Google Pixel 6 Pro review

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Erin L

Erin L

Google pixel 6 pro, review

Google’s brand new Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro smartphones are here. I got to go hands-on with the Pixel 6 Pro to try it out, see what’s new and different and whether it makes a worthy upgrade or purchase if you’re in the market for a new Android phone.

Google Pixel 6 Pro review: what’s new?

The most obvious new feature is the looks. With a smart, chic and minimalist refresh, the phone looks lean and clean and pretty. But that’s been standard for Google phones from the get-go.

When it comes to what’s underneath that glass and metal dressing, the camera has a few updates, which we’ll get to. There’s a new more powerful chip (dubbed Google Tensor) which should help things run faster and smoother.

What’s the difference between Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro?

Both Pixel 6 and 6 Pro are 5G-ready smartphones. The 6 Pro is a smidge bigger with a 6.7-inch display compared to the 6’s 6.4-inch. 6 Pro’s display has QHD+ (1440 x 3120) LTPO OLED at 512 ppi, while the 6 has FHD+ (1080 x 2340) OLED at 411 ppi.  The 6 Pro’s battery is a smidge bigger and has 12 gb RAM to the 6’s 8gb. The cameras are mostly the same but the 6 Pro adds a 48 MP telephoto lens.

More personalization & customization

The phone also runs Android 12 with what’s dubbed Material You. This system offers more phone personalization so you can customize your homescreen with different widgets and switch up color palettes for apps and buttons based on the wallpaper photos you choose.

Google pixel 6 pro, review

Personalized wallpapers and buttons, plus Time and Translate Widgets on screen

My first go at this was maddening. I would choose a different background, save it, see it, and then when I’d go back to the phone later it would be reset to the default black background.

After a device update I was still encountering the same issue.

I tried using a different set of backgrounds and another one seemed to work better, so maybe it’s a minor issue with the Live Wallpapers which is the option I was going for.

Widgets

You can also add special Widgets to your home screen. The selection isn’t too deep; you can add a clock, calendar notifications, Gmail alerts and a few other things.

You can also adjust the sizes of the widgets too, so everything will look how you like it.

Live translate

Google pixel 6 pro, review

Live Translate

Both phones also have Live Translate, which lets you interact in a variety of languages, using text, camera and video captioning. You do need to choose and download the individual languages you want to access and you have to enable live translate first. Here’s how to turn on Live Translate:

  • Open Settings.
  • Tap System Live Translate.
  • Turn on Use Live Translate. By default, Live Translate will be on.
  • Optional: To set a new default target language:
  • Tap Translate to.
  • Select a language.
  • Tap Select language.
  • Optional: Add more source languages:
  • Tap Add a language.
  • Select a language.
  • Tap Select language.

When it’s enabled you can use Live Translate to translate text messages or even what’s on signs or screens in front of you.

To use the camera, to do this, open the camera, then swipe to Modes, and choose Google Lens. Hold the camera up to what you want translated and tap on the words. Then in the bottom left tap Translate and the exact translation will appear on your screen.  Camera Lens supports 55 offline and 104 online languages.

Interpreter Mode

You can also use the translation feature in what’s called Interpreter Mode. Call for the Google Assistant then say “Be my interpreter”.

You’ll choose the two languages you’ll be conversing in, and when you talk Google will detect and translate each one out loud, so it’s literally like having an interpreter with you.

This feature, like the previous translation features I’ve tried on Google, works outstandingly well.

Battery life & charging

Google pixel 6 pro, review

Reverse wireless charging.

Google has previously called the battery life “all day,”and this version they reiterate Pixel 6 has an up to 24 hour battery, and with the extreme battery saving mode (which shuts down all but the most critical apps and functions) it stretches your overall battery life to up to 48 hours if you’re ever in a pinch. Pixel has always had great battery life and I expect to see that continue with the Pixel 6 Pro.

Pixel 6 Pro offers wireless and reverse wireless charging too, where your phone can wirelessly charge other things like headphones.
The Pixel 6 Pro is also water resistant.

Fingerprint unlock

Google Pixel 6 Pro has a fingerprint sensor under the screen; and it’s perfectly placed to use your thumb’s natural position to unlock it quickly. The fingerprint sensor in-screen works well and I like the new placement ( the old option was on the back of the phone).

Google pixel 6 pro, review, magic eraser

After Magic Eraser

What’s new with Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro camera?

The Pixel 6 has an all-new triple rear camera system includes a pro-level telephoto lens with 4x optical zoom. Google claims its main sensor captures 150% more light than Pixel 5, which should mean you see more vivid colour and greater accuracy in photos.

Pixel 6 Pro also has new features called Face Deblur, Magic Eraser, Motion Mode and a more equitable camera that Google says can more accurately represent the wide range of human skin tones.

While these features below are being touted as camera features, in essence most are post-production features that let you make smart edits much easier and right on your phone. Essentially it saves you needing something like Photoshop.

