Smartphones May Be Too Good

Google has launched its Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro phones, and we’ll be testing them soon as potential upgrade picks in our guide to the best Android phones. Over the years, we’ve recommended a few different Google Pixel smartphones, as they not only offer one of the best versions of the Android OS with more timely OS updates but also receive those updates for longer than what you can expect on other Android phones. Our top pick right now, the seemingly repetitively named Pixel 5a 5G, takes some of the best photos of any phone, too, despite its low cost. Google is adding the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro to the lineup as higher-end options, and most people probably won’t need to spend the extra money for either one. But we expect that they’ll compete well with—and possibly replace—our other higher-end picks, such as the Samsung Galaxy S21 5G and Ultra 5G.

Both new Pixels boast even better camera performance than on previous versions, thanks to the improved image processing made possible by Google’s new Tensor chip, as well as upgraded lenses and sensors. Compared with the Pixel 6, the 6 Pro adds a third, telephoto lens and an improved front camera. Beyond more accurate color and higher resolution, the new cameras also offer some extra tricks: Magic Eraser removes “distracting elements” from photos (such as strangers in the background), while Face Unblur clears up blurred faces by taking two photos at different shutter speeds and merging them. In presenting the phones, Google also highlighted work it has done on their cameras’ image processing to more accurately and richly capture a diverse range of skin tones, culminating in a feature called Real Tone. (Disclosure: T Brand, which is owned by The New York Times, Wirecutter’s parent company, was involved in this segment of Google’s presentation. Wirecutter was not involved.) Since our current upgrade pick, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G, was the first phone to best a Pixel’s camera performance in a few years, we’ll be particularly interested to see whether these new Pixel cameras jump ahead once again.

The Pixel 6 models also feature upgraded screens that should be more competitive with the displays of other expensive phones. Both phones’ screens have a variable refresh rate, so animations and movements appear extra smooth when necessary, and the screen can refresh less often to save power when there isn’t much going on. The new maximum refresh rates of 90 Hz on the Pixel 6 and 120 Hz on the 6 Pro should provide a noticeable jump from the 60 Hz refresh on the Pixel 5a 5G, and are in line with the 120 Hz refresh rate on the two Samsung Galaxy phones we currently recommend.

While many new Android 12 software features that are first to ship with the Pixel 6 phones may spread to other manufacturers’ phones when the OS does, Google highlighted in its announcement some extended features that it claims are possible only with its proprietary Tensor silicon. Of these, we’ll want to test for ourselves whether the live speech translation works as well in person as it did in the edited segment with Marie Kondo. And while Google has promised security updates on the Pixel 5a until 2024, the company is upping its promise on the Pixel 6 to five years, until 2026, which is a valuable addition.

Either of these phones could be an upcoming recommendation in our Android phones guide, but neither looks to be a good choice for anyone seeking a compact option. The Pixel 6 has a 6.4-inch screen (and is 6.2 inches tall), and the 6 Pro sports a 6.7-inch screen (and is 6.5 inches tall). Both are already too big for plenty of pockets, and the raised camera bar across the back adds a little bulk, too. Although Apple’s iPhone 13 line includes the 6.7-inch Pro Max, it also includes the iPhone 13 mini, which measures a much more manageable 5.4 inches.

Starting at 128 GB of storage, the Pixel 6 costs $600 and the 6 Pro costs $900. The phones are available for preorder today and will release on October 28.

Source : https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/blog/google-pixel-6-event/

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