When any company has two different version of the same phone, the first thing you should do is start to compare them. Between the standard Google Pixel, and the Pixel XL, which is better? If you’re looking to invest in the Pixel, you’ll ask yourself this too, which phone wins when it’s the Pixel versus the XL?
Related: Customizing Google Pixel
I’ll compare both the Pixel and Pixel XL head to head in a few different categories that are important to any potential buyer. Whichever phone manages to win the majority of the categories I talk about is the best phone overall. Let’s get started to see if the Pixel XL really is just an objectively better Google Pixel.
The Best Display Screen
Since the screen is where anyone’s eyes go first on a phone, let’s get it out of the way from the start. The Google Pixel XL already has a size advantage over the regular Pixel, but let’s see if that’s enough to grant it the win.
The Google Pixel’s Screen
We’ll start with the Google Pixel’s screen first and then work our way up. Sitting at five inches, and a 1080 x 1920 resolution, this screen still holds up against most of the competition, even if it doesn’t have anything impressive behind it. The color quality and brightness between the Pixel screen and the XL screen are practically identical.
The Google Pixel XL’s Screen
When you move on to the Google Pixel XL, the device stays true to its name with a screen that’s five and a half inches, and has a resolution of 1449 x 2560. This is a fairly significant increase, and since the only difference between the two phone screens is size, bigger really is better this time.
Winner: Google Pixel XL
With a small size increase you get a vastly superior resolution and viewing experience, so the Google Pixel XL wins this round easily, even while the standard Pixel screen can still fight with the competition.
The Best Performance
A pretty screen means far less if everything on it is choppy, or freezes half the time. While the XL is larger than the standard version, does have anything bigger and better under the hood to increase performance?
The Google Pixel’s Performance
Right off the bat the Google Pixel has 4GB of RAM, and has a Snapdragon 821 sitting underneath its attractive screen. This means you’re rarely going to see hiccups, especially when the Pixel comes with Android 7.1 out of the box.
The Google Pixel is only matched in performance by a few other phones this year, but that’s to be expected of Google’s flagship phone. The smaller screen on the XL does mean less to render, but the performance impact here between it and the XL is barely noticeable, even if you’re looking for it.
The Google Pixel XL’s Performance
Despite the XL’s larger size, it doesn’t have any extra, or more advanced components on the inside to help separate its performance from that of the standard model. The Google Pixel still has 4GB of RAM, is still using the Snapdragon 821, and performs almost exactly the same was as the regular Pixel.
The only difference between the two is that running at a higher resolution can impact performance, making the standard Pixel ever so slightly better in this case.
Winner: Google Pixel
The Google Pixel has better performance over its larger model, but only by an amount that most Android users won’t notice. If performance is your major concern, you don’t need to upgrade to the Pixel XL, but don’t be afraid to pick the XL over the standard Pixel because of it.
The Best Camera
While performance between the two phones is virtually identical because of the same components, what about the camera? If taking the best pictures possible is important to you, then you won’t need to worry about picking between the two models any longer.
The Google Pixel’s Camera
The Google Pixel is fitted with a 12MP camera on the back, and an 8MP camera on the front. Both perform well thanks to the Pixel’s chipset, and excel at retaining color in each shot you take, no matter the lighting around you or your subjects.
For still shots, the Pixel camera is fantastic, but its quality does start to dip when compared to other flagships when you want to record video. You aren’t going to end up with choppy footage, but it isn’t going to look as impressive as a video recorded on a Galaxy S8 or even a S7.
The Google Pixel XL’s Camera
Whether it’s surprising or not, the cameras on both the XL and standard Pixel are identical. The camera looks the same on the back of the device, and produces the same quality photos, with the same hiccups with video. In the end there isn’t any noticeable difference between the two, so it’s a safe bet to go with either of them.
Since no device has the edge here over the other, it’s a tie. The only advantage the XL has over the standard Pixel here is the bigger screen to enjoy your pictures on, but that doesn’t impact the quality of the camera.
