In the Android camp, there aren’t too many options out there if you want a high-end smartphone with a display size lower than 5-inches. In fact, most new Android flagship sport a display larger than 5.5-inches, putting them squarely in the “phablet” category. Apple however, continues to cater to such consumers with its 4.7-inch iPhone as well as the 4-inch iPhone SE. Of course, the iPhone SE isn’t a truly high-end smartphone, so the 4.7-inch iPhone is the only worthy option you have. The latest model, the iPhone 7, features quite a few significant upgrades over the iPhone 6s, even though it may not be very different from its predecessor in terms of the actual design.
If you aren’t a big fan of iOS and want to get an Android smartphone with a relatively small display, then the Google Pixel is definitely a fantastic option to consider. It features a 5.0-inch display, smaller than most other flagship smartphones on the market currently. Despite packing a small-ish display, Google hasn’t made any downgrades in terms of the hardware. Unlike previous “smaller” Nexus smartphones, the Pixel is almost identical to the bigger Pixel XL in terms of hardware specifications, making it a formidable rival to Apple’s iPhone 7. That is precisely the reason why we are going to be comparing the Google Pixel and Apple iPhone 7 against each other in a specs comparison. We will be putting these two smartphones against each other in ten different categories to determine a clear winner. Winning a category will give them one point each, so the smartphone that manages to win the maximum number of rounds in our versus battle will be declared the winner. So let’s get started and find out which of these two flagship smartphones is more worthy of your money.
To begin our Google Pixel vs Apple iPhone 7 specs battle, we will compare the two smartphones in terms of their physical dimensions. As you know, smartphones with larger displays too are quite compact these days, thanks to manufacturers opting to chase a higher screen-to-body ratio.
The Google Pixel measures 143.8mm tall, 69.5mm wide, and 8.5mm thin. In terms of weight, the smartphone tips the scales at 143 grams, which isn’t too bad for a smartphone with a 5-inch sized display. Apple’s iPhone 7 on the other hand measures 138.3 mm tall, 67.1mm wide, and happens to be quite thin at just 7.1mm. The smartphone is relatively light as well, weighing in at 138 grams.
Even though the iPhone 7 is definitely more compact, it doesn’t have an impressive screen-to-body ratio. Despite packing a 0.3” larger display, the Google Pixel is only marginally bigger in terms of size. The difference in weight is negligible as well. That means the dimensions round goes to the Google Pixel.
The display on a modern smartphone is probably the first thing that most people notice after the design. While the design of the smartphone is hidden behind cases and covers, the display remains the center of attention at all times. How do these two flagship handsets fare in the display department? Let’s find out.
The Google Pixel comes with a 5-inch AMOLED display that offers 1080 x 1920 Full HD resolution and a pixel density of 441 pixels per inch. Like a number of other recently launched smartphones, the Pixel display is protected by a layer of 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass 4 on the top. Using a Super AMOLED panel from Samsung, the display on the Google Pixel offers punchy colors and true blacks, which are definitely going to impress most consumers. While there are no display modes to choose from on the Google Pixel, you do have the option of going to Developer options and enabling the sRGB mode to change the color reproduction from super punchy to accurate. Out of the box, the Pixel display shows highly inaccurate colors, but once you enable the sRGB mode, the display is able to deliver much more accurate colors, making it one of the most color-accurate displays around. However, it isn’t the outright best when it comes to color accuracy, so there are definitely even better displays out there as far as color accuracy goes. In terms of peak brightness, the Google Pixel display hits around 450 nits, which is very impressive. That said, it doesn’t get as bright as the Super AMOLED displays on Samsung Galaxy flagship smartphones, so sunlight legibility isn’t as good as on Samsung flagships. One nifty software feature that Google has added is “Night Light”, which basically blocks harmful blue light emitted by the display. This can come handy when reading eBooks or browsing the web in the dark. Google also allows you to change the scale of the UI by tinkering with the Display Size setting under Settings – Display.
