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Google Pixel vs Pixel XL: What's the difference?


Google Pixel vs Pixel XL: What’s the difference between Google's newest handsets?

This week Google debuted two brand new, Nexus replacing phones – and thankfully there's not much difference between the two. One is a 5.5-inch version, while the other has a smaller 5-inch panel. Both are available to pre-order in the UK right now, ahead of release later in October.

Here’s all you need to know about what sets these two phones apart.

Google Pixel vs Pixel XL: Design

The first thing to note is that these new Pixel phones look absolutely nothing like last year’s Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X. While those were made by two different brands – Huawei and LG respectively – the Pixels have been designed by Google and look very similar.

The build is a mixture of aluminium and glass, and looks very similar to 2015’s HTC A9. Let’s hope it doesn’t perform quite as badly as that phone.

Related: Google Pixel vs iPhone 7

To be honest, we haven’t been completely won over by the Pixel design. The large bezels on the front seem somewhat pointless unless they’re hiding stereo speakers, and chamfered edges are a design trait that started to become tiresome years ago. The two-tone glass and metal back will surely divide opinion too.

From what we can gather from the device's names, the biggest difference between the two phones is size.

Google Pixel 2Google Pixel vs Pixel XL: Display

We’ve already mentioned the display sizes are different, but that also leads to a difference in resolution.

The 5.5-inch Pixel should come with a quad-HD, 2,560 x 1,440 AMOLED panel, which is almost the same as the Nexus 6P from 2015 but 0.2-inches smaller, and the current standard for a flagship phone.

The regular Pixel has a 5-inch offering, which should have 1080p resolution. That's slightly smaller than the outgoing Nexus 5X and one of the dinkier Android phones on the market.

Related: Galaxy S7 vs Google Pixel

Google Pixel 3

Google Pixel vs Pixel XL: Performance

With the new Pixel phones, we’ve got the first use of the new Snapdragon 821 processor in a major phone, and it’s paired with 4GB RAM.

The new chip comes with a reported 10% bump in processing power over the Snapdragon 820 and should ensure top-notch performance on these phones. It also means the phones will be able to the run the Daydream VR software much more smoothly.

Unfortunately, you won’t find a microSD slot on either of these phones (Google seems to be like Apple when it comes to expandable storage) but storage starts at 32GB with a separate 128GB variant.

Buy Now: Google Pixel XL at Amazon.com

Google Pixel vs Pixel XL: Software

With the release of the new Pixel phones, it seems the notion of ‘stock’ Android will be no more. Yes, the Pixels will both come running Android Nougat but they’ll have their own skin on top called Pixel Launcher.

And from our time with the early leaked APKs on the launcher, it’s a very different approach. Gone is the app drawer icon – you now swipe up from the bottom to see all your apps – and the iconic search bar has been replaced by a pill shaped icon and a view of the date.

Icons have also been surrounded by circles and there’s a fantastic new wallpaper that pulls in images from Google and can be set to automatically alter on a daily basis.

You’ll also have all the benefits that arrived with Nougat, like split-screen apps and an improved Doze mode.

Related: Google Pixel vs Nexus 6P

Both Pixels are also the first Daydream ready phones, and will work with Google's new Daydream View VR headset.

Google Assistant also plays a huge part in the software, with the company demonstrating how a long-press on the home button will enable the digital assistant. From there's you'll be able to use voice recognition to text people, reserve tables at restaurants, and book tickets for shows and concerts.

Buy Now: Google Pixel at Amazon.com

Watch: Google's Pixel phone event in just 3 minutes

Google Pixel vs Pixel XL: Camera and battery

Until the Nexus 6P, cameras on Google phones could be described as nothing more than ‘ok’.

Thankfully the 6P remedied that with a great snapper, but its position has fallen somewhat now the likes of the Galaxy S7 and iPhone 7 are on the scene.

Both phones come packing a rear-facing 12.3-megapixel rear camera. It doesn’t look like they’ll be any fancy dual-sensor system like the Huawei P9 or iPhone 7 Plus, but the f/2.0 aperture, and large 1.55-micron pixels, should make for decent low-light photos.

There's also some clever software features when it comes to camera, with video stabilisation, a smart burst feature that lets you take multiple photos by holding the shutter button and having the phone pick the best one, and free unlimited cloud storage for photos and videos at their original quality.

