Google Pixel vs Pixel XL phone: Which Google flagship phone is best for you?


Google has ditched the Nexus name and taken up Pixel as its brand-new flagship smartphone brand, with the Pixel and Pixel XL due for release into the wild this November. Many casual observers will see these as, essentially, replacements for the Nexus 5X and 6P, so it can be confusing to know exactly which device is the right one for you.

Will one device be more powerful than the other, as the Nexus 6P was? Is the Pixel better at playing games than the Pixel XL? In all honesty, we won’t know fully until we’ve been able to thoroughly benchmark both devices. Until then I’ll use my tech knowledge to give you the rundown on what to expect from the Pixel and Pixel XL in a head-to-head.

If you’d just like a general overview of the Pixel and Pixel XL, we’ve got a great rundown alongside our hands-on reviews of Google’s new devices too.

Google Pixel vs Pixel XL phone: Design and display

The most obvious difference between the Pixel and Pixel XL is size. At 143.8 x 69.5 x 8.5mm, the Pixel and its 5in display is considerably smaller than the Pixel XL. Of course with a 5.5in screen to handle, the Pixel XL is larger at 154.7 x 75.7 x 8.58mm, although these dimensions aren’t absurd for a phablet.

Google has also ensured that the XL has a higher-resolution screen than that of the standard Pixel. The Pixel XL has a 2,560 x 1,440 display, which is more commonly known as Quad HD. The Pixel, however, has only a standard Full HD screen. Both are AMOLED, so they should offer a perfect contrast ratio and deep and rich colours.

The Pixel XL’s Quad HD screen  also displays more pixels per inch than the standard Pixel – meaning images should appear super-sharp. Don’t think that means the Pixel’s Full HD screen doesn’t cut it, however: the difference will be almost imperceivable at this size. The higher resolution will help when it comes to mobile VR experiences, though.

Google Pixel vs Pixel XL phone: Specs

Believe it or not, both the Pixel and Pixel XL have identical specs despite the size difference. In fact, the only difference between devices is a larger battery – presumably to help power the Pixel XL’s Quad HD screen.

Both of Google’s new flagships use a 2.15GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 821, 4GB of RAM, and either 32GB or 128GB of storage. As with previous Nexus devices, Google has retained the USB Type-C and kept up its stance against having a microSD slot for expandable storage. You’ll also get a fingerprint reader, NFC, 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2.

Google Pixel vs Pixel XL phone: Performance

As you can imagine, with both phones having the same innards, performance is relatively on-par between the two devices. We’ll be able to report more accurately on performance once we get both phones in for review, but it’s extremely likely that the Pixel will outstrip the XL when it comes to games performance.

That’s not to say the Pixel XL will be bad for playing games on – 4GB of RAM and the Snapdragon 821 chip should ensure it’s no slouch. However, because of the XL’s Quad HD screen, it will need more power to push pixels around it at native resolution. As you can imagine, that will mean game performance tanks; it’s the same with all of Samsung’s recent flagship phones, generally underperforming against their 1080p contemporaries in the games department.

Google Pixel vs Pixel XL phone: Camera

Google’s Pixel and Pixel XL has somehow managed to bag the title of having the best camera on a smartphone, ever. DxOMark scored it an 89 on its scale of smartphone camera scores – the Pixel and Pixel XL’s 12-megapixel camera is apparently unparalleled.

You can read more about why its camera is the hottest around in our Pixel and Pixel XL breakdown, but all you need to know is that both phones have the same rear- and front-facing cameras.

Google Pixel vs Pixel XL phone: Battery

The other area where the Pixel and Pixel XL differ from one another is in battery capacity. The Pixel draws upon a 2,770mAh cell, while the Pixel XL has a beefy 3,450mAh power pack.

Pixel XL’s bigger battery is largely down to the phone’s increased physical size allowing for a bigger pack to be used, but also to help power that Quad HD screen. In real-world tests, it’s likely that the Pixel and Pixel XL will last around the same sort of time, but until we can do our own tests, that’s just an educated guess.

Google Pixel vs Pixel XL phone: Verdict

As you may have gathered, the Pixel and Pixel XL are practically identical. They share the same design, camera, storage options, RAM and processor, with the only tangible difference coming in screen size and resolution, and battery life.

Once we have a chance to put both phones through their paces, we’ll have a better idea of just how close they are in terms of performance. For now, your only worry is, do you want to have a 5.5in phone in your pocket or not?

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