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Pixel 6 is the wrong name for Google's new phones

These are the right phones with the wrong name.

Published onOctober 24, 2021

Google Pixel 6 in hand in front of flowers
C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

Google has finally taken the wraps off the Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. After months of leaks and official announcements, the phones actually look quite impressive. This might be one of the few times in recent memory a tech product has lived up to the hype.

Having used both of the phones now (albeit very briefly), I can say this: these are the Pixels I’ve been waiting for. I’ve written before about how Google has continuously shot itself in the foot ever since the first Pixel in 2016, but that ends now. The new Pixels — and especially the Pixel 6 Pro — are finally at the point where I might be ready to buy one for myself. I have never thought this about a Pixel phone. Ever.

I haven’t ever wanted a Pixel phone because there was nothing about them that got me excited. The specs and design were usually dated and the features I wanted were either half-baked or completely missing. The Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, though, are so wildly different. Google is finally giving me (and most buyers I know) what we want. It’s a paradigm shift for the entire brand.

All of this is why I think saddling these phones with the “Google Pixel 6” moniker was the wrong move.

Our impressions: Google Pixel 6 hands-on | Google Pixel 6 Pro review

‘Google Pixel 6’ is the wrong name

Google Pixel 6 Pro angled camera closeup on gray floor
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

I understand why the Pixel 6 series is named this way. This is the sixth primary phone series in the Pixel family, so it is a Pixel 6. I get it. However, the name suggests the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro are part of an evolution. It brings to mind that this is the sixth episode in the Pixel TV show, and all other episodes have been leading up to this one.

History: Every Google Pixel phone released so far

But I’m sorry, it just doesn’t feel that way. This doesn’t feel like Chapter 6 of a TV series, this feels like a whole other TV series. Imagine you just binged five episodes of a low-budget TV series from ten years ago and all of a sudden Chapter 6 begins and it has the budget and polish of The Mandalorian. That would be quite jarring, wouldn’t it?

That’s what I feel is happening here. This is not just a new chapter for the Pixel series — this is a new beginning.

This isn't Chapter 6 of a book. It's a whole new book.

You can look at any number of aspects of the Pixel 6 series to see this change. The designs are wholly different, obviously. The cameras finally get a modernization, something Google’s avoided for the past three generations of Pixels. The display of the Pixel 6 Pro is the most advanced ever on a Pixel phone, and both phones (finally!) have enormous batteries. Pretty much every spec and every piece of hardware is either more advanced, redesigned, or both.

As I said, this is a paradigm shift, and the name of the phones should have matched that shift.

I have no idea what Google should have used instead. Maybe remove the numbers and go with letters? Google Pixel Z? Or maybe Google could have dropped “Pixel” altogether and started something new. I’m sure the marketing team could have come up with some cool ideas.

Of course, I understand why this wouldn’t be a good thing. Google has spent the past five years building brand awareness for the word “Pixel” and it’s not about to abandon all that work. Still, from a logical perspective, I really don’t think this phone has the right name.

This is a new beginning for Google

Google Pixel 6 camera closeup
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

I have used every single Pixel phone. While testing out the Google Pixel 6, I held the phone in one hand and the Google Pixel 5 in the other. Honestly, if I didn’t know any better and someone told me the phones came from completely different manufacturers, I would believe it. They are more different than they are similar.

It will be up to each individual reading this to determine if they like this or not. The Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro designs are divisive, no doubt about it. What can’t be argued, though, is that the Pixel 6 series represents a new beginning for Google’s smartphone ambitions. The company is swinging for the fences here, and that’s very exciting. I’m sure it’s also extremely nerve-racking for Google, but it’s exciting for us tech fans in the stands.

I really wish the name of this phone matched those ambitions. It feels weird for a phone that doesn’t play it safe physically in nearly any regard to have a name that, frankly, plays it safe. Obviously, the phones will continue to be the Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro no matter what I say, but don’t let the name belie what’s actually happening here. This phone is not just an iteration — it’s a declaration that Google is here and ready to shake stuff up.

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