Google's Pixel XL priced like Apple's iPhone 7 Plus, but it lacks numerous key features

in iPhone
Google's latest effort to show off its vision for "Pure Android" hardware lacks many of the features of Apple's iPhone 7 Plus despite costing the same. Perhaps even more remarkably, the first "Phone by Google" lacks support for SD Card, removable batteries, and the extra RAM and processing power needed to run Android.

Priced like iPhone 7 Plus

Google's HTC-built Pixel XL lacks many of the features of Apple's latest big screen iPhone 7 Plus, but demands the same price, starting at $769 for the 32-gigabyte version. It offers the same 128-gigabyte option for $100 more, but lacks Apple's largest 256-gigabyte storage tier.

More remarkably, Google's latest Android phone lacks an SD Card slot just like its previous Nexus phones. While iPhones have never used SD Card slots for storage expansion, Android users often consider it a primary feature. Samsung's previous removal of an SD Card slot resulted in complaints and that were addressed with a restoration on some of this year's models.

The Pixel XL also has the same 3 gigabytes of system RAM as Apple's iPhone 7 Plus. That's an issue because Android does a far worse job at managing memory. In fact, third party testing has shown that Android software, particularly games, routinely use up four times the RAM as the same software running on iOS.

Over the last several years, Apple's A-series Application Processors running at slower clock speeds have trounced leading Android flagship phones in performance benchmarks despite their being packed with more RAM.

Google's Pixel XL not only has a significantly weaker processor and the same amount of RAM, but is also tasked with managing 3.6 million pixels, an invisible-to-the-eye "advantage" in resolution that inherently contributes to slower performance in graphics given that iPhone 7 Plus only has to manage 2 million.

Missing features: camera

Google touted the new Pixel XL phones as being awarded a higher camera score by DXOMark, which it conveniently obtained before even publicly releasing the phone. However, DXOMark still hasn't scored Apple's iPhone 7 Plus, and its score numbers between competing models did not accompany evidence of superior results from the Pixel.

In fact, in its primary, largest example of a real world outdoor shot (below), DXOMark noted that the Pixel camera "didn't perform as well as some of the other flagship phones, as it lost details in the shadows."

If it doesn't take better photos, why does it have a higher score? Source: DXOMark

"The review seems really positive but all the comparison shots with other top smartphones are showing the Pixel not take as good photos as the competition, can you show some more comparison shots were the Pixel beats the competition?" one reader on the DXOMark site commented.

It's also remarkable that the Pixel phones obtained a higher score than both iPhone 7 and other Android phones despite lacking a larger aperture lens or Optical Image Stabilization, both of which contribute to better quality photos in limited lighting.

iPhone 7 Plus telephoto lens

The Pixel XL also lacks the dual cameras of iPhone 7 Plus, including its support for 2x optical telephoto and its upcoming Portrait modes, and uses a two element flash as opposed to the brighter, more accurate illumination of the four LED flash on Apple's iPhone 7 models.

Despite all of this, Pixel XL demands the same price. Google (and everyone covering its event) brushed all the facts aside to instead repeat an arbitrary relative score delivered as proof the Pixel camera is automatically better than everything else--even phones that don't have a score--despite lacking the hardware optics that deliver great photos.

On top, Google bragged that the Pixel phones don't have a "camera bump," as if less capable optics were an aesthetic feature.

Missing features: Wide Color display

DisplayMate hasn't yet tested the Pixel XL screen, but Android itself lacks software support for DCI-P3 Wide Color gamut, a primary feature Apple added to iOS and is supporting on iPhone 7 and 7 Plus models.

Wide Color reproduces more of the colors visible to humans. iPhone 7 cameras capture Wide Color images, and their displays accurately reproduce it. Support for Wide Color is also required throughout the operating system, and developers need APIs to take advantage of this. Despite aspiring to control the whole widget like Apple, Google didn't do any of the hardware or software work to bring DCI-compliant wide color support to its Pixel phones.