In terms of battery, the larger PIxel comes with a beefy 3,450 mAh cell while the smaller one features a smaller 2,770 mAh version. Both will charge via USB-C, though there won’t be wireless charging thanks to that metal back.

What's more, the phones will be able to provide 7 hours of battery life after just 15 minutes of charging, according to Google.

Related: Google Allo tips and tricks

Pixel phone

Google Pixel vs Pixel XL: Price and release

The Pixel phones are available to pre-order now in the US and UK. The Pixel will be £599 (32GB) and £699 (128GB) with the Pixel XL coming in at £719 (32 GB) and £819 (128GB). The phone will actually release on October 20.

Buy Now: Google Pixel at Amazon.com from $839

Buy Now: Google Pixel XL at Amazon.com from $1,099

Related: Best Android phone

First impressions

We’re excited about the two Pixel phones not because of their spec sheets, but because they finally signal Google taking the phone market seriously and gunning for a slice of the pie.

There are, of course, other things to look forward to: the spruced up launcher, new Snapdragon 821 CPU and hopefully a camera that can compete.

We’ll have more once we’ve reviewed Google’s new handsets.

Let us know what you're most excited for on the new phones in the comments.


October 4, 2016, 5:55 pm

Pls, pay attention on audio quality on pixels, hope google used htc audio tricks. Is maybe new descrete aqstic sd dac build in as in htc 10?

Jason Honingford

October 4, 2016, 6:00 pm

Guess I should stop holding out for wireless charging?


October 4, 2016, 6:42 pm

Dear google. Where is my pixel style 4 colour rear led bar on my new pixel XL?

Logic First

October 4, 2016, 7:05 pm

what the hell is the big circle on the back, is that a button?

Danilo Duran

October 4, 2016, 9:36 pm

That's the deciding factor for me. It is embarrassing how bad the audio quality and amplification is on most Android phones.


October 4, 2016, 11:15 pm

smells like another apple victory


October 5, 2016, 7:28 pm

Fingerprint reader

Logic First

October 6, 2016, 4:45 pm

so we have to pick up the phone everytime we want to unlock it :( that's why i am leaving LG... Now I hear the S8 might have no headphone jack. Can't people just make regular phones anymore?


October 10, 2016, 9:40 am

I doubt it, otherwise they would advertise it during the launch event. HTC 10 seems like a much better deal to me, especially at 550€.


October 17, 2016, 9:49 pm

Astute observation there! That'd be quite annoying to me in my current routine.


October 17, 2016, 9:50 pm

RIIIGHT? That'd be badass


October 27, 2016, 4:54 pm

Nothing to move the ball forward here with these pixels, other than offering the 5" screen, which is a Really-really good idea. They should have put a wireless charging, a kickstand, and no only a rear-facing, but a Front-facing fingerprint reader on this in order to set it apart from the rest. UI-wise, the color scheme and circular icons to me are annoying. It's weird to me that HTC back in 2012 made the EVO LTE (a virtually perfect phone in all regards), and only now are manufacturers noticing that it's time to go back to those designs.

Sandro T

November 1, 2016, 9:24 pm

Do you really curve your back all the time to look at your phone and use it on a table (the angle is not the best)? Be careful, you could have back problems in the future. I had a Nexus 6P before with the same fingerprint button, and for me at least, I thought it was way more practical than my actual Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, but it's just a personal opinon.

Logic First

November 2, 2016, 3:37 pm

lol what kind of desk do you have?

Sandro T

November 2, 2016, 7:51 pm

Oh, my bad, I didn't know you had a desk that's in an angle that makes your phone point right to your face. -.-

Sandro T

April 30, 2017, 1:35 am

I have a phone stand and a wireless charger that also holds the phone in an angle so I can look straight to the phone and I can easily unlock any phone that has a fingerprint on the back.

Sandro T

April 30, 2017, 1:37 am

At least for Google phones. The Samsung Galaxy S8 came with wireless charging though, I'm selling my Google Pixel XL and buying a S8 (way smaller body with 2% more screen than the Pixel XL).


April 30, 2017, 12:15 pm

every phone gets compared to an iphone


April 30, 2017, 5:59 pm

nope because they provide people an all round enjoyable experience, if people didnt enjoy it they would never buy another.

Iam currently using a one plus 3T black edition.

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