[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he Google Pixel 2 XL is the one closest in size to the iPhone X, but unlike Apple, Google didn’t reserve any features for its 6-inch model.
Google is laser-focused on making Google Assistant, its Siri competitor, a service you can’t live without.
And the company is matching Apple feature-for-feature with its camera, which doesn’t have two lenses but manages to deliver the portrait effects and augmented reality experiences that the iPhone X promises to perfect when it ships in November.
The next-generation Assistant and upgraded camera are coming to both Pixels.
But the Pixel 2 XL looks more like the iPhone X with its edge-to-edge OLED display, where the smaller Pixel 2 has thicker bezels like an iPhone 8.
Design aside, here’s how the larger new Pixel stacks up to Apple’s most advanced iPhone.
Specs at a glance
||Pixel 2 XL
|Screen size (pixels)
||6 inches (2880 x 1440)
||5.8 inches (2436 x 1125)
||Active Edge, Google Lens, Now Playing
||Face ID, Qi wireless charging, Animoji
Design and Display: To Notch or Not
The iPhone X has taken some heat for its edge-to-edge display, which isn’t quite edge-to-edge thanks to a black notch along the top.
Instead of hiding that cut-out in a seamless black bar at the top of the display, the iPhone X’s screen extends around it, making it look a little bit awkward. That design decision has been polarizing.
Google put a slightly thicker black bezel on the Pixel 2 XL to account for the camera, so its display doesn’t extend all the way to the edge, either.
The back of the Pixel 2 XL, which comes in just black and black and white, is mostly aluminum with a glass rectangle making up the upper quarter of the phone where the rear-facing camera is.
The iPhone X, which comes in silver and space grey, is all glass.
Design is subjective, but Google wins when it comes to the front of its latest phone and Apple edges out the Pixel for the iPhone X’s shimmering glass back.
Cameras: Is One Lens Better Than Two?
The first thing you’ll notice about the Pixel 2 is that Google stuck with a single-lens system instead of the dual lenses adopted by Apple, Samsung and even budget Android phone makers such as ZTE.
But Google says its 12-megapixel rear shooter is just as capable as the iPhone X’s two 12-MP lenses.
The Pixel 2 can shoot in portrait mode using just one lens and machine learning on the software side to recognize objects even against colorful backgrounds.
The iPhone X offers a portrait lighting tool in addition to standard portrait mode, which brings the subject of a photo into focus while blurring the background.
Both the Pixel 2 and iPhone X offer portrait mode in both rear and front-facing cameras.
We haven’t seen the results of the Pixel 2’s portrait effect, but we’ll update this page with a hands-on comparison when we have one.
The Pixel 2 packs both optical and electronic video stabilization in its lone lens, while the iPhone X does both with two lenses.
Augmented Reality: Animoji vs. Stickers
Apple and Google are going head-to-head when it comes to augmented reality.
Both companies have released software development kits for app-makers to build AR apps, and the iPhone X and Pixel 2 are duking it out with fun AR features.
The Pixel will soon feature AR Stickers, a feature that puts augmented characters in a scene with you (or with each other).
The first sticker packs are based on Stranger Things and Star Wars.
Apple is going with another set of popular characters: emoji.
The iPhone X’s camera will use your facial expressions and words to create Animoji, which are exactly what they sound like: animated emoji.
Special Features: Assistant Upgrade vs. Face ID
Google is emphasizing the Pixel’s intelligence in the second-generation model.
The Pixel 2 XL has squeezable sides, which can seem like more of a novelty than a useful feature, but Google has made that gesture (called Active Edge) a trigger for Google Assistant.
Now instead of saying, “OK Google,” you can squeeze your phone to ask a question.
An even more useful, and slightly creepy, new tool called Now Playing uses an always-on microphone to tell you the current song playing right on the Pixel’s display.
It’s like using Shazam but without having to do any work. Google says this feature is opt-in and only matches songs on your device, so nothing the microphone picks up will be sent to Google.
Then there are daily routines, which are a sequence of events that you can queue with a phrase like “Good night.”
That will trigger your phone’s alarm clock and put your Pixel in silent mode.
It’s the Assistant’s version of the popular service If This Then That, except localized to your smartphone.
Meanwhile, Siri is still stuck in neutral (although Apple has made the assistant faster and smarter than in the past).
The iPhone X’s standout feature is a new biometric scanner called Face ID to replace the iPhone’s fingerprint sensor.
The Pixel 2 still relies on a fingerprint sensor for phone unlocking, though Google said it’s gotten much faster in this model.
Say Farewell to Headphone Jacks
It’s time to face the facts: Headphones jacks are dead. Samsung is still hanging on, but Google just put the nail in the coffin by axing the 3.5mm audio port from the Pixel 2.
The iPhone X also lacks a headphone jack, but that’s been Apple standard for the past two iPhone generations.
Processor: A11 Bionic vs. Snapdragon 835
We haven’t put the Pixel 2 XL and iPhone X to the test yet, but we have put their processors through the ringer.
The A11 Bionic chip that powers the iPhone X is also the power behind the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus.
Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 is used in other Android flagships such as the Galaxy Note 8 and OnePlus 5.
We put both processors through a speed test and the A11 Bionic blows the Snapdragon 835 out of the water.
We’ll do that test again when the Pixel 2 XL is available, but based on its processor’s previous performance, it seems likely that the iPhone X will outperform the Pixel by a lot.
The Pixel 2 XL is available to preorder now, and iPhone X preorders open at the end of October.
Stay tuned for our full reviews of both devices to see which one is worth your hundreds and hundreds of hard-earned dollars.