Launched late last year, the Google Pixel XL has proved to be an extremely impressive flagship smartphone, with no major flaws whatsoever. Then there’s the fact that the Pixel XL is the first smartphone “developed by Google”, as it has dropped the Nexus branding finally. The handset combines a premium metal build, an attractive design, fantastic hardware, and arguably the best stock Android Nougat experience out there. That makes the Google Pixel XL one of the most compelling flagship smartphones on the market right now. So if you need to purchase a new smartphone very soon and cannot wait for the 2017 flagship smartphones to hit the market, the Google Pixel XL should definitely be high up on your list.
In case you are open to iOS as well, then the Apple iPhone 7 Plus is another impressive smartphone that you can consider. Apple’s latest flagship iPhone, the iPhone 7 Plus may not be very different from the iPhone 6s Plus in the design department, but it does come with several key hardware upgrades that make it one of the best “phablets” on the market right now. With an aim to help you make a decision, we will be putting the Google Pixel XL and the Apple iPhone 7 Plus head-to-head in a versus specs battle. If you have been following our versus comparisons, you will be aware that we compare two smartphones against each other in ten different categories – Display, Processor, Dimensions, Design, Camera, Memory, Operating System, Battery Life, Connectivity, and Price. Each category is worth 1 point each, so the smartphone that manages to grab the maximum number of points by the end of our comparison is declared the winner. So let’s get started with our Google Pixel vs Apple iPhone 7 Plus specs battle and find out if Google’s best smartphone can “best” Apple’s current flagship.
We are going to begin our Google Pixel XL vs Apple iPhone 7 Plus specs battle by comparing the physical dimensions of these two smartphones.
The Google Pixel XL happens to be 154.7mm tall, 75.7mm wide, and 8.5mm thin. In terms of weight, the smartphone weighs in at 168 grams. Apple iPhone 7 Plus on the other hand is 158.2mm tall, 77.9mm wide, and 7.3mm thin. Not only is the iPhone 7 Plus taller and wider than the Google Pixel XL, it is also heavier, weighing in at 188 grams.
Quite clearly, the Google Pixel has the advantage here, as it is more compact as well as lighter than Apple’s flagship handset. That means the winner of the dimensions round is the Google Pixel XL.
The Google Pixel XL and the Apple iPhone 7 Plus were released around the same time last year, so most of you would expect the two handsets to be identical to each other in the connectivity department. But is that really the case?
The Google Pixel XL features 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, and 4G LTE (Cat.12) network support for maximum download speeds of up to 600 Mbps. Apple iPhone 7 Plus comes with Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac dual-band MIMO, NFC, Bluetooth 4.2 Low Energy, Lightning connector, and 4G LTE Cat.9 with support for maximum download speeds of up to 450 Mbps. The iPhone 7 Plus in fact supports the widest range of LTE bands worldwide, so if you’re a frequent traveler, the iPhone 7 Plus should be your pick. However, the iPhone 7 Plus does not include a 3.5mm headphone jack, so you will need to use a Lightning to 3.5mm adapter in order to plug in your favorite headphone to the smartphone.
The Google Pixel XL supports faster LTE speeds than the Apple iPhone 7 Plus, while the iPhone 7 Plus has support for a higher number of LTE networks. Rest of the connectivity specs are more or less identical, with the exception of the 3.5mm headphone jack. We’re going with a tie here.
Now let’s talk about the displays on these two flagship handsets. The display is of course one of the most important components of a modern smartphone.
The Google Pixel XL features a large 5.5-inch AMOLED display with 1440 x 2560 Quad HD resolution and a pixel density of 534 pixels per inch. For protection against scratches and other forms of damage, the display includes a layer of 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass 4 on top. Being a latest generation AMOLED panel, the Google Pixel XL display impresses in all key areas. It is plenty bright with over 400 nits maximum brightness, making it one of the brightest AMOLED displays out there. The high peak brightness means the display offers excellent sunlight legibility, so if you live in a region with sunny skies, the Pixel XL display will definitely impress you. As far as color accuracy goes, the Pixel XL display isn’t the most accurate out of the box, with a really punchy color reproduction. Most people however, wouldn’t have any problems with it. But if you are someone who is really particular about color accuracy on your displays, you do get the option to get accurate colors by going to the Developer Settings and enabling the sRGB option. Once enabled, the Pixel XL display renders colors accurately, although it isn’t the absolute best display on the market in the accuracy department. In addition to the color accuracy, you also get the option to tinker with the UI scaling with the “Display size” setting.
Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus on the other hand features an LCD Retina HD display of the same size at 5.5-inches but with lower 1080 x 1920 Full HD resolution. That translates to a pixel density figure of 401 pixels per inch, the same as the iPhone 6 Plus and the iPhone 6s Plus. While the resolution and the pixel density are identical to its predecessors, the iPhone 7 Plus display does bring a host of improvements in terms of the overall image quality. Apple claims the iPhone 7 Plus display offers 25% higher peak brightness compared to the iPhone 6s display, which means sunlight legibility is vastly improved over the previous generation iPhones. According to various tests, the iPhone 7 Plus display has a peak brightness of 700 nits, which is highly impressive. Apart from being brighter than the iPhone 6s Plus display, it also boats of a much wider DCI-P3 color space coverage. Usually we see full DCI-P3 coverage only on high-end 4K TVs, so the iPhone 7 Plus display is definitely unique in this department. Another useful addition is the new Night Shift mode, which aims to reduce eye strain by filtering the harmful blue-light emitted by the display panel. Apple has worked on improving the color accuracy with the iPhone 7 Plus display, resulting in fantastic color accuracy that far exceeds most other flagship smartphones on the market right now. The iPhone 7 Plus does have the 3D Touch feature as well, which Apple debuted with the iPhone 6s duo in 2015.
Both the Google Pixel XL and the Apple iPhone 7 Plus displays have their own strengths and weaknesses. While the Pixel XL’s AMOLED display has the advantage of a much higher contrast ratio, the iPhone 7 Plus display boasts of fantastic color accuracy. Which is why we are calling the display round a tie.
While manufacturers are steadily making great improvements on most fronts with latest flagship smartphones, battery life is one area where we haven’t seen as much of an improvement as we’d have liked.
Google has equipped the Pixel XL with a 3450mAh capacity battery, identical to the Google Nexus 6P. Unfortunately, the Pixel XL is more or less similar to the Nexus 6P in terms of battery life as well. Google claims the smartphone can deliver up to 32 hours of talk time, 14 hours of browsing on Wi-Fi, and 14 hours of video playback. Battery tests have revealed the Pixel XL doesn’t quite reach these numbers, so if battery life is your No.1 priority, there are definitely better options out there. The Pixel XL comes with impressive fast charging support via the USB Type-C port. According to Google, the Pixel XL can deliver up to 7 hours of usage out of just 15 minutes of charging. However, when it comes to charging speed, the Pixel XL isn’t the fastest among smartphones that do support fast charging. There is no wireless charging support though, as the Pixel XL features a part metal back.
Apple iPhone 7 Plus on the other hand packs a 2900mAh capacity battery, significantly smaller than the Google Pixel XL’s battery. However, despite packing a smaller capacity battery, the iPhone 7 Plus isn’t very disappointing when it comes to battery stamina. Apple says the iPhone 7 Plus delivers 21 hours of talk time (3G), 15 hours of browsing time on Wi-Fi, 14 hours of video playback, and a standby time of up to 16 days. As with the Google Pixel XL, the actual numbers are actually not as impressive, especially the video playback time. Still, the smartphone does deliver decent battery stamina, especially considering the low 2900mAh capacity. There is no fast charging support on offer, which means you will need to wait quite long for the iPhone 7 Plus to get fully charged. Same goes for wireless charging as well, since the iPhone 7 Plus features a metal unibody build.
Even though the difference between the Google Pixel XL and the Apple iPhone 7 Plus isn’t very significant in terms of actual battery life, the Pixel XL does hold the edge as it comes with fast charging support. That means the battery life round goes to the Google Pixel XL.
Now let us take a look at how these two flagship phablets compare in the memory department. Both of them do have some similarities, but there are a few significant differences as well.
