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How do you choose between the Pixel 6 and the Pixel 6 Pro? The flagship duo offers one of the biggest leaps in the Made by Google series to date, but we’re here to help you decide which device is right for you.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty and intense details, no matter which Pixel 6 series device you do end up choosing, you should be very happy. While there were question marks over the capability of the internally-developed Tensor chip ahead of launch, any fears were unfounded.

If you’re coming from an older Pixel or any older device, we’re sure that you’ll be content and on a day-to-day basis will not see a major difference from any other Android flagship — at least if you are not a hardcore gamer.

Even so, some of you on the fence might be wondering if the extra $200 is worth it between the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. Let’s lay all of the available information out and determine which is a better buy for you.

Video — Google Pixel 6 vs. Pixel 6 Pro: Which is the right flagship Pixel?

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Hardware

As you’d sort of expect, it’s a case of omissions — and size — where the bulk of differences will be found between the Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. You’ll need to work out just what you want and need in a smartphone to decide between these very solid options.

The most notable addition is undoubtedly the usage of the Google Tensor chip. While it doesn’t quite hit the heights of the best flagship Android smartphone chipset, it provides benefits in other areas and is still a very high performer. Unlike last year, you don’t miss out on performance in favor of 5G connectivity either as the Tensor chip compares well to the best in the business albeit without usurping Qualcomm and Samsung.

Google Pixel 6 Google Pixel 6 Pro
Size 6.4-inches 6.71-inches
Display 90Hz / FHD+ / Gorilla Glass Victus 120Hz / QHD+ / Gorilla Glass Victus
Chipset Google Tensor Google Tensor
RAM 8GB DDR5 12GB DDR5
Storage 128 / 256GB UFS 3.1 128 / 256 / 512GB UFS 3.1
Battery 4,614mAh 5,003mAh
Rear camera 50MP wide / 12MP ultra-wide 50MP wide / 12MP ultra-wide / 48MP telephoto
Front-facing camera 8MP 11.1MP
Biometrics In-display fingerprint scanner Pixel Imprint fingerprint scanner
Colors Sorta Seafoam, Kinda Coral, Stormy Black Cloudy White, Sorta Sunny, Stormy Black

Even with the same processor, there are some notable and important differences between the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro. Google has gone all-in with two very large slabs of tech this time around. While the Pixel 6 is “smaller,” it still includes a 6.4-inch display. The Pixel 6 Pro is, frankly, massive at 6.67 inches.

Size is not the only difference here as the Pixel 6 includes a FHD+, flat, 90Hz AMOLED panel while the Pixel 6 Pro is QHD+, curved, 120Hz AMOLED. If you simply hate curved displays, then at least this year you have an option. However, the Pixel 6 Pro display is substantially better than that of its smaller sibling.

Unlike last years Pixel 5, we’re saying goodbye to uniform screen bezels, but the less-than-average under-display earpiece is gone in favor of a return to a standard earpiece. In conjunction with the bottom-firing speaker, the audio experience is a major step up over 2020’s flagship Pixel. Some might point to the in-display fingerprint scanner as a substantial step back, and it’s hard to argue that the capacitive scanner is far more reliable. The in-display scanner is a lot slower than some others on the market and that might be a bone of contention for many of you out there.

Because the “main” internals are the exact same, the Pixel 6 Pro is only a very minor upgrade thanks to the increased RAM. While the chipset is a major step up, RAM is the faster DDR5 variant here too, but the Pixel is capped at 8GB whereas the Pixel 6 Pro includes 12GB of RAM.

Google has improved the storage speed by adopting UFS 3.1 on the entire Pixel 6 series. App loading times and on-device transfer rates are substantially better than on previous models here too.

All base models include 128GB of storage but the Pixel 6 is available with a 256GB storage configuration in the Stormy Black and Sorta Seafoam models in selected regions. The Pixel 6 Pro includes 256GB storage variants in Stormy Black and Cloudy White. 512GB storage is only available when choosing the Stormy Black option.