Apple’s iPhone 7 features a 4.7-inch IPS “Retina” display with 750 x 1334 resolution and a pixel density of 326 pixels per inch. The display is protected by a layer of Ion-strengthened glass on top, which features an oleophobic coating as well. While the resolution and pixel density hasn’t changed compared to the iPhone 6s, it does boast of a few major improvements. Firstly, the display is said to be 25% brighter. In terms of peak brightness, the iPhone 7 display nearly touches 700 nits with the auto brightness feature. Along with higher brightness, the panel also boasts of slightly higher contrast at around 1600:1. Secondly, the display now covers the wider DCI-P3 color gamut, offering a wider range of colors than the display used on the iPhone 6s. While a wider color gamut usually means the display ends up showing more punchy colors than intended, Apple has done a fantastic job with calibrating the display on the iPhone 7. In terms of color accuracy, the iPhone 7 display is the finest LCD display on the market, of course alongside its bigger sibling the iPhone 7 Plus. So if color accuracy is important to you, the iPhone 7 display will definitely impress you. Greyscale accuracy is also very impressive. Like the iPhone 6s display, the iPhone 7 comes with the 3D Touch feature.
It is hard to choose a winner here, as both displays are excellent in a number of ways. However, we will have to give the Google Pixel the edge due to its higher resolution and the much higher
contrast. The display round then, goes to the Google Pixel.
Now let’s talk about battery life. Regardless of what you do with your phone, battery life will no doubt be a major point to consider when choosing a new smartphone.
The Google Pixel packs a 2770mAh capacity battery inside, which isn’t very large for a flagship smartphone. According to Google, the battery can provide up to 26 hours of talk time on a 3G network, up to 13 hours of web browsing time on a Wi-Fi network, and 13 hours of continuous video playback time. Like pretty much every recent flagship smartphone, the Google Pixel supports fast charging, giving you around 7 hours of usage from just 15 minutes of charging. The actual charging speed is lower though, mainly because the Pixel cannot charge at 18W like the Pixel XL. Instead, it only charges at 15W, which slows down charging time by a bit. There is no wireless charging support either, so that’s another slight disappointment.
Apple’s iPhone 7 comes with a non-removable 1960mAh capacity battery, which is a small upgrade over the iPhone 6s battery. However, thanks to the new Apple A10 Fusion chip, Apple claims the iPhone 7 does deliver improved battery life compared to its predecessor. There is also a new Low-Power mode which can be enabled manually once the battery percentage dips below the 20% mark. As far as actual figures go, the iPhone 7 does surprisingly well, especially considering its small battery capacity. While on paper the Google Pixel has a major advantage over the Apple iPhone 7, that is actually not the case in reality. The Google Pixel does deliver better battery life than the iPhone 7, but the difference is not very significant at all. In fact, as far as web browsing goes, it is the Apple iPhone 7 that fares better. However, the Apple smartphone does not support fast charging or wireless charging. The lack of fast charging support makes the iPhone 7 among the slowest charging flagship smartphones out there, which is a big disappointment.
Thanks to slightly better battery life and fast charging support, the battery life round goes to the Google Pixel.
Since the Google Pixel and the Apple iPhone 7 were released roughly around the same period last year, they should be pretty much identical in the connectivity department. Let’s find out if that is actually the case.
The Google Pixel offers Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac dual-band MIMO, Wi-Fi hotspot, Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth 4.2 Low Energy, GPS with A-GPS, GLONASS, NFC, USB Type-C port, and 4G LTE Cat.12 (maximum supported download speeds of up to 600 Mbps). Apple’s iPhone 7 comes with Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac dual-band MIMO, Bluetooth 4.2 Low Energy, NFC (only for Apple Pay), GPS with A-GPS, GLONASS, Wi-Fi hotspot, Lightning connector, and LTE Cat.9 (maximum download speeds of up to 450 Mbps). Both smartphones feature a fingerprint scanner as well.
While the two smartphones are largely similar in most areas, the Google Pixel has a slight advantage with faster LTE connectivity and a USB Type-C port. That means the connectivity round goes to the Google Pixel.
So far, the Google Pixel has been on a roll, winning the above rounds with ease. Will the Apple iPhone 7 strike back with a victory in the memory round?
The Google Pixel is available in two storage variants – 32GB and 128GB. Like previous Google smartphones, the Pixel does not allow you to expand the storage with a microSD card. So if you get the base variant with 32GB of storage, you will need to live with just 32GB of storage. If you do not have any problems with storing files in the cloud, you should be able to manage with the 32GB of internal memory, as Google offers unlimited free cloud storage with the Pixel. While you don’t get memory expansion, both the 32GB and 128GB variants offer impressive storage speeds, thanks to Google utilizing UFS 2.0 memory chips on the Pixel. Compared to eMMC 5.0 flash memory used on Google Nexus smartphones, the UFS 2.0 chips provide significantly improved transfer speeds, which enhance the perception of great performance. It also allows heavy games to load much quicker, so you don’t need to wait much. As far as the RAM goes, the Google Pixel is equipped with 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM. While 4GB may not sound very impressive in 2017, the Pixel handles multitasking quite well and most users should have no complaints whatsoever.
