Google Pixel vs iPhone 7: Which of these premium handsets is best? We take a look in this in-depth comparison.
Google has finally made a phone, well actually two of them. The Pixel and Pixel XL phones are the first phones branded with Google and what a couple of impressive handsets they are.
But it’s been a pretty great year for smartphones, with a host of new offerings being released. One of those is the iPhone 7, which, while not the most exciting iPhone iteration, is still likely to be one of the most popular phones available.
With that in mind, we thought we’d take a look at how Google’s new Pixels stack up against the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus.
Find out which one comes out on top in the ultimate Android vs iOS face-off.
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Google Pixel vs iPhone 7 – Design
One of the criticisms levelled at Apple for its latest handset is that not much has changed in terms of design over the iPhone 6S. Which is largely true. The iPhone 7 takes most of its cues from its predecessor, coming with the same metal casing, curved sides and flat back.
The only areas where things are different are the antenna lines, which now curve around the top and bottom of the device; the camera hump, which looks slightly different but continues to jut out from the rear; and a new haptic home button that offers a vibration response instead of actually depressing when clicked.
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There’s also the lack of a headphone jack, of course, which has been replaced by a speaker grille – two of which appear either side of the Lightning connection on the base of the phone.
When it comes to the Pixel and Pixel XL, things aren’t all that different to the iPhone models. The phones are rectangular with rounded edges and even feature antenna lines on the bottom of the backplate. You’ll also find a fingerprint sensor on the half-matte, half-glossy back of the metal and glass device, while Apple has put its Touch ID fingerprint scanner below the home button on the front.
But the Google Pixel also lacks some of the stalwart features we’ve come to expect from a flagship priced phone. It doesn’t offer the IP68 water-resistant rating of the iPhone 7 and Samsung Galaxy S7, the powerful speakers of the HTC 10, or a microSD slot for expanding the 32GB of basic storage you get.
However, there are more similarities when it comes to size. The Pixel models come in either a 5-inch or 5.5-inch version, while the iPhones are either 4.7-inch or 5.5-inch.
In terms of colours, the iPhone 7 comes in Silver, Gold, Rose Gold, and two new Black or Jet Black options. Google’s offering comes in either black, silver or blue.
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Google Pixel vs iPhone 7 – Display
As we mentioned, Apple’s two devices come with either a 4.7-inch or 5.5-inch screen, while the Pixels come with either a 5-inch or 5.5-inch display.
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So, which of these devices has the best resolution? Well, the iPhone 7’s Retina screen makes for a 1,334 x 750 resolution, while the Pixel comes with a Full HD offering – that’s 1,080 x 1,920 pixels. In terms of pixel-per-inch density, that makes for 326ppi on the iPhone while the Pixel manages a more impressive 424ppi. You’re unlikely to notice individual pixels on either, but the Google phone will benefit from the enhanced resolution when it comes time to get into some VR action – more on that later.
But what about the bigger handsets? Google looks to have beaten Apple again in this department, providing a 1,440 x 2,560 resolution on the Pixel XL, which makes for 534ppi. The iPhone 7 Plus only comes with a 1,080 x 1,920 offering – that’s the same as the 5-inch Pixel. Again, you won’t be disappointed with the iPhone 7 Plus’ display, but it looks like the larger Pixel has the edge.
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In our review of the iPhone 7 we found the screen to be richer than ever before thanks to an expanded colour gamut. In fact, we’d say it’s the best IPS screen you can currently get. However, we’re yet to test out Google’s latest phones, so we should reserve judgement until then.
Google Pixel vs iPhone 7 – Hardware
There’s no doubt Apple has created some seriously powerful phones with the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. In our review we said the iPhone 7 was the most powerful phone we’d ever used, and the benchmarks back that statement up. The phone is 30% faster than the iPhone 6S and 12% more powerful than the Galaxy S7.
With 2GB RAM and a new A10 Fusion core, that uses two cores for the more intensive tasks and two for lighter tasks, the iPhone 7 provides top-level performance and a fluid user experience. Interestingly, the iPhone 7 Plus keeps the same A10 chip but adds an extra 1GB of RAM. We haven’t tested it out yet, but we’re intrigued to see whether it pushes the already stellar performance even further.
Related: iPhone 7 vs iPhone 6S
We’re also yet to test out Google’s phones, of course, but the specs have us wondering whether the Pixel and Pixel XL might just match the high benchmark set by Apple. The phones come with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 chip which is said to offer a 10% boost to processor performance. They also have 4GB RAM and run the new Android Nougat OS, but it’s that Snapdragon 821 that has us most excited.
This processor undoubtedly plays a role in making the Pixels the first Daydream-ready handsets. Daydream is Google’s new VR platform and comes as part of Android Nougat. In order to run Daydream software however, a phone has to meet certain specifications – as set out by Google itself. In this case the Pixels do just that and we can’t wait to try out Daydream VR when the phone arrives. The phones will also work with Google’s new Daydream View VR headset.
Unfortunately, the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus don’t come with any VR capabilities beyond the usual Google Cardboard compatibility. Apple doesn’t seem to be putting too much into virtual reality at this point, but that could change next year. Either way, Google’s certainly got a performance edge with its Daydream-capable Pixels.
Once we’ve got some Google Pixel benchmarks in, we can actually work out which phone is more powerful.
And lastly, storage options. Apple has finally done away with the paltry 16GB offering this time around, offering the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus in 32/128/256GB models. Google, on the other hand, has opted for 32/128GB storage tiers.
