The Pixel 6 and 6 Pro have been here in the office with us for a little while now, and after actually using both of them for nearly a month at this point, I have some thoughts about both of these phones. Really, though, I wanted to share with all of you why it is I’ve decided to go with the Pixel 6 instead of the Pixel 6 Pro. This won’t be your run-of-the-mill review, but I think you’ll learn a lot about what it actually feels like to use these phones as I explain my final decision. Let’s get into it.
We made a previous video outlining why I was so torn on the Pixel 6 vs 6 Pro decision, and that was all legit. I bounced back and forth for some time between the two devices before landing on the Pixel 6 and now that I’ve actually purchased my own, I feel confident that the Pixel 6 is a better overall value and fit for most people. A better overall phone? Maybe not, but there is so much upside to the Pixel 6 that I know for certain it is the right one for me.
I also want to get another thing out of the way right off the bat: I’m not a phone reviewer. I used to swap phones like I swapped shoes, always on to the next big thing, the next breakthrough, the next gimmick. It didn’t matter if it was Samsung, Motorola, LG, or the next Nexus phone from Google: I was there for it. But phones have become utilities and – quite honestly – a little boring. They are all just so good that there’s little they can do to surprise us these days. And, because of that, I’ve stopped moving through phones so rapidly and usually only upgrade my phone once a year. You know, like a normal person. I’ve been rocking the OnePlus 8T since last fall and came to it from the 2019 Pixel 4XL. Simply put: I don’t get my hands on a lot of phones these days.
So that’s why we didn’t think a standard review even made sense, here. I don’t have a working knowledge of what the latest smartphones feel like to use on a daily basis – Android or iPhone. So, to tell you how much better or worse the Pixel 6 is versus all those phones would simply be inauthentic and not really useful at all.
What I HAVE used, though, is every single Pixel that’s ever been made, so that’s something I can talk to you about. As a Pixel user since the first one hit the market, I’ve hated not being a Pixel guy for the better part of a year at this point. Every single time I’ve picked up my wife’s Pixel 4XL or any of the mid-range Pixels that we have in the office over that time, I would always yearn to get back to this version of Android. I just wanted to go back to a Pixel.
Regardless of that yearning, however, I’d become too used to niceties that modern smartphones offer like larger, high refresh screens and faster processors. I just couldn’t bring myself to purchase something like the tiny Pixel 5 or the Pixel 5a that is stuck at only 60hz. Yeah, they have the Pixel software, but what I really wanted was that Pixel experience and some nicer hardware. With the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro, that’s exactly what Google has finally delivered.
With Qualcomm out of the picture now, Google can just go all-in and make the best phones it is capable of at this point while keeping the prices in check. The Pixel 6 starts at $599 and the Pixel 6 Pro at $899, and for what they are bringing to the table, those are very low prices when compared to the competition.
You’ve probably heard these specs before, but it’s worth repeating. Both phones come with Google’s custom Tensor Soc, the same 50MP main camera and 12MP ultrawide cameras, but things do really diverge from there. The Pro gets an additional 50MP 4x telephoto camera option and an upgraded selfie camera that increases the megapixel count from 8 to 12 over the regular Pixel 6.
Internally, the Pixel 6 has 8GB of RAM and either 128GB or 256GB of storage. The Pixel 6 Pro has 12GB of RAM and options for 128GB, 256GB or 512GB of storage. The Pixel 6 has a 90hz FHD screen at 6.4-inches and the Pro has a 6.7-inch QHD screen running at 120hz. Externally, the Pixel 6 keeps the matte finish black rails around the outside with a fully-flat screen while the Pixel 6 Pro comes with a slightly-curved screen and polished metal around the edges.
I’d say that just about covers it for the specs and, like I said earlier, I don’t really want to get bogged down with all that in this post and with this video. I really want to get to what it is about the Pixel 6 that won me over. So, let’s do that.
Why I went with the Pixel 6
First up – and maybe only important for a little while – is the fact that the Pixel 6 is more widely available. The Pro sold out basically everywhere right away and though we have one here for review, I was ready to take advantage of some of the awesome trade-in deals available at places like T-Mobile, and that meant making a decision. I’d argue this was the least important factor for my choice, but it played into it for sure and I’d wager it is for some of you as well. I’ve been enjoying my Pixel 6 for weeks already. My wife is still waiting on her Pro to ship.
Next up is simply the feel of the phone. The Pixel 6 just feels like a Google phone and the Pro doesn’t. I know I said in that first video that I could just get used to the Samsung-like feel of the Pro and I sort of did, but I continued to look at the Pixel 6 with a bit of envy. I like the black, matte finished rails and the overall unassuming look of the Pixel 6. It doesn’t detract from the Pro’s more-flashy exterior, but for me, the aesthetics of the Pixel 6 won me over and strike the best balance of quality and aesthetic.
Then there’s the flat screen. Is the display better on the Pro? Yep. Everything about it is better, but I hate curved displays in real-world use. They serve no purpose and make the phone more difficult to use and more prone to damage. I’ll take a really good-enough flat screen over an excellent curved display every single time.
And while we’re talking display, we have to mention size. 6.7-inches is pushing the barrier for me on what is too large for a smartphone. While I did get used to the Pixel 6 Pro’s size, I still felt it was too much. Picking up the Pixel 6 feels right and though it is still a large phone by most measures, it is right around the 6.55-inch mark I think OnePlus has nailed over the past few years with their phones. Large enough for content consumption, still small enough not to feel unwieldy.
Finally, there’s just the price and overall value on offer with the Pixel 6. I think the Pro is priced fairly for all the upgrades you get, but the truth is I don’t need most of them. 90hz is fine. The screen is great – not the best, but great. 8GB of RAM is plenty. I generally only buy 128GB phones, so that’s not an issue, and camera setup on the Pixel 6 has been outstanding. Seriously, there’s not been one time I’ve missed the telephoto lens or considered the quality of the selfie camera on the Pixel 6. It has been awesome. Take a look at some of the shots I’ve been able to capture with this phone’s amazing camera.
Put plainly, I think Google absolutely nailed the value proposition on this phone. I get the Google experience I want, solid hardware, and the “trade offs” are so minimal that I’ve not even thought about it since putting down the Pro. The Pixel 6 is now in my pocket for a whole bunch of reasons, but at the end of the day it is because I love Google’s version of the Android experience and I want it on hardware that doesn’t feel like a compromise. The Pixel 6 absolutely delivers on that, and at $599, I regularly find myself baffled at the fact that Google put this phone together for this price. It has been an absolute joy to get back to Pixel and to do so with a phone that makes me feel like I’m getting way more out of it than the price tag would indicate.