Google Pixel XL vs OnePlus 3T: twice the price, twice as good?

Google Pixel XL vs OnePlus 3T: twice the price, twice as good?

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.

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Google provides a minimal amount more. / © NextPit

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.

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The design is clearly different. / © NextPit

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.

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The back of the Pixel XL is flat. / © NextPit

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.

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(Left button) Mute switch on the OnePlus 3T (bottom) / © NextPit

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.

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The fingerprint sensor also permits gesture controls. / © NextPit

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.

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Power button (right side) and volume rocker on the Pixel XL (above)  © NextPit

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.

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Headphone port on the OnePlus 3T (under) / © NextPit
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Headphone port on the OnePlus 3T (above) / © NextPit

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. 

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Android versions / © NextPit

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?

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  • Francesco V. Dec 7, 2016

    Of course, Oneplus is the best choice if you don't need the Google Assistant (everyone lived well without it until now) or the stabilization on 4k videos (what for? so much wasted memory for a video of your cats...).
    The fingerprint position, the smaller size at equal screen size, the metal body,... Of course, Oneplus is better in usability, with the OS skin just slightly different from stock Android.
    But then, hey, everyone is free to throw his/her own money down the toilet.


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  • Jim Zdimal Jan 3, 2017 Link to comment

    I have built quite the collection of chargers, cla's, USB cables over the years that are compatible with Samsung phones. Will these work with both one plus and pixel? Would I have to buy adapters? Thanks.

  • Haywood Udume Dec 14, 2016 Link to comment

    Lol at the article that includes these links when discussing phones in which one is almost twice the price :

    Lowest price: OnePlus 3T

    Lowest price: Google Pixel XL

    Sorry, I won't click any link that goes to to see what they actually offer.

  • Aditya Marathe Dec 9, 2016 Link to comment

    I would agree that the Pixel is priced higher that it should have been, but definitely that isn't 2x. I would say it is probably a $100 more expensive that I would like. This isn't an apples to apples comparison.

    I am currently contemplating buying the Google Pixel, despite being a current user of OnePlus2 and there being nothing wrong with it after using it for more than a year! The reason I want to switch to Pixel is because I want to use Project Fi, and keep latching to the best network available. I think the brain damage I will save over the next couple of years and probably beyond, will be more than compensated by the higher price of Pixel.

  • Herp Derp Dec 9, 2016 Link to comment

    Stopped reading when you mentioned that the S7 Edge is waterproof.
    It's not waterproof, it's water 'resistant'.
    I don't know about the iPhone though, I don't even care about it.
    I don't mean to nitpick, but please learn about the difference before you publish the article.

    • pfa Dec 11, 2016 Link to comment

      S7 Edge is IP68. '8' means it could be immersed 1 meter deep for the prolonged periods of time. Now, 'waterproof' is defined as 'impervious to water', which essentially describes reality in case of S7 Edge. So, yeah, somebody needs to learn the difference indeed.

    • Leon Coleman Dec 13, 2016 Link to comment

      Idiots argue semantics and not what someone ACTUALLY MEANS.

      Waterproof is the term we use in English to mean water resistant. Literally, nothing is really waterproof.

      I guess you are the only moron that did not know what the publisher meant. Everybody else did.

  • Marc Brooks (IDisposable) Dec 9, 2016 Link to comment

    The biggest advantage I can get with the OnePlus is that I can stay on T-Mobile and am not forced to use a far more expensive carrier. Plus Band 12 rocks for LTE indoor.

    • Duvall Mariano Dec 9, 2016 Link to comment

      You aren't "Forced" to use Verizon. You can buy the pixel unlocked straight from the play store and use it on any carrier. I am currently using mine on metro PCs.

      • Evan Langlois Dec 10, 2016 Link to comment

        Being unlocked isn't the point. It's dual-mode. However, CDMA network providers are notorious about not allowing strange phones on their network. Google made a deal with Verizon, and Sprint isn't about to lose out on all the customers that want a new Pixel, so they are allowing the phone. And as an aside, MetroPCS is not even a carrier - they resell for TMobile, which is a GSM carrier. Because of the restrictions CDMA carriers have, it doesn't make sense for a 3rd party phone vendor to include CDMA compatibility, so don't expect OnePlus to be used on Sprint or Verizon (although technically, it may be possible to use it data-only on any LTE network, just not lower speed standards, and maybe later on as voice when VoLTE is finalized).

