In addition to the “pure” Android experience, one of the original selling points of Google’s Pixel phones has always been photography. Back then, the first Pixel’s 12MP camera seemed magical because of how Google was able to pull out high-quality rabbits from its computational photography hat. Five years, however, is a very long time for smartphones, and the Pixel had to grow up both in the software as well as the hardware department. The Pixel 6 Pro represents Google’s biggest leap forward in that arena, and, at least based on one set of benchmark tests, it was well worth all the effort.
Google’s record on DxOMark’s listings has been rather inconsistent over the years. The original Pixel, the Pixel 2, and the Pixel 4 made it to the site’s Top Ten, with the Pixel 2 even bagging the #1 spot when it launched. The rest, however, failed to impress, and the Pixel 5’s mediocre hardware didn’t do much to improve that situation.
The Pixel 6, however, begins a new chapter in Google’s smartphone history in more ways than one. It finally upgraded the main sensor from 12MP to 50MP, and it also added a 4X telephoto camera for the first time. Along with high-end hardware and improved AI-powered software, the Pixel 6 Pro promised to deliver excellent photos and videos with less.
Based on DxOMark’s tests, Google was able to deliver that for the most part. It was able to reproduce good detail and accurate colors with very little noise except in low-light situations or when indoors. Autofocus and stabilization were also noted to be quick and effective, which is impressive considering it doesn’t have complex hardware for those. It’s not all perfect, though, and the site takes points off for the phone’s narrow depth-of-field, sometimes flawed bokehs, and instabilities in video recording.
These remarks echo our own positive experience with the Pixel 6 Pro. Most users of the phone might not notice those flaws too much and will probably be too distracted by some nifty camera features like Magic Eraser anyway. Nonetheless, the phone’s camera hardware and photography algorithms provide a solid base for these features to work with.
With the Pixel 6 Pro, Google returns to DxOMark’s Top Ten, just behind Huawei, Xiaomi, and Apple’s iPhone 13 Pros. That’s even more impressive when you consider that neither Huawei and Xiaomi are available in the US anyway. It definitely bodes well for Google’s latest flagship, and, hopefully, it will be able to keep up that standard when the Pixel 7 arrives next year.