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Why I'm (reluctantly) ditching my Pixel 6 Pro
I’m going to miss the Google Pixel 6 Pro, I really am. On its good days during the nine months it has served as my daily driver, it’s been one of my favorite handsets of all time. But the constant issues have finally worn me down, with the final straw coming in the form of several hair-pulling issues during a recent vacation.
It’s time for something new, something more reliable.
Have you ditched your Pixel 6 or 6 Pro?
You can live with the little things until a big thing comes along
Throughout my recent trip, I regularly encountered the dreaded connectivity issue my colleague Rita detailed the other week. The Pixel 6 Pro languished with a pitiful bar of HSPA+ while my wife’s Galaxy S20, on the same network, sat quite happily with two bars of 4G. Not great while you’re shouldering the responsibility of road trip DJ or trying to find nearby places to grab a bite.
Like many of you, I haven’t traveled a lot in the past year, so I didn’t notice this issue until now — I’m mostly at home, where the connection is slow but stable. Although to be honest, I don’t remember having connectivity issues in the first few months when I spent a bit of time roaming in and out of 5G areas without issue. It wouldn’t surprise me if Google broke something during an update in the past six months.
Connectivity and overheating problems leave me yearning for a more reliable handset.
That was far from my only issue, though. While driving, I often used Google Maps’ “stops” feature to plot a more scenic drive or dodge local traffic hotspots. An hour into the journey, my Pixel 6 Pro was already running hot and slowed to a crawl switching between Maps, Signal, and Spotify (don’t worry, I was the passenger). Just as Maps changed to the next waypoint, the app hung indefinitely. I had to force close, losing my waypoints in the process. That’s annoying enough in the middle of nowhere, but a problem compounded by a phone that already struggles to hold a signal.
If these issues occurred in isolation, I would have chalked them up to bad luck or a one-time thing. But I’ve continually glossed over stalled Wi-Fi connections, the sluggish fingerprint scanner, a not particularly scratch-resistant display, high temperatures during video calls, finicky wireless charging speeds, and screen auto-dimming issues in the last nine months. I’ve lost count of how many times I told myself these were prices worth paying to stay in first class on the Google Express. But I’ve finally shaken the illusion — the experience doesn’t match the brochure.
I was telling myself this was the price to stick with a first-class Google experience, but I've finally shaken that illusion.
Perhaps more frustrating is that Google has been improving the Pixel 6 experience since launch but still hasn’t fixed many of the lingering, fundamental issues. We’ve seen quality of life improvements like VoLTE roaming support and tweaked camera performance as well as entirely new features like Pocket Operator and digital vaccination cards. But the fact that so many customers are still suffering from issues reported months ago suggests these either can’t be fixed or that Google simply isn’t prioritizing them.
What are the alternatives?
Truth be told, I (we) knew the phone wasn’t perfect while writing our second opinion Pixel 6 Pro review back in November. My primary motivation for putting up with these bugbears has been the Pixel 6 Pro’s flexible camera array. It’s still a setup that’s tough to beat, even though I’ve grown weary of the phone’s heavy-handed processing and so-so ultrawide capabilities. The camera’s selfie portraits and extra Google Photos editing tools are really great and an experience I’ll struggle to replicate elsewhere. I’m also a sucker for the offbeat design and the 120Hz display is equally great, but that’s no longer enough for me to keep living with the phone’s other flaws.
Google's Pixel 6 Pro is still hard to beat for the price but there are alternatives out there.
The problem is, what else is out there? A great flagship camera is a must-have for me, but the Google Pixel 6 Pro remains in a league of its own in its price bracket. For a comparative photography experience, you have to turn to far more expensive alternatives like the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, Sony Xperia 1 IV, or Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max. That’s not a hugely attractive prospect for my wallet, given their price tags all start north of $1,100.
I’m fortunate enough to have a Galaxy S22 Ultra sitting on my desk that will shortly be taking over (perks of the job), but I’ve had my eye on the more Pixel-priced Galaxy S22 or S22 Plus to buy as a long-term solution. Both of them are pretty great all-rounders, have solid cameras, and would, most importantly, bail me out of all these aforementioned issues. There’s a small part of me that still wants to slug it out with the wonderful yet flawed Pixel 6 Pro and hope that Google eventually fixes the problems, but I need to tune that out.
A lesson for Google: An excellent phone can't have issues being, well, a phone.
The lesson for the upcoming Google Pixel 7 is that an excellent long-term purchase can’t have issues being, well, a phone. Great cameras, live translations, and long-term upgrades tick all the right boxes, but losing signal on a trip out or apps crashing when you need them most quickly turns liveable niggles into buyer’s remorse.
More ideas: The best Pixel 6 Pro alternatives