      • Mike jones Feb 26, 2017 Link to comment

        It has nothing to do with allowing it because Google is being nice to verizon. Verizon has to allow phones because of the laws that come with GSM (verizons LTE is GSM based). Doesn't mean they have to help you activate it, just means they can't stop you from using a unlocked phone that is CDMA compatible. It's as simple as throwing your Verizon sim in

  • Michael Phelan Dec 8, 2016 Link to comment

    One plus is noticeably sexier in the hand. Superior ergonomics and weighting. Gestures and the fastest charging on the market are what really matters. Other reviewers have given the 3T camera the nod. The pixel is well over DOUBLE the price and to be honest I wouldn't accept it free as a gift. Oneplus are the Kings of user experience right now. I ran pixel launcher on my oneplus and immediately scrapped it as it lacks all the cool gestures that oxygen os has. All that free storage Google offer is bad news for the environment. Storage is insanely inefficient. 128 gb oneplus should be enough for most people of sound mind/not delusional Fanboys.

  • Kees de V. Dec 8, 2016 Link to comment

    You sir (Eric), are short-sighted. Of course the Pixel (XL) is overpriced, especially when you compare it to it's pre-Nexus family and the great competitors, but there is one major difference between the Pixel and the 3T: the camera.
    You've already mentioned it: the camera of the Pixel is better because (like you say) "The two Google Pixel devices are currently the only smartphones on the market that can stabilize 4K videos." and "While the video of the Pixel XL looks like it’s on rails, the video of the OnePlus 3T is heavily blurred."
    But I can't live with the fact you say "Otherwise, the results of the cameras are largely on par." because IT'S NOT. Check your (imho stupid) camera comparison wherein NOT EVEN ONE similar picture is shown. If you want to compare, shoot the same picture in the same condition with only one thing different: the phone itself.
    You should check the results on Dx0Mark and his (David's) conclusion: "The best smartphone camera we’ve tested to date" because "Simply put, the Pixel raises the bar for what is possible with a smartphone camera. Image quality continues to improve, and the increased use of HDR+ to render scenes that have previously been difficult for small sensors such as those in smartphones broadens what is possible with these ubiquitous devices. While we have reviewed other smartphone cameras that matched the Pixel’s numbers in a few categories, the Pixel is uniquely capable of capturing outstanding images under a wide variety of conditions, and is also among the best we have tested for video capture."

    It's very simple: the Pixel has a much larger sensor and therefore larger pixels (1,55um). Low-light and fast-moving pictures will contain more detail, less noise and thus produce a sharper and more crisp image. End of story. The rest of the phone is, indeed, mostly the same. So, you should ask yourself: Is the higher price worth it? I'd say YES if you want the "Nexus" experience and fast updates and when you want an awesome cameraphone. Otherwise: NOPE.
    You might even check out the Xiaomi Mi5S: same Snapdragon 821 and image sensor (IMX378) as the Google Pixel (only the lenses may be different, so the images won't be exactly the same of quality). The only downside of the Mi5S is the lack of an awesome AMOLED screen.

    But if you want it all in one device, the Google Pixel is your phone.

    • Arne Biermans Dec 8, 2016 Link to comment

      The Pixel has a 12MP camera, the 3T has a 16Mp camera. If what you say is correct, the Pixel has 1.55um pixels and the 3T has 1.12um pixels, this would suggest the 3T camera is superior. The -smaller- the pixel the larger the detail you can capture (of course this is only looking at pixel size). This says nothing over image processing of course, but solely looking at the hardware it is not clear cut at all. Larger sensor with larger pixels means more light is gathered but detail is sacrificed. For the record, I have a Pixel XL but dont care that much about camera quality.

      • Kees de V. Dec 8, 2016 Link to comment

        12MP is more than enough quality and detail. The larger the pixels, the earlier they are full with light and the shorter the shutter time, which results in overall sharper images.
        Also, 5MP is sharp enough for a A4 printed photo without loss of detail. Yes, if you want to edit your pictures on poster format, you definitely need 16MP, but if you "just" make holiday photo album, the pictures made with HDR+ and the larger pixels will make your album much nicer and richer of color and contrast.

        Also: "The -smaller- the pixel the larger the detail you can capture..." and "larger sensor with larger pixels means more light is gathered but detail is sacrificed" is not true. If there was a huge sensor with 16MP (and therefore large pixels, because the sensor is huge), the detail would be as rich (maybe even richer because of the shorter shutter time needed) than another camera with a smaller sensor and also 16MP (and therefore smaller pixels). Logic.

