Google’s Pixel 6 is finally here in Singapore. Launched on 15 Feb for S$999, it arrives almost 4 months after the initial US launch in 28 Oct last year.
This is one that I’ve personally been looking forward to. I’ve been using a OnePlus 6T for over 3 years, and between the buggy software and dwindling battery life, it was high time I got a myself new phone. But with the exit of once-prominent market players such as LG and HTC, as well as the decline of OnePlus over the years, I found it difficult to get excited over new phone launches.
The Pixel 6 however, changed that. It’s the biggest hardware refresh Google’s had in years – all new design, cameras, and a custom-built SOC dubbed Google Tensor – all for the reasonable price of US$599. Now that it’s finally here in Singapore, let’s see if the wait was worth it.
Google Pixel 6 Specifications
- 158.6 x 74.8 x 8.9 mm, 207 g
- IP68 dust/water resistant (up to 1.5m for 30 mins)
- 6.4″ 90 Hz, 1080 x 2400 pixels, 20:9 (~411 ppi density), HDR10+
- Google Tensor (5 nm) – Octa-core CPU (2×2.80 GHz Cortex-X1 & 2×2.25 GHz Cortex-A76 & 4×1.80 GHz Cortex-A55), Mali-G78 MP20 GPU
- 128GB UFS 3.1 storage, 8GB RAM
- Main: 50 MP, f/1.9, 25mm, 1/1.31″, 1.2µm, Dual Pixel PDAF, Laser AF, OIS
- Ultrawide: 2 MP, f/2.2, 17mm, 114˚, 1.25µm
- Front: 8 MP, f/2.0, 24mm (wide), 1.12µm
- 4614 mAh battery, fast wired and wireless charging
- Colours: Stormy Black, Sorta Seafoam
- Misc: Stereo speakers, no headphone jack, under-display optical fingerprint reader, nano SIM and/or eSIM
Design & Build
The design of the Pixel 6 has been a topic of contention. There are those who love its unique design, while others find the camera “visor” downright hideous. I am personally rather ambivalent to it. I do like that the two-tone design from the Pixel 3 is back, but at the same time I prefer the simpler and more understated look of the Pixel 4/5. I also found the polycarbonate/matte textures of past Pixels preferable to the generic glossy glass back of the Pixel 6. There’s also the issue of dust and lint being caught along the edges of the visor.
I am a lot less on the fence about the build however. There is essentially only one size of Pixel this year, since the Pixel 6 Pro is only 3g heavier and 1mm wider than the regular Pixel 6. And that’s a bummer, as this phone is heavy. At 207g, it is significantly heavier than my 185g OnePlus 6T, which I already found to be a little too hefty. During my review period, the Pixel 6 was always slightly uncomfortable to use for me due to its weight. The size will also definitely be a disappointment to lovers of past non-XL Pixels.
That being said, the size and weight of the Pixel 6 are par for the course for smartphones these days, so if you’ve become accustomed to most modern day smartphones, you’ll probably feel right at home with the Pixel 6.
Build quality of the Pixel 6 is rather good. The matte black aluminium rails and glass back give a certain density to the phone such that it feels solid in the hand. The fit and finish though leave room for improvement. On the top and left edges of the back of my unit, you can feel the ridge where the glass doesn’t quite align with the aluminium frame. This isn’t the case on the right and bottom edges. As such, the Pixel 6 is not as premium feeling when compared to the seamless build of modern day Samsung flagships. Overall though, it’s not something that I would complain about.
The Pixel 6 offers a 90Hz 6.4-inch 1080p AMOLED HDR10+ display. It’s a good display, though if you want the top-of-the-line 120Hz 1440p panel, you’ll have to spring for the Pro.
The display gets very bright so outdoor visibility isn’t an issue. There are 3 colour profiles to choose from: Natural, Boosted, and Adaptive. I found Boosted to be a nice balance between natural-looking and punchy colours.
My only gripes with the display are the relatively large bezels (and chin) and the position of the hole punch camera. Last year’s Pixel 5 had smaller bezels that were the same width all the way around, and had its hole punch in the top left corner. I found this to be a cleaner design overall compared to the Pixel 6. The Pixel 6’s front camera is also more reflective than other phones, making it a little more noticeable.
Then there’s the optical fingerprint reader under the Pixel 6’s display. It’s about as fast and reliable as the one found on my OnePlus 6T, which is to say not very. It’s definitely not quite as good as Samsung’s ultrasonic fingerprint readers, or the old capacitive fingerprint readers found on phones like the Pixel 5. Unlocking the phone takes a beat rather than being nearly instantaneous, and there are more instances where my fingerprint wasn’t recognised compared to the Pixel 5, which adds to some frustration when using the phone.
Performance & Battery
Performance of Google’s Tensor is good as expected, just a notch below the Snapdragon 888. Some may be unhappy about the fact that phones are already being released with the newer Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, but honestly in day-to-day use it doesn’t make much of a difference. I did notice some lag and jitter when launching the camera however. But it’s nothing major to detract from the overall experience.
Those who are into mobile gaming should note that there are issues with thermal throttling on the Pixel 6. When undergoing the Wild Life Stress Test, the phone boasts class-leading performance in the first loop, but the numbers immediately fall off a cliff, and stabilise at around half the initial performance. If you’re into long (>10min) sessions of graphically intensive games, expect some performance dips.
Battery life on the Pixel 6 is fantastic on its 4614 mAh battery. I typically end the day with 30-50% battery, with screen-on times ranging from 4-7 hours. It wouldn’t surprise me if lighter users could stretch the battery to last 2 whole days. I also appreciate the adaptive charging feature, which charges the phone slowly overnight based on the time of your alarm. This will help to prolong long-term battery health. The phone supports wireless charging and 30W(-ish) fast charging with any USB-PD compatible brick. Unfortunately, you’ll have to purchase your own charging brick separately.
