Mobile Technology

Google Pixel XL vs. Nexus 6P

Google Pixel XL vs. Nexus 6P
Comparing the new Google-made Pixel XL with its closest relative, the Nexus 6P
Comparing the new Google-made Pixel XL with its closest relative, the Nexus 6P
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Comparing the new Google-made Pixel XL with its closest relative, the Nexus 6P
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Comparing the new Google-made Pixel XL with its closest relative, the Nexus 6P
Starting price (full retail)
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Starting price (full retail)
Release
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Release
Operating system
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Operating system
Virtual assistant
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Virtual assistant
Fast charging
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Fast charging
Home button
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Home button
VR compatibility
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VR compatibility
Built-in storage options
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Built-in storage options
RAM
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RAM
Processor
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Processor
Mobile payments
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Mobile payments
Fingerprint sensor
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Fingerprint sensor
Headphone jack
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Headphone jack
Data/charging port
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Data/charging port
Aperture
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Aperture
Battery
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Battery
Camera resolution
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Camera resolution
Display type
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Display type
Display resolution
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Display resolution
Display size
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Display size
Colors
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Colors
External storage
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External storage
Dual-lens camera
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Dual-lens camera
Optical image stabilization
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Optical image stabilization
Pressure-sensitive display
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Pressure-sensitive display
Wireless charging
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Wireless charging
Water resistance
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Water resistance
Build
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Build
Weight
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Weight
Measurements
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Measurements

Google has finally released "made by Google" smartphones, but they did not spring up from scratch. The Pixel XL's closest relative is the Huawei-manufactured, Google-overseen Nexus 6P. What are the differences between last year's well-reviewed Nexus 6P and the first phablet to bear the Google name?

Size

Measurements
Measurements

If the Pixel is XL, then the Nexus 6P is ... jumbo? The 6P is nearly 3-percent taller and wider than the Pixel, though they are of equal thickness. Both phones fall squarely in phablet territory, with big screens great for internet use and video playback, but are perhaps too large to fit comfortably in smaller hands or tote along during a workout.

Weight

Weight
Weight

While the Nexus is just a little bit larger, it's almost 6-percent heavier.

Build

Build
Build

Both phones are built with an aircraft-grade aluminum unibody. Pixel's take is a little more understated and minimal, with a simple "G" logo and a glossy section at the top portion of the back. The Nexus 6P is more adventurous, with a glassy black camera bump-out and prominent branding.

Colors

Colors
Colors

Both phones stick to the neutral/metallic color palette we're used to seeing in smartphones. The Nexus has more options, but Pixel offers a blue color, which is the most novel variant of the bunch.

Water resistance

Water resistance
Water resistance

Even though this year's flagships from Apple and Samsung both have water resistance ratings, these Google-spawned phones need to stay high and dry.

Display size

Display size
Display size

The few millimeters in extra height and width afford the Nexus a 3.5-percent larger display.

Display resolution

Display resolution
Display resolution

Both displays have 2,560 x 1,400 Quad HD resolution. Since the Pixel has a smaller display, its pixels are slightly more dense.

Display type

Display type
Display type

Both flagships choose AMOLED technology over IPS displays.

Pressure-sensitive display

Dual-lens camera
Dual-lens camera

Unlike Apple, Android manufacturers have yet to incorporate pressure-sensitive displays into their phones. Apple uses this technology to enable 3D Touch, a navigational feature that prompts different shortcuts depending on how hard you press the touchscreen.

Camera megapixels

Camera resolution
Camera resolution

Google touts the Pixel's camera as the "highest rated smartphone camera. Ever." But until we take a few test shots, it's unclear how it surpasses the very good camera in last year's Nexus 6P, with which it shares several matching specs.

Camera aperture (rear)

Aperture
Aperture

Camera aperture has a big impact on how well a smartphone is able to shoot in low light conditions. Both of these phones have a f/2.0 aperture. Although that's fairly large, it's not industry-leading.

Optical image stabilization

Dual-lens camera
Dual-lens camera

Optical image stabilization is conspicuously absent from these phones. When it comes to battling camera shake and unwanted photo blur, you'll need either an exceptionally steady hand or a stable stand to shoot from.

Dual-lens camera

External storage
External storage

Both of these cameras have standard single-lens rear cameras, so don't look for the kind of dual-lens engineering seen in the iPhone 7 Plus or Huawei Honor 8.

Battery

Battery
Battery

Although these two batteries look identical (both are a rather large 3,450 mAh size) their estimated battery life does not compare. Pixel XL users can expect up to 32 hours of talk time and up to 14 hours of internet use or video playback. On the other hand, Nexus 6P offers up to 23 hours of talk time and up to 10 hours of internet use or video playback. Clearly, battery size alone does not a long-lived smartphone make.