      • Arne Biermans Dec 8, 2016 Link to comment

        You are wrong. Your pixel size determines the smallest detail that can be captured, it has absolutely nothing to do with shutter time. This is not about what one thinks is good enough in terms of number of MP. When you project an image with a lens of a given focal length two objects captured in that image are a given distance apart (depending on how far separated they are in the real world). If the pixel size is larger than that distance the objects can not be resolved as two different things. The smaller the pixels are the smaller that distance can be and the more detail can be resolved. Look it up, optics 101.

      • Kees de V. Dec 8, 2016 Link to comment

        Whatever. Believe what you want. The shutter time definitely has effect on the sharpness/blurriness of the picture.

        -- edit --
        Okay, think with me here: imagine two sensors: one 3cm x 3cm (9 square cm of surface) and one 2cm x 2cm (4 square cm of surface). Both sensors have 16 million pixels on them.
        The pixels on surface/sensor one will be (9 sqcm ( = 900,000,000 sq microns) / 16 million pixels = ) 56,25 microns (per pixel).
        The second sensor will have pixels of (4 sqcm ( = 400,000,000 sq microns) / 16 MP = ) 25 microns.

        Therefore the theoretical image sharpness will be exactly the same: both 16MP, both a picture with 16 million pixels, each with the possibility to pick a color.

        But, and now you should pay attention, the pixels on the bigger sensor are bigger, even though there is an equal amount of them. The bigger pixels can take in the same light necessary to show a bright picture, but in shorter time (larger pixels = more light can come in). This equals in the same light image, but in a shorter time, so the shutter can shoot quicker. A lower shutter time gives you a sharper image, because the influence of your shaking-hand-taking-the-picture has less impact on it. Therefore: a sharper image when shooting out of hand.

        And this is really useful when shooting in lower light conditions, because the shutter can still shut faster and give you a sharp image. Also the ISO can be lowered down and less noise will be produced.

        This only counts when all the rest is the same (like the aperture).

      • Arne Biermans Dec 9, 2016 Link to comment

        Of course shutter speed has a big effect on blurriness of a picture, I am not saying it doesn't. I merely pointed out that saying a larger pixel gives you more detail in an image is wrong. This has nothing to do with what I 'believe', any text book on optics will tell you this. You are confusing image resolution with sharpness. A sensor with a trillion pixels that are as tiny as you can imagine ( = high resolution) can STILL give a blurry picture ( not sharp) if your shutter speed is not fast enough. The terms are easily confused and are interrelated but they are not the same.

      • Kees de V. Dec 9, 2016 Link to comment

        I have never ever never ever ever ever said the picture with 12MP and larger pixels will give the picture more detail. Never. Ever. Read again. And again. Please.
        But simply put: larger pixels = faster shutter for same amount of light = less blurry pictures (in general). They won't be detailed, they will be (over all) sharper.

        Also: your full HD monitor is "only" 2.1 megapixel. So is the image of your smartphone screen. When a smartphone has quad HD (2,560 x 1,440 pixels) on 5.5 inch it has a pixel density of 538 pixels per inch (ppi). Pixels on such device normally can't be distinguished by the human eye and are sharp enough. When going a little bit larger to a 15 x 10 cm photo only a pixel density of 300 ppi is considered to be normal. This equals 2.2 MP. So: megapixel isn't everything. Like I said: 5 MP is enough to print a sharp picture on A4 paper. The pixels can't be distinguished by the human eye any more.

        Like I said: 12 MP is more than enough and you have more use by bigger pixels than more megapixels. 16 MP is overkill. It simply is (for the most of us). Your friends and family won't even see the difference, even when showing them on your FHD TV of smartphone with "only" a 2.2 MP resolution.

      • Evan Langlois Dec 10, 2016 Link to comment

        You are so far wrong. Yes, smaller pixels give more detail. What are you viewing your picture on? 4K is only 8MP! And unless your screen is huge or you are sitting WAY too close, 4K is pretty much overkill. 8MP will do small posters (18 x 24) in printing. You need more pixels (more details) when you go up in size. So .. you have enough pixels available .. more than you need. Now ... go back to your optics 101 and figure out that image QUALITY (which is not the same as resolution, we are talking accuracy) depends upon how much light is picked up by each pixel. This gives a greater dynamic range for the analog to digital process and requires less amplification. Amplification means you will generate heat and noise which shows as static, especially in low-light images. The smaller the image sensor, the more noise it will have, especially in low light. I think the OnePlus 3 camera is perfectly fine and think its a better product than Google's, but Google's camera is bound to do better in low light. That's been Apple's secret for ages. They use a lower number of pixels with very large image sensors so that the pixel size is huge ... resulting in pictures that everyone compares to. In bright light, you'll never tell the difference between the two cameras, and OnePlus has some great camera software if they ported over the compositing features of the old ColorOS camera, so the image processing may give it an edge. But ... the Google image sensor is better. Don't believe the MP hype!

