Technology

Google Pixel 6 review: Play keeping up with the iPhone

For half a decade, Google, the maker of Android, the world’s most widely used phone software, has dreamed of creating a best-selling phone that competes with the gold standard, Iphone.

Google’s Pixel phones consistently receive rave reviews but sell poorly because of one major weakness: They rely on pre-sale parts from other companies. As a result, they feel sluggish compared to devices made by Apple, which tightly controls the quality of its iPhones by designing its own.

With the new Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, which are priced at $600 and $900 and will be available on Thursday, Google believes they now have the phone leveling the playing field.

These are the company’s first phones to include Tensor, its own computer processor, similar to how Apple designs the silicon that powers its iPhones. Google says the Tensor chip allows Pixel phones to quickly perform complex computing tasks, such as voice transcription.

After a week of testing, I conclude that Google has made serious progress with the Pixels – but it’s still a dream. Its advancements weren’t enough to make me switch from an iPhone.

The new Pixels feel snappy, but their computing power lags the iPhone’s speed by 50%. And while many of the photos produced with its camera look clear and well-lit, some look too sharp. Pixel 6’s ability to instantly translate languages ​​into the native language – it doesn’t work well with some languages, such as Japanese.

Here’s what you need to know.

The Tensor processor is the result of Google’s long and costly journey in smartphone technology, including a $1 billion acquires handset maker HTC in 2018. To speed things up, Google embedded its most sophisticated algorithms into the chip, including advanced photography effects and language translation, eliminating the need to connect to online servers. themselves to complete those tasks.

The speed increase is noticeable. The Pixel 6’s motion looks buttery-smooth, compared to its predecessors’ movements when scrolling through apps and websites. But when I tested some of the phone’s special features, such as its ability to watch videos in foreign languages ​​and display subtitles translated into English in real time, the results were wildly different.

When I opened TikTok and searched for videos of people teaching languages ​​in French, Italian, and Japanese, the technology worked fine with French and Italian. The software correctly translated the usual ways of saying “I don’t” into French (pronounced “shwee pah” as opposed to the more formal “je ne suis pas”).

But it has difficulty with Japanese. A TikToker demonstrated a basic conversation that, when translated properly, means the following in English:

“Today is exhausting.”

“Yes, the workload is a lot.”

“Yes that’s true. See you soon.”

“Yes. See you tomorrow. Thanks for the good work.”

The Pixel 6’s translation appears like this:

“I’m tired today.”

“Well, I have a lot of work to do.”

“That’s right. See you soon.”

“Thank you for your hard work tomorrow.”

That translation probably earned a C in a Japanese class.

These results are not surprising. Pixel software says that for translated subtitles, Japanese is in “beta,” which means it’s a work in progress. Another sign that the feature isn’t complete is that I couldn’t check the translated video subtitles for a Mandarin voiceover that I’m somewhat fluent in because the Pixel doesn’t support Chinese yet.

Pixel phones have always relied heavily on a combination of software, artificial intelligence, and machine learning to produce clear and vibrant photos. Google says the Tensor chip will help camera software take pictures faster.

To test out the new cameras, I took my Pixel 6 device and two of the newest iPhones to the park on an overcast day to snap hundreds of pictures of my corgi dog, Max (currently holding record as the “most prominent dog in New York”).

The Pixel 6 and 6 Pro’s cameras are fast, just as advertised, and many of the photos look great, with realistic colors and nice shadow detail.

However, the Pixel 6’s photos often look like the phone has tried too hard with more advanced effects. In some photos taken in “portrait” mode, which sharpens the subject in the foreground and gently blurs the background, my particularly cute dog looks so sharp that it looks old go a lot. The iPhone 13 Pro created a more aesthetically pleasing portrait of the 8-year-old Max.

Usually, the colors of the Pixel 6 photos look too “cold”, making the Max’s white mane appear blue. Color temperature can be adjusted in the camera software, but iPhone cameras often produce photos with more natural colors with no extra effort.

All told, the Pixel camera is very good. Enlarged photos look clear on the 6 Pro, the more expensive model, with an optical zoom lens.

Google was the first phone maker to introduce low-light photography without the use of a flash, and the new Pixel still excels in this area. When comparing them to low-light shots taken with the new iPhone, I call it a tie.

In the end, the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro are solid products. Considering their starting price, which is about $200 less than competing high-end phones from Samsung and Apple, I can recommend them to Android fans.

But what will Google do with Tensor to make the Pixel stand out? Not only are parts of the software flawed, but the phone’s superior parts aren’t too special either.

The ability to transcribe foreign languages ​​is, for one, useful, but it’s also something that older phones can do. When I’ve visited countries like Thailand and Japan in previous years, taxi drivers have communicated with me using Google Translate – they speak into their phones and play English translations. out of the speaker. It works with some delay, but it is enough.

You can enjoy other benefits as Google moves to use its own silicon. Battery life on the new Pixels is much longer than on previous models – after every long day of testing, there’s still plenty of water before bedtime. But again, this is not the point of differentiating from other modern phones with equally long battery life.

Google’s competitors also have great exclusive features. Most notably, there’s the “blue bubble” effect, or iMessage, on the iPhone. Over the years, Google has gone through many iterations of its messaging apps, and none have been as seamless and enjoyable to use as iMessage.

That special – something that’s hot, fun, and useful everywhere – is what Google needs to deliver to get more people to switch to Pixel. It’s hard to say what that could be.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/25/technology/personaltech/google-pixel-6-review.html Google Pixel 6 review: Play keeping up with the iPhone

Fry Electronics Team

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