Charging/data port

Data/charging port
Data/charging port

Both phones use the newer, reversible USB-C port over proprietary cables like Apple's Lightning or older technology like microUSB.

Fast charging

Fast charging
Fast charging

According to Google, the Pixel XL will get up to seven hours of use from a 15-minute charge. Nexus 6P makes the same claim, but in 10 minutes of charging.

Wireless charging

External storage
External storage

Nexus has toyed with wireless charging in the past, but that feature didn't make the cut for either of these phones.

Processor

Processor
Processor

The Pixel XL has a newer Snapdragon chip with a higher clock speed.

RAM

RAM
RAM

The Pixel is also better equipped for rigorous software applications, with 4-gigabytes of RAM to the 6P's 3-gigabytes.

Internal storage

Built-in storage options
Built-in storage options

Both phones are available in 32- and 128-gigabyte sizes. The Nexus adds an intermediary 64-gigabyte option as well.

External storage

External storage
External storage

Serious Android users may be vexed to learn that neither of these devices have expandable storage. The Samsung Galaxy S7 series may be your best option if you need microSD to manage your content.

VR-ready

VR compatibility
VR compatibility

VR compatibility is one of the major differentiators between these two flagships. Thanks in part to its updated processor and ample RAM, Pixel XL is Google Daydream-ready out of the box.

The Nexus 6P should not be considered Daydream-ready. This may come as a surprise, considering that the 6P is currently the only supported headset phone in the Daydream development kit. But as Google tells developers, the "6P's thermal performance is not representative of the consumer Daydream-ready phones ... expect the 6P to thermally throttle CPU and performance after a short period of use, depending on workload."

Headphone jack

Fast charging
Fast charging

No need to plan for a new set of earbuds or an intermediary adapter. These phones have the tried-and-true designated headphone jack.

Fingerprint sensor

Mobile payments
Mobile payments

It's safe to say that fingerprint sensors are sticking around for the foreseeable future. Both phones place theirs on the back.

Home button

Home button
Home button

Neither phone has a physical home button. Instead, the home buttons are onscreen, taking up a small bit of real estate at the bottom of the display.

Mobile payments

Fast charging
Fast charging

Both phones are NFC-equipped, so you can use Android Pay at participating retailers.

Virtual assistant

Virtual assistant
Virtual assistant

Google Assistant is another one of the Pixel's distinguishing characteristics. The Pixel and Pixel XL are the first phone to have this spiffed-up Siri alternative built in.

From what we can tell, Google Assistant is a more ambitious version of Google Now. We'll certainly include our thoughts on Google Assistant when we post our full-length review of the Pixel in the near future.

Operating system

Operating system
Operating system

As the first Google-branded phone, the Pixel is at the forefront of Android operating system updates. It launches with Android 7.1, the absolute latest in Nougat. It is guaranteed to receive all software updates for two years and security updates for three years (from launch).

Prior to Pixel, Nexus always carried the torch for Android software releases. In the near future, we expect it to continue to be ahead of the curve, even if it is a little behind the Pixels. As of now, Nexus 6P is still running 7.0 Nougat, with a 7.1 update expected near the end of the year.

Release

Release
Release

Pixels are just starting to ship now. Nexus 6P is already a year old.

Starting price (full retail)

Starting price (full retail)
Starting price (full retail)

Based on specs alone, these two phones are quite competitive. That's why it can be downright surprising to discover that Pixel XL is almost US$200 more than the Nexus 6P. And that's based on full retail pricing – now that the Nexus is a year old, it can easily be found at a discount.

On paper, the Pixel's biggest advantages are Google Assistant, VR compatibility and a little more processing power. It may be easy to dismiss those features in favor of a little extra cash in your wallet, especially considering that when all is said and done, the Nexus 6P is an excellent phone.

However, we do expect the Pixel to have some advantages that don't translate into facts and figures. Since it's the first phone to bear the Google banner, we are eager to see if it provides a hardware/software harmony that edges out other Android environments and challenges Apple's iOS walled garden. Of course, we also want to evaluate the camera with test shots instead of specs.

For background reading, you can dive deeper into our reviews of the Pixel XL and Nexus 6P.

5 comments
Ben Chernicoff
Nexus 6P: dual front facing speakers; Pixel XL: single speaker next to USB-C socket.
PatrickChristensen
$200 above the 6P. Wish there was more benefits to justify the price. I'm still on my Nexus 6. Not much to complain about and I have wireless charging which is huge for me at work.
Chizzy
I'd still rather have a Huawei mediapad m3
AnthonySteeIe
The only edge the pixel has i the processor, does that warrant a £368 price difference? And the 6p has a better screen.
HarryTrejo
Great article. By the looks of it, the Nexus 6P is still a great phone. I was thinking about getting the Pixel XL, but I can't go wrong with the Nexus 6P for a lower price. An expandable memory slot would have been greatly appreciated.