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Google Pixel 5 Review – Goodbye Gimmicks

The Pixel 5 has a lot to prove. Google’s 2023 flagship not only needs to convince shoppers to open their wallets in an unusually challenging year, but demonstrate that the sins of last year’s Pixel 4 are not to be repeated. If there was anything to give us confidence it could do that, it was the pitch-perfect Pixel 4a: now, the question is how much of that magic can rub off on the Pixel 5.

Side by side with recent flagships from Samsung and others, the Pixel 5 looks a little underwhelming, on pure specifications at least. Then again, it’s also considerably cheaper. Starting at $699, it’s half the list price of a Galaxy S20 Ultra.

I give Google credit for stepping off the spec-sheet treadmill and thinking about what’s actually important, beyond just being able to shout “latest and greatest!” at the highest volume. The decision to go with a Snapdragon 765G, for example, rather than an 8xx-series chipset, bets on Google’s own pure Android efficiencies. Happily you get a healthy 8GB of RAM, which I suspect is more important day-to-day than pure CPU clock speed.

128GB of storage matches the cheaper Pixel 4a 5G, and since it’s non-expandable you’re stuck with the cloud if you need more space. Pixel 5 ships with Android 11 out of the box, and Google promises a minimum of three years of OS and security updates after that.

Officially, the Pixel 5 is made of aluminum with a bio-resin coating. In your hand, it feels a lot like plastic. Not cheap plastic, no, but definitely different to the glass-and-metal sandwich we’re familiar with from other recent smartphones. The “Sorta Sage” of my review unit is an unexpectedly accurate description: in some lighting it looks like a pale green, while at other times it has more of a stony gray tone to it. I wish Google had added a third color – something bright, alongside the “Just Black” option – but I do like the chromed power button, and how nicely the whole thing fits in the hand. Smaller phones look to be making a comeback, and I know I’m not alone in being pleased about that.

There’s a SIM tray on the left side, and the Pixel 5 supports eSIM too, along with Dual SIM Dual Standby (DSDS). It’s worth noting that if you turn DSDS on you lose 5G support, however. A USB-C port on the bottom is the only physical connector: 3.5mm headphone fans are out of luck. Google doesn’t include an adapter, either, or USB-C headphones in the box, just an 18W power adapter and cable.

The Pixel 4’s Soli chipset has been abandoned, and you get a fingerprint reader in a slight dimple on the rear. Both seem like good decisions to me: Soli felt like genius tech used for gimmicky features, sadly, while face-unlock systems are suddenly a lot less useful in these masked-up times. It’s quick to unlock and seems to handle off-angle or partial taps well, which is more than I can say for most in-screen fingerprint sensors.

Flip over, and the 6.0-inch OLED display forces another decision. Slightly larger than the 5.81-inches of the Pixel 4a, but slightly smaller than the 6.2-inches of the Pixel 4a 5G, at 1080 x 2340 it has the same resolution and so falls in the middle with its 432ppi density. The contrast ratio is markedly better, however, and there’s up to 90Hz refresh. The Pixel 5 can switch between 60Hz and 90Hz task-depending, though the 120Hz we’ve seen from other recent phones is beyond it. Still, graphics look smooth and scrolling is jag-free.

An 8-megapixel front-facing camera pokes through a hole in the upper left corner of the touchscreen. On the back, meanwhile, there’s a 12.2-megapixel regular camera – familiar from earlier Pixel phones – and a new 16-megapixel ultra-wide, as on the Pixel 4a 5G. That has a 107-degree field of view.

Tastes vary, but I generally prefer a telephoto lens to an ultra-wide. Google’s argument is that, with some algorithmic magic, it can craft pretty decent close-ups from what sensors the Pixel 5 does have. Indeed, computational photography remains a cornerstone of the Pixel strategy.

Other phones have more megapixels, or more sensors, or fancier optics. Google’s argument has long been that anything hardware can do, software can emulate, and often surpass. For a while I wondered if the absence of the Neural Core would leave the Pixel 5 lacking on that front, but my fears proved unfounded.

You can either pinch-zoom to flip between the sensors, or drag the zoom bar that appears when you tap and hold on the icons for the 0.6x, 1x, and 2x modes. Weirdly, if you drag up or down on those icons, you just flip between the three modes: for a smooth zoom, you have to press, wait a moment, and then drag. For the new ultra-wide camera, Google lobs in a little machine-learning powered adjustment to make faces look less stretched-out.

There are two big computational photography features Google has added this time around. The first is Portrait Light, which basically mimics the effect of having a moveable light source when you’re taking portrait shots with background blur. As long as the image has depth data, the Pixel 5 can figure out how the light source you drag around would fall naturally across facial features or glasses.

That also means you can adjust it not only in photos the Pixel 5 has taken, but any Portrait mode image you might have backed up to your Google Photos account. The overall effect can be subtle, but it’s a neat way of showing the value of depth information.

The other big introduction is more of an expansion: Night Sight support in Portrait Mode. Google’s low-light mode – which now activates automatically in low-light situations, as well as supporting manual switching – has always been impressive for how much detail it can pull out of nighttime scenes. Now, you can combine that with adjustable background blur, too.

For video, the Pixel 4 tops out at 4K at 60fps, or 1080p at 240fps. The front camera can do 1080p/30. New here is a Cinematic Pan option, a subset of the image stabilization that promises to borrow more theatrical movements like pan and dolly.

