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Google Pixel vs Google Pixel XL: What’s the difference?

Google is launching two new phones in 2016, dubbed the Google Pixel and Google Pixel XL. But what’s the difference between the Pixel and Pixel XL mobiles in terms of specs, camera tech and other features? Here’s our full Pixel vs Pixel XL comparison review so you can see which is best for you.

We’ve seen loads of great smartphones in 2016 rocking Google’s Android OS, from full-priced flagships such as the Samsung Galaxy S7 to great-value mobiles like the OnePlus 3. But now it’s Google’s turn to release its own Android phones, manufactured with a little help from HTC.

The 5-inch Google Pixel and 5.5-inch Google Pixel XL are clearly different when it comes to design, but what about the other specs and internals? And are there any other big changes? Our Pixel vs Pixel XL comparison takes a closer look at these two Google phones, to see what the difference really is.

Google Pixel vs Pixel XL: Specs at a glance

Phone Google Pixel Google Pixel XL
Screen size 5-inches 5.5-inches
Screen resolution Full HD 1920×1080 Quad HD 2560×1440
Weight 143g 168g
Fingerprint sensor? Yes Yes
Water resistant? No No
OS Android 7.1 Nougat Android 7.1 Nougat
Processor Snapdragon 821 Snapdragon 821
Memory 4GB 4GB
Storage 32/128GB 32/128GB
MicroSD? Yes Yes
Battery 2770mAh 3450mAh
Rear camera 12-megapixel 12-megapixel
Front camera 8-megapixel 8-megapixel

Google Pixel vs Pixel XL: Design

The most obvious difference between Google’s new Pixel phones is their size. The Pixel is a reasonably compact 5-inch mobile, while the mighty Pixel XL boosts this to a 5.5-inch design. And while the Pixel should prove comfortable for one-handed use, despite those thick bezels above and below the screen, the Pixel XL is too much of a handful. You’ll need to wield the bigger Pixel phone with two hands, or risk an unexpected tumble.

Still, apart from that (and the bump in weight for the Pixel XL), there’s not much physical difference between the HTC-crafted handsets. Both the Pixel and Pixel XL sport a full metal jacket, just like the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. And like Apple’s handsets, you get pleasingly curved corners for a more comfortable grip.

Neither the Pixel phone nor its XL sibling are water-resistant, so you’ll need to avoid giving them a dunking.

Google Pixel vs Pixel XL: Screen and media

Movie and TV fans will most likely be swayed by the bigger Pixel XL, which not only rocks a more spacious screen but also boasts a higher Quad HD resolution. That makes for super-sharp visuals, while the AMOLED panel should also pump out eye-catching, vibrant colours.

The smaller Pixel mobile has a 5-inch AMOLED display which should also produce attractive, colour-rich images. It’s not as sharp as the screen on its bigger brother, but that Full HD resolution should be more than good enough for enjoying high-def movies and shows. You’ll struggle to make out a single pixel, which is possibly ironic given the phone’s name.

You get a choice of 32GB or 128GB of storage with either phone – no 256GB option here, like with Apple’s new iPhones. That’s probably because the Google Pixel and Pixel XL both support microSD memory cards (something missing from last year’s Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P), so you can quickly and easily expand up to a further 256GB.

Google Pixel vs Pixel XL: OS and features

Android is of course the OS of choice, since these are both Google-branded devices. And as usual with Google phones, the Pixel and the Pixel XL both rock a vanilla version of the latest Android, dubbed Android Nougat.

Check out our guide to the best new Android Nougat features for more info on Google’s latest OS.

There’s no difference between these two phones when it comes to the software, or the standard hardware features either. Both the Pixel and the XL model have a fingerprint sensor slapped on the back, to quickly and securely unlock to your desktops. You get NFC built in, but there’s no IR blaster.

Google Pixel vs Pixel XL: Performance and battery life

When it comes to performance, the Pixel and Pixel XL both boast Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 821 processor. That’ll make them the first mobile phones officially launched in the UK to sport the 821, which makes us even more giddy with excitement.

You can expect the Pixel and the XL to score the same in benchmarking tests, as they both pack 4GB of memory too. And as the Snapdragon 821 is ten percent faster than the Snapdragon 820, used in phones like the HTC 10 and OnePlus 3, you can expect the Pixel and Pixel XL to be more powerful than pretty much any other Android phone released in 2016.

As for battery life, we’re yet to test out the new Pixel phones, but stay tuned. We’ll update with battery performance once we get our hands on review samples.

Google Pixel vs Pixel XL: Cameras

Likewise, there’s no difference between the Pixel and the Pixel XL camera tech. Both phones sport a 12-megapixel rear camera with a f/2.0 lens, for decent low light photography. There’s a dual LED flash for when it gets seriously dark and phase detection autofocus, which should prove nippy enough to take shots almost instantly.

You can shoot up to 4K UHD video on either new Google phone, or drop things back to Full HD resolution.

Google Pixel vs Pixel XL: Which should I buy?

So, which is the best Google phone for you, the Pixel or the Pixel XL?

Well, if you have a lengthy commute and spend a lot of time playing games or watching video, then the Pixel XL’s bigger, sharper screen has some serious appeal. Of course, the XL is also more difficult to handle with one mitt, so the smaller Pixel is more convenient and portable. And the Pixel XL will also be more expensive than the standard Pixel phone.

In terms of camera tech, performance and general user experience, there’s no real difference between the Pixel phone and its bigger brother.

Check back soon for our full Google Pixel review and Google Pixel XL review. In the meantime, check out our long-term Nexus 6P review and long-term Nexus 5X review, to see how last year’s Google phones hold up in 2016.

Read next: Google Pixel phone in a nutshell and Google Pixel XL in a nutshell

Update 27/10/2016: We compared the Google Pixel phone and Google Pixel XL side by side. Check out the video comparison below. You can also read the full Google Pixel review here and Pixel XL review by clicking here: