Google Pixel 6 Pro Review: Impressive Phone That May Be Too Big

Google Pixel 6 Pro
The camera system spans the width of the Pixel 6 Pro, but it doesn't get in the way while using the phone. TYLER HAYES

The Pixel 6 phones look lovely. Google's Pixel 6 and 6 Pro introduced an instantly distinct and noticeable physical design. The raised camera bump extends across the entire width of the device. The two-tone colors also add a nice design aesthetic, but one that may need to be covered with a case to avoid the phone's slippery plastic exterior. What Google is most proud of with these new phones, however, are things that are harder to see than the striking new design.

Arguably the main feature of the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro is the Google-built tensor processor embedded within the plastic phone. Like Apple, Google is venturing into creating its own silicon, which lets it have more control over mobile processing. The place the processor is most noticeable for consumers will be in the photography features it enables and in the battery life. There's less to say about the processor itself from a consumer standpoint.

While I've enjoyed my time with the Pixel 6 Pro, on the whole, the reason to buy it over another Android phone, including the Pixel 5a, is its camera. The Pro variant of the Pixel 6 has a 50-megapixel wide-angle lens, a 12-megapixel ultra-wide-angle lens and a 48-megapixel telephoto lens with a 4x optical zoom. It then takes those three distinct camera lenses and uses them in some amazing ways.



  • Fantastic camera system and related effects
  • The 120 Hz display is nice to have
  • Long battery life


  • Pixel 6 Pro is large and can be hard to hold

Buy at Best Buy.

Comparing Pixel Phones

Google Pixel 6 Pro
The Pixel 6 Pro (left) has a glossy exterior, while the Pixel 5a (right) has a smoother, matte finish. TYLER HAYES

When the Pixel 5a was announced, I was struck by its value. Sure, it only comes in one color, but it's a spunky 5G phone with plenty of modern features for $450. Plus, it matches a lot of the specs of the Pixel 6 or is comparable in enough ways.

The Pixel 6 Pro on the other hand really gets all the features, including a higher refresh rate screen, telephoto camera lens with a 4x optical zoom and the most system RAM for increased performance. The Pixel 6 Pro is easy to recommend as the best phone. The downside of it, however, is that getting the 6 Pro also means having to carry and use a large phone with a 6.7-inch screen.

The Pixel 5a and the Pixel 6 aren't the same sizes, but they're close enough. Both are a little larger than an iPhone 13 Pro but not enough to make a difference in a pocket or in a hand. For me, the Pixel 6 Pro crosses a hard to define line that can make it uncomfortable and awkward to hold in most daily use circumstances. The Pixel 6 Pro and 5a may not look too different in size, but they feel wildly different to hold.

While the design and look of the Pixel 6 Pro are attractive aspects, the glossy exterior also makes it slippery. There were few times I was using the phone when I wasn't concerned about it sliding out of my hand. It posed constant mental stress.

There's very little that separates the Pixel 6 from the 6 Pro, but the things that do, such as the 120 Hz refresh rate and the 4x optical zoom lens, are the most desirable and, in my experience, useful. This will need to be a buying decision based on whether you value those things or not.

Pixel 6 Pro Camera features

Google Pixel 6 Pro
The three camera lenses are the primary reason to pick the Pixel 6 Pro over another Pixel phone. TYLER HAYES

I constantly found myself drawn to the telephoto lens. The reach it provides, from a phone, is hard to believe. It makes the iPhone 13 Pro's great 3x optical zoom seem quaint.

Despite the three-phone Pixel lineup being upgradable to Android 12, the Pixel 6 Pro (and Pixel 6) gets camera effects and features unique to them that the Pixel 5a does not. Those features specifically on the high-end phones include:

  • Magic Eraser
  • Motion Mode
  • Real Tone
  • Face Unblur
  • Panorama
  • Manual white balancing
  • Locked Folder

Motion Mode helps keep people in focus while they're moving or the background is moving. It's neat. Google's attention to Real Tone and getting all skin tones colors and shades as accurate as possible is also great. The Locked Folder is handy because of its direct camera integration, but nothing that can't be duplicated with other software utilities.

All the features worked as I expected, though it can take time to navigate and find all of them because there is a lot of functionality jammed into the interface. Over time these photo effects get easier to locate and use in the moment.

Other Pixel 6 Pro Highlights

Google Pixel 6 Pro
The Pixel 6 Pro uses a fingerprint sensor embedded underneath the screen. TYLER HAYES

I can't say how the Pixel 6's 90 Hz display looks, but the 6 Pro's 120 Hz display scrolls smoothly and looks excellent to my eye. It has a dynamic refresh rate, so it can scale up or down to match the content being shown. If there's any doubt about the smoothness, there's a toggle switch in the settings to turn the 120 Hz off and on to see the difference.

The Pixel 6 Pro puts its fingerprint sensor underneath the phone's screen. Ultimately, I think I like this placement better than on the back of the phone, where the Pixel 5a put its biometric sensor. The 6 Pro's fingerprint sensor misfired a few times for me, but overall it served its purpose just fine. A lot of this likely had to do with a fingerprint icon that only appeared when it was needed as opposed to a physical element always touchable.

Is there a large battery in the Pixel 6 Pro because it's so big or is the phone so big because of the battery inside? Either way, Google claims the battery life will last beyond 24 hours, and it does. The common disclaimer should be repeated here: The battery life can vary wildly depending on what the phone is being used for. But I think it's safe to say it will keep most people set for a full day.

Should You Buy the Google Pixel 6 Pro?

Google Pixel 6 Pro
The Pixel 6 Pro (left) is taller and just a bit wider than the Pixel 5a (right), but it feels much bigger while holding it. TYLER HAYES

If you want the best that Android has to offer, then you probably want the Pixel 6 Pro phone. Beyond all the main features discussed, it even has bells and whistles like reverse wireless charging to charge other devices from its rear casing. Google calls this Battery Share. It also has an IP68 water-and-dust resistance rating. The Pixel 6 Pro is extravagant without being expensive.

The problem is that if you want the best the Pixel line of phones has to offer, you also have to get a physically big phone. It may be hard to knowingly give up the super useful telephoto camera lens by picking the Pixel 6.

There's no easy choice here, but don't get paralyzed by the decision. The Pixel 6 Pro is the best. The Pixel 6 is more holdable and $150 cheaper. And, if you don't need the best camera system (but still want a respectable one), then the Pixel 5a will save you $450 from the 6 Pro. There should be an Android-flavor phone for most people in the Pixel lineup.

Buy at Best Buy from $899.

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