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Google Pixel phone vs OnePlus 3: Which is best for me?

We compare Google’s brand new and rather expensive Pixel phone with one of the best-value Android mobiles of 2016, the OnePlus 3, to see which is best for you. What’s the difference in terms of specs, camera tech and the rest, and is the Google Pixel worth the extra cash? Or is the OnePlus 3 too good to turn down?

Google has now launched its 5-inch Pixel phone, one of the most premium Android blowers of 2016 so far. The impressive specs and features include a gorgeous 5-inch Full HD AMOLED screen, the latest Snapdragon 821 processor and a super-charged 12-megapixel camera. However, the Google Pixel phone doesn’t come cheap, starting from a rather hefty £599. Better switch to a toast and beans diet if you want one when they hit the UK on October 20.

So how does the Pixel phone compare with the OnePlus 3, which came out just a few months ago and boasts incredible value for money at just over £300? Here’s our full Pixel vs OnePlus 3 comparison review to show what the difference is, in everything including cost.

Check out our full hands-on Pixel phone review for more info on Google’s mighty mobile. And don’t forget to check out our hands-on Pixel XL phone review too, taking a look at the Pixel phone’s bigger 5.5-inch brother.

Google Pixel phone vs OnePlus 3: Specs at a glance

Phone OnePlus 3 Google Pixel phone
Screen size 5.5-inches 5-inches
Screen resolution Full HD 1920×1080 Full HD 1920×1080
Weight 158g 143g
Fingerprint sensor? Yes Yes
Water resistant? No No
OS Android 6.0 Marshmallow Android 7.1 Nougat
Processor Snapdragon 820 Snapdragon 821
Memory 6GB 4GB
Storage 64GB 32/128GB
MicroSD? No No
Battery 3000mAh 2770mAh
Rear camera 16-megapixel 12-megapixel
Front camera 8-megapixel 8-megapixel
Price £329 £599

Google Pixel phone vs OnePlus 3: Design

While the Google Pixel phone is a pleasingly compact 5-inch handset, the OnePlus 3 is a meaty 5.5-incher, just like the Pixel XL. That means the Pixel is much better suited to one-handed use, with a less bulky frame that also weighs less.

The OnePlus 3 sports a tidy (if not particularly sexy) full metal finish that can take a fair bit of punishment. We’re yet to see any proper scratches or scuffs on the surfaces after many weeks of rough handling.

However, we prefer the almost artistic metal and glass combo of Google’s Pixel phone. That glossy surfacing picks up grease marks just like the Galaxy S7’s glass rear, but the metal section appears to be just as hardy as the OnePlus 3. Sadly neither phone here is water resistant however, so keep them out of the drink.

Read next: Pixel XL vs OnePlus 3, what’s the difference?

Google Pixel phone vs OnePlus 3: Screen and media

Both of these mobiles pack a Full HD screen, although the OnePlus 3’s panel is more spacious at 5.5-inches compared with the 5-inch Pixel.

That size difference is pretty much the only factor here, however. Both screens boast punchy, vibrant colour reproduction and a strong maximum brightness, for cutting through glare. That said, you get direct control over the warmth of the OnePlus 3’s display, something not offered by the Pixel phone. That’s particularly handy when you’re browsing late in bed, as you can activate the Night Mode to make things easier on the eye.

When it comes to storage, the OnePlus 3 offers up 64GB of space for your media, apps and other stuff. The Pixel phone comes with 32GB by default but you can expand that to 128GB by paying Google an extra £100. And neither handset here supports microSD memory cards. That means if you shoot lots of photos and video then you’ll need to keep on backing up your stuff to your home computer (or the cloud – with Google offering free full-res backup of your pics and vids for Pixel owners).

Google Pixel phone vs OnePlus 3: OS and features

Android 6.0.1 is the latest version of the OnePlus 3’s OS, overlaid with the Oxygen interface which adds some extra personalisation and handy shortcuts. Meanwhile the Pixel phone packs in the very latest Android Nougat version. This adds some cool new features, such as support for Google’s Daydream VR platform, and the rather helpful new Assistant tool. Check out our full Android Nougat best features guide for more info.

We’re expecting the OnePlus 3 to be updated to Nougat soon enough via an Over-The-Air (OTA) upgrade. Most of Nougat’s best bits will therefore be coming to the OnePlus 3 in time, hopefully before the end of 2016. However, Google has revealed that Assistant won’t be coming to any phones outside of the Pixels, which means that smart AI helper will never reach the OnePlus 3.

Both the Pixel phone and the OnePlus 3 have a fingerprint sensor mounted on the back, for quickly and securely unlocking.

Google Pixel phone vs OnePlus 3: Performance and battery life

The OnePlus 3 is one of the most powerful handsets released in 2016 despite its respectable price tag, as the beefy Snapdragon 820 processor stuffed inside is backed by a mighty 6GB of RAM. In everyday use, we’re yet to see much of a stutter or pause, while the latest games run with a beautiful smoothness.

Google’s Pixel phone should prove just as dependable as it packs in Qualcomm’s all-new Snapdragon 821 chipset. Like the OnePlus 3, everyday use should be perfect and we doubt you’ll see any signs of ageing over the next year or so, no matter which mobile you pick.

We’re yet to test the Google Pixel’s battery life, but the 2770mAh cell should hopefully give well over a day of use between charges. It’ll have to be seriously good to beat the OnePlus 3, which offers at least 36 hours of play time between charges and can be powered back to full in an hour with the nippy Dash Charge feature.

Google Pixel phone vs OnePlus 3: Cameras

While the OnePlus 3’s 16-megapixel camera isn’t infallible, suffering in particular when shooting video, it does produce good-looking photos in most conditions. It’s also quick and easy to use, which will suit any smartphone noobs. Check out our full OnePlus 3 camera review for more info.

The Pixel packs in a 12-megapixel rear camera which boasts an HDR+ mode, to deal with any tricky high-contrast situations. We’re expecting good-looking and detail-packed photos almost every time, while the phase detection autofocus means your subject is kept pin-sharp at all times, with no shutter lag to speak of. In our hands-on tests, we found we could snap away without pause by rapidly tapping the shutter button.

We’ll be testing out the Pixel phone’s camera soon and comparing with the best mobile snappers of 2016, including the Galaxy S7 and Xperia XZ.

Google Pixel phone vs OnePlus 3: Pricing and verdict

The Pixel phone from Google is already impressing us from our hands-on time. Those specs are seriously strong and the Pixel boasts unique, exclusive features like Google’s Assistant AI, which could transform how you use your mobile.

However, you can pick up the mighty OnePlus 3 for almost half the price of the Google Pixel phone, and the gap in specs between these handsets is nowhere near the gulf in cost. You still get brilliant performance and battery life, as well as some decent cameras and a gorgeous full-sized screen. It’s not as easy to use one-handed of course, and we’ll be seeing very soon if HTC’s camera tech can win out in a direct comparison.

You can grab the OnePlus 3 exclusively on contract from O2, from £28 per month.


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