The latest Google Pixel Stand is less of a “must have” accessory if you own a Pixel phone and more of a “nice to have”. For $ 79, its main job is fast wireless charging, and it does it well. But unless you’re a Pixel 6 or 6 Pro owner and are really sold on one of the few extra stand features your phone supports, then you’d better save money and get a cheap third-party charger.
The aptly named Pixel Stand (2nd generation) is Google’s second version of a fast wireless charger built to complement its Pixel phones. You don’t have to own a Pixel phone to use it as it works with Qi compatible gadgets, but you will need a 6 or 6 Pro to get the fastest charging speeds. You’ll also need the January 2022 security update or later, which, if you own a Pixel 6, you’ll still want to download for a variety of reasons.
Like the original Pixel Stand, it does some multitasking while charging the phone. While your Pixel phone is docked, it can display images from your Google Photos albums to act as a kind of digital photo frame. During setup, the first time you put your phone on the charger, you can specify which albums you want it to extract images from and the photos are displayed in groups of five to 10 at a time, slide show style.
Other features are oriented to use on the bedside table. There is an option to automatically turn on “Do Not Disturb” when the phone is placed on the charger and you can have the display automatically turn off in a dark room. There is also a “sunrise” alarm which gradually lights up your display in the 15 minutes before the alarm goes off. You can specify a time window for this feature, so that it doesn’t apply to other alarms during the day, but only to the alarm.
As for its main job, charging the phone, it does it effectively. I noticed a few false starts here and there when I placed the phone on the holder and it started charging, only to pause momentarily before picking it up again. This did not cause any problems; it only gave me a few moments of concern as I tried to figure out if it was properly mounted on the stand.
Pixel Stand 2 offers 23W charging with the Pixel 6 Pro and 21W for the Pixel 6, which is fast enough for wireless charging on a phone that isn’t manufactured by OnePlus. It took a fully discharged Pixel 6 Pro battery from zero to 100 percent in almost exactly two hours, which is impressive. My most typical daily use case was topping up the battery on a Pixel 6, returning it from 70-80 percent to 100 percent, which took about 30 minutes using the fastest charging mode. The holder offers slightly slower 15W charging for other Qi-compatible phones and devices.
As for the extras, I like the photo frame feature more than I thought. I’m not sure I want to commit to owning and curating images for a dedicated digital photo frame, but I happen to have dozens (okay, hundreds) of photos of my four-month-old baby on Google Photos that I like to look through. Having them displayed on my desk on my phone is kind of a nice in-between – I can actually see and enjoy the many, many photos I seamlessly take with another device. I’m sure my colleagues reviewing smart home tech might point me to a number of smart displays that already do this sort of thing, but I’m digressing.
If I have one complaint about this feature, it’s that it tends to pick favorites and show them over and over again. This may be due to the fact that I prefer portrait orientation photos and tend to shoot more landscapes. Either way, you can tap the screen to end the current slideshow and swipe the lock screen to mix the selection and start a new one.
The bedside-oriented functions of the Stand also work well. The sunrise alarm is a pleasant way to wake up and the ability to detect a dark room and turn off the screen accordingly makes it a good bed partner. But these features seem a bit at odds with the stand’s main attraction: fast wireless charging. If I’m charging my phone overnight, I don’t need the fastest speeds ever. I wouldn’t see much of the photo frame feature either as my phone doesn’t spend much time on the nightstand during the day.
I also encountered a couple of Google Assistant issues while using the support. After tapping the assistant icon on the lock screen while docked, the phone will record my voice commands but needlessly ignore everything it just heard me say and display “How can I help?” text on the screen. However, accessing the assistant by saying “Hey Google” on the lock screen works perfectly and is not a Stand feature, just something you can enable on any Pixel phone.
Then there is the built-in fan; it’s quiet enough, but if the fan is running at full speed, the assistant struggles to hear me. You can choose a silent charging mode to avoid this, but then you miss out on those super fast charging speeds.
Pixel Stand 2 isn’t cheap – at $ 79, it’s way more than the standard $ 30 Qi charging stands you can find on Amazon. If you own a Pixel 6 or 6 Pro, really want fast wireless charging, and think you’d particularly like one of the extras offered by Stand (2nd generation), you’ll likely find its $ 80 well spent. But if you’re only mildly interested in bedside or photo frame features and fast wireless charging isn’t essential, save some money and go for a standard Qi charger. You can also add a digital photo frame to your cart for the same cost.
Photograph by Allison Johnson / The Verge