Like previous Nexus-branded smartphones and tablets from Google, the latest Pixel XL too lacks memory expansion. Consumers get to choose from either 32GB or 128GB of built-in storage. However, unlike Apple, the difference between the 32GB and 128GB variants isn’t very big. Google is using the latest UFS 2.0 memory chips on the Pixel XL, which boast of significantly improved transfer speeds compared to older eMMC 5.0 memory chips used on most other smartphones. There may not be a microSD card slot for memory expansion, but Google does offer unlimited cloud storage, which means you can store all your photos and videos in the cloud in order to save storage space, especially if you get the 32GB variant. For superior multitasking, the Google Pixel XL includes 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM, which isn’t very impressive anymore, especially when compared to flagship smartphones from Chinese Android OEMs that come with 6GB of RAM.
The iPhone 7 Plus from Apple is available in three storage variants, just like its predecessor. The base storage however, has gone up to 32GB from 16GB, while the top end option is now 256GB. The 128GB mid variant is also an improvement when compared to the previous generation. Apple continues to use a custom in-house SSD controller on the iPhone 7 Plus, paired with TLC NAND flash memory. This custom solution offers impressive transfer speeds, even higher than the UFS 2.0 memory chips used inside the Google Pixel and quite a few other recent flagship smartphones from different manufacturers. And with 128GB and 256GB onboard storage options, the lack of memory expansion isn’t an issue either. The iPhone 7 Plus is a significant upgrade over its predecessor when it comes to multitasking performance as well, thanks to 3GB of LPDDR4 RAM inside. While 3GB of RAM may not sound very impressive in comparison to Android flagships on paper, it should be noted that Android and iOS are two very different operating systems, which means they both handle memory differently. As far as multitasking performance goes, the iPhone 7 Plus holds up pretty well against Android flagships equipped with 4GB or even 6GB of LPDDR RAM.
On one hand, we have the Google Pixel XL with 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM and on the other we have the Apple iPhone 7 Plus with up to 256GB internal memory. Since there is no clear winner here, the memory round ends up in a tie.
As you would expect from an expensive flagship smartphone, both the Google Pixel XL and the Apple iPhone 7 Plus come equipped with a capable camera both at the front as well as the back. But which one is better?
Google Pixel XL features a 12.3MP resolution camera at the back, just like the Nexus 6P from last year. However, the Pixel XL uses a newer Sony IMX378 Exmor RS sensor, as opposed to the IMX377 sensor used in the Nexus 6P and the Nexus 5X. The sensor is identical to the IMX377 in terms of size at 1/2.3”, boasting of 1.55 micron sized pixels. The 12.3MP primary camera features phase detection + laser autofocus technologies, allowing the Pixel XL to achieve impressive focus speeds. Since the sensor size is larger than usual, Google has gone with an f/2.0 aperture lens, which isn’t as bright as the f/1.8 and f/1.7 aperture lenses we see on most new flagship smartphones. Another key feature that the Pixel XL camera lacks is optical image stabilization. To compensate, the camera comes with advanced Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS) using the gyroscope to reduce shake when capturing videos. A dual-tone LED flash accompanies the rear camera, packing quite a punch. Some of the other key features of the Pixel XL rear camera include panorama shots, face detection, slow-motion video capture in 720p HD at 240fps , 1080p slow-mo video capture at 120fps, support for 4K video recording, and HDR+. The HDR+ feature isn’t the same as the HDR feature on other smartphones. Enabled by default, the HDR+ feature captures HDR images with superior highlights as well as true-to-life colors. In terms of the overall camera performance, the Pixel XL is arguably the best smartphone on the market right now, delivering excellent results in both daylight as well as low-light situations. DxOMark currently has the Pixel listed at the top in its list, ahead of rivals such as the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, HTC 10, and even the Apple iPhone 7. Most reviews suggest the same thing as well, so if camera performance is your top priority, the Pixel XL is likely to impress you more. Unfortunately, the Pixel XL camera app does not offer an extensive range of manual controls that can be found on a few other smartphones. For taking selfies, the Pixel XL includes an 8MP fixed-focus unit on the front, with large 1.4 micron sized pixels and 1080p video capture support. The sensor is paired with an f/2.4 aperture lens, which isn’t the brightest.