      • ithehappy Dec 11, 2016 Link to comment

        "The smaller the pixel, the larger the detail you can capture"

        What are you? New to photography? 12 or something? Large sensor will always produce better quality photos, as simple as that! That's why a 12 MP DSLR will kick the arse of a, say PureView 41 MP camera!

        Jeez some people! There is no comparison with OP3T's camera and Pixel's, they are not even in same level. I personally don't think that for the camera only Pixel could ask more than double, but what's fact is fact.

      • pfa Dec 11, 2016 Link to comment

        Only pixel count (and resolution of optics of course) determines detail size which could be captured. Pixel size determines dynamic range of sensor, meaning less noise on higher ISO. If it wasn't the case - full-frame DSLRs wouldn't have pixels almost order of magnitude larger than smartphones.
        And why do you think focal length is equal? If Pixel has larger sensor and the same FOV - obviously, its focal length will be higher that those of OP3t. Look it up, optics 101.

  • Arne Biermans Dec 8, 2016 Link to comment

    One small little detail about the pixel was not mentioned. No matter how great the phone is, if support sucks you are going to not have a fun time. And let me tell you, Google support SUCKS. Had I known how atrocious support is for the pixel I would not have bought the phone. Pray you don't need your phone repaired.

  • César Pimentel Dec 8, 2016 Link to comment

    This article sounds biased. Numerous advantages of the Pixel were not mentioned, including: free unlimited cloud for photos and videos forever, Daydream VR, and much better looking photos. Furthermore, the Google Assistant can be a big deal if you use it. It is still an infant but it is the first real step into shifting the paradigm of how we interact with smartphones.

    • Evan Langlois Dec 10, 2016 Link to comment

      There is no such thing as the Cloud ... its just someone else's computer. I can upload my pictures whereever I want. I know an artist that found out a "cloud" service was using his work without his permission. Guess what happened? Nothing! He uploaded the photos to their server! Read the fine print on all that FREE cloud storage, not to mention how bad it slams your data usage! I'll stick with my 128GB on-board, and if you need more, plug in a USB drive!

      VR? OnePlus was the first to use VR for a product release. Google cardboard's main limitation is the narrow field of view. That is a limitation on the technology and having a better "box" isn't going to fix that. There are hundreds of Google Cardboard boxes available - OnePlus was giving some away for awhile. A $10 box isn't a selling point for a $700 phone.

      Google Assistant is "shifting the paradigm" by emulating Siri? Funny! Bet you can add it by rooting your OnePlus and heading on over to xda-developers. It's just software. I had Dolby Atmos on my OnePlus One but took it off because I didn't like it - Viper was better.

  • Robert Nasiadek Dec 8, 2016 Link to comment

    No mention of unlimited storage for photos? That's one of the key factors that made me get the Pixel! This by itself might be worth a few hundred bucks over the next 2 to 3 years.

    • Francesco V. Dec 8, 2016 Link to comment

      Dear Robert, don't want to waste the party, but every Android user has unlimited storage for photos! Well, if they agree with a slightly reduced resolution.
      For few $/yr you can upgrade your Google storage to have more space for high quality photos, so saving a few hundred bucks on a phone that doesn't offer anything else.

      BTW, I'm curious, how is battery life?

  • Dick Bailey Dec 8, 2016 Link to comment

    Google messed up with the pricing of this phone. At $450-500,it would be a more attractive offering. Missing all the flagship features found in various combinations in the S7, V20, or iPhone 7 (water resistance, expandable storage, removable battery, stereo speakers, wireless charging), this is a clear miss as a flagship device for the average consumer. Only Android geeks, of which I am one, would consider this phone attractive. However, at this price, I'd stick with the 6P or purchase a OP3T.

    • Duder Dec 9, 2016 Link to comment

      If they messed up than why is it selling so well?

      Just because YOU don't like the price doesn't mean they made a mistake. It's selling better than any phone they have ever released at a higher price tag than they have ever used.

  • Francesco V. Dec 7, 2016 Link to comment

    Of course, Oneplus is the best choice if you don't need the Google Assistant (everyone lived well without it until now) or the stabilization on 4k videos (what for? so much wasted memory for a video of your cats...).
    The fingerprint position, the smaller size at equal screen size, the metal body,... Of course, Oneplus is better in usability, with the OS skin just slightly different from stock Android.
    But then, hey, everyone is free to throw his/her own money down the toilet.

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