That all sounds fancy, but what Google is basically doing is slowing the video down to half speed and then panning along the dominant axis, cropping in a little as necessary to smooth out shake. It looks pretty good, too, but it’s worth noting that you don’t capture audio at the same time.

You get the same camera features – indeed, the same cameras – on the Pixel 4a 5G. Given Google’s history there’s no reason to believe those talents won’t end up rolling out in some form to its older phones like the Pixel 4, too.

The same goes for new Android features, like Hold for Me and the updated Recorder app. The former aims to bypass tedious call-center hold music, the Google Assistant listening out for when it’s a real human on the line rather than music or a recording that your call is important. When a person actually picks up, the Assistant will notify you it’s time to jump back in yourself.

Google’s updated Recorder, app, meanwhile, now makes jumping between sections of the transcript easier by picking out what it believes are the keywords. You can edit audio too – cropping out sections of the recording by deleting that part of the transcript – as well as editing the text, word by word. Recorder can also export clips as video, combining both audio and the text, though only if it’s under 60 seconds in length.

What Google couldn’t really do with software, though, is improve the Pixel 4’s battery life. The Achilles heel of last year’s flagship, the fact that the 2,800 mAh battery was going to be insufficient only seemed to come as a surprise at the Googleplex. For the Pixel 5, though, they’ve not made the same mistake.

The battery is still non-replaceable but it’s now 4,080 mAh on average, Google says, a far healthier size. As you’d expect that pays dividends on runtimes: the Pixel 5 can happily get through a full day now, with no need for that pesky top-up that Pixel 4 owners know all too well.

When it does come to recharging, the 18W bundled charger is fine but nothing special. We’re seeing much faster rates from other Android devices, after all. There’s Qi wireless charging support too, along with reverse wireless charging for accessories. That, cleverly, automatically turns on when you plug the Pixel 5 into its wired charger, though you can also activate it manually.

Somehow 5G manages to be both the big deal about the Pixel 5, and the new feature I’m least excited about. Certainly, supporting it feels like table-stakes for a new, high-end smartphone in 2023, especially one with any hopes of longevity. All the same, right now it just doesn’t make that much of an impact on my day to day use.

That would probably be different were I living in an area with mmWave support, since the Pixel 5 includes both that and Sub-6 GHz capabilities. Millimeter wave is undoubtedly the fastest way to experience 5G in the US right now, but it’s also the rarest. If you’re not in one of the handful of locations – and, for that matter, in just the right spot in those locations – then for the moment it doesn’t really matter.

I’m more bemused by the absence of WiFi 6 which, in this time of working-from-home, seems more important. Like 5G coverage, the argument against WiFi 6 has until now been one of price versus availability, but we’re starting to see compatible routers trickle down in price.

Arguably the biggest challenge the Pixel 5 faces was announced yesterday. Apple’s iPhone 12 mini kicks off at the same price, supports the right flavors of 5G, has WiFi 6 and UWB, and is likely to give Google’s phone a run for its money on computational photography, too. It also has the same flagship processor as the considerably more expensive iPhone 12 Pro Max, and I suspect many will be waiting for the first iPhone 12 mini reviews to see just how persuasive a package that turns out to be.

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Google Pixel 6 Second Opinion Review: Imperfectly Wonderful

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Google’s Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro turn a new page for the company’s smartphone hardware ambitions. The Big G isn’t completely leaving behind its affordable flagship experiment — the Pixel 6 is one of the best value for money options available — but with the slightly more expensive Pixel 6 Pro, Google is returning to the premium tier and catering to the enthusiast market as well.

I’ve had the pleasure of taking both phones for a spin over the past few weeks. They’re certainly more alike than not, but they do exist with slightly different buyers in mind. The Google Pixel 6 Pro is, obviously, the definitive edition of Google’s latest vision, but the Pixel 6 isn’t as far behind as the price tag might imply.

Google Pixel 6

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Google Pixel 6 Pro

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New design, both inside and out

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

If you’re bored of the same old look and smartphones with frankly stagnant aesthetics, the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro are the breath of fresh air you’ve been waiting for. Not just in terms of the funky new colorways — Android 12 also marks a major departure from the look and feel of Android OS’s gone by. I’d rate these two alongside the OPPO Find X3 Pro as the best-looking phones of the year, and I’d lean towards giving the Pixel 6s the trophy.

If you’re bored of the same old look, the Pixel 6 series is the breath of fresh air you’ve been waiting for.

The horizontal camera housing stands out from the crowd and the Pixel 6 Pro’s polished alloy frame adds to the premium look. Not everyone likes curved display edges but they work for me on this one, owing to the Pro’s gargantuan size. The regular Pixel 6 has straight edges with a tactile alloy frame that makes the phone feel fatter. It looks boxier and a bit cheaper too — think Galaxy S20 FE and you’re in the right area.

While these phones are so much better looking than previous Pixels, they aren’t without some caveats. The protruding camera housing collects dust and is easy to dent. The Pixel 6 Pro’s huge 6.7-inch size and glass back also makes it incredibly slippery, verging on completely unusable in one hand. Despite Google opting for Corning’s latest with Gorilla Glass Victus on the front, back, and camera module, I’m not sold on the scratch resistance specifically of the cover glass. The Pixel 6 Pro picked up a long, albeit surface-level scratch sitting alone in my trouser pocket on the second day of use (you can see this and the dusty camera module in the photos below). The build quality is fine but not exceptional. I’d suggest you buy a nice case.

