Pixel 6: Why I replaced my iPhone with Google’s latest Android phone


Image: Sebaztian barns / ZDNet

When you use the same hardware and software for long enough, you overlook the flaws that you are constantly working on.

Avoiding this kind of technological tunnel vision is one of the reasons I regularly switch between Android and iOS for my primary mobile device. Earlier in 2021, I realized that I had been using an iPhone for almost two years (with a fairly recent upgrade from the iPhone 12) and was overdue for a recording with the latest Android device.

Google’s introduction of two new Pixel phones in mid-October was the perfect excuse to turn back the clock. I pre-ordered my Pixel 6, in Stormy Black (to be honest it looks gray to me) with 256GB of storage. After a few small shipping issues (Google was apparently overwhelmed with demand), I received it on October 30 and have been using it as my primary mobile device ever since.

This is not the first Pixel I own. With one of the first Pixel models, I spent weeks navigating Google support, eventually reaching the top ranks. I ended up getting a full refund for this device after they couldn’t fix a particularly thorny network bug.

My colleague Jason Perlow has had a singularly negative experience with his Pixel 6, calling it a “hellish device support experience.”

Given that background and my less than stellar experiences with these older devices, I was dutifully skeptical of this one. So I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Pixel 6 is well built and has been running smoothly from the day I unboxed it.

In fact, it’s such a pleasure to use that I decided to continue using it as my primary mobile device for at least a year.

I didn’t expect Google to assemble a combination of hardware and software that is arguably better than Apple’s flagship phones. Consider these six examples of features that work better on the Pixel 6 than the iPhone.

USB Type-C

We’re almost a quarter of the 21st century, and yet Apple still sticks to its proprietary Lightning connector technology.

Wait, let me take this off. Apple stubbornly sticks with this aging connector on the iPhone, even though it has adopted the more modern and perfectly interoperable USB Type-C connector on all the other products in its line. iPad? USB-C. Macbook Pro? USB-C. Even MagSafe chargers for Apple Watch and AirPods are USB-C.

But not the iPhone.

Either way, I like that the Pixel 6 turns on and connects to external devices using a standard USB Type-C connection. This means when I leave home I can bring a single charger and cable to charge my Pixel 6, iPad Pro, laptop, and pair of headphones – without having to remember an extra Lightning cable. works with one device.

As well: Pixel 6 vs iPhone 12: which phone is more secure?

Great camera and photo editing tools

I chose the smaller Pixel 6 over the Pixel 6 Pro because the Pro is just too big. As a result, I didn’t have the periscope telephoto lens on the larger, more expensive model. But the Pixel 6 takes absolutely delicious photos with minimal fuss, even in harsh environments like a concert hall, and it’s especially good in low-light environments.

However, the real killer feature is in the Pixel Photos editing software, where Magic Eraser does a remarkable job of removing distracting people or objects from a photo and smoothing out the background. It’s a great demo, but it also gets the job done quickly and efficiently.

The customizable Android user experience

Apple finally supports widgets, which makes the iPhone user experience a little less claustrophobic than before. But by using Android 12 on the Pixel 6, I can do some things that Apple just doesn’t allow. One of the most useful tips is the ability to pin shortcuts to the home page. I use this feature all the time for quick access to OneNote pages and to activate saved scenes for our Philips Hue lighting with one click.

And then there is the option of completely replacing the launcher. I think Google did a good job with Pixel Launcher, but after rocking this app I switched to Microsoft Launcher. It’s better organized and I prefer the widget-based feed (the page that appears when you swipe right) over the Google News Feed.

Bedtime mode

One of my favorite features from the late and late Windows Phone era was the Glance display, which had a night mode that showed the current time in a faint reddish font. In this setup, I kept the phone by my bedside and always knew at a glance what time it was if I woke up in the middle of the night.

Bedtime Mode, once a pixel-only feature but now available on all Android devices, does something similar. I have configured it to go off when the phone charges during my normal sleeping hours. It turns on Do Not Disturb and changes the display to grayscale while leaving the clock visible. Just the way I like it.

Five years of updates

One of Apple’s big advantages over the years has been its absolute control over iOS updates. In contrast, Android phones have suffered as updates are often at the mercy of carriers who lose interest in keeping phones up to date for more than a year or two.

With the Pixel 6, Google has guaranteed that updates to the Android version will be available at least until October 2024 (three years after the hardware ships), with security updates available for at least five years. , until October 2026. This is a major improvement over previous devices. , which only promised security updates for a total of three years.

The price is right

The Pixel 6 is a flagship phone without a doubt, but it doesn’t come with a hefty price tag. My phone, with 256GB of storage, costs $ 699. That’s $ 200 less than the similarly configured iPhone 13, and Google added a pair of Pixel Buds (A-Series) as part of the deal.

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