Pixel 6 one year review

A year ago I bought a Google Pixel 6. It’s a good phone but I’ve just switched back to my old(er) Poco M3 and wanted to get some thoughts out there.

Why I bought the Pixel

In a word: speed​.

My work at the time involved making urgent calls and text messages to my oft-absent boss, and I couldn’t handle the lag from task switching on my budget Chinese phone. I’m not sure why I settled on the Pixel - mostly just didn’t want to deal with the BS of unlocking and rooting and rom hopping. I’d heard that Google devices were the most open in that regard and can confirm it’s basically the case.

How is it?

Pretty good! A tiny bit top-heavy (that big black camera band does its geometry no favors) and at times slippery (glass back), but all in all it’s a solid and sleek design. The phone is just large enough to play Terraria on with 2 hands, and at the very upper limit of being able to click anywhere with the thumb of the hand by which you’re holding it. Basically, it IS one-hand-able but just barely.

It was the exact same size as my previous (and subsequent) device so honestly the outward dimensions are the least interesting thing about it.

I do need to mention the under-screen fingerprint sensor - it’s in a very convenient place. The power and volume buttons are both on the right of the screen, but on this thing the volume buttons are below the power button (which sticks out). Surprisingly this was easy to get used to.

but how is the software?

The most “what you make of it” experience ever - so, very solid.

If you’ve never used the Pixel android skin on a fast device, it’s impossible to explain. Gestures just flow. The notifications / quick-settings drawer is smooth as ghee. When an app stutters, you KNOW it’s the app’s fault, because the OS never does that.

The home screen icons are circular, which some people may not like, and they stick the Google search bar at the bottom. I found this annoying for the first week but am now completely used to it - if you are trying to live google-free you will just install another OS instead so this won’t be a problem for you either.

Here are some apps I use, and my experiences with them:


This is the good rootkit app that everyone uses. It’s open source (https://github.com/topjohnwu/magisk) and pretty straightforward once you know what you’re doing (​_figuring out_ what you’re doing is a whole nother rant, but whatever).

It allows for things like running su in Termux, as well as “modifying” read-only app files with overlayfs​. I refuse to use a device I don’t have root on, but honestly it’s not that useful apart from managing updates to ReVanced.

youtube ReVanced

This is a re-implementation of the martyred Youtube Vanced which I used until it stopped working and all the links got sketchy. It integrates with Return YouTube Dislike (with which there are problems but it’s nice to have a number there) and SponsorBlock (which I wasn’t sold on originally but I like the way they implemented its integration). As the successor to Vanced, its main perk is blocking the ads.

On previous setups I’ve had problems keeping vanced/revanced up to date, but now I just use https://github.com/j-hc/revanced-magisk-module with magisk and update it whenever. That author also has another module to prevent Google from updating youtube while you sleep (thereby breaking ReVanced), get that too.


The official Reddit app is a mess, but I can’t get any third-party client to look the way I want it to. ReVanced has a modification for the reddit app that removes ads and lets you access “premium” features such as changing the icon color.

The pixel 6 is nice in that it has so much RAM that you can use the reddit app for about 3 times as long before it crashes from the Memory Leak. How does android even let you leak memory? Idk how these things work, man.

But how is the camera?

It’s a good camera. Nuff said. I prefer it to other phone cameras, but I’m not a photographer so really don’t care. Notably, on the selfi-cam it has MUCH better color depth for my skin tone (white passing) which is kinda good as I use it as a face cam when livestreaming. In fact, even though I recently switched back to my old Poco, I’ll keep using the pixel just as a webcam.

Why I switched back

Battery life.

the pixel has a decent battery, but you chew thru that quickly when doing pretty much anything, especially in outdoor lighting. My current job has a lot more down time and even when working I typically blast music from my phone speakers - this also chews thru battery on the Pixel. Last weekend I woke up, watched an hour of youtube, got to work, studied some Kanji, and was at 40% before noon. This is unacceptable​.

What I’m using now

Xiaomi Poco M3 with a Pixel skin. It’s a $200 phone with a massive battery, extremely decent dual camera, sufficient fingerprint sensor (on the power button), and nothing else of note. If you buy one you have to wait a week before Xiaomi lets you root it, but then it’s basically as open as any Google device. I’ve installed Ubuntu Touch on it a couple times and it works pretty well (until you reboot and it forgets about having an OS).

Grading the Pixel 6:

  • Speed: 10/10
  • Camera: 4/3
  • Usability: 10/10
  • Battery: 7/24

Some people rate camera out of 10, but I don’t care that much.

Some people rate battery out of 10, but I care way more.