The Pixel 6 Pro finally got its update - but not the one we wanted

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Having reported in detail on the Pixel 6 Pro's shortcomings in my full review and camera comparisons, the world had radio silence from Google for two and a half months. Even the famous monthly updates from Mountain View failed to materialise, with more and more reports of missing features, crashes, and hardware oddities. Clearly something is amiss with this new flagship from Google, but we do now have an update, applied a couple of days ago on the PR review device, with 'January 2022 security' (up from November), and with a changelog as long as your arm. However, the two fixes we wanted to see are nowhere in sight.

Pixel 6 Pro

The official changelog was: (the numbers are device-specific, see the source link for the key, though note that '[1]' refers to the Pixel 6 range specifically)

  • Fix for issue causing Assistant to unintentionally start a phone call in certain conditions *[1].
  • Fix for stuck or frozen app UI in certain conditions *[7].

  • General fixes & improvements for audio playback issues in certain apps *[1].
  • Fix for issue causing audio noise in videos captured while using certain phone cases *[1].
  • Fix for issue causing microphone to cut out during calls in certain conditions *[1].
  • Fix for issue causing occasional audio glitch when adjusting volume levels *[1].
  • Fix for issue occasionally preventing audio playback from speaker in certain conditions *[1].
  • Fix for issue preventing Now Playing to search for unrecognized music *[1].

Battery & Power
  • Additional improvements for battery charging information shown in notification shade *[4].
  • General improvements for battery & thermal performance in certain conditions *[7].
  • General improvements for wireless charging in certain conditions *[5].
  • Improvements for alignment detection on Pixel Stand in certain conditions *[5].
  • Fix for issues occasionally causing incorrect Battery usage accounting to display in Settings *[7].

  • General improvements for fingerprint sensor stability & performance *[1].
  • Additional fixes for issues preventing enrollment of new fingerprints in certain conditions *[1].

  • Fix for distorted audio over Bluetooth in certain scenarios *[1].
  • Fix for issue causing Bluetooth to turn on after disabling in certain conditions *[7].
  • Fix for volume adjustment issues with certain Bluetooth audio devices *[7].

  • General image quality improvements in camera preview/capture *[1].
  • General improvements for camera stability & performance *[1].
  • General improvements for auto-focus response in certain capture modes *[1].
  • General improvements for color consistency in viewfinder preview *[1].
  • Fix for issue causing blank viewfinder preview in certain conditions *[1].

Display & Graphics
  • Enable ANGLE graphics support library for certain apps and games *[1].
  • Add additional example images for display color options in Settings *[7].
  • General improvements to keep the screen on after multiple manual wakes *[7].
  • General improvements for Adaptive brightness response in certain conditions *[7].
  • Fix for occasional screen flicker during brightness adjustment *[1].
  • Fix for issue preventing Smooth Display to switch display refresh rate in certain conditions *[1].
  • Fix for issue causing screen flicker after locking or unlocking device in certain conditions *[1].
  • Fix for occasional white screen flash after display goes to sleep *[7].

  • Fix for issue causing app icons to display as pending downloads after installation completes *[7].
  • Fix for issue causing Play store app installation to pause indefinitely in certain conditions *[7].
  • Fix for issue occasionally preventing Work Profile setup to complete in certain conditions *[7].
  • Fix for issue preventing all settings or apps to be restored from backup during setup in certain conditions *[7].

  • Fix for issue causing system crash during media playback in certain conditions *[7].

Network & Telephony
  • General improvements for network connection stability & performance *[7].
  • Fix for crash in Settings when toggling Airplane mode on certain network configurations *[7].
  • Fix for issue that disabled call features on certain devices or networks in certain conditions *[1].

  • General improvements for sensor stability & response in certain conditions *[2].
  • General improvements for Quick Tap response & performance *[2].
  • General improvements for Auto-rotate response in certain device orientations *[4].
  • General improvements for Adaptive brightness response in certain conditions *[7].
  • Fix for issue preventing lift to wake and double tap to wake in certain conditions *[1].
  • Fix for issue preventing Always-on-display from turning on in certain conditions *[1].
  • Fix for issue causing unexpected haptics or vibration in certain conditions *[1].

Plus a number of user interface fixes, again see the source link for more.

Which is all well and good. However, the two main things I was looking for (both showstoppers for me) were:

  • Working 'Super Res Zoom' on the main lens. As it stands, the (slightly) smaller Pixel 6 has this working, but it's MIA on the Pixel 6 Pro - which makes little sense. Without this enhanced software zoom system, zoom is essentially unusable from about 2x up to 3.9x, the very range which is used a lot in day to day snaps of people and situations. Note that I do still think this is a software issue and can be fixed - if Google can be bothered. Come on, Mountain View, take a bit more care over your imaging here.
  • Proper Stereo speakers. On the Pixel 6 series, even with this update, the left/right channels are mixed to what I'm calling 'Mono+'. There is a slight stereo effect, it's true, but I still hear lots of right channel in the left earpiece speaker, and vice versa. I understand that Google do this to disguise the fact that they screwed up the earpiece speaker, which isn't anywhere near as loud and clear as it should be. In short, it's a bit of a mess. At least to stereo purists like myself - if you're going to advertise 'stereo' then don't heavily cross-mix the channels!

These were categorically not fixed. Somehow I don't expect Google to fix the latter, but I do expect them to add Super Res Zoom back in. If only to shut me up!

I've now passed the PR review loan device to my podcast co-host Ted Salmon - we'll see if he finds the device more satisfying than me!