Colors are an area that you might be left wanting with the entire late-2021 Pixel 6 lineup. The Pixel 6 comes in more recent Googley colors that include Sorta Seafoam, Kinda Coral, and Stormy Black options. Conversely, the Pixel 6 Pro sticks to muted colors that include Cloudy White and Stormy Black. Sorta Sunny offers a slight divergence from this but more closely resembles champagne or light gold.

Software

pixel 6 pixel 6 pro

The software on the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro is — like most Made by Google devices — identical. However, there are a few things different by virtue of the minor hardware differences.

Obviously, the screen refresh rate limits affect how Android 12 (and future builds) will feel. Plus the telephoto zoom lens means some camera features are not included on the Pixel 6. Save these differences, it the same across the board with all Tensor-related options included:

Google Pixel 6 Google Pixel 6 Pro
Software Shipped with Android 12 Shipped with Android 12
Features In-display fingerprint scanner
Magic Eraser
Face Unblur
Motion modes
On-device Live translation
In-display fingerprint scanner
Magic Eraser
Face Unblur
Motion modes
On-device Live translation

Material You and Dynamic Color play a pivotal part in Android 12 – which is pre-installed out of the box. Almost every UI portion and all default apps adhere to the core color tones and hues extracted from your wallpaper choice. This even includes Google app widgets and the result is a truly unique experience no matter which option you end up choosing.

While we can’t for certain say what we’ll see in future – save Android 12L – Google has committed to the longest support phase for any Android phone to date. You’ll still only get three full OS upgrades but there will be a further two years of regular monthly security patches. Yes, Google is committing to five full years of support for the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro.

By that time, both handsets will be running Android 15 and will cease to be supported by official means as of October 2026.

Battery

It appears that Google has learned some harsh lessons in device longevity in recent years and decided that large internal cells are necessary. This means that the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro include the two biggest batteries of any Made by Google smartphone to date.

The smaller Pixel 6 includes a sizeable 4,614mAh battery but the larger Pro comes with a 5,003mAh internal cell. This is an important bump over the previous models as the Pixel 6 Pro has a far more power-hungry 120Hz display to grapple with on a daily basis.

In our own testing, both phones garner an “all-day” seal of approval. Reports online suggest that some people have seen mixed lifespans from both models. It’s still important to note that battery life can be a very subjective area of a smartphone as various usage patterns can result in poor lifespan.

You could even stretch longevity out a little further on the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro by dipping the refresh rate from 90 to 60Hz and 120 to 60Hz respectively.

Google Pixel 6 Google Pixel 6 Pro
Battery size 4,614mAh 5,003mAh
Charging speed 30W wired (21W peak)
21W Qi wireless w/ Pixel Stand 2
5W reverse wireless
30W wired (23W peak)
21W Qi wireless w/ Pixel Stand 2
5W reverse wireless

Despite claiming 30W maximum charge speeds, it appears that the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro’s “real” wired charging speeds are much lower. Disappointingly, even with the new charge brick, you can only achieve 21W and 23W peak charging speeds with the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro respectively.

This is still marginally faster than the 18W wired charging speeds used on all previous Google Pixel smartphones but with larger internal cells this means that top-up times are extended. Because the 21W rated second-generation Pixel Stand is still on pre-order, we’ll have to wait until it starts shipping before assessing the legitimacy of the wireless charge speeds.

Cameras

At the very heart of the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro is Samsung’s 50-megapixel GN1 sensor. This is a huge step up over the slightly tired Sony IMX363 sensor used in all Pixel hardware since late-2018.

There are a few notable changes between the duo here though, with the larger Pro series device being the very first Made by Google device to include all three main focal lengths in one handset.

