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Google Pixel 6 starter guide: Setup, accessories, features and more

Google Pixel 6 held in a hand
(Image credit: Google)

So you've just got a Google Pixel 6 or Pixel 6 Pro? Congratulations: You're now the proud owner of one of the best phones on the planet. 

But with a great phone comes great responsibility, namely the need to get the most from your new mobile powerhouse. After all, there's no point owning one if you don't use it to its full potential.

I'm here to help on that front, with this guide to how to get started with your Google Pixel 6 or Pixel 6 Pro. So read on and I'll tell you which settings to change, which accessories to buy and which features to try out on your new phone. And if it's app suggestions that you're after, you can try our list of the 25 best apps to install on a new Android phone.

Part one: Settings to change

You probably already know this, but the Pixel 6 runs the latest version of Google's mobile OS, Android 12, right out of the box. That has plenty of changes over Android 11, some of which you might take some getting used to, but on top of that there are a few Pixel-specific options that could also trip you up. 

Here are the first five settings I changed when setting up my own Pixel 6 a few weeks ago, and that I'd recommend you also look at.

1. Notification History

pixel 6 features to enable: notification history

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

This is the first setting I enabled on my new Pixel 6 — because it's a fantastic feature, and I'm really not sure why it's turned off by default. Notification history keeps a record of every notification you've received in the past 24 hours, so if you accidentally swipe a bunch away, they're not lost. To turn the feature on — and to use it once it's active — go to Settings > Notifications > Notification history

2. Enhanced auto-rotate

how to enable enhanced auto-rotate android 12

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

This is definitely one of my favorite new features on the Pixel 6: It uses the front-facing camera to detect when you're laying down and disables auto-rotate for you. Once you're upright, auto-rotate turns back on. No more having to turn auto-rotate on and off constantly! Just go to Settings > Display > Auto-rotate screen then Enable Face Detection.

3. Change the power button

(Image credit: Google)

This is a controversial one, but in Android 12 the power button no longer switches off your phone. Yes, really. Instead, it brings up Google Assistant. 

Now you may prefer this setup, in which case you can leave things as they are. But I very much don't — not least because there are five other ways you can call up the Assistant without using that button. To change things back to how they should be, go to Settings > System > Gestures > Press and hold power button > then toggle off the Hold for Assistant option. 

4. Quick tap

(Image credit: Google)

Another neat trick exclusive to the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro is a feature called "Quick Tap." This uses the back of your Pixel as a sensor that can be set to perform one of several actions, including taking a screenshot, playing or pausing media or opening a specific app of your choice. 

Having turned off the Google Assistant via the power button option, I used quick Quick Tap to launch the assistant. To set up the Quick Tap feature to your liking, head to Settings > System > Gestures > Quick Tap then make your choice. 

5. Now Playing

pixel 6 features to enable: now playing

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

And here's yet another nice Pixel-specific feature: Now Playing is basically a built-in Shazam that listens to what's playing and tells you what it is on the lock screen. 

Honestly, I find Now Playing's accuracy a bit hit-and-miss — sometimes it just seems to ignore whatever is being played — but it's still worth leaving the feature switched on for the times when it does identify a song from the radio or a TV show that I don't know. Just open Settings > Sound & vibration > Now Playing to turn it on.

Part two: Accessories to buy

The Pixel 6 is a fine looking phone, but you may still want a case for it — not least to keep that lovely glass rear safe. We've got full lists of the best Google Pixel 6 cases and best Google Pixel 6 Pro cases elsewhere, but we've included the three best for each below.

Given that Google doesn't supply the Pixel 6 with a power brick, that should also be on your list. Wireless charging is another option, as are some wireless earbuds if you don't already have some. Either way, here's our selection of Pixel 6 accessories to complement your new phone.

Pixel 6 cases

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Spigen Liquid Air Armor for Pixel 6: $15 @ Amazon (opens in new tab)
This is Tom's Guide's pick as the best Google Pixel 6 case, and it's also the one that I bought. It's super-tough, super-grippy and fits your phone like a glove — what's not to like?

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Google Pixel 6 case: $29 @ Google (opens in new tab)
For a splash of color, go for Google's own Pixel 6 case, available in three tones to match your handset. Plus, it's crafted from 30% post-consumer recyclable materials and has impressive shock-absorbing abilities. 

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Ringke Fusion for Pixel 6: $12 @ Amazon (opens in new tab)
If you want to show off the Pixel's attractive body, you'll want a clear case — and the Ringke Fusion is a good one. It's well priced, works with wireless chargers and offers decent protection against the elements.

Google Pixel 6 Pro cases

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Caseology Vault Protective Case: $12 @ Amazon (opens in new tab)
Our favorite Pixel 6 Pro case is Caseology's Vault Protective Case. It's stylish, rugged and grippy, and has extra bezels around the screen and camera for further protection. You also get a choice of three colors.