DisplayMate reported "iPhone 7 excels due to its record absolute color accuracy, which is visually indistinguishable from perfect, and is very likely considerably better than any mobile display, monitor, TV or UHD TV that you have."

The site also called its DCI-P3 Wide Color support the "most color accurate display that we have ever measured." Neither Google nor HTC has a reputation for delivering accurate color on high quality displays on par with Apple or modern Samsung flagships.

Missing features: Haptic feedback and 3DTouch

Despite rumors that Android would catch up to 2015's iPhone 6s and its support for depth sensitive 3D Touch, Google's Pixel XL doesn't offer anything similar.

It also lacks the precise Taptic Engine of iPhone 7 that's designed to provide haptic feedback in conjunction with 3D Touch, its solid state Home button, system wide haptic feedback and custom haptic ringtones. Like older phones, Pixel only supports basic vibration.

Because both 3D Touch and haptic feedback are hardware features, there's no way that future Android releases can add that functionality (or wide color gamut) to Google's current generation of Pixel phones.

Missing features: Stereo speakers

Apple's iPhone 7 and 7 Plus models feature two speakers for louder, stereo audio playback with increased dynamic range, but Pixel XL only has one speaker for mono sound.

Google emphasized the Pixel's support for analog headphones, but Apple's own iPhone 7 models ship with an adapter for minijack audio output. The real cost of having a physical jack on the device is that the Pixel line lacks water resistance for use in wet environments.

The new Pixel phones also sport a USB-C connector, which is new and still more difficult to obtain. Apple moved to its proprietary Lightning connector in 2012, and now all modern iOS devices use it--an installed base nearing a billion devices. That makes it easy to find digital Lightning headphones and Lightning power adapters.

USB-C is so new only a few new Android phones use it. Samsung's Galaxy S7 flagship still uses micro-USB, the common "Android phone" standard. The result is that it's far less common to find a USB-C cable charger among friends or when trying to recharge at a pub or other establishment.

The Pixel XL does pack a larger battery, nearly as large as Samsung's Galaxy S7 and 19 percent bigger than Apple's iPhone 7 Plus. It also features Qualcomm's fast charging mode. But unlike many Android flagships, the Pixel's battery is not removable, another feature Android buyers commonly complain about.

Every Google Phone is forgotten after it flops

Google's first Android partnership to take on Apple's iPhone arrived in 2008, and was also built by HTC: the Tmobile G1 (aka Magic). It was the first phone Google shipped with Android, and was specifically customized by Google to deliver a trackball and physical keyboard rather than relying on multitouch input.

The G1 also lacked a headphone jack, instead supplying a proprietary ExtUSB port with an external adapter for plugging in headphones. Despite portraying the G1 keyboard as important and the headphone jack as not, Google and HTC later replaced the G1 with myTouch (Dream), a similar phone lacking a physical keyboard but adding a headphone jack on some versions.

One year later, Google released a successor with HTC named Nexus One (Passion), which was launched in conjunction with Android 2.0 in 2009. It also retained the trackball unique to Google's original pure vision for Android phones, but lacked a physical keyboard and standardized on including a headphone jack.

Writing for Engadget, Joshua Topolsky declared "the genuine-article Google Phone is finally here," and wrote that "while it's unmistakably HTC, there are plenty of design cues that feel authentically Google as well," a continuation of the earlier G1 that "Google worked tightly with HTC to create."

Later in 2010, however, Google launched Android 2.3 alongside a new partner: Samsung. The Nexus S was mostly just a rebadged version of Samsung's Galaxy S, which so closely copied the iPhone that it launched the initial lawsuit between Apple and Samsung. "The genuine-article Google Phone is finally here" - Engadget 2010

Samsung wrestled for control over the Nexus partnership, resulting in the successor being named Galaxy Nexus rather than Google's rumored choice of "Nexus Prime."