Google Pixel vs iPhone 7 – Software
The Google Pixel runs on this year’s Android Nougat OS, which adds a number of improvements over last year’s Marshmallow. Among them are a new split-screen mode, notification tacking, a flatter “Material” design aesthetic, and additional battery life improvements.
Google has added its Pixel Launcher over the top of the OS this time around, however. Pixel Launcher is major departure from the old Google Launcher seen on the Nexus 6P; ditching the app drawer for a transparent pane you swipe up from the bottom, and replacing the iconic Google search bar with a pill shaped widget that pretty much does the same thing just in a smaller way.
Also new is that most of Google’s own apps now have circular icons, which look a bit odd next to the ones that aren’t the same shape but at least they’re all the same size. A few of these icons now come with 3D Touch abilities; long press on the Maps icon, for example, and a shortcut will pop up. The majority of the changes in Pixel Launcher are visual, but there are a couple of changes that include extra functionality. A new ‘Support’ tab in the settings menu lets you contact Google directly if you’re having problems, and there’s a fancy new wallpaper picker, for instance.
Long-press on the slightly refreshed middle soft key and Google Assistant pops up. Like Now on Tap, it’ll scan your screen for relevant contextual information – bringing up times and cinema information if you’re talking about seeing a film, for instance – but you can now talk directly to it. Ask it for the weather, to set an alarm, or show you directions to work and it’ll spew out an answer much faster than Apple’s Siri.
It also does a much better job at understanding me than Siri, letting me speak in my usual mumbled tones without throwing up a blank screen. Like Siri in iOS 10, the Google Assistant can perform tasks in specific apps. Ask it to play a song in Spotify and it’ll oblige, not forcing you into Google’s own Play Music app. The conversational aspect really stands out; if you’ve asked for the weather, you can follow it up with ‘how about next week’ and it’ll intelligently understand you’re still talking about the weather.
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Naturally, Apple’s devices run the latest version of iOS – iOS 10 – which we found to be Apple’s best OS yet. All the small additions such as 3D Touch integration, tweaks to the control centre, and modernised lock screen combine to make iOS 10 a worthy upgrade to the previous iteration. It won’t convert anyone who wasn’t convinced last time around, though, so if you’re an Android adherent, you’re still going to prefer the Pixel phones for day to day use.
The main thing iPhone 7 users will miss out on, however, is the aforementioned Daydream VR platform. The iPhone 7 simply doesn’t have much in the way of VR capabilities, giving Google another edge over Apple.
Google Pixel vs iPhone 7 – Camera
This time around, Apple’s jumped on the dual-camera setup bandwagon with its Plus model. The larger iPhone models usually have a better camera than the standard versions, and that’s never been more pronounced than with this year’s offering.
With dual 12-megapixel lenses, Optical image stabilisation, and a 1/2.7-inch sensor, the iPhone 7 Plus is sure to take some of the best pictures you’re likely to get from a smartphone camera. Unfortunately, we haven’t yet tested it out.
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We have, however, tested the iPhone 7, and can say it’s a fantastic upgrade but isn’t quite as impressive as the offering on the Galaxy S7. The camera consists of a with a new six-optic lens, OIS (optical image stabilisation) and a wider f/1.8 aperture – all of which means better low-light performance and a shallower depth of field that makes for a better bokeh effect. There’s also support for 4K video or 1080p if you want a higher frame rate.
Unfortunately, we won’t know whether the Google Pixel can trump the iPhone 7 until we get a full review of the former. But in terms of specs, things are looking good. The Pixels come with a 12.3-megapixel setup, with an f/2.0 aperture. There are also some interesting software features we’re intrigued to test out – especially the HDR Plus mode which Google claims will produce some of the best smartphone photos ever.
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Apple iPhone 7
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If you’re a selfie-taker you’ll be interested to know the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus come with decent 7-megapixel front camera with an f/2.2 aperture, making selfies look a little nicer than before. The Pixel and Pixel XL look set to outdo Apple’s devices slightly, at least on paper, with an 8-megapixel selfie shooter appearing on both phones.
Google Pixel vs iPhone 7 – Battery
Apple’s packed a non-removable Li-Ion 1,960mAh battery into the iPhone 7, and we have to say, this is the new iPhone’s least impressive feature. In fact, the battery on the iPhone 7 has, in our experience, the shortest life of any mainstream phone over the past couple of years.
Despite the fact that the battery is larger than on the iPhone 6S, we found it left us constantly running out of juice before the day ended. We also made sure to test a different model just in case, and found the same results. It lasts just over six hours with constant use.
Since we haven’t tried out the iPhone 7 Plus, with its larger Li-Ion 2,900mAh cell, we can’t say whether the problems persist on the larger model. But we really hope not.
The Pixel and Pixel XL’s batteries are also non-removable, and come in 2,770 and 3,450 sizes respectively.
Google Pixel vs iPhone 7 – Price
The Pixel phone is 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.
Without using the Pixel phones for any great length of time, we’re unable to say for sure whether Google or Apple has come out on top here. But although the iPhone 7 is a great phone, its battery issues are a real drawback, making it the first iPhone we haven’t recommended.
As such, Google has a real chance to outdo its competition this year, and with some promising specs, we’re hopeful that it can do just that. So far, our experience with the Pixel handsets has been good – but you’ll have to wait for the full verdict.
We’ll have more once we’ve reviewed the iPhone 7 Plus, and Pixel phones.
Watch: iPhone 7 review
Which do you prefer: the Google Pixel or the iPhone 7? Let us know on Twitter @TrustedReviews.