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Google Pixel 6 Pro case: $29 @ Google (opens in new tab)
As with the Pixel 6 version, Google's own 6 Pro case is simple and classy, available in three colors to match your phone and partially made from eco-friendly materials.

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Olixar Folio Wallet Case for Pixel 6 Pro: $12 @ Amazon (opens in new tab)
Keep your phone and credit cards together with Olixar's Folio Wallet Case for the Pixel 6 Pro. As well as having two card slots, it's made from durable, shockproof TPU and is even rigid enough to be used as a stand. 

Google Pixel 6 chargers

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Google 30W USB-C charger: $25 @ Google (opens in new tab)
With no power brick supplied, you're going to need a charger to juice up your Pixel 6. Google's own 30W USB-C model is a decent option at $25, but note that the company has admitted the Pixel 6 can only actually draw 21W from it (opens in new tab), and the 6 Pro 23W. 

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Belkin 25W USB-C charger: $13 @ Amazon (opens in new tab)
If you don't mind going off-brand, Belkin's 25W charger is half the price of Google's model. Yes, it's slower — but that won't matter, given the charging speeds mentioned above.

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Google Pixel Stand 2: $79 @ Google (opens in new tab)
Though any Qi-compatible wireless charger will work with the Pixel 6, Google's new Pixel Stand 2 is the best option if you don't mind paying the premium price. As well as offering fast-charging at the same speed as a wired brick, it adds extra controls for controlling any Google Home or Nest products you have.  

Wireless earbuds

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Jabra Elite Active 75t: Was $179 now $99 @ Amazon (opens in new tab)
You could go for Google's own Pixel Buds A-Series, which we gave 4 stars to in our review, but there's really no need to do so — because the Jabra Elite Active 75t are currently reduced to the same $99 price. They're our pick as the best wireless earbuds (opens in new tab) and are a steal right now.

Part three: Features to try

The Pixel 6 is packed with great features, many of which are made possible by the phone's Google-made Tensor chip. These are the ones I find myself going back to repeatedly. 

Voice typing

Assistant Voice Typing on a Google Pixel 6

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

As my colleague Philip Michaels wrote last month, the Pixel 6's voice typing is a killer feature that puts the iPhone 13 to shame. I was intrigued after reading his article, and it was one of the first things I tried after setting up my Pixel 6. And he was right (of course) — it is amazing.

You simply press the mic button on the Gboard keyboard then speak, and the Tensor-powered Assistant Voice Typing listens in then transcribes what you've said. But — and this is the big thing — it does it brilliantly, inserting punctuation when needed and working out by your intonation that a question mark is required rather than a full stop. 

Voice typing on the Pixel 6 is uncannily accurate and has quickly become one of my most-used features.

Magic Eraser

Google Pixel 6 android

(Image credit: Google)

The Pixel 6's camera is superb (and I can only lust after the even better one on the Pixel 6 Pro), and much of what makes it so great lies in its software features. 

Magic Eraser was one of the headline-makers on launch, and with good reason. Simply tap the object you want to remove from a photo and your phone will do a (mostly) great job of deleting it then filling in the background. It's another feature that Philip Michaels tried out in his Pixel 6 Magic Eraser test.

Camera quick launch

Google Pixel 6 held in hand

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

This one isn't quite so flashy, but I do use it all the time: tap the Pixel 6's power button twice and the camera will spring into action right away. It works whether the phone is in standby or in use — even if you're playing a game or watching a video — and is impressively fast. I've already taken dozens of photos that I might otherwise have missed thanks to its speed.  

There are many other great features on the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, particularly around security and privacy, so stay tuned to Tom's Guide for more on the phone as we continue to explore its abilities. 

Marc McLaren
Marc McLaren

As Editor in Chief (U.K.) on Tom’s Guide, Marc oversees all gaming, streaming, audio, TV, entertainment, how-to and cameras coverage, and is also responsible for the site’s U.K.-focused output. He previously edited the tech website Stuff and has tested and written about phones, tablets, wearables, streaming boxes, smart home devices, Bluetooth speakers, headphones, games, TVs, cameras and much more. He also spent years on a music magazine, where his duties mainly involved spoiling other people’s fun, and on a car magazine. An avid photographer, Marc likes nothing better than taking pictures of very small things (bugs, his daughters) or very big things (distant galaxies). When he gets time, he also enjoys gaming (console and mobile), cycling and attempting to watch as much sport as any human can. He's also fallen in love with Wordle over the past six months and is the author of our today's Wordle answer column, in which he supplies hints and strategy tips for the mega-popular word game. Given he's completed every single Wordle so far and only lost once, and analyzed every Wordle answer in search of patterns, he's well qualified to help you safeguard your streak.