Apple iPhone 7 Plus features not one but two camera sensors at the back. Unlike the regular iPhone 7, which includes a 12MP iSight camera at the back, the iPhone 7 Plus includes dual 12MP cameras. The primary 12MP sensor is paired with a wide-angle f/1.8 aperture lens, while the secondary 12MP sensor is a Telephoto unit that is paired with an f/2.8 aperture lens. The Telephoto unit helps the iPhone 7 Plus deliver up to 2x optical zoom, without any camera hump like other smartphones that offer optical zoom. In addition to 2x optical zoom, the sensor is also capable of up to 10x digital zoom, with little impact on the image quality. The iPhone 7 Plus also includes a Quad-LED True Tone LED flash, hybrid IR filter, Sapphire crystal lens cover, and Focus Pixels tech for fast focus speeds. On the software front, key camera features include Live Photos with stabilization, body/face detection, Tap to Focus, wide color capture, exposure control, Auto HDR, Panorama photos (up to 63 megapixels), burst mode, geotagging, timer mode, and noise reduction. Like its predecessor, the iPhone 7 Plus is capable of capturing videos at 4K resolution with 30 fps frame rate. It can also capture 1080p slow-mo videos at 120fps and 720p HD slow-mo videos at 240fps. On the front, the iPhone 7 Plus includes a 7MP FaceTime HD camera with an f/2.2 aperture lens and support for 1080p video capture.
While both smartphones are capable of taking some fantastic shots, the Google Pixel XL does hold the edge thanks to slightly superior image quality and the lack of shutter lag. The camera round goes to the Google Pixel XL.
The Google Pixel XL is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 chipset, which is a quad-core chipset based on Qualcomm’s custom 64-bit Kryo cores. As evident by the name, Snapdragon 821 is a minor upgrade over the Snapdragon 820 chipset that was rolled out in early 2016, powering pretty much all major flagship smartphone released in the first half of the year. Like its predecessor, the Snapdragon 821 is manufactured by Samsung on a 14nm process. The Snapdragon 821 generally offers slightly better performance compared to the Snapdragon 820, but it isn’t the case here as Google has underclocked the Snapdragon 821 SoC on the Pixel XL to the same clocks seen on the Snapdragon 820. The two performance-oriented Kryo cores have been clocked at 2.15 GHz while the efficiency-oriented Kryo cores have been clocked at 1.6 GHz. As a result, the Pixel XL fares identical to Snapdragon 820-powered flagship smartphones in all benchmarks. The GPU is still the Adreno 530, clocked at 624 MHz. As with CPU intensive benchmarks, there is practically no difference in GPU-intensive benchmarks either. While the Pixel XL may not be the best device out there in terms of benchmark performance, you will not have any complaints with the overall performance of the device, as it has been optimized quite well and the stock Nougat software helps too.
Apple iPhone 7 Plus on the other hand runs on the Apple A10 64-bit Fusion SoC, the most powerful mobile SoC yet from the Cupertino-based firm. The A10 SoC is based on an all-new architecture that delivers significant performance improvements when compared to the previous generation A9 SoC. The A10 is quad-core SoC but it only operates as a dual-core chip at any given time. There are two high-performance Hurricane cores clocked at 2.34 GHz and two efficiency-oriented Zephyr cores that Apple claims use barely one-fifth the power of the high-performance Hurricane cores, helping extend battery life. Manufactured on a 16nm FinFET process by TSMC, the A10 chip offers twice higher performance compared to the iPhone 6’s Apple A8 chip. In terms of graphics performance, the iPhone 7 Plus is roughly three times faster than the iPhone 6. When it comes to benchmarks, the A10 SoC leaves all other 2016 mobile SoCs behind, including the Snapdragon 821. More than the CPU performance, it is the GPU performance that impresses.
While we’re pretty sure the upcoming Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipset will leave the Apple A10 behind in terms of performance, the Snapdragon 821 isn’t a match for the powerful A10 SoC. It is a clear win for Apple in the processor round.
The Google Pixel features a premium design with aluminum used pretty much everywhere except for the upper portion, which is made out of glass. Manufactured by Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC, the smartphone does resemble some HTC smartphones, particularly the One A9. Like the One A9, the Pixel XL has visible antenna lines as well, which we aren’t a fan of. The fingerprint scanner is positioned at the rear and not on the front as seen on HTC smartphones. While the Pixel XL isn’t water resistant, it does come with an IP53 certification, which means it is splash proof. As far as color options go, you get to choose from Quite Black and Very Silver color options.