Apple iPhone 7 on the other comes in three storage variants – 32GB, 128GB, and 256GB. Quite obviously, it lacks any kind of memory expansion whatsoever, so it is probably a good idea to skip the base 32GB variant if you take a lot of photos and have a large music collection. Of course, as with the Google Pixel, you do have the option of relying on cloud storage. While Apple isn’t using UFS 2.0 memory chips, it is using its custom in-house SSD controller and TLC NAND flash to achieve performance numbers that even exceed what UFS 2.0 is capable of. As far as storage in smartphones go, the custom memory solution on the Apple iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus smartphones is the fastest yet. We don’t expect this to change until later this year, when Apple announces the iPhone 8 and the successors to the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. Unlike its bigger sibling, the iPhone 7 “only” gets 2GB of LPDDR4 RAM, so multitasking performance isn’t quite on the same level as the iPhone 7 Plus. However, iOS doesn’t handle memory in the same way as Android, so the hardware optimization by Apple allows the iPhone 7 to perform quite well when multitasking.
Even though both smartphones lack expandable storage, the Google Pixel has the advantage of being equipped with 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM. However, the iPhone 7 offers up to 256GB of built-in memory, something that the Pixel does not offer. Since there is no clear winner here, we’re going with a tie in the memory round.
The Google Pixel is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 quad-core chipset, which, at the time of Pixel’s launch, was the latest flagship SoC from Qualcomm. Most of you will be aware by now that the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 is a minor upgrade over the Snapdragon 820 chipset that was announced in 1H 2016. While it is not a major upgrade in terms of performance, it does deliver slightly better performance thanks to higher clock speeds. However, this isn’t true with the Google Pixel, as Google has underclocked the Snapdragon 821 chip on the Pixel to the same clocks as the Snapdragon 820 chipset. The two high-performance 64-bit Kryo cores are clocked at 2.15 GHz while the two efficiency-oriented Kryo cores are clocked at 1.6 GHz. The GPU inside the Pixel is the Adreno 530, clocked at 624 MHz. As seen on the Snapdragon 820, the Adreno 530 is a powerful GPU that manages to post impressive scores in every single graphics benchmark out there. Together with the relatively low 1080p resolution of the Pixel display, you can look forward to fantastic performance. In addition to being powerful, the Snapdragon 821 is also very efficient, thanks to it being manufactured on a 14nm LPP+ FinFET process by Samsung.
Apple iPhone 7 is powered by the Cupertino-based firm’s in-house developed A10 Fusion chip, its most powerful mobile SoC yet. The desktop-grade SoC is a quad-core part, unlike previous AX chips used on iPhones, which were all dual-core. However, the A10 Fusion is a little different from other quad-core SoCs in the way the cores work. All four cores do not work together like most other quad-core chips. At any given time, only two of four cores on the A10 Fusion chip remain active. For demanding tasks, the SoC uses the Hurricane cores that are clocked at a high 2.34 GHz. For general usage, the SoC utilizes the Zephyr cores, which Apple claims use one-fifth the power of the Hurricane cores. The SoC is manufactured by TSMC on a 16nm FinFET process, with twice higher CPU performance compared to the Apple A8 SoC inside the iPhone 6. The graphics performance on the other hand is claimed to be up to three times faster than the GPU inside the iPhone 6. As previous Apple SoCs have shown, the A10 Fusion is a beast in terms of benchmarks, leaving behind other SoCs such as the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 by a significant margin. In terms of graphics performance, the A10 enjoys a very impressive lead over other 2016 mobile SoCs.
There is no contest here. The Apple A10 Fusion is without a doubt the more powerful SoC, meaning the processor round goes to the Apple iPhone 7.