In 2011, Google initiated efforts to take over Motorola Mobility in a bid to become a hardware maker itself. After purging most of Motorola's existing product designs it began work on new phone hardware more in line with its own vision for what Android hardware should be.

In 2012, Google introduced a stopgap rebadging of an LG phone, sold as the Nexus 4--as tensions mounted between the search giant and Samsung, Android's largest licensee. The phone was given an entry price of $299 to attract buyers. Google continued working with LG to deliver the Nexus 5 and 5X in 2014 and 2015.

The late-2013 Moto X was created entirely within Google's new Motorola subsidiary. Like previous Nexus partnerships it was hailed as being custom-created by Google, but it was also built under Google's direction.

Moto X failed to sell as expected, resulting in a price slashing from $550 to $399 within its first few months. Motorola lost over $700 million for Google over just six months of Moto X sales, leaving Google ready to get rid of Motorola in 2014.

Despite gestating under Google's ownership, Dieter Bohn of the Verge called Moto X "the first phone that truly reflects the new company's post-Google philosophies, it's thoroughly a Motorola phone, not a Google phone."

Somewhat confusingly, the tech media decided that phones designed and built directly by Google were not "Google phones," but phones built by other companies with input from Google were--at least before they failed in the market. Then suddenly the next Google-branded phone became the First Ever Real Google Phone.

Every Nexus phone had failed commercially, to the point where in retrospect, Google's fans are forced to say that the company was simply doing a creative exercise and never intended to actually sell the products it so closely worked with its partners to develop, so fully hyped as innovative, and priced so attractively that it ended up losing hundreds of millions of dollars trying to sell them.

That bizarre reality distortion was evident in a high production ad brochure posing as a Wired news article entitled "The Inside Story of the Moto X."

In it, Steven Levy wrote of Google's Motorola acquisition, "What was Google thinking? Finally, we have the answer. The Moto X, announced today, marks the arrival, finally, of the Google Phone. The Moto X is the first in a series of hardware products that Google hopes will supercharge the mother company's software and services."

After ridding itself of Motorola and a full series of Moto-branded phones ranging from flagships to economy phones, Google delivered a final Nexus 6 with Lenovo--which had acquired Motorola from it--toward the end of 2014."Moto X, announced today, marks the arrival, finally, of the Google Phone" - Wired, 2013

A year later, in parallel with last year's LG-built Nexus 5X, Google also partnered with China's Huawei to produce the Nexus 6P. But Google's relationship with both companies were going the same sour direction as Samsung. Google was demanding more control over the platform, and its partners were increasingly resisting.

A report by Android Police noted that Huawei was supposed to deliver a successor to the Nexus 6P, but Google demanded that the new model would be fully branded by Google with scant acknowledgment of Huawei as anything other than its manufacturer.

Huawei had failed to make any significant inroads into the U.S. market on its own, and its Nexus 6P effort with Google had flopped just the same as every other Nexus launch. Huawei backed out of any participation with the Pixel rebranding, leaving HTC as the remaining company willing to build phones for Google to put its name on.

Stuck with HTC, which has only been floundering in its own smartphone efforts recently, Google ended up with little more than a copy of an iPhone 6, lacking many of the premium features it once offered in its money-losing experiments with Motorola.

Yet despite introducing one of the least innovative or competitive "Google phones" ever, the price of the latest Pixel lineup is the same as the faster, smarter, more powerful, better integrated and weather resistant iPhone 7 with a better display and better sound.