Face Deblur

Are you the type who always gets the faces blurry in your photos? With Pixel 6 and 6 Pro, you can undo the damage. Face deblur can sharpen and refine faces after you’ve taken a photo so pix that might previously have been ruined can now be salvaged.

I tried this setting out, but as it turns out the camera captures faces pretty well, even when they’re in motion, so I didn’t have much occasion to use this toy.

Magic Eraser

Google Pixel’s Magic Eraser feature essentially brings easy photo editing (yep, Photoshop) to remove distractions from the background.

Got annoying vacationers in the background of your beachy photos, but you’d rather it looks like you had the place to yourself? A quick tap and you can remove them. Things like power lines, stray cords and cables and even fingertips can also be wiped from the image, making it easier than ever to reclaim bad photos and turn them into new favourites.

This feature is really easy to use and works pretty well, though depending what you’re erasing and what the background looks like, it can create noticeable smudges in the finished image. For the most part I’d be the only one to notice these tiny flaws, and if someone else was looking they likely wouldn’t notice them.

Motion Mode & Long Exposure

Motion Mode is another editing feature that lets you blur landscapes and backgrounds for an artsier finish.
This is another feature that works quite well; with a simple tap you get an artsy blur to the background that makes photos look more professional.

➔ Open Camera App
➔ Slide to Motion Mode
➔ Select Action Pan or Long Exposure

For the most reliable shots, try a single solid object moving in straight paths (cars, bikes, skiing). You can even try other subjects like pets running or planes flying by, if you can catch them! Want to blur the background? Use Action Pan. Want to blur the subject? Try Long Exposure.

Colour Focus

Colour focus lets you make a coloured element in the foreground pop while blurring the background and de-colourizing it.

Not my favourite effect personally, but it does work well.

4 x optical zoom

If you’re into photography, or have just tried to zoom in on something cool from afar, you likely know there’s a difference between optical zoom and digital zoom. Optical tends to be clearer, since it uses the lens to physically close in on distant objects, while digital zoom essentially expands the pixels. I usually prefer a stronger optical zoom, so having 4x on the Pixel 6 is a treat (Apple’s new iPhone 13s have 2 or 3x optical, for reference).

Google pixel 6 pro, reviewYou get all the standard smartphone features too

With the Android OS, you get all the important features like mail, phone calls, texts and apps galore.

There’s also astral photography and solid night photography—and my personal fave, the Recorder app which not only records but accurately transcribes calls, meetings and interviews.

Calling assistance

Google Pixel phones have had great tools to help you manage calls better. The Google Pixel can already screen calls for you by using pre-set responses so you don’t have to waste time with telemarketers. Now there’s a couple new features…in addition to “call screening with Google Assistant” which can manage unknown or spam callers without you needing to take the call.

Wait Times

When you need to call a business, you can find the best times to call to avoid long waits.

How to use Google Wait Times:

➔ Open Phone app
➔ Type Toll Free Number
➔ See current and projected wait times for
the rest of the week near the top of the screen.

I tried this with some Canadian toll free numbers and some common US numbers, but this feature didn’t work for me, so I can’t tell you any more about it than just that. Not sure if this is an issue with my cell carrier or the phone not being entirely Canada-ready.

Safety Check

Google has added a Safety Check feature that has been added to the Car Crash Detection feature that was on the phone previously.

Google pixel 6 pro, review

Safety Check

Safety Check allows you to set a timer for your Pixel to check in with you and start an emergency share if you don’t respond, just in case you need it. It’s great for folks who are out walking or exercising alone, working alone, or who otherwise need an additional level of safety and personal security. To enable this:

  • Open Safety & Emergency.
  • Tap Personal Safety at the top.
  • You can choose who Google will notify if you don’t respond. You’ll also need location services turned on.
  • Emergency SOS

Emergency SOS lets you surreptitiously call 911 and share info in an emergency when you might not be able to talk.

You can simply tap the power button 5x to start:
An emergency 911 call
An emergency share of your location and info to one of your contacts and/or
An emergency video recording

You can set it up so it does one or all of these actions. This is a cool feature, but I didn’t need to use it in my testing period—even so, it’s good to know it’s there.

Overall review: Google Pixel 6 Pro

Google pixel 6 pro, reviewOverall there are some really, really useful new features in the new Pixel 6 Pro. The new photo editing and improvement features are handy and I’m already all over the Magic Eraser.
The new safety alerts and options are handy and helpful. The translation features are going to make this phone a must-have for travelers, and the new design is sleek and chic.

Downsides? In this iteration, some of the features and apps were a bit buggy for me, and didn’t perform as well as they have in previous phones; mainly I struggled with some of the personalization and screen design features, and the Wait times feature, for example, didn’t work for me.

But these are minor complaints. The Google Pixel phone continues to be one of my favourite phones ever.

PIXEL 6 PRO is priced starting at $1,179CAD while PIXEL 6 starts at $799 CAD.

Erin L

Erin L

I'm a journalist, tech blogger, writer, TV producer, silversmith& jewelry designer, foodie and world traveler. I blog, write for publications, and supply freelance writing services to Calgary, and the world.

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