The rear camera on the Google Pixel is a 12.3 megapixel unit from Sony, the IMX378 to be specific. It is similar to the IMX377 sensor that was used on the Google Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P. While the resolution and sensor size are identical, it does boast of minor improvements to image quality as well as support for higher frame rates and the new HDR+ feature. The combination of a 1/2.3” type sensor size and 12MP resolution results in a large pixel size of 1.55 micron. For fast autofocus speeds, the sensor integrates phase detection autofocus + laser autofocus technologies. Since the sensor is so large, Google decided to go with an f/2.0 aperture lens on the Pixel, instead of brighter f/1.8 and f/1.7 aperture lenses seen on other flagship handsets. There is no optical image stabilization either, you only get advanced Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS) technology which uses the gyroscope to ensure steady video footage. If you love taking slow-mo videos, you will be glad to know that the Pixel’s rear camera can shoot slow-mo videos in 720p HD resolution at a high 240fps and in 1080p at 120 fps. As you would expect, the camera is capable of recording videos at up to 4K resolution. There is also a dual-tone LED flash at the back, which offers decent results when taking photos in the dark. As we mentioned earlier, the Google Pixel comes with HDR+, which is claimed to deliver better highlights and color accuracy when compared to HDR modes on other smartphones. In terms of overall camera performance, the Google Pixel is a fantastic smartphone and lets you take great shots no matter what the lighting conditions may be. For taking selfies, the Google Pixel features an 8MP resolution snapper on the front, with an f/2.4 aperture lens.
While the iPhone 7 Plus gets a new dual-camera setup at the rear, the iPhone 7 features a single 12MP iSight camera. Apple does claim that the 12MP rear camera has been updated and is now paired with a bright f/1.8 aperture lens that lets in more light to the sensor. Apart from the f/1.8 six-element lens, the other major improvement with the iPhone 7 is optical image stabilization. Until 2015, Apple had reserved OIS only to the bigger “Plus” versions. According to Apple, the new 12MP iSight camera on the iPhone 7 is 60% faster and 30% more efficient than the sensor on the iPhone 6s. There is also a new Quad-LED True Tone flash that lets you take clearer pictures in the dark. The camera app itself hasn’t changed much at all, so you can look forward to the same basic controls that the iPhone 6s offered. In terms of video, the camera is capable of shooting videos at up to 4K resolution with a frame rate of 30 frames per second. You also have a Sapphire crystal lens cover and the Focus Pixels tech for faster focus speeds. Other key camera features include HDR, panorama photos, face and smile detection, geo-tagging, Live Photos, wide color capture, timer mode, and noise reduction. Slow-mo videos can be recorded at 240 fps when shooting in 720p and at 120 fps when shooting in 1080p resolution. There is even an option of capturing videos in a time-lapse mode. In terms of camera performance, the iPhone 7 camera is a definite improvement over the iPhone 6s. However, when compared to the Google Pixel, the iPhone 7 isn’t as impressive. For selfies, the iPhone 7 features an upgraded 7MP FaceTime camera that is now capable of 1080p Full HD video capture.
Since the Google Pixel camera is superior to the iPhone 7 in terms of image quality as well as overall performance, the camera round goes to the Google Pixel.
Manufactured by HTC, the Google Pixel bears a strong resemblance to the Taiwanese company’s One A9 smartphone from 2015. Similar to the HTC One A9, the Google Pixel features visible antenna strips at the rear, which don’t really look all that enticing. The front is very similar as well, although the Pixel does not have a physical home button that the One A9 has. Instead, the fingerprint scanner on the Pixel is mounted at the back. Speaking of the back, the Pixel features a unique back with the upper portion made out glass and the lower portion being metal like the rest of the body. Like a number of other flagship smartphones on the market, the Pixel uses aerospace-grade aluminum for its construction. The Pixel comes with an IP53 certification, which makes it resistant to light splashes of water. It isn’t completely water resistant though, so you shouldn’t take it to the pool with you or use it when it is raining outside. As far as color options go, the Google Pixel is available Quite Black and Very Silver color options. The overall design is no doubt quite appealing and it does feel truly premium in the hand. Compared to the Google Nexus 5X, which can be considered to be a direct predecessor of the Pixel, it is a huge upgrade. The Pixel and the Pixel XL are in fact virtually identical in terms of design and build quality.