The Pixel 6 looks great but the hardware has a few small issues.

The speakers are rich and loud, but fairly bottom-heavy, making it easy to muffle the phone’s sound when held landscape. Then there’s the in-display fingerprint scanner. I don’t like it, I don’t hate it, but it’s definitely not the polished experience you might expect from a flagship phone — a feeling echoed by much of our team. Reading times are slow compared to the Pixel 5’s rear capacitive scanner and the Samsung Galaxy S21’s ultrasonic in-display model. The optical nature also results in a blinding bright flash when unlocking your phone at night. Google is already addressing this via software updates, but Google definitely needs to file this one in the “please fix for the Pixel 7” drawer.

Still, the punchy Kinda Coral and Sorta Seafoam colorways for the Pixel 6 are a delightful option to have. I’d like even more variety though, especially for the Pixel 6 Pro that comes in just Stormy Black, Cloudy White, and Sorta Sunny. Although I must say that Cloudy White is a timelessly good look.

Color customization is at the heart of Android 12 too, where Google’s Material You marks a major aesthetic departure from Android 11. Color extraction pulls out the key colors from your wallpaper and applies them across the OS, widgets, and supported apps, as seen below. You can override this option if you like, but it’s quite a nice way to keep your phone feeling fresh.

Other redesigned elements include the bubbly-looking Quick Settings tiles and a lot more white space in the Settings menu. These changes look better on the large screens of the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro than they do on the smaller Pixel 5. Re-design aside, if you’ve used Android before, all the familiar goodies are still here — a lot of it just looks different. There’s a bunch of new features too, which you can read all about at the link below.

The debut of Google Tensor

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Of course, the other major newly designed element with the Pixel 6 series is the Google Tensor processor. Co-designed with Samsung, the processor sports a novel Arm-based CPU layout and an external Samsung 5G modem, alongside Google’s integrated in-house machine learning and Titan M2 security smarts. You’ll find exactly the same features and performance in both the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. Although the Pixel 6 is backed by 8GB rather than the Pro’s 12GB of RAM, this makes no discernable difference outside of extreme multitasking situations, which I never encountered during my testing.

We’ve already covered the deeper specs elsewhere — suffice to say that the Google Tensor performs every bit as well as you’d expect from a flagship processor. Sporting two Cortex-X1 powerhouse CPU cores and a 20-core Mali-G78 graphics arrangement, there’s more than enough performance on offer here for your more demanding smartphone use cases. The phone also offers exceptional battery life, which has been a concern in Pixel generations gone by. The Pixel 6 Pro took me through a full day of web browsing, video watching, and a spot of photography with some battery to spare, as did the regular Pixel 6, although neither was quite a two-day device for me.

If you’re interested in benchmarks, results come in somewhere around the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 and Samsung Exynos 2100 for single-core CPU scores, but closer to the previous generation for multi-core. Graphics-wise, the hefty GPU core count sees it outperform other 2023 flagship chipsets, depending on the workload.

Google Tensor is a fine chip but the lack of 5G mmWave makes it less future-proof than some.

The Google Tensor SoC is paired with an external Samsung Exynos 5123 modem for 4G and 5G networking capabilities. Other chipsets offer integrated modems for improved efficiency. The only way to lay hands on blazing-fast mmWave capabilities is if you buy the Pixel 6 Pro in the US or the Pixel 6 directly from AT&T or Verizon. In the latter case, the Pixel 6 comes with an extra $100 premium on top. All other carriers and buyers of any Pixel 6 device in Europe are out of luck.

What about those cameras?

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

You can’t review Pixels without taking a close look at the cameras and I’ve used them extensively over the past few weeks. Google has finally upgraded its camera hardware this generation, opting for a much larger main image sensor and improved ultra-wide snapper. Google’s Pixel 6 Pro sees even more upgrades, with a 4x optical zoom lens and a new selfie camera to boot. Combining Google’s machine learning smarts with some much-needed new camera hardware has produced the company’s best camera package to date, particularly in the 6 Pro. However, there are some caveats.

Read more: Everything you need to know about the Pixel 6’s new camera

As far as image quality goes, the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro hammer home excellent white balance, exposure, and colors that offer just a little bit more saturation than in previous years. However, daylight pictures, extreme HDR, and general details don’t really look any different from last year’s Pixel 5. Those who had been expecting a major upgrade to general image quality may be left somewhat unsatisfied here — although the Pixel 5 was a fine shooter in daylight anyway and the Pixel 6 is equally great.

We spot more meaningful improvements over Google’s predecessor when it comes to low-light photography. While still heavily reliant on Night Sight for shooting in the dark, the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro provide cleaner-looking pictures, with less noise and much richer details in tricky conditions. The handsets’ portrait mode is also a step up, providing improved skin textures and tones along with lovely looking bokeh blur that’s correctly applied most of the time. Likewise, the Pixel 6 Pro, with its new 4x zoom camera, is competitive with the best in the business when it comes to medium and even long-range photography, thanks to Google’s Super Res Zoom algorithms. Its selfie camera is also marginally improved on the Pixel 5 and Pixel 6, particularly in lower lighting conditions.

The Pixel 6’s camera is a little too close to the Pixel 5. It’s the Pro model you’ll want for a bigger upgrade.

