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The Pixel 6 Pro has the worst connectivity and reception of any phone I've used
2:57 PM. I’m a bit late, but I still have three minutes to pick up a Too Good To Go lunch basket from the Japanese restaurant nearby. My husband and I rush in and explain why we’re there. They ask us to validate our order through the app so I take out my phone from my pocket and launch it. Nothing loads. I glance at the notification bar and realize that once again, the Pixel 6 Pro has no connectivity. We’re in a congested area, but it shouldn’t be bad enough to cause the phone to go offline.
In a robotic movement that I’ve done thousands of times over the past months, I drop down the quick settings panel, tap the Airplane mode button to toggle it on, then off, and I wait for the phone to find a signal. It doesn’t. I do it again while glancing at the time — 2:59 PM. I anticipate another failure and ask my husband if his OnePlus 7 Pro is connected; he nods. So he validates the order while I cuss under my breath for the umpteenth time.
Have you had connectivity problems on your Pixel 6 or 6 Pro?
See, I am inherently pro-Pixel biased and I love the Pixel 6 Pro. I can recite odes about its triple-camera setup and the fantastic shots I’ve taken with it, and write multiple essays about the small but nice Pixel-only features Google implemented. But this one issue of connectivity makes me want to abandon the phone each time I step outside of Wi-Fi range. And frankly, it is just terrible.
The Pixel 5 had stellar reception, but the Pixel 6 Pro doesn't hold a candle to it.
The 6 Pro isn’t my first Pixel. I’ve already had the Pixel 2 XL, Pixel 4XL, and Pixel 5 as my daily drivers. Of those three, the first two struggled a bit, but not significantly more than any other phone I was testing at the time. The Pixel 5, though, had a stellar reception. It could catch a signal in the deepest nooks and crannies and the most congested areas — one bar, but still, a bar.
I hoped that Google had turned a new leaf with the Pixel 5 and that connectivity would never be an issue again on its line-up of phones. Then, in March, I moved my main SIM card from the Pixel 5 to the 6 Pro and the problems started.
We recommend: The best signal-boosting apps and methods on Android
When going out of my apartment, the Pixel 6 Pro takes several minutes to realize it’s no longer able to connect to a Wi-Fi network and has to switch to an LTE signal. During those minutes, a simple WhatsApp text message can’t be delivered.
It struggles to switch from Wi-Fi to LTE, to find a signal in congested areas, and to reconnect after exiting a dead zone.
If I’m traveling in the Parisian underground system, the 6 Pro doesn’t reconnect automatically when the train stops at a subway station. Every other phone I’ve used manages to go online for a few seconds to grab and deliver messages, open pending web pages, and/or buffer a bit of music or video without me touching it. Not the Pixel 6 Pro, though. It remains steadfastly offline through most stops.
Then, when I’m out of the train, I sometimes have to wait multiple minutes for it to reconnect. By that time, I’m often out of the station and walking above the ground. The same thing happens any time I go through a dead zone. The Pixel 6 Pro takes significantly longer to reconnect. And let’s not talk about crowds or congested areas.
I haven't seen the offline icon or Edge icons on other phones as often as I see them on the Pixel 6 Pro.
I have never seen the signal exclamation point icon or the Edge/HSPA/HSPA+ icons on any other phones as often as I see them on this one. To illustrate how the Pixel 6 Pro struggles with scanning and finding a signal when others remain steadily connected, I took a couple of timelapse videos (excuse the hand-shaking). You can see these on Google Drive:
- Timelapse of OnePlus 7 Pro (left), Pixel 6 Pro (middle), and Pixel 5 (right)
- Timelapse of Pixel 6 Pro (left) and OnePlus 9 (right)
This issue with poor reception, LTE scanning, and handoff between Wi-Fi and LTE, has become so frequent that I no longer question it. I can anticipate when I’m going to be offline and be ready with the airplane mode toggle under my fingertip to quickly force a reconnection. That trick doesn’t solve the underlying issue, but it patches it up briefly, until the next time when the phone decides it doesn’t want to see any signal around it.
In case you’re wondering, this isn’t a problem with my particular unit because I’m not the only one to have expressed concerns about it. Marques Brownlee has already mentioned it in his Pixel 6 second-try video, my friend Cameron Summerson talked about it, and people are complaining about it on Twitter, Reddit (1, 2), and the Google Support forums (1, 2, 3).
It could be a faulty production batch, a bug that affects a subset of units, or it could just be a matter of location. For instance, I live in Paris and use underground public transport, so I pass by congested areas and dead zones frequently enough to notice it. Others might not go through similarly challenging situations. Some of my colleagues at Android Authority haven’t noticed such drastic issues, but they did confirm that handoff between Wi-Fi and LTE is slower than other devices.
For a while, I also thought that this could be a temporary software bug introduced with a monthly update and I chose to overlook it, but the April, May, and June updates haven’t fixed it yet. At this point, I doubt any other update will — or could.
The only reason I'm still using the Pixel 6 Pro is that I work from home and remain on Wi-Fi most of the day.
Today, the sole reason my main SIM card is still in the Pixel 6 Pro is that I work from home and this poor reception problem doesn’t rear its ugly head during my daily commute from the bed to my living room. I appreciate everything else the phone has to offer so I’m willing to grind my teeth and toggle the airplane mode a couple of times per week when I happen to be out and about. But if I were using transit and going underground every day, I’m sure I couldn’t possibly overlook it for more than a few days.
We revisited it: The good and bad of the Pixel 6 Pro, 6 months later
And that’s the sad truth of my experience with this flagship from Google. I have no other complaints about the phone: I already got (reluctantly) used to the gigantic size, the fingerprint sensor works well enough for me, and everything else is top-notch. But a phone is still supposed to be a phone, and I don’t want to constantly think about babysitting it to make sure it’s connected and able to receive a call or a message.
The Pixel 7 series is only a few months away at this point, and given the similarities between it and the current line-up, I doubt it’ll fix this problem. But I’d like to see Google prove me wrong.