Apple iPhone 7 on the other hand is pretty similar to the iPhone 6s in terms of the overall design. It is made out of rigid Series 7000 aluminum that Apple introduced in 2015 with the iPhone 6s and the iPhone 6s Plus. There are some minor design changes however, that differentiate the iPhone 7 from the iPhone 6s. The most notable different is at the back, where Apple has moved the antenna strips towards the end of the top and bottom edges, so it is not very apparent on the iPhone 7. A lot of consumers weren’t too fond of the design choice when Apple introduced it with the iPhone 6, so we are glad they made this change. The other notable difference is at the bottom, where the 3.5mm headphone jack has been axed. The iPhone 7 only features a Lightning connector and speaker grilles at the bottom. To connect your favorite pair of headphones, you will need to use a Lightning to 3.5mm adapter, which comes in the box thankfully. Apple has made the iPhone 7 water and dust resistant with an IP67 certification. That means the iPhone 7 can survive being submerged in fresh water up to 1.5 meters deep for a period of 30 minutes. Whether it is raining outside or you’re in the mood to go swimming, the iPhone 7 can go along with you without any problems. Apple also offers two new colors – Jet Black and Black. The previously available colors such as Silver, Gold and Rose Gold are still offered as well.
Both the Google Pixel and the Apple iPhone 7 offer a truly premium design and build, so it is quite difficult to pick a clear winner. Which is why we’re leaving the verdict to you and declaring the design round a tie.
The Google Pixel runs on Android 7.1.1 Nougat currently, the latest available version of Nougat. Being a Google smartphone, you can be sure of the Pixel being up-to-date in terms of software for at least the next two years. Google guarantees the Pixel will receive major software upgrades for a period of two years and security updates for up to three years. As far as features go, the main highlight is the new Google Assistant. The Pixel and the Pixel XL were the first smartphones to launch with the new Google Assistant, which offers several additional features and improvements compared to the Google Now assistant. The Pixel duo was also the first to be Google Daydream certified, which means you can explore a wide range of virtual reality content when pairing the Pixel with a Google Daydream VR headset.
Apple iPhone 7 runs on Apple’s iOS 10 mobile operating system, with the latest available version for the smartphone being iOS 10.2.1 at the time of writing. Apple’s new iOS 10 mobile operating system is more of an incremental upgrade over iOS 9, with improvements to 3D Touch, Siri, and some minor UI design changes. The Control Center for instance, has been de-cluttered in iOS 10. Other notable changes include updates to the Photos app, lock screen, iMessage, and a new Home app. Apple Maps has been updated as well, making it smarter than before. Despite all these changes, the fact still remains that iOS has a long way to go before it can be anywhere near as open as Google’s Android operating system. There are still far too many restrictions that can be annoying for first-time iOS users. If you have been using iOS for a long time, then you may not care much at all.
Google’s Android Nougat platform is definitely superior at this moment, so the operating system round goes to the Google Pixel.
Google Pixel is available in the US only from Verizon Wireless among all the major carriers. The Big Red carrier is selling the 32GB Pixel for a monthly fee of $27 for a period of 24 months. There is no requirement for an upfront payment for qualified customers. The 128GB model on the other hand can be purchased for a monthly fee of $31.24 for 24 months. In case you opt to purchase one off-contract, you can get the 32GB Pixel for $649.99 and the 128GB variant for $749.99. If you are not a Verizon customer, you can get the Google Pixel unlocked from the Play Store, where the 32GB variant can be purchased for the same $649 and $749 pricing.
The iPhone 7 is available from every single major as well as minor US carrier. The 32GB variant of the iPhone 7 can be purchased from Verizon for $27.08 monthly for 24 months, while the 128GB model can be bought for a monthly fee of $31.24. For the top end 256GB variant, you will need to pay $35.41 monthly. Off-contract, the three models cost $649.99, $749.99, and $849.99 respectively. AT&T on the other hand is offering the 32GB iPhone 7 currently for $15.99 on a 30-month installment plan. Off-contract prices are more or less identical with most carriers.
Since the Google Pixel and the Apple iPhone 7 are available for similar prices in the US, the price round ends in a tie.
Now that we have come to the end of our versus battle, it is now time for us to find out which of these two flagship smartphones has emerged victorious in the end. Out of the ten categories that we compared these two smartphones against each other in, three rounds ended up in a tie. The Apple iPhone 7 managed to win just one category – Processor. In the other six categories, it was the Google Pixel that came out on top. That means the winner of our Google Pixel vs Apple iPhone 7 specs comparison is the Google Pixel.
Which one would you pick? Leave a comment down below and tell us what you think.