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Google Pixel 6 Retrospective Review: Like a fine wine

Google Pixel 6 AM AH 1 1
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Back in 2021, Google released the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. These phones really flipped the script on the company’s in-house phones and they introduced a new era for the brand. Now that the Pixel 7 phones are out, some people are wondering how the older generation is holding up. Here’s a retrospective review of the Pixel 6.

It’s necessary to do this look back mainly because the Pixel 6 phones were the testing grounds for some new hardware from Google. For starters, this was the first phone to use a new camera sensor since the Pixel 2. However, the biggest example is the Tensor chip. This is the first processor designed by Google, and it’s necessary to know how this new hardware has aged. So, let’s dive in.

Let’s start with the performance

I used the Pixel 6 as my daily driver since November 2021, so I’ve been to the moon and back with this phone. Right out of the box, it was an extremely smooth experience. Everything from using apps to navigating the interface was fluid with no hiccups.

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I’m happy to say that this is still the case today. Google’s Tensor chip holds up nicely more than a year after it was introduced, and that bodes well for future Tensor chips. Apps load quickly, I can glide through the interface, and there’s no lag that I can see.

Pixel 6 Pro Cases top 10 AM AH

The only area where I see a dip is when the phone’s starting up. The Pixel 6 already starts up really quickly, but as time went on, I noticed that it’d take longer for the apps to populate the screen. I’d turn it on and be greeted with about five seconds of an empty screen before all of the apps and widgets would pop up. However, after that point, everything would be snappy.

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Gaming

When it comes to gaming, the Pixel 6 was never really a beast, to begin with. Don’t get me wrong, it can run all of the latest games (yes, that includes Genshin Impact), but it’s definitely a step behind the Galaxy phones and several steps behind the ROG phones.

In any case, I didn’t see any dip in the gaming performance. Running graphically-intensive games doesn’t cause soo much trouble for this phone. Games like CoD Mobile, Sky: Children of Light, and Asphalt 9 all run smoothly. Playing Genshin Impact on its highest setting would lag the phone a bit, but it was still more than playable.

Overall, the first-generation Tensor chip has aged well over the year it’s been out. The phone is still as snappy as the day that I unboxed it.

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Camera

So, Pixel phones are known for their camera performance, and the Pixel 6 was no exception. This phone uses a dual-camera setup. There’s a 50MP main camera with an aperture of f/1.9 and a sensor size of 1/1.31 inches. The secondary camera is a 12MP 144˚ ultrawide camera with an aperture of f/2.2.

There’s been a lot of competition in the form of the latest phones from Apple, Vivo, Samsung, and even Google itself with the Pixel 7 phones. However, the Pixel 6 remains one of the best camera phones that you can pick up today. This is for two main reasons.

Firstly, the Pixel 6’s camera was amazing to start with. It sat at the top of the pecking order in several departments throughout 2022. It’s just a good all-around camera (well, mostly). Secondly, we haven’t seen camera technology move leaps and bounds since October 2021. So, the Pixel 6’s camera is still a top-tier camera by today’s standards.

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AH Google Pixel 6 image 901

But, why is it a mostly good camera? Video. Using this phone’s video capabilities is an exercise in frustration. Sure, the colors are nice and there’s some decent dynamic range. Also, the stabilization is great. The main thing is the noise. Taking the lights down even slightly will produce a ton of annoying and distracting noise.

This pretty much eliminates the thought of using this phone indoors. That’s a shame because the low-light photography is so good on this phone. It’s important to note how this has aged, as this is the type of thing that we’d expect to be addressed in updates. According to Juan Carlos Bagnell, Google did push some improvements to help the low-light performance, and we did see a reduction in the noise. However, it’s still unacceptable.

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Display

In terms of the display, it’s the same story as with the camera. OLED technology is pretty much the same as back then. This phone still has a gorgeous 1080p+ display. More importantly, is there any screen burn-in? The answer is no. The display is as pristine as the day I unboxed it.

Pixel 6 with frog wallpaper ah

Battery life

So far, this retrospective has been full of praise for this Google handset, but all good things must come to an end. The battery on my Pixel 6 has taken a serious nosedive. When I first used the phone, I could get decent battery life. It definitely lasted me the day no sweat. It wasn’t spectacular, but it wasn’t problematic.

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Now, however, the story is very different. Nowadays, I struggle to get even four hours of mileage from this phone. I’d fully charge it, stream a movie, and see that it’d dropped nearly 30% in the meantime. Not only is the battery bad while I’m using it, but the standby time is also terrible. During a workday, I would look at it slowly dip between 10% and 15% just sitting idly.

Neither the AI battery optimizations nor the power save mode does anything to help.  I’ve restricted a bunch of apps in the background and put the phone on Extreme power save mode only to wake it after a few hours to see the battery dripping away. The only thing I could do to fix the battery life is to get a battery replacement.

Is the Pixel 6 still worth it?

In a word: Yes! The Pixel 6 has been my daily driver since I got it. While I’ve swapped out for a few other phones for reviews, I ALWAYS found myself missing this phone. Popping the SIM card back in and seeing the Pixel launcher when I turned it back on always felt like home.

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Google Pixel 6 Review AM AH 14

Picking up this phone a year and two months after getting it, it still feels snappy and responsive. I’m able to use it as my main gaming device and my main content consumption device. Also, it’s my main camera. I use it for content creation, but I need to take extra care with the video.

The only downside is the battery life. Google really dropped the ball with the way this phone handles the battery. Hopefully, the company can do better with its future devices. Regardless, if I had known about the experience before I bought it, I would still buy it 100%.