The Best Call Quality
No matter how smart a smartphone is, at the end of the day, it’s still a phone, and what good is a phone that sounds terrible over a call? The increased size of the XL might make you hold it differently while talking, but does it improve the call quality over the original Pixel?
The Google Pixel’s Call Quality
If you thought the half glass back of the Google Pixel was just an aesthetic choice, it’s actually for call reception and quality. The half glass back working in conjunction with the standard antenna system you see in most smartphones to help decrease the amount of dead zones you run into.
The glass back won’t magically cause cell towers to pop up all along the countryside, but previous spots where you’ve had a weak signal inside of a building will be significantly improved from here on out.
The Google Pixel XL’s Call Quality
The same system and glass back that comes with the standard Pixel additionally comes with the XL. This means reception and call quality is practically the same between the two devices. Reception aside, the microphone on both phones are crystal clear in most environments, so you don’t have anything to worry about when taking or making a call on either device.
It’s another tie between the Google Pixel and Pixel XL, making this versus match look like a draw so far, but there are still a few more categories to briefly cover.
The Best Storage Capacity
No matter what you do with your phone, you need the space to hold everything you love to use. There isn’t much point in going too in depth with this section, but it’s worth mentioning that both the standard Pixel and the Pixel XL have the exact same storage sizes.
You have your choice between 32GB and 128GB, with no option for expansion. This is probably the biggest negative to me about the Google Pixel. I love to horde files and apps, and that’s hard to do with ultimately limited storage space.
This is the most unfortunate tie between the Pixel and Pixel XL. I had hoped the XL would have added a microSD card slot, but it still has the same storage problems that the standard Pixel does. Instead of being able to bump up your memory with a card you have lying around, you need to pay around an extra $100 to get the best storage available.
The Best Battery Life
Forgetting storage for a moment, battery life is the most important aspect of any Android. A phone being able to keep a charge for the whole day under heavy use, and be able to get back up to full quickly is something that every Android user wants, and it’s something that always has room for improvement.
The Google Pixel’s Battery Life
The original Google Pixel has a non-removable Li-Ion 2770 mAh battery locked away inside, and while that isn’t as large as a few other flagships, it’s more than enough to get the job done for the day. The battery charges quickly, but both models of Pixel lack wireless charging.
Omitting wireless charging strikes me as an odd decision, but even without it, expect the standard Google Pixel battery to last you through the day before you get home with light use here and there.
The Google Pixel XL’s Battery Life
Moving onto the XL it’d be a shame if it didn’t have a bigger battery, so thankfully it does, with a non-removable Li-Ion 3450 mAh battery. Despite needing more power with its larger size and screen, the XL battery manages to hold out throughout the day far longer than the original Pixel.
You can fully expect the Google Pixel XL to almost last two days on the same battery if you’re careful with your usage, maybe more. If you’re using it all throughout the day, expect to get around twenty hours from Google’s larger flagship.
Winner: Google Pixel XL
It isn’t too surprising that the phone with the bigger battery has better battery life, but it’s always worth bringing up since battery life is such an important factor when it comes to smartphones.
It’s at least an important enough factor for me to end on, and come to a conclusion about the two phones going head to head against each other.
It’s the Google Pixel vs the Google Pixel XL, and in the end the XL comes out on top, but only by a smidge. The Google Pixel XL really is just a bigger Pixel with slight improvements in a few areas, but still has the same negatives that bring down the standard model.
Personally, I don’t think it’s worth upgrading, but if you have a choice between the two, it’s worth it to pick the XL over the standard Pixel if you’re making your first purchase. The biggest improvements are the bigger screen, and more battery, while everything else about the two phones are practically identical.
I think the Google Pixel XL is the better purchase, but if you’re looking to upgrade from one model to the other, you’re better off waiting for Google to ship out a more substantial upgrade.
If you have anything thoughts you want to share about the Pixel, even if they’re different from what’s above, please leave them down below!