After nine months of everyday use of the Pixel 6 Pro, it’s time to take stock of this long-running test of a frustratingly edged smartphone.
The launch of the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro was supposed to be an event for Google. For the first time, it looked like Android was taking smartphones seriously. After outsourcing its Nexus line to other manufacturers and then offering Pixel smartphones that weren’t intended for mass sale, the Google Pixel 6 were to be the first smartphones designed to truly sell to the general public. Proof of its investment, Google had even communicated with a lot of billboards and 4 x 3 displays, had taken care to develop its own chip and had even increased the size of its main photo sensor.
When the Google Pixel 6 Pro was released, we gave it a score of 9/10, a sign of a smartphone “ excellent “. But after nine months of using it every day, it is clear that the smartphone is relatively disappointing.
Before getting to my experience with the Google Pixel 6 Pro, a little point on my personal experience – I promise it will be short. I used the Oppo Find X2 Pro for two years, a smartphone that won me over for its software customization, photo performance and fast charging. A few years ago, my everyday smartphone was a Nexus 6P. At the time, if I found its format cumbersome, I nevertheless appreciated the “pure” Android experience offered then and I wanted to find this simpler interface. When the Pixel 6s were released, I therefore set my sights on the Pixel 6 Pro in order to test it on a daily basis over the long term – what we call “long term test” at Frandroid.
An attractive photo experience, without being revolutionary
Why the Pixel 6 Pro rather than the classic, more compact Pixel 6? Because I’m a photography lover, especially long focal lengths. I then wanted to find an experience as close as possible to the x5 optical zoom offered on the Oppo Find X2 Pro that I had been using until then. And on that level, I was served.
I had never used a Pixel before — with the exception of the Pixel 3a XL review three years ago — and I was eager to experience the much-vaunted portrait mode in Google’s smartphone lineup, while like night mode and the effectiveness of HDR. And indeed, the Pixel 6 Pro is able to take very good shots. So much so that, even though I bought myself a hybrid camera at the end of last year, I often tended to draw the Pixel 6 Pro – remember that, by definition, the best camera is the one you have. always with you.
The great versatility — allowing me to go from a 16 mm equivalent lens on the ultra wide-angle to a 24 mm equivalent on the wide-angle to a 104 mm equivalent on the telephoto lens — allowed me to find, for each scene , shoe on my foot. I found, with this module, everything I expected from a good photophone. The tools offered by Google have also been useful to me… to a lesser extent. There “magic eraser“, initially integrated only on Google Photos for the latest smartphones from the firm, is extremely practical for removing an unsightly stud, a passerby in the background or a post that spoils the landscape. On the other hand, I have not found any real uses for the two new software features integrated into the “movement» of the photo application: panning with movement and long exposure. As a reminder, the first will make it possible to make a yarn – capture a sharp moving subject with a blurred background – and the second will create rays of light, practical for example to capture the lights of the headlights from a road bridge.
I now come to a first disappointment on this Google Pixel 6 Pro: I expected better photos. Let’s be clear, the smartphone takes very nice shots and offers real versatility. But I had heard and read so much that Google had a crazy lead over the competition that, coming from an Oppo Find X2 Pro, I could only be disappointed. With the exception of the slightly more effective HDR mode on the Pixel 6 Pro than on my previous smartphone, I didn’t observe any real qualitative leap. Worse still, for the past few months, manufacturers have now been offering much larger sensors – from Xiaomi and Sony – or particularly advanced software functions – from Vivo or Oppo – which make me want more than the very conformist aspect of the Pixel 6 Pro.
Maybe I was expecting too much from this Google photo experience. Certainly, even. But it is clear that the Mountain View firm must now face fierce competition.
A load far from the standards of 2022
Unfortunately, my previous use of Oppo’s smartphone also exposed other shortcomings of Google’s phone. This is the case of autonomy… or rather fast charging. Admittedly, I’ve taken on fancy tastes with the 65W charging power of Oppo’s smartphone, but you have to admit that the Pixel 6 Pro pales in comparison with more than two hours of charge for a battery filled to 100 %. Especially since the manufacturer does not provide a charger in the box and the one I had was not compatible with the Power Delivery PPS standard. It is therefore impossible to use the 30 W maximum power offered by the Pixel 6 Pro.
In most cases, this shortcoming is not really one, since the 5000 mAh battery allows you to wait until the evening to recharge your smartphone. But on busy days, even this great capacity can play tricks on you and we are then frustrated not to be able to recharge the smartphone in about twenty minutes.
Where the Pixel 6 Pro ultimately disappointed me the most was in the software experience. I’m not talking about the interface, which is quite successful, but about the many bugs that plagued the launch of the smartphone.
Unintuitive software experience
Whether it’s the finicky fingerprint reader, the light sensor acting up, or the unlock in my pants pocket, I spent the first few months of use sighing while using the Pixel 6 Pro. Fortunately, things ended up working out. The fingerprint sensor is now much more responsive – without reaching the speed of an Oppo or Vivo smartphone – the light sensor is much more responsive – it now seems to take the brightness in front of the screen first and no longer the brightness in front of the screen. back — and the spurious unlocking was fixed simply by disabling Smart Lock.
But despite everything, it took more than six months for all these concerns to be corrected. Not to mention the ones that Google still hasn’t considered. The curved screen, for example, is furiously reminiscent of the experience of the first models using this design, six or seven years ago. The smartphone captures many presses made by the base of my thumb in contact with the border – especially when I type with one hand. However, in 2022, I thought that all manufacturers had integrated an office system to analyze and correct these phantom supports. It is not so. There is no function in the software settings to software block these side supports. I now come to understand why so many people complain about smartphones with curved edges. When it’s poorly managed, it quickly becomes extremely frustrating, especially with a large format smartphone.
Another frustration in 2022, Google still does not offer facial recognition on its Pixel 6 Pro. However, most competing manufacturers now offer the choice between the fingerprint reader and face recognition to unlock their devices. Even Apple has chosen to put aside the fingerprint reader, which is slower than face recognition. With a sensor as slow as on the Pixel 6 Pro, I spent several months hoping that Google would finally opt for facial recognition – even if less secure – in vain.
As my colleague Titouan indicated in his article listing the many bugs of the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, I finally had the impression of having spent several months with a smartphone in the beta phase. An enamelled experience of many concerns that photo quality, autonomy and the user interface have had a hard time catching up with. Of course, we must keep in mind the price of Pixel 6 Pro, launched at 900 euros – and now offered at 800 euros – when its main ultra premium competitors now easily exceed the bar of 1000 euros. Let’s not forget either that this is the best way to take advantage of Android updates as quickly as possible and that the photo quality remains very high.
But after nine months with the Pixel 6 Pro in my pocket, I’ve come to think that Google is still far from the level of more experienced smartphone manufacturers, such as Oppo, Xiaomi, Samsung or Vivo.
Manu, who uses the Pixel 6, will soon offer you his feedback which promises to be more positive. He didn’t have that many problems. Stay tuned onFrandroid.
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