The iPhone 7 Plus isn’t really a major upgrade over the iPhone 6s Plus in the design department. In fact, the iPhone 7 Plus is nearly identical to the iPhone 6s Plus for the most part, with very few design highlights differentiating the two handsets. The most prominent design change is at the back, where the antenna lines have been moved towards the top and bottom edges, giving it a much cleaner appearance than previous models. The other major change is at the bottom of the handset, where you will only see a Lightning connector and speaker grilles on either side of it. The 3.5mm headphone jack has been axed, so you will need to use a Lightning to 3.5mm headphone jack adapter to plug in your favorite headphones. On the positive side, the iPhone 7 Plus comes with IP67 certification for dust and water resistance, meaning it can withstand any accidental drops in the pool with ease. You can also use it outside when it is raining, without having to worry about it getting damaged. There are two new color options to choose from – Jet Black and Black. Both colors have proven to be quite popular among consumers, despite the Jet Black color being prone to chipping.
There is no doubt that both the Google Pixel XL and the Apple iPhone 7 Plus boast of a premium design and build quality. Picking a clear winner out of the two is definitely not possible as design is highlight subjective. Therefore we are going to call this round a tie and leave it up to you to choose your favorite.
The Google Pixel XL currently runs on Android Nougat 7.1.1, the latest available version of Android. Similar to previous Google Nexus devices, the Pixel XL offers a clean Nougat experience with absolutely no bloatware. It is also the first phone (along with the Pixel) to come with the new Google Assistant out of the box. The new Google Assistant is based on Google Now but offers several new features and has a much livelier character as well. Another highlight on the software front is Daydream. The Pixel XL is Daydream certified, allowing owners to enjoy virtual reality content when paired with the Google Daydream VR headset. Being a Google device, the Pixel XL is guaranteed to receive software upgrades until two years from launch and security update until three years.
Apple iPhone 7 Plus runs on the iOS 10 mobile operating system, with the latest available version at the time of writing being 10.2.1. The latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system includes some new features and changes such as the improvements to 3D Touch, updated iMessage, lockscreen widgets, a new Home app, more useful Apple Maps, smarter Siri, and more. There are improvements to Photos, lock scree, and the Control Center as well. Overall though, iOS 10 is definitely not a huge upgrade, and it still is nowhere near as open as Android is.
As things stand now, Android 7.1 Nougat is definitely the superior mobile operating system. That means the clear winner of the operating system round is the Google Pixel XL.
Google Pixel XL isn’t widely available in the US. Unlike most major Android flagship smartphones, the Pixel XL is being sold in the US only by Verizon Wireless. If you are not a Verizon customer, you can choose to get it unlocked directly from the Play Store. As for pricing, Verizon is selling the 32GB version for a monthly fee of $32.08 for 24-months or $769.99 outright. The 128GB variant on the other hand can be had for a monthly fee of $36.24 or you can pay $869.99 outright. Google is selling the 32GB Pixel XL for $649 on the Play Store, while the 128GB version costs $749.
Apple iPhone 7 Plus is easily available in the US from all major as well as minor carriers. The 32GB version can be yours for a monthly fee starting from $32.04 going up to $40.42 for the 256GB model on a 2-year contract. If you wish to purchase your iPhone 7 Plus outright, you will need to shell out $850 for the base 32GB variant. For the 256GB variant, that amount goes up to $1070.
Quite clearly, the Google Pixel XL is cheaper than the Apple iPhone 7 Plus, although you cannot get it directly from your carrier, except Verizon Wireless. Since both smartphones are comparable in most areas, the Pixel XL is obviously the better value and wins the price round.
In our Google Pixel XL vs Apple iPhone 7 Plus specs battle today, we couldn’t find a clear winner in four categories. Out of the remaining six categories, the Google Pixel XL reigned supreme in five categories. The Apple iPhone 7 Plus could only win the processor category with its powerful A10 chip. That means we have a clear winner here – the Google Pixel XL.
Which one of these two flagships is your pick? Let us know in the comments section below.