For the price of a Google Pixel XL, you could almost buy two OnePlus 3T devices. Does that mean it’s twice as good? The equipment has significant overlaps and the performance is similar. We’ve compared the devices head to head and will show you whether the added cost for the Pixel XL is worth it...or not.
OnePlus enhanced its OnePlus 3 due to the release of the two Google Pixels. The new model is called OnePlus 3T, and it completely replaces the original model. The improvements include a faster processor, an extended battery and an optimized selfie camera. Thus, the device, priced at $439, technically matches the Google Pixel XL.
For a technically very similar device, Google asks for between $769 and $869. Naturally, one asks, “why should I spend twice as much?” For gaming, for everyday use, for photography, and for continuous use, the performance of the devices is almost the same. The search for the hair in the soup is all the more difficult: what exactly is missing from the OnePlus 3 that is offered by the Google Pixel XL? Let’s take a look…
OnePlus 3T vs Google Pixel XL: price and availability
The OnePlus 3T is only available for purchase through OnePlus. It’s available in grey and gold, with a storage size of 64 or 128 GB, at a cost of $439 and takes about four to five weeks to deliver. The package contains a quick-charger and a USB cable. The screen protector is already affixed. Lastly, it doesn't come with a headset.
The Google Pixel XL is available in the Google Store or from mobile carriers. For most editions, you have to first get on a waiting list – with an unknown waiting time. Its available colors are black or white, and devices come with either 32 or 128 GB of memory. Prices are $769 and $869, respectively. The delivered box also includes an adapter to connect USB sticks or accessories to the Type-C connector. Here, the accessories are about as meager as with the OnePlus 3T. The missing headset needs to purchased elsewhere. Also, Google’s shop is rather limited to customized protective cases.
Pixel XL vs OnePlus 3T: design and build quality
The OnePlus 3T is a little narrower, thinner, more basic, and lighter, in all dimensions. Nevertheless, both smartphones are 5.5-inch devices in aluminum housings. What’s striking about the Pixel XL is the glass covering on the upper part of the back side, which hides the antennas and the NFC chip. The OnePlus 3T also offers NFC, which is used for mobile payments, among other things.
Overall, the OnePlus 3T is slightly glossier and feels cooler. The build quality of the contracted components is also good: both have Gorilla Glass 4, both are not really waterproof – unlike the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge or the iPhone 7 Plus.
An exclusive feature that can be found on the OnePlus is the mute switch on the side – at least in the Android ecosystem. By moving it to one of the three levels, ringtones and notifications will be set to loud, muted, or vibrate, depending on your configuration.
The other striking difference between the devices is the fingerprint sensor. OnePlus, Samsung and Apple do the same thing and install it on the front. This way, you can unlock the device with your thumb or leave it on the table and use another fingerprint to unlock it.
With the Google Pixel XL, the fingerprint sensor is on the back and can only be accessed when you lift the smartphone (if it is on its backside). Both the fingerprint sensors on Google Pixel XL and the OnePlus 3T can be used for gestures. The OnePlus 3T fingerprint sensor worked much faster than the Pixel XL to unlock the phone.
Google Pixel XL vs OnePlus 3T: software
The Pixel XL is clearly advantaged when it comes to software. Google maintains the upper hand over Android and gets itself first in line with the final releases of new versions. This means that the Pixel smartphones will be the first to get Android 7.2; it got Android 7.1 when launched on the market, which was not available on any other smartphone.
The OnePlus 3T was a bit disappointing in that it came with Android 6.0.1 out of the box, while Android 7.0 was already available. Though, an Android Nougat update is already in store. Additionally, the manufacturer recently restructured its software implementation and have created more capacity for faster updates.
The Pixel XL on the other hand has the Google Assistant, a feature that is not yet offered on any other Android device. The voice-activated digital assistant is based on machine learning and should help you in everyday life. What it can do and the vision behind it will be explained in future articles. Though you, like many other people, may have come to the conclusion that it is not a factor when deciding whether to purchase the Google Pixel XL.
Google Pixel XL vs OnePlus 3T: camera
The two Google Pixel devices are currently the only smartphones on the market that can stabilize 4K videos. We have recorded a video with both devices under the same conditions. You can see the results here:
While the video of the Pixel XL looks like it’s on rails, the video of the OnePlus 3T is heavily blurred. Otherwise, the results of the cameras are largely on par. You can compare the galleries of test photos on Google Photos, to see for yourself the maximum resolution in each case:
Google Pixel XL vs OnePlus 3T: battery
OnePlus delivers the OnePlus 3T with the so-called Dash Charger. It’s a dedicated quick charging solution that works a bit faster than the Google Pixel XL. OnePlus created this video to show off what it can do.
Google is not as fast, but offers more choices for fast third-party Type-C chargers and Quick Charge 3.0 from Qualcomm. With OnePlus, you are bound to the manufacturer for the fastest charging. Otherwise, the OnePlus 3T will charge within 100 minutes when using the Type-C connector from Anker.
Both devices last a similar length of time: you get about one-and-a-half day of battery life. Even with heavy usage, you can get through a day without recharging. Thanks to the fast-charging technology, your charging behavior will change: many users tend to recharge a quarter of an hour before leaving the house, which is also sufficient for long evenings.
Google Pixel XL vs OnePlus 3T: performance
Both smartphones have the fastest processor, the Snapdragon 821, both have the fast UFS 2.0 internal storage, however only the OnePlus 3T has 6 GB of RAM. The latter gives the OnePlus device a lead in the Work benchmark from PCMark for Android. Google’s Pixel, on the other hand, is better ranked in the Browser benchmark. But as I said, the devices are actually on par.
Google Pixel XL vs OnePlus 3T: verdict
The Google Pixel is not twice as good as the OnePlus 3T. The added value of the expensive Google phones lies in the exclusive software and the better stabilized 4K videos. Additionally, there is another service factor, which practically doesn’t even apply to OnePlus. However, I doubt whether this justifies the extreme price difference.
What smartphone would you choose? Is the newcomer a flagship killer or does the Google phone prevail?