The Google Pixel was first released in October 2016. We are now on our sixth generation of Pixel phones, with the Pixel 6 and 6 PRO. Yet despite having some excellent features, Google has struggled to get market share for its Pixel handsets, languishing in the same ballpark as Nokia (when was the last time you knew anyone with a Nokia?)
Google Pixel phones have won notoriety for photography, combining superb cameras with excellent picture processing software. However, as far as high-end handsets go, the Pixel 6 PRO is now a similar price to flagship phones from Samsung and other manufacturers.
Every October/November for the last four years, Google has launched a new, numbered addition to its range of Pixel phones. Google Pixel phones run on the Android operating system (also a Google product), and have since their inception used their market-leading cameras as their main selling point over and above the competition.
It's fair to say, though, that for the most part, Apple, Samsung and others have made huge leaps with their own cameras, leaving the latest Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 PRO with little if any superiority remaining in this respect.
Although the current Google Pixel 6 is now available, its recent predecessors are still very viable smartphones. You can still find Google Pixel phones going back as far as the Pixel 4A 5G from a few providers.
Of course, you can still pick up a Pixel 4A 5G, but right now, it's all about the Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 PRO. Here, then, let's take a little look at the features Google itself sees most fit to crow about.
The Pixel 6 PRO has a 50MP main camera which has a wide lens, plus an ultra-wide camera for taking pictures of wider vistas or cramming more friends into a single shot. The Ultra-wide camera on the 6 PRO is 12MP. There is also a 48MP telephoto camera with 4X optical zoom, for shooting far-away objects. The front of the phone features an 11.1MP selfie camera. The Pixel 6 does not have a telephoto camera. But you will still find a 50MP main camera (wide-angle) and a 12MP ultra-wide camera, plus an 8MP selfie camera on the front.
The new Google Tensor processors used in the Pixel 6 and 6 PRO allow more use of AI directly on the phone itself. This gives more options for image enhancements and processing photographs. For example, you can now remove people from a picture or take pictures where the background is blurred and the people are not. This kind of “intelligent” photo editing and capture, relies on AI capabilities which previously required access to Google’s servers via the internet. Now you can do these things in seconds.The new cameras on the 6 and 6 PRO also feature new sensors which can pick up more light than the Pixel 5 could. Google claims that the Pixel 6 PRO has “the most advanced smartphone camera”.
While we are not quite sure how one arrives at such a conclusion. It is fair to say that it is very good, but when compared with the Samsung S22 PRO and the iPhone 13, each of the phone’s cameras have strengths and weaknesses, so yes there are some things, like video image stabilisation which work better on the Pixel 6 PRO, but there are features like the S22 PRO’s excellent zoom photography, or the iPhones ability to save filters which one could argue are better. Though “better” in this situation probably comes down to how you like your pictures to look. Since each phone produces a different “look” to photographs, with the Pixel favouring cooler colours and more subtle contrast than the Samsung and iPhone offerings.
Google Pixel 6 and 6 PRO can produce excellent pictures at night. They do it with a bunch of software algorithms but also by the traditional method of taking a longer exposure. Flagship Apple iPhones and Samsung Galaxy s22 can also take excellent shots at night but they do this in part by illuminating the scene. The Pixel 6 does not do this, so is capable of capturing slightly more natural looking scenes. However, a long exposure means it can take longer for the camera to take the shot.
The Pixel 6 and 6 PRO are the first handsets to include Google’s custom-built Tensor processor. A lot of what google does relies on AI, and chips from other manufacturers were not providing the dedicated AI capabilities which would allow Google to make full use of what it is good at. For this reason it came up with its own custom-designed chip, with AI at the core (pardon the pun) of its design. The chip is specifically designed to allow tasks like instant language translation and various photographic/camera wizardy to take place mostly on the phone itself, rather than via an internet connection. The camera directly uses photography capabilities which are engineered into the processor - rather than processing everything through software alone. It is also faster than previous Pixel CPUs and uses less power - extending the battery life.
The Pixel 6 and 6 PRO can translate foreign language videos and add subtitles live as you watch them. There are 55 different languages which it can translate. It will also translate street and shop signs, plus chats and messages.
The new chips in the Pixel 6 and 6 PRO add more hardware based security to the phones. In addition both phones come with fingerprint sensors embedded in their screens.
5G is the latest mobile data networking technology which promises upload and download speeds many times that offered by 4G. 5G is now rolled out in most larger towns and cities and the 5G networks are expanding all the time. Most new phones have 5G capabilities with a few budget exceptions. The same is true of Google Pixel. All the new Pixel phones currently available from UK mobile providers, are 5G ready. If you are looking at used or refurbished phones, you will need a Pixel 4A 5G or newer handset to use 5G.
Unlike Apple's new iPhones and Samsung's new Galaxy phones, Google Pixel phones are a little more boutique, a little less common. You won't, in fact, be able to get a handset deal on a Google Pixel of any kind from Sky Mobile, Tesco Mobile, Virgin Mobile, Plusnet Mobile, ASDA Mobile, SMARTY Vodafone
But that said there are still plenty of places to get a Google Pixel phone. Here is what is on offer from the various mobile providers..
Google Pixel phones are Android smartphones made by search giant Google. The first Google Pixel phone was launched in 2016, with heavy emphasis on its superior photography. Upgrades have been annual and incremental, with the current handsets being the Google Pixel 6 and larger Google Pixel 6 PRO giving current competitors such as iPhone 11 and Galaxy S22 a good run for their money.
As a general answer, yes. Forming a part of the upper mid-range of phones, Google Pixel phones strike a nice balance between features and price. There are better phones in many respects, but arguably, there are no better phones for the same money.
Yes. Every Google Pixel phone from the original Pixel onwards allows you to cast your phone's display onto your TV, monitor, projector or whatever. However, your TV will need to support Chromecast. If it doesn't, you can buy a Chromecast stick to plug into one of your spare HDMI ports.
Yes. All of the providers of Google Pixel phones outlined in this article will sell you a Pixel Phone outright, if you so desire. You can also purchase one both directly from Google, or from online electronics retailers such as Amazon, Currys and PC World.
Yes you can. There are now six year’s worth of Google Pixel phones to choose from with plenty of new and older models available refurbished. If you want a 5G Google PIxel, you will need to buy a Pixel 4A 5G, Pixel 5 or Pixel 6 or any of their variants such as the PRO or A versions.THe older 4A 5G is now very cheap, both new and refurbished.
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