The Pixel 6 Pro Is An Absolute Pleasure To Use

The Pixel 6 Pro Is An Absolute Pleasure To Use
Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

Google last week unveiled its long-awaited Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro phones and it looked like these devices were going to be great. I tried really hard to find fault, but after using the Pixel 6 Pro for a week, the ‘cons’ list is pretty pathetic.

We’ve split the reviews up a little, this one will focus on what you can expect from day-to-day use of the Pixel 6 Pro and over here you’ll find our in-depth breakout of everything under the hood of the Pixel 6. If you’re an Android user, you’ll know a bunch of these features exist already, but those in an iPhone echo-chamber wont, so please bear with me as I walk you through a day in the life of a Pixel Pro 6, picking apart any teeny tiny thing I could.

Pixel 6 Pro

WHAT IS IT?

The latest top-tier Pixel from Google

PRICE

$1,299-$1,599

LIKE

Google assistant, battery life, ease of use

NO LIKE

The look of the apps, speaker sound quality

Day In The Life Of A Pixel 6 Pro

Let’s pretend the start of this 24 hours is when I set up the Pixel 6 Pro. Setup is easy and straight forward – even if you’re not copying over a previous account. Fingerprint setup is stress-free – unlocking the device via fingerprint is somehow therapeutic. Also smart is how the device changes the appearance of your apps based on the wallpaper’s colour scheme. The apps downloaded look really nice, but the native apps are really ugly.

Not a fan at all of these apps. (Screenshot: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia)

On the topic of screenshots, another dislike is the feature requiring two buttons on the same side of the phone to be pressed simultaneously – the Pixel 6 Pro is simply too big to do this comfortably without having to completely reposition your hands to capture.

The Google Assistant Is Rad

Before bed each night I set my alarm, yep, every night. But instead of paying for a song (or having to load songs onto the device), we can select one straight from Spotify or YouTube. Setting this alarm, however, I could only add recently played albums or playlists. You also have the option to add Google Assistant features, which are actually rad – Google Assistant tells me a historical fact from this day in history.

It doesn’t yet understand how to read me the latest articles on Gizmodo.com.au, but we’ll get there. I’ve set the Assistant language to Australian English, but I still don’t really like how it sounds.

Google tells us the new Pixel 6 and 6 Pro is the result of bringing together the best of Google’s AI, software and hardware. It wants to expand on its search engine expertise to give you AI that’s helpful, not annoying. These alarm features highlights this. Actually, this whole phone highlights this.

Phone And Video Calls

The Pixel 6 defaults you to Wi-Fi calling, which I don’t like. Turning Wi-Fi off mid-call, the phone thinks it knows better and turns it back on. So this is a battle. Sound quality on calls isn’t great. The Pixel 6 Pro is very heavy holding it against my ear (after holding it there for a while, not immediately), so speakerphone is easier. The sound is scratchy, kinda muffled and really not super clear unless the volume is about midway down – but by then I can’t really hear what they’re saying. Earbuds obviously make this better, but we’re testing the phone here.

The call makes the phone run a little hot.

While we’re talking about the speaker, it’s probably the right time to tell you music sounds pretty bad through the phone. Perhaps if you played something soft or more gentle it might sound OK, but anything with guitars, a drum kit and some aggressive vocals sounds really bad. 2/10 for this experience.

The speaker sound is good enough for video calling and video quality is great. (The integration of a Google Meet meeting works very well, as you’d hope).

The Pixel 6 Pro Smarts

Next in my day was an interview and given lockdown work from home behaviours are still very much the norm in Sydney, this is also via video call, this time Zoom. I launched the Pixel’s native voice recorder and started taping the call. Assistant Voice Typing was around 95 per cent accurate and the quality of the recording was also very good – even though recording a Zoom call from my laptop. We talk about these features a little more over here, but it needs to be said that I’m so very impressed with the Google Assistant here.

Pixel 6 Pro Camera

Last week I talked about all the fabulous camera features Google has packed into the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro, and while my skills need a bit more nurturing, the triple rear camera system is insanely good.

My cat did something cute, so I stopped work to take a photo of him using Portrait Mode.

Google pixel 6 pro review
Meet Boston. (Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia)

I also tested Magic Eraser and it didn’t do too badly at all. This is definitely the most fun feature packed into the Pixel 6 phones.

Before Magic Eraser (Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia)
Pixel 6 Pro magic eraser
After Magic Eraser (Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia)

Motion Mode, however, requires a lot more playing around.

Long Exposure adds a creative blur to the moving subjects in the scene (Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia)
Action Pan focuses on the moving subject and adds a creative blur to the background (Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia)

When taking pics using Night Mode, I thought this looked way better at the time, so this is karma for finding the smallest faults with the Google Pixel 6 Pro.

Pixel 6 Pro night mode
Night Mode (Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia)

You can do a bunch of post-production edits to your videos, the best is actually stabilisation (you can do this pre-production, too); the most fun is ‘markup’ where you can draw or add highlighter to the clip. You can change the shape of the video and add filters – you can also capture photos from the video. Given these are video pics, they aren’t as crisp as if they were taken with the 50-MP camera, but they’re actually quite good. Perfect for a promo pic for the start of a YouTube vid.

Other video features include time lapse and slow motion. Editing both of these post-production is effortless and seamless – which you’d expect.

Streaming from Netflix is a good way to test the screen – video is crisp and the graphics are simply perfection. The telco I’m with offers patchy (at best) 5G in my area, so stay tuned for a deeper dive into mmWave and the Pixel 6 Pro. While both Pixels support 5G, the insane speeds reported are only achievable on the 6 Pro.

Starting with 100 per cent battery and not sinking into power reserve mode, I’ve got 59 per cent left at 9:00 pm. After putting it on charge with the cable that came in the box and Google’s own wall plug, it took less than 30 minutes to reach 100 per cent charge.

Pixel 6 Vs Pixel 6 Pro

Everything I wrote above you can do with the Pixel 6, too, just not the mmWave stuff – that’s limited to the Pixel 6 Pro. The triple rear camera system is also only on the Pro. The Pixel 6’s dual rear camera setup is also super decent (still has a 50-megapixel primary camera and a 12-MP ultra-wide camera, it just doesn’t have the 48-MP telephoto camera with 4x optical zoom that the Pro has).

The Pixel 6 is great, but the Pixel 6 Pro is better. And the size (only 6 grams heavier than the Pixel 6) and cost (256GB Pixel 6 Pro is $320 more than the 256GB Pixel 6) simply aren’t enough for me to be convinced it isn’t worth investing a little bit more cash to get the Pro.

There is so, so, so much more this phone can do than I had time (and space) to tell you about.

While there are a bunch of things I don’t like about the Google Pixel 6 Pro, all of them really seem to be things I believe iOS or other phones do better (emojis, speaker quality) but the things I really like about the Pixel 6 Pro seem to be due to the power of Google and they far outweigh the things I don’t like.

The Pixel 6 Pro is an absolute pleasure to use.