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Google Pixel XL vs iPhone 7 Plus: Which is best for me?

We compare the massive new ‘made by Google’ Pixel XL phone with another mighty 5.5-inch mobile, Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus. These are two of the best smartphones of 2016, but which is best for you and what’s the difference in terms of specs, camera tech and the rest?

Google’s Pixel XL smartphone is hitting the UK on October 20, along with the standard (and dinkier) 5-inch Pixel phone. Both of Google’s new handsets pack premium specs including the same excellent 12-megapixel rear camera and the latest ultra-fast Qualcomm processor, but the XL model also boasts a super-sharp Quad HD screen and bigger battery, making it an Android titan.

So how does the Pixel XL compare with one the best big blowers of 2016, the iPhone 7 Plus? Here’s our full iPhone 7 Plus vs Pixel XL comparison review to see how these mighty mobiles really stack up.

Check out our full hands-on Pixel XL review for more info on Google’s mighty mobile.

Pixel XL vs iPhone 7 Plus: Specs at a glance

Phone iPhone 7 Plus Google Pixel XL
Screen size 5.5-inches 5.5-inches
Screen resolution Full HD 1920×1080 Quad HD 2560×1440
Weight 188g 168g
Fingerprint sensor? Yes Yes
Water resistant? Yes No
OS iOS 10 Android 7.1 Nougat
Processor Apple A10 Fusion Snapdragon 821
Memory 3GB 4GB
Storage 32/128/256GB 32/128GB
MicroSD? No No
Battery 2900mAh 3450mAh
Rear camera 12-megapixel 12-megapixel
Front camera 7-megapixel 8-megapixel

Pixel XL vs iPhone 7 Plus: Design

Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus doesn’t exactly break the Apple mould of iPhone design, making only a few tweaks to the aesthetics. So for instance, the aerial bands have now been removed from the back, to make things a little neater. And you can now grab the phone in a black finish, or even with a glossy coat if you like – although the gloss model is vulnerable to scratching if you’re not careful.

Meanwhile the Pixel XL goes for a funky half-glass, half-metal finish which certainly stands out compared with other Androids. It’s an attractive and quite unique design, although that glossy surface is a magnet for grease.

And while the iPhone 7 Plus will survive a dunking thanks to its water resistant finish, the Pixel XL will glug and die if submerged.

Neither phone is particularly easy to use one-handed thanks to those mighty dimensions, although the Pixel XL is at least noticeably lighter than the iPhone 7 Plus.

Pixel XL vs iPhone 7 Plus: Screen and media

Both of these phones boast a 5.5-inch screen, and in both cases they produce pleasingly crisp, detail-packed visuals. However, the Pixel XL’s display is a Quad HD resolution panel, compared with a Full HD resolution on the iPhone 7 Plus. That means Google’s phone produces crisper, more detailed images.

Truth be told, it’s difficult to see the difference unless you stack these phones side-by-side, but there is a difference. And while the Pixel XL produces punchy, stand-out colours, the iPhone 7 goes for more realistic image reproduction. Which appeals to you most will entirely depend on your personal tastes, of course.

However, the iPhone 7 Plus does boast an advantage over the Google Pixel XL with its 3D Touch screen feature. This allows you to push hard on the display to perform different operations – for instance, 3D Touch an app icon and you’ll open a shortcuts menu, giving you instant access to specific features, rather than simply opening the app.

Neither phone here comes with a microSD memory card slot, to expand the built-in storage. The Pixel XL comes with either 32GB or 128GB of storage space, while the iPhone 7 Plus packs either 32GB, 128GB or 256GB, so you do get a much bigger storage option if needed – and if your budget allows.

Pixel XL vs iPhone 7 Plus: OS and features

Google’s Pixel XL handset boasts the very latest Android Nougat OS. This adds some cool new features including support for Google’s Daydream VR platform and exclusive access to the super-smart Assistant AI. We’re yet to do an Assistant vs Siri comparison, but stay tuned.

Apple’s iOS 10 is just as feature-rammed as Android Nougat, offering an update to most existing Apple apps while adding some new functionality. It’s especially good if you’re addicted to emoji. Check out our iOS 10 features guide for more info.

Both the Pixel XL and Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus have a fingerprint sensor for quickly unlocking to your desktops, and keeping out thieving miscreants. On the iPhone 7 Plus this is built into the home button, positioned just beneath the screen, while the Pixel XL’s scanner is stuck around the back.

That rear-mounted sensor is actually marginally easier to use, as your fingers naturally fall onto it when you pick the phone up. It’s a minor difference, but a difference all the same.

Pixel XL vs iPhone 7 Plus: Performance and battery life

The iPhone 7 Plus and the Pixel XL represent the most powerful iOS and Android mobile phones available in 2016, sporting Apple’s nippy A10 Fusion processor and the latest Snapdragon 821 chipset respectively.

In terms of everyday performance, either handset here should give you buttery smooth operation for the length of a 24-month contract. You can play the latest games and you shouldn’t see a single stutter, while video streaming and the rest should also be a satisfying experience.

The iPhone 7 Plus offers just over a day of life, even with pretty heavy use. We’re yet to test the Google Pixel XL’s battery life, but check back soon for an update.

Pixel XL vs iPhone 7 Plus: Cameras

Both the Pixel XL and the iPhone 7 Plus sport a 12-megapixel camera on the back, but in the iPhone 7 Plus’ case, you get a dual-lens setup. This offers an optical zoom to get closer to your subject with no dip in detail levels, while also offering stunning bokeh.

The Pixel XL has an HDR+ mode which should make capturing photos in tricky contrast much easier. And in both cases, your photos are captured the instant you tap the shutter button, so you’re sorted for spontaneous action shots.

Either phone here can record up to 4K resolution video, and both boast strong image stabilisation to cut down on hand shakes when moving and shooting at the same time.

Check back soon for our full Google Pixel XL review and take a look at our Pixel phone vs iPhone 7 comparison review, to see how the smaller Google and Apple flagships stack up.

You can grab the iPhone 7 Plus from O2 right now, from £48 a month on contract.

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