By comparison, the ultra-wide-angle lens is a disappointment. While offering improved dynamic range and colors over the Pixel 5, it’s still quite noisy in lower light and suffers from noticeable lens distortion when shooting against bright light. If you regularly reach for the ultra-wide snapper, I’d probably look for a better camera phone. I’ve also noticed the odd ugly texture detail, and Google’s algorithms are a little heavy on the sharpening. Google’s camera package doesn’t always hold up brilliantly on very close inspection.

Still, the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro — particularly the latter — take some absolutely excellent snaps, as I think you’ll agree from our gallery above. If you’re big into portrait mode, the Pixel 6 is a great choice and the Pixel 6 Pro is even better if you love to zoom in. Overall, I’d certainly rate it above the iPhone 13 Pro Max, unless you’re seriously into videography where Apple still has the edge.

See more pics: Google Pixel 6 Pro camera shootout vs Apple and Samsung

However, I’m not convinced Google’s flagship camera setup is quite as versatile as Samsung’s Galaxy S21 Ultra. Although it costs $300 extra and doesn’t always take the better snap, Samsung’s flagship provides low light, ultra-wide, and zoom capabilities that are just a little more consistent than Google’s Pixel 6 Pro. Despite all that, any of these devices are an excellent pick for documenting your life and the Pixel 6 stands out as a particular bargain for a general-purpose camera.

Google Pixel 6 vs Pixel 6 Pro: The little details count

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

There are a few other quality of life differences between the flagship Pixel 6 Pro and the less expensive Pixel 6. For starters, the former offers an adaptive 120Hz QHD+ display and the latter a locked 60/90Hz FHD+ resolution version. Both displays look great and are perfectly crisp. The Pixel 6 Pro perhaps looks a fraction smoother when scrolling, but the regular Pixel 6 offers most of the same experience.

The Pixel 6 Pro also supports ultra-wideband technology, which the Pixel 6 does not. Use cases are niche at the moment, so again this isn’t a feature I’d feel compelled to buy the Pro model for. The Pro, however, does offer a larger 512GB storage option, should you need that much space.

Read more: The best chargers to correctly fast charge the Google Pixel 6

Google Pixel 6 review second opinion: Getting closer to perfection

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Google’s Pixel 6 and 6 Pro are two very good smartphones, although rarely have I used handsets that are so equal parts exciting and imperfect. For everything these two do right, there’s almost certainly a caveat. The new cameras are great, the ultra-wide shooter not so much. I love the displays, but the fingerprint scanner is finicky. And while the design looks amazing, the Pixel 6 Pro is more slippery than a Teflon politician.

Overall, I like both of them and when it comes to value for money you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better buy than the Google Pixel 6. At $599 it’s more affordable than the Samsung Galaxy S21 ($799) and OnePlus 9 ($729) yet feels every bit as good to use and will receive updates for the next five years. If you’re after a flagship-tier phone that won’t break the bank, the Pixel 6 is it.

Google’s Pixel 6 is an absolute bargain and the Pro isn’t far off the mark either.

Perhaps the tougher question is whether the Pixel 6 Pro is worth the $300 extra. Despite a number of specification differences, the only real tangible improvements, in my experience, are with the camera’s zoom and the finer aspects of the Pro’s physical design. The Pixel 6 Pro certainly looks and feels a bit more premium in the hand, putting it aesthetically closer to top-tier iPhone and Galaxy territory. That said, the phone’s fingerprint scanner, lack of global mmWave, and the iffy ultra-wide camera shouldn’t command the same price as Apple’s and Samsung’s best. So it’s a good job the Pixel 6 Pro is $899 and not $1,000 plus, but even then I’d only recommend it over the regular Pixel 6 for those who are quite picky when it comes to design and photography.

Personally, I’m learning to love the Google Pixel 6 Pro, warts and all. Despite its flaws, it’s my favorite phone to use this year thanks to its unique design and powerful camera setup. Yet while the smaller Pixel 6 doesn’t have quite the same technological wow factor, it’s an unbelievably good buy for those looking to spend a more reasonable sum on a very capable, dependable smartphone.

Google Pixel 6

The more affordable Pixel

The Google Pixel 6 features a 6.4-inch FHD+ display and runs on the all-new Google Tensor SoC. It has an upgraded camera system, exclusive software features, and offers some of the best hardware Google has ever produced.

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Google Pixel Slate Review: Buy A Surface Instead

Our Verdict

The Pixel Slate is a frustrating device to use and a hard product to score. If you dive fully into Chrome OS with the keyboard cover then it can – for most basic tasks – be used as though a Windows or Mac might be, with Android apps filling in the software blanks. But the weak processing power of the low end models, expense of the keyboard, lacklustre tablet mode and buggy Play Store integration mean this is a messy user experience. It’s too expensive and has too many issues to fully recommend unless you have low end needs or want the only Chrome OS tablet Google makes. If you must have this form factor, get a Surface Pro instead.

Ever since Apple released the first iPad Pro in 2023 we’ve been wondering if a tablet can replace a laptop. This question is not only becoming a tad boring, it’s also the wrong question to be asking.

With the Pixel Slate we need to ask if it is good at what it’s designed to do. Unfortunately the answer is no, and that’s partly because we aren’t sure what it was designed to do in the first place.

The Pixel Slate is a Chrome OS tablet that can also run any Android app. It’s buggy, too expensive, and a curious product given Google also sells the superior Pixelbook – a less confusing, if pricier, alternative.

It’s not a great tablet, but with the keyboard attached it can technically replace your laptop. We just don’t recommend that you try it.

Price and availability

The Pixel Slate starts at £749 in the UK and $799 in the US for the low-end model and does not include the keyboard or pen.

There are five different models with Celeron, m3, i5 and i7 processors and various RAM and storage configurations. 

Chalking up the good points

First to the good stuff. The hardware here is absolutely excellent. The front of the Slate looks like a blown up Pixel 2 XL thanks to the dual stereo speakers, though it doesn’t take the curved display cues of that device or the 2023 iPad Pro lineup, opting for your standard rectangular screen with 90 degree corners in the attractive 3:2 aspect ratio.

That display is the best thing about the Slate. It’s a 12.3in LTPS LCD with a resolution of 3000×2000 and 293ppi. Colour reproduction and viewing angles are excellent and it’s a joy to watch video on.

The back of the Slate is a plain, brushed midnight blue (the only option) and aside from a single camera and solitary G logo is completely blank. It’s odd that Google didn’t choose to use a two-tone glass design here like every Pixel phone and the Pixelbook, but it’s a lovely looking thing.

Despite the brushed metal the blue colour shows fingerprints like nobody’s business and our review unit looked gross within seconds. Thankfully the oleophobic coating on the screen is top quality and feels great to use.

There are two USB-C ports that are both compatible with power delivery and data transfer, but there is no headphone jack. There’s a USB-C to 3.5mm headphone dongle in the box. We still find this maddening on tablets, even if it’s now usual for high-end phones.

Unlike any iPad this is a tablet clearly designed to be used in landscape at all times. From the orientation of the G logo on the back, speakers to the left and right, camera in the centre and keyboard connector (the Quick Snap Connector, as Google calls it) on the bottom edge, the Pixel Slate yearns to be attached to its keyboard – but you don’t get one in the box. This is frustrating, just as it is with the iPad Pro and Surface Pro or Go.

The Pixelbook Pen is compatible but also optional.

So if the Slate starts at £549/$599 without a keyboard, surely it works well as a tablet?

OS, oh no

Unfortunately not. Chrome OS is the operating system present on all Chromebooks and the  Google Pixelbook – laptop devices. With a clamshell design, you intuitively use Chrome OS as a laptop experience and we find we’re soon into the Google ecosystem of apps and fast web browsing.

There are usually pitfalls, but it’s largely great particularly when many Chromebooks are so cheap and are laptops with keyboards.

Without a keyboard, the Pixel Slate is a mess. You won’t want to use it for anything more than web browsing. There’s an argument to be had that this is partly also true of a Surface Pro or Go with Windows 10’s bad tablet mode, but at least there you can switch out of it.

On the Slate you have no such option. There is a split screen mode, but the OS lags ridiculously when you try to drag windows to the correct area and the options are not easily discoverable or intuitive. You can’t have Windows-like windows in tablet mode that you can in laptop mode with a keyboard.

Chrome tabs also don’t always auto resize in tablet mode, including in Gmail, so you can’t see all the text when apps are using half a screen. You might get used to its quirks, but it’s not universal in behaviour as the Slate can also run Android apps.

With the Play Store, like on the Pixelbook, you can install and run Android apps alongside Chrome. In theory this is excellent – you can run any app an Android phone can. But your brain has to think a lot more about how to interact with windows; there’s no minimize or close icon in the top right when you have a fullscreen app open in tablet mode. You have to drag from the top corner to make it smaller or quit it.

Weirdly, these icons all appear when you plug the keyboard in. It is these inconsistencies that make the Slate annoying to use or get used to whether or not you have the keyboard. Either these choices don’t make sense, or they differ too much between tablet and laptop mode to get a decent workflow going between the two.

Just not my type?

Basically, the Slate is much better with the keyboard if you’re willing to spend £189/$199 on it.

The keyboard cover itself is well built with a nice soft rubberised outer with a clever magnetic design that lets you use it at any viewing angle. But it’s a pain to use on your lap (like Apple and Microsoft’s designs) thanks to the keyboard itself working best on a flat surface.

The keys are oddly round and flat and look unlike anything else on the market, let alone from Google. Typing is a slow experience, even after a week, but it’s good that it’s full sized.

There are system buttons at the top that you can change to act as a normal function row, but they aren’t marked F1-F12 so you probably won’t want to do that.

Five backlight levels on the keyboard is great but there’s no auto option, so you’ll have to keep pressing Alt and the screen brightness buttons to change it. They keyboard also has a launcher key and an assistant key, two useful things that you lose without the keyboard purchase.

We actually prefer the Brydge G-Type keyboard, a cheaper third party alternative. It connects via Bluetooth rather than physical connector but makes the Pixel Slate a clamshell laptop form factor rather than fiddly folio thanks to the rubberised way it clips into place. The keys have more travel, are backlit and it’s a blue metallic hue that feels like the tablet itself.

Just remember that if you go for the Brydge it runs on its own battery rather than the Slate’s, but the company claims one charge gives you six months battery life, and it charges via USB-C – good to see that it’s not the old micro-USB that still plagues some modern peripherals.

Disconnecting either keyboard gives the Slate a home screen of apps instead of the laptop launcher. It meant that we always used the Slate in laptop mode when possible as it’s a much better experience having a launcher instead of app screen, coupled with the ability to easier use and resize apps and windows.

It begs the question, why not just get the Pixelbook, a full laptop design without all the pitfalls of the software and usability of the Slate? We ask this as you should not be buying the cheapest Pixel Slate option.

Power to the people

The key thing to consider is which Slate is which version to buy. There are annoyingly five different versions to choose from. You should not buy the low end one, which is £549/$599 for a measly 4GB RAM and 32GB storage with an Intel Celeron processor.

This Celeron 3965Y 1500MHz processor is woefully underpowered, and we’d say this for a device half the price. Simply do not buy this version if you want anything approaching good performance. Adding £100/$100 to the price gets you it with double the RAM and storage but we still wouldn’t recommend it.

We received the £969/$999 Core i5 model which has 8GB RAM and 128GB storage and it ran absolutely fine. Chrome tabs, as you’d expect, ran absolutely fluid with no stutter or RAM hogging like the program tends to on other OSs. This is the strength of expensive Chrome OS hardware.

Things get buggier when you don’t expect with using Android apps on top of Chrome OS. We found some apps with notifications that should peep and disappear didn’t, and reshaping windows often crashed the app or was painfully, frame by frame slow. This is unacceptable on a product of this price.

The i5 Slate recorded a multi-core Geekbench 4 score of 8071 (for comparison this is just under what a flagship Android phone with a Snapdragon 845 records). We didn’t come across any performance hiccups with our use, but it wouldn’t run GFXBench’s high-tier graphics tests, something modern phones half the price have no trouble with.

It’s hard to say what this is down to, though high-end games like Asphalt 9 ran fine on our Core i5 unit. Then again without the Mac or Windows store on Chrome OS you won’t want to buy the Slate for gaming anyway, but anything in the Play Store is at your disposal.

It all means the base £999/$999 Pixelbook is a no brainer if you’re willing to spend that much money on the Slate as it’ll get you the exact same specs as our review device but with a keyboard attached to it. The Slate is even available for £1,549/$1,599 with 16GB RAM, 256GB storage and a Core i7, pushing crazy money.

The middle option of 8GB RAM, 64GB storage and core m3 for £749/$799 is the best option for most people, but it’s a maddening line up of five options that will confuse the average consumer. Many may assume the cheapest one is best for them, when it really isn’t good enough for anything but email and Netflix.

This makes for a confusing tablet market with the iPad, iPad Pro, Surface Pro or Go and Pixel Slate all offering different performance levels in prices ranging from around £300 to over £1,500 as the benchmark chart below shows.

Conversely, battery life is absolutely superb and the included fast charger works well and via either of the USB-C ports. We worked on the Slate for entire 8-10 hour working days without having to recharge it.

And despite the absence of a headphone jack the dual speakers are actually pretty good for Netflix binges and films. They’re not as bass-tuned as the iPad Pro’s audio but they are better than what you’ll get one most tablets on the market.

Bluetooth is also maddeningly buggy, with our mice (we tested more than one) dropping out regularly, and often the Bluetooth menu inaccurately showing no available devices. It’s infuriating that these problems shipped with this device.

Who is it for?

Google had the opportunity with the Slate to make a simple Google branded tablet with a clear user case. To that end it has miserably failed, with a pricey product that you need the expensive keyboard for to get the most out of.

It’s for those who simply must have the latest Google hardware to go with their enthusiastic use of Google hardware and software. It’s for Pixel phone owners and people who want to live in Chrome OS.

And yes, that’s hardly anyone. Not because Chrome OS doesn’t offer good experience – in fact most people who say that can’t do their work on an iPad Pro could work fine on the Pixel Slate – but because the majority of people who want to spend £1000+ on a computer should buy a Windows or Mac laptop.

The Pixel Slate is too expensive to try on a whim. It’s not a completely terrible computer, and we can do a whole day’s work on it (with quite a few performance issues) but we still can’t recommend it.

The Google Pixelbook is, oddly, miles better simply thanks to its simpler form factor and imposed laptop limitations. Tablet mode on the Slate is the first way most people will experience it, and it sucks.


So yes, the Pixel Slate can replace your laptop if you buy a keyboard. But you need to spend nearly £1,000/$1,000 on those two things to get a set up fast enough for you not to go mad with frustration – and with that you still get an annoying tablet experience and a laptop that isn’t fun to actually use on your lap if you get the Google keyboard.

The Pixel Slate is a missed opportunity for Google to get lovely hardware and Chrome OS into more people’s hands. Even more than the Pixel phones, this device is destined to be an enthusiast’s curiosity, a device we can’t make excuses for when Google should have the ability to make a much better product.

Like Microsoft and Windows in years gone by, perhaps Google needs to realise other companies are better at integrating Chrome OS into hardware that it is at the moment.

Specs Google Pixel Slate: Specs

Google Chrome OS



aluminium casing

Midnight Blue colour

Power button with fingerprint sensor

Storage: 32GB / 64GB / 128GB / 256GB

12.3in Molecular Display

3000×2000 pixels, 293ppi

10-point multi-touch

Pixelbook Pen Input

8th generation Intel Core i5 / Core m3 / Celeron Processor

4GB / 8GB / 16GB RAM

Wi-Fi (802.11ac)

Bluetooth 4.2

Two 8MP Full HD cameras, front- and rear-facing

Microphone, Stereo speakers

2x USB-C ports

Pixel Slate Keyboard port

Titan security chip

48Whr battery, up to 10 hours

Google Pixel 4A Vs Pixel 4 Camera Shootout: Budget Vs Flagship

Ryan-Thomas Shaw / Android Authority

The Google Pixel 4a has some big boots to fill. Its predecessor, the Pixel 3a, boasted the best camera on a mid-range smartphone by some margin, so much so that it could go toe-to-toe with Google’s flagship phones. Can the Pixel 4a do the same against the aging Pixel 4 series? That’s what we’re about to find out in this Pixel 4a vs Pixel 4 camera shootout!

