With Google having just unveiled the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, all of the major flagship phones of 2017 have set sail. The second-generation Pixels pack some solid specs and interesting software features, but how do they fare against Apple's latest offerings? New Atlas compares the Google Pixel 2 and 2 XL to the iPhone 8, 8 Plus and X.
The Google Pixel 2 is roughly the same size as the iPhone X, while the Pixel 2 XL is closer in size to the taller and wider 8 Plus.
Both Google phones are lighter than Apple's offerings, likely due to the glass backing on the new iPhones.
Both companies have gone for fairly understated colors for their phones. The Pixels come in variations of black and/or white, with the option for a slight blue in the smaller model. The iPhones meanwhile come in shades of gray and silver, with a gold option for the 8 line.
Apple has opted for glass backings for its new iPhones to enable wireless charging, while Google has stuck with an aluminum unibody for its Pixels.
All five phones have been rated IP67, which means they can shake off a splatter of rain or a brief dunk. While we'd still recommend being careful with them around water, it's not the end of the world if you drop them in a pool or bath as they should be ok in up to 1 m (3.3 ft) of water for up to 30 minutes.
The display size is one of the main differences between the Pixel 2 and 2 XL. The screen on the larger model has a full inch over the basic, and even manages to pip the iPhone X, pushing it firmly into "phablet" territory.
A QHD display with a crisp 538 pixels per inch gives the Pixel 2 XL one of the clearest screens of this generation. The iPhone X is no slouch either, also joining the QHD club, while the iPhone 8 Plus and Pixel 2 sport 1080p screens.
For the iPhone X, Apple has upgraded to an OLED display, which allows for brighter colors and deeper blacks than IPS LCD screens. Google is using much the same technology in its phones, but for the Pixel 2 XL it has attached the glass to a plastic substrate, most likely so the screen – which goes all the way to the edges – has some give when the device is squeezed.
As mentioned, the Google Pixel 2 XL has followed this year's trend of doing away with bezels, stretching the screen all the way to the edges of the phone. The iPhone X has done the same.
Bigger screens are threatening the home button with extinction. Neither of Google's new toys nor the iPhone X have a physical button anymore, so users will have to learn new tricks to return to the home screen.
Fingerprints are one of the most common ways to unlock phones nowadays, and all of them bar the iPhone X make use of that method. For the X, Apple has opted instead for a detailed facial recognition system it calls Face ID.
The new iPhones are running the latest chips from Apple, the A11 Bionic, while both Pixels pack Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 processors.
Both Pixel 2 models sport 4 GB of RAM, which is the standard for phones in 2017 – Samsung's Galaxy S8 line and LG's V30 all boast the same. Apple's devices, on the other hand, top out at 3 GB, but one of the advantages of a closed ecosystem like Apple's is that its phones can do more with less.
The baseline for onboard storage these days is 64 GB, while Google offers the option to double that, and Apple doubles it again.
None of the phones have MicroSD card slots, meaning storage can't be expanded. Better choose your onboard storage capacity wisely, because that's all you get.
iPhones traditionally have relatively low-capacity batteries, at least in terms of plain numbers. Here though, the iPhone X is about on par with the Pixel 2, while the 2 XL boasts one of the juiciest batteries in any phone.
Google has followed Apple's controversial lead and removed the headphone jack from the Pixels. Headphones now need to be connected via Bluetooth or the included adapter, which plugs into the USB-C port at the bottom. The iPhones have the same options with the Lightning port.
All of the phones are fast-charging-enabled, but there's an asterisk with the iPhones: it requires a separate accessory.
Props to Apple for offering the option of charging the iPhones wirelessly – pending another peripheral purchase, of course. Both Pixels will need to be plugged in to charge.
On pure megapixel count, the differences between the main cameras on all five phones is negligible. The Pixels can snap slightly sharper selfies, but the iPhone X's front-facing camera is loaded with depth-sensing tech, to allow for the detailed facial recognition system. Google meanwhile is making use of the power of machine learning to allow the Pixel 2 and 2 XL to recognize objects in frame and perform a real-world Google image search.
Rear camera aperture
All five phones have a camera aperture of f/1.8, which should allow for decent low-light snaps and help the subjects of photos better stand out from the background.
All of the phones come preloaded with the latest versions of their respective operating systems. For Apple that's iOS 11, which includes a whole heap of new AR tricks and treats, while Pixel users receive a clean, minimalist version of Android 8 Oreo.
The new Pixels make use of Google Assistant, which can be activated on the 2 XL by squeezing the sides of the phone, in a nod to the HTC U11. And of course, Apple's Siri isn't going anywhere.
Users of any of these devices can pay for purchases by tapping the phone to a compatible terminal in a store. The iPhones use Apple Pay, while the Pixel phones use Android Pay.
The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are already available, while the Google Pixel 2 is due out later this month. Both the Pixel 2 XL and iPhone X are due in November.
The Pixel 2 is the cheapest of the lot, starting from US$649. In fact, you could splurge on the highest-end of the Pixel 2 line and still save 50 bucks off the minimum asking price of an iPhone X. But some consumers have always been happy to pay more for Apple products.
Update (Oct. 6, 2017): Thanks to everyone who pointed out the incorrect images of the Pixel phones in this story. The images have now been corrected and we apologize for the error.
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