't get me wrong, photos are still the strength of the Pixel.

When recording video in medium and low light, image noise is pretty apparent. Also, the improvements Real Tone brings to photos are unmatched with how videos handle different complexions. Take a look below at some sample videos I recorded with the Pixel 6.

On the front, the Pixel 6 has an 8-megapixel camera that shoots 1,080p video. The Pro has a wider selfie camera that can record 4K. Selfies photos from the Pixel 6 are good but in medium and low light start to look noisy.

Here is a Portrait mode selfie from the Pixel 6.

Patrick Holland/CNET

My colleague Lexy took this low-light selfie. The quality is OK, but overall there is a touch of motion blur.

Lexy Savvides/CNET

The Pixel 6 is defined by Google's Tensor chip

The Pixel 6 doesn't run on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chip found in nearly every other flagship Android phone like the Galaxy S21 and OnePlus 9 Pro. Instead, it runs on Google's Tensor processor. It's the first chip Google has made and was specifically designed by Google for the Pixel. I found the Tensor chip and the 8GB of RAM made the phone peppy to use. Opening the camera app is fast, app animations look smooth and it handles games well.

In terms of performance benchmark tests, the Tensor chip doesn't set any new records. In fact it's largely on par with the Snapdragon 888 and that's OK. The advantages Tensor brings are its security and on-device machine learning and AI.

GEEKBENCH V.5.0 SINGLE-CORE

Google Pixel 6 1,045 Google Pixel 5 591 Samsung Galaxy S21 1,084 Apple iPhone 13 1,721

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

GEEKBENCH V.5.0 MULTICORE

Google Pixel 6 2,926 Google Pixel 5 1,602 Samsung Galaxy S21 3,282 Apple iPhone 13 4,681

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

3DMARK SLINGSHOT UNLIMITED

Google Pixel 6 9,959 Google Pixel 5 3,954 Samsung Galaxy S21 10,070 Apple iPhone 13 6,653

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

Google quotes a day on a fully charged battery and in regular use I'd say that is accurate. But in heavy use, like shooting lots of photos and videos, it had a battery life of more like three-quarters of a day. During the 10 days I tested the phone, the Pixel 6 averaged a screen-on time of 6 hours, which is good, but not great.

Android 12 is solid on the Pixel 6

The Pixel 6 runs Android 12 and it's probably the most underrated aspect of the phone. Android 12 is a delight to use. I like the big obvious buttons and sliders. The overall look of Android 12 is welcoming and prioritizes clarity over animations. I like that its system colors can match and complement my phone's wallpaper.

The Pixel 6 runs Android 12 and even has a handful of special features.

Patrick Holland/CNET

Android 12 combined with the Tensor processor provides a number of welcomed privacy and security upgrades. The Pixel 6 comes with several of its own Android 12 special features, some of which are powered by Tensor. A standout for me is voice recognition. I found there to be a lot of improvement with translation, especially when I had a conversation with a Portuguese speaker. Translations were fast and accurate. For voice typing in particular, it seems to understand context better and punctuate more accurately and it's easier to command it and clear mistakes.

I tested the Pixel 6 on Google Fi, T-Mobile and Verizon here in San Francisco. The Pixel 6 supports sub-6 5G. There are special carrier versions of the Pixel 6 that also support mmWave 5G and start at $699 instead of $599.

The Pixel 6 has 30W fast-charging over USB-C and supports wireless charging, as pictured above.

Patrick Holland/CNET

Google improved the Pixel 6 in many ways

With all of the upgrades to software and hardware, you have to wonder if that will be enough to make the Pixel 6 successful. And that's really the only thing I can't answer. I can say this is the best phone Google has ever built. As tempting as the Pixel 6 is, for $300 more you can upgrade to the slightly more premium Pixel 6 Pro, which adds a telephoto camera; a 6.7-inch display with curved edges, a higher resolution and high refresh rate; more RAM; an ultrawideband chip and Gorilla Glass Victus on the back. But if you have $600 and are looking for a new phone, the Pixel 6 is my recommendation.

