We all saw this coming.
There have been rumors about and renders of the Google Pixel 6 for over half a year now, and it turns out that many of those leaks were spot-on, at least regarding the device's design. Heck, even Google's custom SOC — one of the worst kept secrets in tech — is finally coming to fruition.
Back in February, one of my colleagues wrote about what he wanted to see in an upcoming Pixel 6, and based on what we've learned thus far, it looks like he's going to be pretty happy. There's a lot to like about the upcoming Pixel 6 and 6 Pro, from a better screen to improved cameras to an arguably more interesting design.
It seems obvious to me that both versions of the Pixel 6 are going to rank high on just about any roundup of the best Android phones. So, until we receive more information on the devices, here's my initial scorecard or checklist of the top five things I love and the top five things I don't love about the Google Pixel 6 series.
Things I'm loving about the Pixel 6 series
Horizontal camera housing
I do love the bold design of the Pixel 6 lineup, but I think that just saying I'm excited about the way it looks, in general, is sort of a cop-out. So I'll take it a step further and mention what specifically I like about its looks. For starters, I'm just going to put it out there: I love the rear camera design.
For symmetry reasons alone, I've always preferred centered or horizontal camera housings like those we saw on fairly recent devices such as the Samsung Galaxy S10 series or the LG V60 (RIP LG phones 💀). To me, the style is also more cohesive and intentional than the verticle bulges we've seen sprouting up on just about every other smartphone in recent memory.
The way the cameras (yes, plural!) look is not the only special thing about the Pixel 6 series; their performance looks much improved. For the first time in years, the Pixel line is getting new camera sensors, including a massive 50MP wide-angle primary sensor for both phones and a 48MP telephoto lens in the 6 Pro. If Google can continue applying its software skills to this upgraded hardware, the images and video that come out of these phones should be incredible. I. CANNOT. WAIT.
Of course, that camera hardware doesn't necessarily mean great pictures without an impressive processing setup, which we now know is coming with Google's new custom Tensor SOC. Tensor will help with image signal processing but should also make the new Pixels faster and more secure than ever. It should also allow Google to continue pushing platform and security updates beyond its current three-year promise.
Not matte at it
The "regular" Pixel 6 phones (i.e., the non-Pro versions) will feature side rails and trim with a matte finish, and as someone likely to purchase the cheaper model, I appreciate this touch. To my eyes, matte finishes have a more timeless look, and most importantly, they don't show scuffs, scratches, or smudges as easily.
All the pretty colors
More options = more choices, and more choices are better for the consumer. I completely respect, even dare I say admire, what Google is doing here with the six different color options for the Pixel 6 line (it's no coincidence that it chose that number of colors). It's probably true that most people will slap a case on their Pixel 6 or 6 Pro, but it's still fun to get the new hot color(s). Props to the Pixel design team for offering more choices.
Not feeling these "features"
I'll pass on this palette
Now, as much as I praised the color options above, I want to be clear that I dislike the actual color choices Google has made here, and it appears that I'm not alone in this opinion either. The matte black Pixel 6 is the best choice for the entry-level phone, and the silver 6 Pro is slick, but I'm not really feeling the other colors. I guess I could live with the green 6, but the gold and orange look garish to me. But to each their own, right?
Not taking a shine to these Pros
Conceptually, I can understand why Google made the trim on the 6 Pro's glossy — after all, shiny things are typically considered more beautiful. And yet, I can't help feeling like Pro users are getting the shaft here when it comes to how these things look and feel. If you're brave enough to rock your phone without a case, the glossy side rails can be more slippery, and they most definitely show every little imperfection picked up from your hands and pockets. So why would you want to pay more for that?
I'm all about that bass as the next guy, but even I have to admit that for as interesting as the rear camera housing looks, it sure does stick out. A LOT. Given its positioning near the top of the phone, that shouldn't present too much of a problem with the device rocking when laying your phone down, screen facing up. Yet aside from the phone's colors, this is the most polarizing aspect of the phone's design that I've read or heard about to date. Of course, most of those complaining will probably just slap a case on their Pixel 6, which will negate this bump, but it's worth mentioning.
Every time a new flagship comes out, folks like Ara Wagoner and myself lament the dwindling options for petite phone lovers. Even though the current crop of Google phones — the Pixel 4a and Pixel 5 in particular — are at the top of our list for the best small Android phones, the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro definitely won't appear on that list when they are released. The Pixel 6 will feature a 6.4-inch display, while the 6 Pro will be 6.71 inches. That's par for the course these days, but it's sad news for small phone aficionados.
Most experts didn't really expect Google to announce its long-rumored Pixel Fold phone with the 6 series, but I can't help but be a little disappointed that the wait will inevitably go on. My colleague Alex Dobie said as recently as June that the Pixel Fold probably wouldn't launch with the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro. Still, I was holding out hope that it would at least be announced at the same time, even if it was done as a discrete tease as Samsung did in its initial on-stage announcement of the original Galaxy Z Fold.
Something doesn't add up
Admit it; you expected this article to be titled "6 things I love and don't love about the Pixel 6," right?
Well, here's one more thing about the Pixel 6 line that could go into either the love or hate bucket for me: its pricing. According to recent reports, Google's hardware chief Rick Osterloh has confirmed that the new phones will be "premium priced." Neither he nor Google has clarified exactly what was meant by that comment, but it's probably safe to infer that both phones will hover around the now all-too-common $1,000 premium price point.
Many of my colleagues and other tech pundits praise Google for this decision, commenting that it shows the company's renewed commitment to the "high end." I don't necessarily disagree with this perspective, and I'm happy to see Google doing and saying all the right things to compete with its new flagships.
As someone who has gotten quite comfortable with the best cheap Android phones like the Pixel 4a, that's a tough pill to swallow. Going from spending $349 last year on my 4a to $1,000-ish this year on a 6 is a huge jump. Even if I decide to go with the forthcoming 5a, I'll still be spending upwards of $100 more. However, that's easier to deal with, especially considering some reported improvements over the 4a.
To be completely fair, there is still a lot that we don't know about these phones yet, including the pricing, performance, and availability. Still, on the whole, I like what I see here, and it's what my colleague Alex Dobie calls the first true premium Pixels. But what about you? Which features of these phones do you like or dislike? Let us know in the comments!