Google Pixel 6 Google Pixel 6 Pro
Main sensor Samsung GN1
50MP
f1.9 aperture
Samsung GN1
50MP
f1.9 aperture
Secondary sensor Sony IMX 386
12MP ultra-wide-angle
f2.2 aperture
114˚ FOV
Sony IMX 386
12MP ultra-wide-angle
f2.2 aperture
114˚ FOV
Tertiary sensor Sony IMX 586
48MP telephoto
f3.5
Front-facing sensor Sony IMX 355
8MP
f2.0
Sony IMX 663
11.1MP
f/2.2
Camera hardware features OIS
EIS
PDAF
OIS
EIS
PDAF
Camera software features 7x zoom
Night Sight Portrait
Portrait Light
4K UHD 60fps
Live HDR+ Video
Cinematic Pan
Locked Focus
Active mode
20x zoom
Night Sight Portrait
Portrait Light
4K UHD 60fps
Live HDR+ Video
Cinematic Pan
Locked Focus
Active mode

If you value the ability to punch in with enhanced zoom capabilities, then you will undoubtedly look toward the Pixel 6 Pro. The inclusion of a 4x periscope zoom lens means that you can crop in up to 20x and this will change the way you take photos.

The Pixel 6 is limited to 7x with a digital zoom that is backed by the Super Res Zoom feature. While the results are still impressive thanks to the larger 50-megapixel sensor, it’s a no-contest here.

Elsewhere, the rear “Camera Bar” provides the same experience with a 12-megapixel ultrawide angle lens that is actually a step down over last year’s Pixel 4a 5G, Pixel 5 and the recently released Pixel 5a with 5G.

It’s not just the rear camera setup where things diverge for the Pixel 6 series. The centrally placed punch-hole notch is slightly different depending on which hardware you pick up. If you are an ardent selfie-taker, the Pixel 6 Pro has a very slight edge with a 12-megapixel sensor that produces 11.1-megapixel images. Whereas the Pixel 6 packs in an 8-megapixel selfie sensor. The difference is almost negligible but important enough to note.

Neither device comes with any AR Playground camera features, so if you like adding 3D characters and objects to your photos in real time, then you might want to look elsewhere. The Pixel Neural Core has returned here though, which means faster image processing and the Tensor chip allows some other neat camera tricks.

These include some enhanced Live HDR+ Video when recording at 4K UHD resolution. Other video features return including Cinematic Pan, Locked Focus, and Active Mode.

Pixel 6 vs. Pixel 6 Pro: Which should I choose?

pixel 6 pixel 6 pro

About upgrading: 9to5Google often gives specific product recommendations. Sometimes, we may suggest not upgrading, due to various reasons including, but not limited to: increased device cost, negligible performance gains, or environmental impact. Whether to upgrade is always your call, but our aim is to help you make as informed a decision as possible.

Ultimately, it’s hard to argue that the standard Pixel 6 will likely be the better option for most people looking to grab one of the late-2021 Made by Google flagships. While the Pixel 6 Pro does offer some notable upgrades, a few tweaks and changes may be considered downgrades of sorts. A curved display is one such divisive addition while the size is yet another reason to look at the regular Pixel 6.

Despite a very minor internal RAM bump, it’s hard to distinguish between the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro in terms of daily performance. You’ll need to ask yourself if you desperately require a 4x telephoto zoom lens if you are intent on getting what is objectively the best Pixel camera to date.

For those with older Pixel hardware, specifically the Pixel 4 and 4 XL, we’d wager that you will see some major boosts with the second-generation Tensor chipset and would recommend holding out. For those with the Pixel 4a 5G and Pixel 5 – although almost 12 months newer – you will actually see big performance boosts by switching to the newer hardware.

No matter which option you happen to choose, the Pixel 6 series offers the biggest leap in years. The Tensor chip and the new main camera sensor are at the very heart of that – and with Android 12 helping with proceedings, it’s a good time to pick up a Pixel. Which hasn’t always been the case.

Where can I get the best deal on the Pixel 6 or Pixel 6 Pro?

Are you insistent on getting the Pixel 6? If so, the Pixel 6 is actually proving hard to get right now. The Pixel 6 retails for $599 in the US and can be purchased directly from GoogleAmazonBest BuyVerizonB&HPhotoTargetAT&T, plus many more.

If you want the biggest Google flagship ever, then the Pixel 6 Pro is similarly hard to track down currently. You can try many of the same online or brick-and-mortar stores including GoogleAmazonBest BuyVerizonB&HPhotoTargetAT&T, plus many more.

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About the Author

Damien Wilde

Damien is a UK-based video producer for 9to5Google. Find him on Twitter: @iamdamienwilde. Email: damien@9to5mac.com

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