Cameras have traditionally been the strongsuit of Pixel smartphones. But after recycling the same camera hardware since the Pixel 2, Google needed a hardware refresh to keep up with modern smartphones from the likes of Apple, Samsung, and Huawei. In comes the Pixel 6, with its newer and larger 50MP sensor.
I went around shooting with both a Pixel 5 and Pixel 6 for some side-by-side comparisons. In normal lighting conditions, the Pixel 6 excels. Compared to the Pixel 5, the Pixel 6 has more natural white balance and a slightly wider field of view. The Pixel 6 also has more natural bokeh due to its larger sensor, something which is more noticeable when taking photos of close-up subjects. Level of detail is about the same, as the Pixel 6 bins the 50MP images down to 12.5MP, vs the Pixel 5’s 12.2MP sensor.
The ultrawide works well in normal lighting conditions, to the point where I don’t see a noticeable difference in quality from the main camera. Colours remain just as punchy, and there’s still the same level of detail. The field of view appears to be unchanged from the Pixel 5’s ultrawide.
Night Sight continues to be excellent, and works even for ultrawides and selfies to produce clear images with pleasing colours in low light. It kicks in automatically when the Pixel sees a dark scene. Ultrawide Night Sight shots are blurrier compared to those from the main camera, with poorer dynamic range, but that’s to be expected given the smaller sensor and aperture. The earlier comparisons with the Pixel 5 still apply – in general, Night Sight photos on the Pixel 6 has more natural white balance, but other than that, there isn’t a noticeable difference in quality.
To be honest, I’m quite surprised about how well the Pixel 5 holds up compared to the newer Pixel 6. Even in terms of dynamic range, where you’d think the Pixel 6 would be leaps and bounds ahead of its predecessor due to its larger sensor, I’m hard pressed to see a difference. The same goes for low light photos. It perhaps is a testament to just how good Google’s computational photography algorithms are.
Overall, the Pixel 6 has an excellent camera, though it’s not much of a step up from the Pixel 5. I have heard from other reviews that the video quality is much improved, though I wouldn’t be the best to test this as I never shoot video on my phone. On the other hand, the Pixel 6 Pro will see a larger step up in camera versatility due to the presence of a telephoto camera capable of 4x optical zoom.
There were many reports of the buggy state that the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro launched in, so much so that MKBHD himself said that he could no longer recommend the Pixel 6 Pro. A patch has since been released to address the issues, and I found no major bugs during my time with the phone. Perhaps the most irritating bug that I found was one where if you need to authenticate via fingerprint and a notification comes in, the fingerprint reader gets disabled until the notification goes away on its own. There are also some visual bugs here and there, particularly with the notification panel. But for the most part, there’s nothing that functionally breaks the overall experience.
Google promises 3 Android version upgrades and 5 years of security updates with the Pixel 6. That means that the Pixel 6 will be updated till Android 15. While it’s a step in the right direction, it’s been recently surpassed by Samsung, which promised 4 Android version upgrades with the Galaxy S22 lineup. Frankly it’s ironic, and Google can certainly do better. With the move to custom silicon, we can hope that Google will be able to provide longer software support moving forward, if not on the same level as Apple (which has updated the iPhone 6s for SIX years now).
For the most part, Android 12 is excellent. I love the fact that Material You customises the accent colour of phone UX elements and Google apps according to your wallpaper. And while some prefer the smaller and denser quick settings tiles of previous versions of Android, I like the aesthetic of the new tiles.
There are some software tricks specific to the Pixel 6 and its Tensor chip as well. The Magic Eraser feature, built into the Photos app, is the headliner. It works better than I expected, making it super convenient to get rid of unwanted objects or people from your photos.
I do have one issue with the software that’s specific to the Pixel 6, and that’s the ambient display that lights up when you move the phone. There’s no way to disable this ambient display other than to remove fingerprint unlock. Presumably, it’s supposed to make unlocking the phone with the under display fingerprint reader more convenient. But unlike with OnePlus phones where the ambient display is only responsive to fingerprint unlocks, Google’s implementation also responds to swipes. I can’t count the number of times I pick up the phone and accidentally graze over the ambient display, which pulls up the PIN keypad for unlocking the phone, with no option to unlock with fingerprint. If I want to unlock with my fingerprint, I’d either have to swipe to go back, or hit the power button twice to turn the screen off and on again. This, alongside the unreliable fingerprint sensor, has been my main source of frustration when using the Pixel 6.
Pricing & Conclusion
- S$999 is still a reasonable asking price
- Bright, HDR10+, high refresh screen
- Good performance for day-to-day tasks
- Excellent battery life
- Great cameras
- Large and heavy
- Under display fingerprint reader isn’t very reliable
- Performance throttles when gaming
- Only one year of warranty
The asking price for the Pixel 6 in Singapore is S$999. You could save ~S$100 by purchasing this phone from the US or Japan, but you’ll lose the one year of local warranty. Personally, I think the price is just about reasonable.
The Pixel 6 is an all around excellent Android smartphone whose most glaring issue is its sheer size and weight. If that’s something that doesn’t bother you, I can almost certainly guarantee that you’ll be happy with the Pixel 6. But if you’re looking for a smaller and lighter phone (like myself), you can consider alternatives like Samsung’s Galaxy S22, or last year’s Pixel 5. If you want a higher resolution, faster display, or a telephoto camera, you can top up an extra S$300 for the Pixel 6 Pro.
You can purchase the Pixel 6 from Google’s official store in Stormy Black or Sorta Seafoam.
As always, when purchasing online, check if you can get additional cashback on your purchase with ShopBack. You can also check out our deals page for more Singapore deals.