Google Pixel 6 specs vs. Google Pixel 6 Pro, Google Pixel 5, Apple iPhone 13


Google Pixel 6 Google Pixel 6 Pro Google Pixel 5 Apple iPhone 13 Display size, resolution 6.4-inch OLED; 2,400x1,080 pixels; 60Hz or 90Hz 6.7-inch LTPO OLED; 3,120x1,440 pixels; 10-120Hz 6-inch FHD+ OLED; 2,340x1,080 pixels 6.1-inch OLED; 2,532x1,170 pixels Pixel density 411 ppi 512 ppi 432 ppi 460 ppi Dimensions (inches) 6.2x2.9x0.4 in 6.5x3x0.4 in 5.7x2.8x0.3 in 5.78x2.82x0.3 in Dimensions (millimeters) 158.6x74.8x8.9mm 163.9x75.9x8.9mm 144.7x70.4x8mm 147x72x7.65mm Weight (ounces, grams) 7.3 oz; 207g 7.41 oz; 210g 5.33 oz; 151g 6.14 oz; 174g Mobile software Android 12 Android 12 Android 11 iOS 15 Camera 50-megapixel (wide), 12-megapixel ultrawide 50-megapixel (wide), 12-megapixel (ultrawide), 48-megapixel (telephoto) 12.2-megapixel (standard), 16-megapixel (ultrawide) 12-megapixel (wide), 12-megapixel (ultrawide) Front-facing camera 8-megapixel 11-megapixel 8-megapixel 12-megapixel Video capture 4K 30, 60fps (rear), 1,080p 30fps (front) 4K 30, 60fps (rear), 4K 30fps (front) 4K HDR video recording with Dolby Vision up to 4K at 60fps Processor Google Tensor Google Tensor Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G Apple A15 Bionic Storage 128GB, 256GB 128GB, 256GB, 512GB 128GB 128GB, 256GB, 512GB RAM 8GB 12GB 8GB Undisclosed Expandable storage No No No No Battery 4,614 mAh 5,003 mAh 4,000 mAh Undisclosed; Apple lists 19 hours of video playback Fingerprint sensor Under display Under display Rear No (Face ID) Connector USB-C USB-C USB-C Lightning Headphone jack No No No No Special features 5G sub-6 (some carrier models also have 5G mmWave) support, Wi-Fi 6E, 30W fast-charging, wireless charging, Magic Eraser, Motion mode, Real Tone, Face Unblur, Cinematic Pan, 5 years OS security updates, IP68 rating for dust and water resistance, Gorilla Glass Victus (front), Gorilla Glass 6 (back), dual-SIM capabilities (nano-SIM and e-SIM) 5G sub-6 and mmWave support, Wi-Fi 6E, Ultra-wideband, 30W fast-charging, wireless charging, Magic Eraser, Motion mode, Real Tone, Face Unblur, Cinematic Pan, 5 years OS security updates, IP68 rating for dust- and water-resistance, Gorilla Glass Victus (front and back), dual-SIM capabilities (nano-SIM and e-SIM) 5G enabled; water-resistant (IP68); 90Hz-refresh-rate display; dual-SIM capabilities (nano-SIM and e-SIM); reverse wireless charging; fast-charging 5G enabled; MagSafe; water-resistant (IP68); wireless charging; dual-SIM capabilities (nano-SIM and e-SIM) Price off-contract (USD) $599 (128GB) $899 (128GB) $699 $799 (128GB), $899 (256GB), $1,099 (512GB) Price (GBP) £599 (128GB) £849 (128GB) £599 £779 (128GB), £879 (256GB), £1,079 (512GB) Price (AUD) AU$999 (128GB) AU$1,299 (128GB) AU$999 AU$1,349 (128GB), AU$1,519 (256GB), AU$1,869 (512GB)
 



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