Be sure to cast your vote on the winner in the poll at the end of the comparison.

Related: Google Pixel 4a vs Pixel 4: Which should you buy?

Google Pixel 4a vs Pixel 4: Camera specs

On the surface, the camera specs are fairly similar between the Pixel 4a and Pixel 4. Both have 12.2MP main cameras and 8MP selfie cameras, but the Pixel 4 also packs a 16MP telephoto camera. This should aid in snapping sharper zoomed-in photos. The Pixel 4 comes with a flagship SoC which results in faster image processing, as well as the Pixel Visual Core which further helps in speeding up processes such as HDR+, portrait mode, and Night Sight. The Pixel 4a doesn’t have either of these and so its processing is slower, resulting in a less seamless user experience.

In these indoor images, the Pixel 4 manages to capture more detail in the canvases. However, a byproduct of this is a lot of noise in the surround of the image. As for the shot of the Gran Turismo collection, both images look so similar that it’s too close to call.

I also tested the portrait mode with both the front and rear cameras in this first set of images. Testing these cameras indoors should provide insight into the noise performance of both devices. In the selfies, the single source of light was a window to my right.

The Pixel 4a’s outdoor sample has a tighter field of view despite both photos being taken at the same distance from the subject. Because of this, there’s more background compression in the 4a’s image. There’s more detail in the Pixel 4a’s shadows, too. However, the Pixel 4’s white balance is more true to life in these images than the Pixel 4a’s.

We’re outside again for these next photo samples. The shot of the danger sign shows the Pixel 4’s stronger natural bokeh coming out as a result of the larger sensor. In the images where I shot up at the tree, it was hard to pick out discrepancies. The Pixel 4 manages to capture just a bit more detail in the shadows, and it also manages to capture a more accurate white balance.

In the dark, the Pixel 4 steams ahead with much better shots using Google’s Night Sight mode. In these images of the side of my house, the Pixel 4a turns the pebble dashing into noise with a pink haze over the top. The Pixel 4 remains shaper even towards the darker bottom half of the wall. The Pixel 4a’s images appear softer in low light, perhaps due to the lack of Pixel Visual Core, which the Pixel 4 is using to help sharpen its images.

Since the Pixel 4 has a 2x telephoto zoom, we decided to compare the zoom capabilities of both. At 2x, the Pixel 4a keeps up with the Pixel 4. However, at 5x the Pixel 4 looks a lot clearer and sharper. This is the Pixel 4’s Super Res Zoom coming into play, which digitally enhances photos taken with the telephoto camera. However, you can see the shift in the Pixel 4’s color temperature when switching from the main camera to the telephoto camera. Since the Pixel 4a relies on a single camera — again boosted by the Super Res Zoom tech — its color temperature doesn’t change throughout the zoom range.

See also: Google Pixel 4a vs iPhone SE camera shootout

Google Pixel 4a vs Pixel 4 camera shootout: The verdict

Which phone takes better photos: the Google Pixel 4a or the Google Pixel 4?

1711 votes

Google Shows Off Pixel 7 And Pixel Watch Ahead Of Fall Launch

Coming as a bit of a surprise, the Pixel 6a and Pixel Buds Pro weren’t the only devices shown off during the Google I/O 2023 Keynote. Instead of waiting around for the leaks to spoil the fun, Google decided to spoil the fun itself.

The Pixel 7, Pixel 7 Pro, and Google Pixel Watch were all teased during today’s event. This came closer to the end of the Keynote, in a segment dedicated to Pixel hardware.

Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro

Starting off with the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro, very little about these phones was actually revealed. We were shown a few images of the design, revealing a slight redesign to the rear camera module. With the Pixel 6 series late in 2023, Google implemented a camera bar of sorts, allowing for the design to stay slim, along with providing plenty of room for the different camera modules.

When the Pixel 7 arrives this fall, the two modules on the left side of the bar will be grouped together. Because the Pixel 7 Pro sports a tertiary camera sensor, this will be housed separately, with the flash model placed on the right side. This camera bar, along with the frame of the phone, will be made from a single piece of machined aluminum.

The other big piece of information that we know now is that Google’s next-generation Tensor chip will be at the helm. The original Tensor processor is what’s found in the Pixel 6, 6 Pro, and now the Pixel 6a, providing near-flagship performance.

And while it may fall a bit short compared to the Galaxy S22 Ultra, it excels in other areas that depend more on Machine Learning. Tensor is partially what makes unique features like Magic Eraser even possible on a smartphone.

Shortly after the Keynote concluded, Google shared just a little bit more insight, mainly surrounding the upcoming color options. The Pixel 7 will arrive in Obsidian, Snow, and Lemongrass, while the Pixel 7 Pro will come in Hazel instead of Lemongrass.

Both of these phones will ship with Android 13 out of the box, meaning that we’ll see at least three major OS software updates. And Google is likely to continue the trend of five years of security updates for its upcoming flagship models.

