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October 26, 2021
☕ Good morning! I was up for the Sony launch at 5am this morning, though I can't say I'll be lining up to buy the latest Xperia...
Pixel 6 series reviews
Google Pixel 6 Pro right rear profile in front of train
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Reviews of the Pixel 6 series are out and our own Eric Zeman put the Pixel 6 Pro through its paces in a review, landing with a 4.5/5 score.

The good news:

  • Google’s back. This is the flagship Google experience people have waited for, with fresh designs, top specs, and a much-improved triple-camera setup.
  • It’s not perfect but the key details that matter are solid: impressive display, good battery life, camera improvements including new tricks like Magic Eraser, and good performance.
  • It feels like the Pixel 6 Pro doesn’t win out in any one of those core areas, but it’s near enough and at a great price.

The not-good:

  • Google’s one blunder seems to be the under-display fingerprint sensor, which is a little slow and not always accurate.
  • And Google’s own Tensor chipset is good without being a bombshell that will rock the world of Android. 
  • It has its advantages that will play out over time, but performance is a little closer to a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 than the current Qualcomm Snapdragon 888. Another view I’ve read is that its GPU performance is mid-range, meaning it’s not one that gamers will be snapping up. In any case, it’s the AI and ML-drive workloads that Google is optimizing for, not raw benchmark specs.

Here’s Eric:

  • “True fans of the Google Pixel phone have already placed their orders, reviews be damned. Those buyers will surely delight in the Pixel 6 Pro’s many compelling features and will likely grumble, perhaps loudly, about the things that bother them. If you’re a buyer who’s on the fence, what we can tell you is that Google created an excellent, highly competitive smartphone in the Pixel 6 Pro. It takes the fight straight to Samsung’s door and beats on it loudly. The Pixel 6 Pro is definitely worth strong consideration from everyone.”

What’s next:

  • In terms of content, keep your eyes peeled for in-depth camera shootouts, more deep-dives into Tensor chip performance, and a review of the vanilla Pixel 6, which may be an even better proposition than the Pro at $600, too.
  • And, we’ll see if Google makes progressive improvements to its cameras at all — plenty of its competitors add refinements in the months following a launch.
Sony Xperia Pro-I
sony xperia pro i 1

Here’s what came out of that mysterious Sony Xperia event: the Xperia Pro-I, a $1,800 smartphone with a full 1-inch camera sensor that melds some of Sony’s best work in its mirrorless cameras with its smartphones, which are solid, just expensive.

  • The Xperia Pro-I isn’t a successor of the original Xperia Pro exactly, which had an HDMI-out port for niche reasons.
  • Other smartphone specs include a 6.5-inch 4K display, Snapdragon 888 SoC, 4,500mAh battery, 30W charging, and more.
  • The 12MP 1-inch primary comes with a bunch of details: A 24mm lens that can shoot at f/2.0 and f/4.0 steps, with a list of advantages including less noise, more bokeh, video shot at 4K at 120fps with HDR and OIS, and more.
  • Two other lenses add wide-angle and ultra-wide-angle shooting.
  • There’s plenty to like about the announcement, but questions remain: GSMArena went hands-on and seemed to find the device isn’t using the full sensor, though the camera shots are solid with lots of comparisons to the iPhone 13 Pro.
  • One caveat: “As a professional smartphone camera, it is not for the average iPhone vlogger, who expects to hit a key, then add a filter and click send. It requires skills and patience and a deep understanding of photography and videography.

🔜 Here’s what Google says about Pixel 6 features possibly coming to older Pixels: It’s hard, basically, so no firm dates (Android Authority).

👉 Honor 50 series that launched in China back in June is now available globally starting at €529, but the Honor 50 Pro is missing (Android Authority).

🍎 macOS 12 Monterey: The Ars Technica review (remember when these would mean anyone with a Mac would stop what they were doing and read?)

📈 Also: Anandtech’s look at the M1 Max and M1 Pro confirm the new chips “compete against the best desktop systems out there” and that “you’d have to bring out server-class hardware to get ahead of the M1 Max.” Lots of grunt for Pro users! I have to really think about what I’m going to upgrade to next.

🎧 Also: Apple AirPods 3 review: Improved design and significantly better sound, and maybe better than the more-expensive AirPods Pro? (CNET).

😬 There’s just endless bad news about Facebook from leaked documents, with new details around tiers of effort put in to monitor elections, struggles moderating non-English content, and engagement over safety. Here’s an attempt to reconcile eight key things from the Facebook Papers(The Verge). And in business-as-usual news for Facebook: it reported Q3 revenue increased 35% from last year, with 12% increased user base from the year prior as well, with Zuck saying Facebook’s future is youth (CNBC).

Smart alarm clocks can’t be trusted because they don’t have a battery, basically (The Verge).

🔋 Hertz is buying 100,000 Teslas and it’s all to do with emissions (ChargedEVs).

😎 A friend is the co-inventor of these latest residential-focused microinverters from Enphase: if you have solar panels putting out power, you can keep the lights on during an outage without a battery (pv magazine).

🦆 A museum in Japan is still taking care of a lost stuffed toy after 30 years (r/wholesomememes).

💪 It’s an oldie but it’s great: Let’s all appreciate this Belgian man’s parking skill again (Jalopnik).

🚀 Blue Origin announces plans for a commercial space station called Orbital Reef, expected to deploy between 2025-2030. It hilariously was described as a “mixed-use business park,” implying a strip mall operation, in space (Engadget).

🤔 “What is an underrated skill that people should learn?” Sewing, knot-tying, painting, cooking all seem pretty prominent and handy… (r/askreddit).

Chart Tuesday

This is one of the coolest viz I’ve seen in a while, showing wind gusts over Europe for 2.5 months as simulated by ECMWF model IFS with 4km spatial resolution. It’s also available in up to 4K resolution on YouTube, and the below GIF doesn’t do it justice at all, though it’ll give you an idea:

wind eu
  • From the original post, it’s a model output with hourly resolution, with not-yet public data, that couples a global atmosphere ocean model used for numerical weather prediction.
  • It was calculated on identical Cray XC40 clusters, weighing about 100 tonnes.
  • The dark areas are more still, the white areas show gusts up to 40m/s.
  • It’s fascinating to look at how Norway blocks winds, and how Iceland, the Faroe Islands, and the Alps throughout Switzerland transform the windflow.


Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor

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