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Google Pixel XL vs OnePlus 3: Which is best for me?

We compare Google’s mighty Pixel XL mobile phone with the excellent OnePlus 3 handset, to see which 5.5-inch Android blower is best for you. What’s the difference in terms of specs, camera tech and other features, and is the Pixel XL phone worth the extra cash – or should you save your wallet and get the OnePlus 3 instead?

Google has finally officially revealed its Pixel XL smartphone, which is available to buy in the UK from October 20 (along with the standard 5-inch Pixel phone). The Pixel XL certainly has some impressive specs, including a massive 5.5-inch Quad HD screen, the latest Snapdragon processor and a powerful 12-megapixel camera. But starting at a whopping £719 means it’s also a serious drain on your wallet.

So how does the Pixel XL compare with the OnePlus 3, a brilliant Android that costs half as much yet still packs some premium specs? Here’s our full Pixel XL vs OnePlus 3 comparison review to help you decide. And check out our full hands-on Pixel XL review for more info on Google’s mighty mobile.

Pixel XL vs OnePlus 3: Specs at a glance

Phone OnePlus 3 Google Pixel XL
Screen size 5.5-inches 5.5-inches
Screen resolution Full HD 1920×1080 Quad HD 2560×1440
Weight 158g 168g
Fingerprint sensor? Yes Yes
Water resistant? No No
OS Android 6.0 Marshmallow Android 7.1 Nougat
Processor Snapdragon 820 Snapdragon 821
Memory 6GB 4GB
Storage 64GB 32/128GB
MicroSD? No No
Battery 3000mAh 3450mAh
Rear camera 16-megapixel 12-megapixel
Front camera 8-megapixel 8-megapixel
Price £329 £719

Pixel XL vs OnePlus 3: Design

Both of these 5.5-inch phones are meaty mobiles, very similar in terms of size and weight. you’ll struggle to use either the Pixel XL or the OnePlus 3 with a single hand, so don’t go for either of them if you want convenience. These are definitely for media lovers only.

The OnePlus 3 sports a neat metallic finish that so far has proven quite resistant to scratches and scuffs. It’s not particularly desirable and the camera lens juts out of the back, but the phone is surprisingly slender just like the Pixel XL.

However, it’s the funky glass and metal combo of Google’s phone that really stands out. It’s almost as if someone stitched together the top half of the Honor 8 and the bottom half of the iPhone 6s, to form a Frankenstein’s Monster handset. The glossy surfacing up above picks up grease marks like the Galaxy S7’s glass rear, but does a reasonable job of hiding them, while the metal section seems to be scratch-resistant.

Neither phone is water resistant, sadly, so don’t get them too moist.

Pixel XL vs OnePlus 3: Screen and media

Both of these phones boast a massive 5.5-inch screen, and in both cases they produce pleasingly crisp, detail-packed visuals. The Pixel XL’s panel is sharper thanks to its Quad HD resolution, but the OnePlus 3 is still a great media machine for enjoying your favourite show on the go.

Colours are punchy, and you get direct control over the warmth of the OnePlus 3’s display. That’s particularly handy when you’re browsing late in bed, as you can activate the Night Mode to make things easier on the eye. Both phones also offer a strong maximum brightness and perfectly wide viewing angles.

However, while the Pixel XL boasts up to 128GB of storage (depending on which model you get), the OnePlus 3 maxes out at 64GB of storage – and neither phone can be expanded with a microSD memory card.

Pixel XL vs OnePlus 3: OS and features

Android 6.0.1 is the OS of choice for the OnePlus 3, while the Pixel XL packs in the very latest Android Nougat OS. This adds a fair few cool new features, such as support for Google’s Daydream VR platform, and the rather helpful new Assistant tool. Check out our full Android Nougat best features guide for more info.

Of course the OnePlus 3 should get updated to Nougat soon enough, as OnePlus hasn’t tinkered with Android too much with its own Oxygen overlay. That means Nougat’s cool bits will be coming to the OnePlus 3, with any luck by the end of 2016. However, Google has revealed that Assistant won’t be coming to any phones outside of the Pixels, which is a bit of a shame.

Both the Pixel XL and the OnePlus 3 have a fingerprint sensor around the back, for quickly unlocking to your desktops. In both cases this is accurate and responsive, as you’d expect from a premium handset.

Pixel XL vs OnePlus 3: Performance and battery life

The OnePlus 3 made us moist with its ridiculous benchmark scores back when we first reviewed it, thanks to the powerful Snapdragon 820 processor and mighty 6GB of RAM. In normal speak, the OnePlus 3 is one of the most powerful Androids of 2016 and still gives us silky smooth everyday performance.

The Pixel XL should prove just as capable with its all-new Snapdragon 821 chipset, and like the OnePlus 3 you shouldn’t see any signs of ageing for – touch wood – the length of a 24-month contract. You should also be able to play the latest games without trouble.

We love how the OnePlus 3 gives you well over a day of use with each charge, and the Dash Charge tech means that you can power up to full in under an hour – or give yourself a day’s worth of play time from just 30 minutes at the plug. The Pixel XL better be damned good to compete with that.

Pixel XL vs OnePlus 3: Cameras

While the OnePlus 3’s 16-megapixel camera isn’t as strong as some rival snappers, it still produces decent-looking shots in most conditions and tries its hardest in low light. Video quality could be better however, especially when it comes to audio capture. Check out our full OnePlus 3 camera review for more info.

The Pixel XL sports a 12-megapixel snapper boasting an HDR+ mode, to deal with those tricky lighting conditions. We’re expecting good-looking and detail-packed photos the majority of the time, while the phase detection autofocus means your subject is kept pin-sharp at all times, with no shutter lag to speak of.

We’ll be testing out the Pixel XL camera in full, very shortly.

Pixel XL vs OnePlus 3: Pricing and verdict

The Pixel XL is a super-premium heavyweight handset, packing the latest Android as well as some impressive specs. However, it’s also bloody expensive, starting at a wallet-smashing £719 for the 32GB model.

Meanwhile you can pick up the OnePlus 3 for just £329. For that price you get solid performance, a long-lasting fast-charging battery, gorgeous visuals and a respectable camera, while the latest version of Android is just around the corner.

So, if value for money is your main concern, it looks as if the OnePlus 3 may be your best bet. Of course, we’ll reserve judgement until we’ve used the Pixel XL as our full-time phone, so check back soon for our full Google Pixel XL review.

Update 18/10/2016: We compared the Google Pixel XL and OnePlus 3 side by side. Check out the video comparison below. You can also read the full Google Pixel XL review by clicking here:

You can grab the OnePlus 3 exclusively on contract from O2, from £28 per month.


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