Google Pixel Watch

There have been rumors and leaks regarding a potential Pixel Watch release ever since Wear OS was introduced. In years past, Google has partnered with some hardware makers, such as LG and Samsung, but those days are in the past.

The Google Pixel Watch will be the company’s first wearable device and is also arriving this fall alongside the Pixel 7 series.

Following some surprising leaked images from a Pixel Watch that was left in a bar, those images match up exactly with what Google teased today. We’re seeing a circular, domed design, with a rotating crown on the side and a single button near the top of the watch.

Google didn’t share much in the way of what health and fitness tracking sensors would be on board. However, the company did reveal that there will be “deep Fitbit integration”, which is something that was expected following Google’s acquisition of the company.

From a software standpoint, Google confirms the Pixel Watch will run an updated version of Wear OS 3. Barring any other smartwatch releases, this marks just the second wearable to feature Google’s latest wearable OS. As we expected, Google is also expanding the usefulness of various on-watch features. This includes things like dedicated apps for Assistant, Wallet, and Google Maps. There’s even a new Google Home app that allows you to control your smart home devices, right from your wrist.

Unfortunately, that’s pretty much where the announcement stopped. Google said that we’ll have to wait until later this year to learn more about pricing and other features.


Between the Pixel 7, Pixel Watch, and Pixel Buds Pro, Google is finally attempting to create the seamless ecosystem that we’ve been wanting. It’s what makes the Apple and Samsung ecosystem so tempting, as all of your devices can easily communicate and provide the information that you need when you need it. And that’s without touching on the Pixel Tablet that was teased during today’s announcement, slated to arrive in 2023.

Let us know what you think about today’s announcements, and whether you’ll be planning to get your hands on these new devices.

Should I Buy The Google Pixel 6 Or Wait For The Pixel 7?

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

We’re getting closer to a year since Google launched the Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, and the phones have been very successful for Google (at least compared to previous Pixels). The Pixel 6 even walked away with our award for the best Android phone of 2023. However, it’s well into 2023 now, which means we’re fast approaching the inevitable Google Pixel 7.

This begets the question: Would it be better to grab a Pixel 6 now or wait another six months and pick up a Pixel 7 series device? The answer will depend on your individual situation, but we can at least arm you with the information you need to make a good decision.

Google confirmed during Google I/O 2023 that it would call its upcoming phone Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro. This means we know for sure that these are coming, and the naming will stay as predicted.

Check out the need-to-know info below!

Why you should buy the Google Pixel 6 now

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

As mentioned, we rated the Pixel 6 as 2023’s best overall buy for most smartphone shoppers. The phone has a great display, solid performance, an excellent camera, and a long-term update commitment. Yes, there’s slightly better hardware on offer from Google’s Pixel 6 Pro. However, the Pixel 6’s starting price of just $599 makes it a no-brainer compared to those other $899.

With the Pixel 6 series turning six months old, you can often find these phones even cheaper than their launch prices. Whether it’s carrier deals, used models, or the occasional discount day at certain retailers. There has never been a better time to buy a Pixel 6.

The Pixel 6 series is nearly a year old, but they are still some of the best devices you can buy.

All Google has officially said is that the Pixel 7 series would come in the fall. Google has launched every flagship Pixel phone in or very close to October. As such, that would be a good time to expect the Pixel 7.

Finally — and this may be the most important thing to keep in mind — we don’t expect too many substantial upgrades for the Google Pixel 7 series compared to the Pixel 6 series. The phones will almost certainly look very much the same, boast similar camera systems, and feature many of the same internal specs.

However, all this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bother waiting for the Pixel 7.

Why you should wait for the Google Pixel 7


Before we get into this, we can’t confirm much about the Google Pixel 7 for certain yet. We have plenty of leaks and can make a few assumptions based on what Google has done in the past. But nothing is set in stone until the phone launches. With that disclaimer out of the way, here’s what we expect from the Pixel 7 series.

Google revamped the design a whole bunch in 2023 and will keep most of those design elements in 2023. This is confirmed by both leaks and renders from Google.

Notably, the phones won’t look very different from the Pixel 6 series. Google appears to be sticking with the same design elements as its 2023 phones, as you can see above. The image above shows that the Pixel 7 design is a dead ringer for the Pixel 6. There are slight differences in color and accents, but nothing huge. In other words, if you like the look of the Pixel 6, you’ll like the look of the Pixel 7.

We don’t know for certain, but we guess the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro would have similar pricing to the Pixel 6 series. If anything, the phones might be more expensive, so don’t plan on them getting any cheaper.

Would you buy a Pixel 6 today or wait for a Pixel 7?

3459 votes

If you aren’t itching for a new phone right now — and don’t care about active discounts — waiting for the Pixel 7 series might be worth it. The second-generation Tensor chip could be a big step forward in speed and efficiency, and there’s the possibility of improved camera hardware too. When you factor in that we don’t expect a price increase and that the phones will look very similar to the Pixel 6 series, there’s no harm in waiting another six months.

Six months later review: Google Pixel 6 Pro revisited

What do you think? Answer our poll above to let us know where you fall in this debate!

Google Pixel 6

The more affordable Pixel

The Google Pixel 6 features a 6.4-inch FHD+ display and runs on the all-new Google Tensor SoC. It has an upgraded camera system, exclusive software features, and offers some of the best hardware Google has ever produced.

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