If you’re in the market for a flagship iOS or Android device, the iPhone X and Pixel 2 XL are going to be at the top of your shopping list. But which is better?
Its important to note right at the outset that if you’re an iOS or Android fan your choice is going to be an easy one to make, but this article is aimed at those of you who are looking to switch platforms and hopefully help you make up your mind. I use both these devices and after 3 months of extensive use, here’s how I feel.
THE UN-BOXING EXPERIENCE
When you spend this much money on a smartphone, a great un-boxing experience is essential, even more so if you’re a switcher. Apple has been known to spend a lot of money on this, and I can see why. If it’s your first foray into either brand, you expect attention to detail. It’s even believed that Apple designed their iPhone box in a way that it took precisely 7 seconds to open! Both phones provide a great un-boxing experience, and I think the packaging of both is nicely designed and feels well weighted. You get the usual stuff in the boxes with the glaring omission of a pair of headphones in the Pixel box. At this price point you expect that sort of thing and granted most people have a pair, but it wouldn’t hurt to throw one in. The super charger however is great and makes up for it.
DESIGN AND DISPLAY
The iPhone X’s dimensions are 143.6 x 70.9 x 7.7mm weighing in at 174 grams with a Super AMOLED screen measuring 5.8 inches diagonally. The screen has a resolution of 1125x2436 pixels (458 ppi) whereas the Pixel 2 XL measures 157.9 x 76.7 x 7.9 mm weighing in at 175g with a 6.0 inch P-OLED capacitive touchscreen and a resolution of 1440 x 2880 Pixels (538 ppi). On paper, the Pixel 2 XL’s screen looks like the clear winner but in reality it doesn’t even come close to the iPhone X’s display. When you’re buying a smartphone at this price point, a bad display can be a deal breaker, and the Pixel XL’s screen issues are well documented. The display just doesn’t have the vibrancy of the iPhone X’s display. Apple has nailed it here and even though Google rushed out an update to fix the display problems with a saturated colour mode, it still doesn’t come close to matching the iPhone’s screen. I would even go as far as to say that some of the cheaper Samsung's have better displays than this thing – not technically, but purely from a visual standpoint and for most people that will really matter. Add to this Apple’s wide colour gamut and True Tone display, and this display outshines anything else in the market. The design of the iPhone X hands down beats the Pixel too. Yes the notch matters to some people but I haven’t faced an issue with it. Apple had to find a place to house all that FACE ID tech which we will come to later. But overall, it’s just a gorgeous slab of glass and metal and it feels worth the money. Google has taken a conservative approach with the Pixel and while the display isn’t quite edge to edge like the iPhone’s and the body a bit boxy, it’s decent enough, but it just looks like a design from a few years ago. The bezels around the phone are big, but to be fair google has included front facing stereo speakers that can get really loud so it does have the edge there.
Winner: The iPhone X
This is sometimes the most important aspect when making a smartphone choice, and both Google and Apple have gone to town with the cameras. The iPhone X boasts a dual 12MP rear camera and a 7MP front camera whereas the Pixel 2 XL has a 12.2MP rear camera, 8MP front sensor and spoiler alert: this is one fine camera. Google led the smartphone pack on picture quality when they launched the original Pixel and they have thrown everything at the Pixel 2. The images have got to be seen to be believed. Don’t get me wrong, the iPhone has a brilliant camera but having shot images and video with both phones, the Pixel definitely produces sharper images with low noise levels and an unbelievable level of detail. The front camera is brilliant too and Google has managed to use AI to produce Bokeh shots and again, Apple, even with its two lenses can’t match what Google has managed to do with one lens and AI. If you’re a photographer and appreciate that sort of detail, or want the very best camera phone out there, the Pixel 2 XL is the clear choice.
Winner: Pixel 2 XL
The iPhone X runs iOS, now in its 11th generation whereas the Pixel 2 XL runs Android Oreo. When I started using the two phones, I thought I would struggle with the Pixel but I was pleasantly surprised by how good Android is on the Pixel. It’s Android as Google has always intended it to be and it runs super smoothly on the Pixel’s Octa core Snapdragon 835 processor. Nothing seems to slow the phone down, apps open instantaneously, and the whole experience is rather pleasant and smooth. Apple’s new A11 Bionic chip is a different monster altogether and coupled with iOS 11, the experience is buttery smooth and the phone can pretty much handle anything you throw at it. If benchmarks are to be believed, the A11 chip beats some laptops on the market and that is a testament to how far Apple's in-house silicon has come. Both platforms support almost all apps with a few iPhone and Android only apps, which if you rely on then you probably have already made up your mind on what phone to get. Apple has an advantage with iMessage and FaceTime but again most people use WhatsApp and with video calling on WhatsApp now there’s very little in the software to keep you switching from one platform to the other. In my opinion, the notifications are handled better on the Pixel; Android has always been good at this and the platform itself is a lot more open. It’s hard to sometimes accept that you still can’t transfer an image via Bluetooth on an iPhone while Android has been doing this since its launch. But Apple’s closed systems also means better security for those of you who are concerned about this. Where Google wins is how it has integrated AI on the Pixel. The Google Assistant is leaps and bounds smarter than Siri. To put this into context Siri is in class 7 while the Pixel has already aced its board examinations. The assistant can understand contextual information, control your smart home, and give you access to information relevant to what you are currently working on. You really have to use it to understand just how good it is. Of course, to do this, Google has amalgamated all its search results and user preferences and ultimately this means Google always knows what you’re up to. How you feel about this is up to you but sometimes the information it presents you with is a bit scary and makes me feel a bit uncomfortable. The Google home had some bad press a few months ago when it was discovered that it was always listening to conversations, and it’s the sort of thing that would give me nightmares but for a lot of people this wouldn’t matter. Google does bundle unlimited storage in full resolution with the Pixel for 3 years which might might save you money on iCloud storage, if you currently pay for it. There a whole lot of new gestures to get used to with the omission of the Home button on the iPhone X but in my experience I was swiping away within a few hours with no issues. The learning curve isn’t steep at all. Both platforms are easy to use. If you want a smart assistant and the freedom that comes with Android, go for the Pixel. If you want a more secure experience and rely on Apple apps, then the iPhone will be your clear choice.