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Google Pixel XL vs Google Nexus 6P: Should I upgrade?

Google Pixel XL vs Google Nexus 6P: Google just launched a stunning pair of smartphones, but how does the bigger Pixel XL stack up to last year’s stock Android phablet, the Google Nexus 6P?

Google Pixel XL vs Google Nexus 6P: Specs at a glance

  Nexus 6P Pixel XL
Screen size 5.7-inches 5.5-inches
Screen resolution WQHD (2560×1440) WQHD (2560×1440)
Weight 178 grams 168 grams
OS Launched on Android 6.0 Launched on Android 7.1
Front camera 8-megapixels 8-megapixels
Rear camera 12.3-megapixels 12.3-megapixels
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 Qualcomm Snapdragon 821
Memory 3GB RAM 4GB RAM
Storage 32GB/64GB/128GB. Non expandable 32GB/128GB. Non expandable
Battery 3450mAh 3450mAh

Google Pixel XL vs Google Nexus 6P: Design

Google tasked two different companies with creating 2015’s Nexus smartphones and as such, received back two dramatically different designs. The larger 6P was the first (and possibly last) Nexus phone ever to be made by Chinese phone maker Huawei and the result was a surprisingly stunning phablet with an aluminium body and a distinctive glass camera bump/bar along its top edge.

HTC served as the creator of the very first Nexus phone, the One from 2010, and the roots of that device can still be seen in its latest offerings of the Pixel and Pixel XL. The smaller screen of the XL means a smaller footprint than its predecessor in all directions, including its thickness and a lower weight.

There’s also no camera bump to make it more pocketable and heavier rounding, with a more seamless transition between the body and the cover glass, means that it’s easier to handle too. All that said, it might not be as distinctive as the 6P was, at least from a design perspective.

Both phones share in a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor and the increasingly popular Type-C USB connection; a move that the 6P was amongst the first smartphones to make.

Google Pixel XL vs Google Nexus 6P: Screens

The Nexus 6 was a behemoth with its 5.96-inch display, the 6P reigned things in a bit with its 5.7-inch screen and the Pixel XL treads the line between smartphone and true phablet with a 5.5-inch panel that paired to its narrow bezels is easily the most comfortable to wield.

That said the larger display paired to dual forward-firing loudspeakers grants the 6P a special place in the hearts of media fans, not to mention it boasts stunning AMOLED screen technology and a resolution of 2560×1440. The XL shares in the HTC 10’s forward and down speaker arrangement, which is still good and the same AMOLED/Quad HD pairing as the 6P, which means a crisper display than its predecessor, albeit a smaller one.

Google Pixel XL vs Google Nexus 6P: OS

If you want the latest, greatest and purest form of Android it used to be that the Nexus name was all you need look for, and indeed we have been enjoying Android 7.0 Nougat on the 6P for some time now, but the Pixel XL is where the freshest iteration of the company’s mobile operating system now lives, in the form of Android 7.1 Nougat.

The 6P can, of course, be upgraded to share in the XL’s functionality, but if longevity is a concern, the Pixel XL is the only way to ensure that you get the latest updates from Google with the longest-standing support of any smartphone on the market. And the Nexus 6P won’t get Google’s new Assistant feature, annoyingly.

Nougat 7.1 brings a new, cleaner look to the table along with some behind the scenes changes regarding efficiency and customisation.

Google Pixel XL vs Google Nexus 6P: Performance

Qualcomm didn’t have the best of times last year, when the flagship Snapdragon 810 SoC found inside the Nexus 6P made headlines for over-heating on the regular, luckily in our experience 6P specifically (we can’t speak for other Snapdragon 810-powered phones) has operated flawlessly, even when running pre-release builds of Android 7.0. As such, we expect that it has at least another year of reliable performance for everything from multi-tasking to gaming under its belt before it truly starts to show its age.

That said, the new Snapdragon 821 found inside the Pixel XL is an undeniable step up in performance, particularly with regards to graphics, so if gaming (and VR) are high up on your list of smartphone priorities, then the XL might be the smarter choice.

Storage-wise neither phone is expandable, but both come in 32GB and 128GB flavours if you’re after extra space, and both also offer 3450mAh batteries. With the optimisations we’re hoping Google has put into place for the new Pixel XL hardware, we should see better longevity from the newer phone, but we’ll have to wait for review time to really see how it performs. For reference, the same capacious cell in the 6P still doles out a day and half of use without breaking a sweat.

Google Pixel XL vs Google Nexus 6P: Cameras

On paper both the 6P and the Pixel XL share what appears to be the same primary camera setup, but there are subtle differences. Whichever phone you side with you’re given a 12.3-megapixel sensor with an f/2.0 aperture and large 1.55µm pixels.

Where they primarily differ is that the Pixel XL shrugs off the 6P’s laser autofocus, falling back primarily on phase detection to keep your snaps looking sharp, but it bring OIS (optical image stabilisation) to the table instead, which means better low light snaps and smoother video – something both phones can capture at up to 4K resolution.

Google’s newest phone also boasts the highest DxO score of any smartphone, which could mean bad news for notable rivals in the iPhone 7 and Samsung Galaxy S7, which already outperform the 6P, but only real-world testing can validate those cold, hard numbers with real weight.

Despite similarly sized 8-megapixel sensors on both phones, selfie fans will also appreciate the larger pixels HTC’s packed onto the Pixel XL front-facer, which should help with low light performance.

Google Pixel XL vs Google Nexus 6P: Verdict

The gap is far narrower between the Nexus 6P and the new Pixel XL than with last year’s Nexus 5X and the smaller Pixel. Huawei came out the gate running with the 6P and it still looks and feels like one of the best Android phones out there, even with the shadow of the XL looming.

HTC new offering unquestionably has its merits and as ever, offers greater future-proofing from both a software and hardware perspective, but if you’re yet to see your 6P fraying at the edges, there doesn’t appear to be any real value in jumping to the Pixel XL, provided you’re not in it for the VR experience, which Google’s new phones currently hold a trump card for, with exclusive access to Daydream.

Read next: Google Pixel phone vs Google Nexus 5X: Should I upgrade?

Update 18/10/2016: We compared the Google Pixel XL and Google Nexus 6P side by side. Check out the video comparison below. You can also read the full Google Pixel XL review by clicking here:

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