We just passed the Pixel 6’s six-month anniversary, so we at Tom’s Guide wanted to reflect on our time with Google’s latest round of flagships. Spoiler: we like the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. They’re excellent phones with the best cameras you’ll find on an Android device.
By the sounds of it, we’re not the only ones who enjoy the new Pixels. Google has reported excellent sales for the handsets, which should make any Pixel fan happy. These devices spearhead everything that Android has to offer. With useful features like Magic Eraser and Call Screen, the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro certainly rank among the best Android phones.
The writers on the Tom’s Guide staff who own a Pixel 6 or Pixel 6 Pro spoke up on what they think of their phones. Here’s what they have to say.
Abundance of choice is part of the life of a phone reviewer. In fact, my wife frequently asks me why there are phones everywhere. It’s funny because she’s the one who encouraged me to take this job in the first place. I digress. In all my years of using and reviewing phones, one of my favorites is the Pixel 6 Pro.
Google’s latest flagship may not have the best battery life, the brightest display, or the most powerful processor, but it does enough things well that endear it to me. And then you have the cameras. The Pixel 6 Pro is one of the best camera phones you can buy right now. The photos it takes can be downright incredible. I’d much rather take out the Pixel 6 Pro than my old Nikon D3300 DSLR.
The Pixel 6 Pro is always on my desk with my secondary SIM card in it. I’m still not sold on the camera bar design (especially since it makes using the Razer Kishi controller almost impossible), but I think the Pixel 6 Pro is my favorite Android phone. I’ve had the OnePlus 10 Pro long enough to see that the Pixel wins out.
Maybe that’s my long, long history with Google’s phones talking (going all the way back to the Nexus One), but the Pixel 6 Pro is my preferred Android handset. I’ve managed to avoid the smorgasbord of issues that people have complained about, and, other than the battery life, the Pixel 6 Pro is my ideal Android phone.
Ever since the Pixel 6 launched, there’s been a never-ending stream of reports about bugs and glitches. But, messy pre-order problems aside, I haven’t experienced any of those problems for myself.
I’ve written several news stories about problems some Pixel 6 owners have had, and the updates that have been released to fix them. Auto-rejecting calls, flickering screens, problematic fingerprint scanning, ghost dialing and so on. People have experienced those problems in varying numbers, and the law of averages said I should have had something go wrong by now. But that’s not the case
My Pixel 6 Pro experience has been smooth sailing from the day it arrived, doing exactly what I need it to do when I need it done. There’s not much more you can ask for, though it would be nice if I could get a screen protector on without trapping dust underneath.
I’ve been an Android user for nearly a decade, working my way through HTC, Samsung, Sony, Huawei and OnePlus devices — but I’d never owned a Google-made phone until the Pixel 6. And after 10 years of being a digital nomad, I’m not sure I’ll ever switch again.
There are plenty of reasons why I love my Pixel 6, but one towers above the rest: the camera. I’m a photography obsessive who would gladly have a mirrorless camera grafted onto my arm if it were possible, but the Pixel 6 is so good I’ve barely used my poor Fujifilm these past six months.
Unless I want to zoom in, there’s just no need. Shots are sharp, packed with detail, colorful and beautifully exposed. The Portrait mode is particularly special, with an almost 3D-like quality to the way the subjects stand out against the pleasingly blurred backgrounds. And the software is by turns effortlessly easy to use or impressively full-featured, depending on what you ask of it.
Of course the rest of the phone is pretty good, too: I’m a big fan of Tensor-enabled AI tricks such as Live Translate and Voice Typing, it’s fast in use, striking to look at and mercifully free of bloatware. I’ve not experienced any bugs, either. My one complaint is that the battery could be better, both in terms of charging speed and longevity, but hopefully the Pixel 7 will fix that. I’ll just make sure I buy the Pro version next time, for even more photographic goodness.
I tend to swap indiscriminately between Android phones, given the number of devices I need to test and compare as part of my day job. But I’m always relieved when it’s the Pixel 6’s turn in the rotation. It’s a solid phone with some excellent features powered by that Tensor chip. And it’s the rare Android device that can make me — a long-time iPhone user dating back to the iPhone 3G — envious of what Google offers Pixel users. Do I wish the iPhone had an editing tool as simple to use as Magic Eraser? Friend, I do.
But it’s the cameras on the Pixel 6 that really make this phone stand out. Whenever I have to shoot anything for Tom’s Guide, it’s usually the Pixel 6 that I trust to do the job. Even without the telephoto lens found on the more expensive Pixel 6 Pro, the Pixel 6 is a capable shooter that can produce photos you’d put up against any smartphone.
I also remain enamored with the Pixel 6’s design. On my desk I have a wide assortment of phones and frankly, they all look the same. The Pixel 6 stands out with that camera bar stretching across the length of the device. In a world of lookalike phones, Google has tried something different, and I appreciate the unique look.
As it stands, the Google Pixel 6 Pro is my Android phone of choice, joining me and my iPhone 13 Pro on pretty much every outing. That’s an odd thing, given the Pixel 6 Pro is not the best Android phone around; you’ll probably want the feature-packed Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra for that. But while the Galaxy S22 Ultra is an almost retro-refit of the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, the appeal of the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro is how they feel smarter and more modern than their spec sheets denote.
Don’t get me wrong, a Pixel phone that finally has a 120Hz refresh rate display is great, and the updated camera system is also a joy, delivering detailed, contrast-heavy photos that I love. But it's the capabilities of the custom Tensor chip that win my attention, along with the best take on Android 12 available. The Magic Eraser feature really does feel like magic, removing unwanted people and objects from photos. And I’m left with the impression that the Pixel 6 Pro is always trying to think about how to serve me up the information I actually want, something the iPhone 13 Pro doesn't seem to care about all that much.
This level of smarts means I’m happy to brush aside the occasional janky bits I stumble across with the Pixel 6 Pro, most notably the slow and unreliable fingerprint scanner. And I have to say, I love the camera bar design, especially in white, with the contrasting black rectangle of cameras evoking a Star Wars Stormtrooper-like look; thankfully the Pixel 6 Pro’s shots are a lot more accurate than those of the Empire’s legions.
Pixel 7: Looking ahead
The smartphone industry presses on at a blistering pace. In another six months, we'll be dealing with the Pixel 7. Let's hope Google takes the feedback from the Pixel 6 series to heart, notably about the battery life. Of course, in the meantime, we probably have the Pixel 6a to look forward to.
What can the Pixel 7 do? We want to see the Tensor chipset continue to get better. More power, faster AI processing, and smoother performance — plus a better, more power-efficient 5G modem. We'd also like Google continue to improve the OLED display, perhaps something as bright as the iPhone 13 Pro Max or Galaxy S22 Ultra.
We have no doubt that Google has some good stuff in store for the Pixel 7, likely some neat Android 13 features, too. October is a long way off, though, unless Google ups its autumn timeline.