Google Explains How Pixel 6 Charging Works

Posted on November 18, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Google, Hardware, Mobile with 27 Comments

Google has admitted what independent tests already proved: the Pixel 6 Pro doesn’t really charge all that quickly. But as suspected, that’s by design.

“Google has designed the high energy density cells in Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro to strike a balance between battery life, longevity, and fast charging,” a new Google support document explains. “We’ve optimized Pixel’s lithium-ion battery for high charge rates when the battery level is low. Pixel 6 can get up to 50 percent in around 30 minutes (with Google’s 30W USB-C Power Charger), and quickly reaches up to 80 percent in about an hour, depending on device usage and temperature.”

I wrote about my early issues with Pixel 6 Pro charging in Google Pixel 6 Pro: Problems in Paradise?, and I have a more detailed description in my coming review.

Google also confirmed that the Pixel 6 Pro tops out at 23-watts of power during charging and notes that the smaller Pixel 6 tops out at 21-watts. And it confirmed our belief that the Pixel’s weird slow charging after hitting 50 percent is for battery longevity. “As the battery gets closer to full, charging power is gradually reduced in order to improve battery longevity,” the firm writes.

The Pixels may also pause charging above 80 percent under certain conditions, which is interesting. And if the user enables Adaptive Charging, the handsets will optimize charge rates for gradual overnight charging, which isn’t new.

The Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro will work with any USB Power Delivery (PD) and Battery Charging (BC) 1.2 wall chargers, but it is most efficiently used with chargers that support the new USB PD 3.0 Programmable Power Supply (PPS) standard like the Google 30-Watt USB-C Power Adapter which the firm released alongside the new phones.

What Google doesn’t address explicitly is how slowly the Pixel 6 Pro charges past 50 percent. The first 50 percent of charge may take only 30 minutes, but the final 50 percent has taken almost 90 minutes in my testing.

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Comments (27)

27 responses to “Google Explains How Pixel 6 Charging Works”

  1. CaymanDreamin

    For a phone I plan on keeping for the duration of the updates, I'm glad Google is taking steps to preserve the life of the battery.

  2. chriscarstens

    "Your plugging it in wrong."

  3. bassoprofundo

    I don't understand why they can't give you a software toggle for this. Let the user decide if they want to prioritize battery longevity or charging speeds. I feel like Samsung's charging is behind the curve anyway, but they do give you an option of turning on and off fast charging and a "protect battery" toggle to limit the max charge to 85%. Why isn't this standard?

  4. richfrantz

    Mine sits on my desk next to me all day and I keep it charged between 40-80%. Same percentages for my car.

  5. retcable

    This is all similar to what you are supposed to do with electric vehicles. You are never supposed to charge them to 100% because that just is not good for the battery. Nor are you supposed to run them down to zero because that is not good for the battery. You are only supposed to charge them to 60-70% and run them down to 10-20%. That is an extremely short range of use but it is the best for the battery, never putting too much pressure on it or the charger. You get the fastest charging rates between those levels as the charging rate drops off severely to protect the battery. The same thing seems to apply to cellphones.

    • lvthunder

      If that's the case they should limit them to that range and change the percentages so 70% should show up as 100% and 10% should be 0%.

  6. navarac

    "By design" seems to be the latest explanation for everything. In the UK it has been "Brexit" and "Pandemic" that are the all-encompassing reasons/excuses for anything.

  7. StevenLayton

    No wonder they have charging issues, look at the plug in the hero image, it only has two pins. I bet the phones charge better in the UK, what with us having an extra pin ;)

  8. EmmEff

    “Google has designed the high energy density cells in Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro to strike a balance between battery life, longevity, and fast charging,” REALLY means "not good at ANY of those"

  9. emanon2121

    There should be an over ride button on this. Unless Google is source grade b or grade c batteries and it has to do this. Which for a flagship they should not be sourcing anything else other than grade a batteries.

    • Paul Thurrott

      Yes, I agree. I like the default behavior, but give me the option to actually fast-charge the damn thing.

  10. nappin

    I agree with CaymanDreamin - steps to improve battery life, and therefore the useful life of the mobile phone, with less use of resources (ie battery replacement or a new phone), is a good thing. Physics and chemistry are things, so I support Google's approach. The ever-increasing "I want it now!!" or the "the sea is just the wrong shade of pink" approach to life is getting silly. 2 hours to charge the phone is not a bad thing.

    • oxymarc

      I am agreeing with you as well here. As the battery is the weakest link in a phone today I support every effort we can take for it to live just a bit longer. What good are five years of software updates if the hardware is not going to live this long.

  11. mclark2112

    Could we just have removable batteries back?

    • eric_rasmussen

      This is great for battery replacement but bad for making the phone IP67 or IP68 water rated. The old phones that had easily replaced batteries were often junk after being accidentally dropped in a tub of water.

    • jwpear

      You forgot to add mic drop to your post!

  12. hrlngrv

    Someone needs to explain to Google an old rule of politics: if you're explaining, you're losing.

    Things either need to be self-evident OR explanation should COME FIRST. After-the-fact explanations ALWAYS indicate screw ups.

    • Paul Thurrott

      It's worse than that. They announced a 30-watt charger for this phone and never mentioned anything about it not even getting close to that. They also discussed a 50 percent charge in 30 minutes but left out that the next 50 percent would take almost 90 minutes, which is insanely slow.

      • wright_is

        Don’t forget that chargers are never 100% efficient, so a 30 Watt charger can probably only deliver 25-28W, depending on quality and efficiency of the parts. The 23W listed seems reasonable for a mass produced charger built down to a price.

        is the charger a 30 Watt charger or a 30 Watt peak output charger? The former will give out less than 30W at peak power (due to inefficiencies), the other will be a, say, ~35W charger that can deliver 30W peak output safely.

  13. lvthunder

    How do I know if what standards my charger has?

  14. SimJeff

    Ideally I manage this myself. I use a USB cable when I want it charged now, and a cheapy wireless charger for "overnight" or "at the desk". So a phone assuming what I need could be annoying.

  15. soulskillet

    I imagine that the phone also monitors internal temperature and slows the charging rate if the temp rises above a certain threshold. This would make sense for both battery and overall phone life.

    Can somebody set up a 30W charger in their fridge, please? Just want the numbers.