  • Reply 1 of 190
    In short, DXOMark is just as useless as The Verge.
    teejay2012jbdragonwatto_cobraDan AndersenSpamSandwichbrucemcmagman1979dws-2sockrolidericthehalfbee
  • Reply 2 of 190
    john.bjohn.b Posts: 2,742member
    2016 price with 2015 specs...
    jbdragonanton zuykovwatto_cobrabrucemcsockrolidpscooter63Deelronlolliverredgeminipaperkedel
  • Reply 3 of 190
    RasterscanRasterscan Posts: 2unconfirmed, member
    "The Pixel XL also has the same 3 gigabytes of system RAM as Apple's iPhone 7 Plus. That's an issue because Android does a far worse job at managing memory. In fact, third party testing has shown that Android software, particularly games, routinely use up four times the RAM as the same software running on iOS." Hmmm, my Nexus 6P performs just fine with 3GB of RAM. Android does fine with managing RAM. Apps (and games) that were natively written for Android fly. I do have to say that many games and apps are out sourced and ported to Android do not perform well. I wouldn't blame Google/Android for that. I would use updated sources. That link you provided is out dated. There has been many advancements in the past year in the GPU space along with new API's.
  • Reply 4 of 190
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 24,286member
    Remarking on the higher Pixel XL Quad HD resolution it's there for Daydream, a primary focus of the new Pixels. Standard res displays won't render as nicely with VR. 
  • Reply 5 of 190
    RasterscanRasterscan Posts: 2unconfirmed, member
    john.b said:
    2016 price with 2015 specs...

    Where do you see 2015 Specs?
  • Reply 6 of 190
    Very well researched article.  You can tell that by the fact there is an entire paragraph devoted to the Pixel XL having 3gb of RAM, the same as the Iphone's 3gb of RAM. Except that is completely wrong. The Pixel has 4gb and that information is readily available from pretty much anywhere. 
  • Reply 7 of 190
    tzeshantzeshan Posts: 2,351member
    Pixel has 4 GB RAM.  This is the official specs.

    Rasterscangatorguyanton zuykovDesignNevjbdragon
  • Reply 8 of 190
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 2,917member
    These Google Pixel phones will be forgotten soon. Price is very high and features are pretty much average or below comparing to other phones on market. You will be better of buying Nexus or wait 2-3 months and it will be far cheaper because of inventory build up. No one will buy at current price.
    watto_cobraaderutterjkichlinesockrolidjbdragonDeelroncalilolliverkevin kee
  • Reply 9 of 190
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,926member
    Priced and looks like an iPhone. 

    lets be honest, Apple designed another competitor's phone. This was is just branded as Google. 
  • Reply 10 of 190
    qwweraqwwera Posts: 281member
    The main things Android and the Pixel have to prove is that their phones will not need to be physically reset constantly when apps or hardware cause the device to freeze. That was my main problem when I was on Verizon before the iPhone was launched on the network.

    The second thing that it needs to prove, is that it three short years later the latest Android version will be made available to run on it. Again as a former Android user, that was a major factor in forgetting Android, just as Android and device makers forgot you as soon as you bought their handset. You were abandoned immediately as a concern to them as soon as you were suckered into buying.

    Third, is safety. Android has a major malware and privacy  problem that doesn't seem to have a solution or even seems to be a concern to Android.

    So there you have it. The problem with the Pixel or any other Android device is Android itself.

    The Pixel has fail written all over it as you can get a far cheaper device running Android with equal specs. 
    For Android and the Pixel to not be seen as a second rate OS, it has to stop being a second rate OS.
    edited October 2016 watto_cobraDan Andersenmagman1979gilly33sockrolidDeelronchiacalilolliverperkedel
  • Reply 11 of 190
    quinneyquinney Posts: 2,528member
    So, what you are saying is that the next Google phone after the Pixel will be the first REAL Google phone?  :p
  • Reply 12 of 190
    RedPandaRedPanda Posts: 2unconfirmed, member
    As noted, the Pixel has 4GB of RAM. It also doesn't have a weak processor. It may or may not be weaker than the A10 Fusion, but it's just about the best mobile processor available outside that (at least on paper). The issue from what I understand is more that Android requires more power and doesn't have the same unity between hardware and software as iOS. Though anyone who's used both high end Apple and Android phones should be able to tell you that there's no real discernible difference. Benchmarking scores are all well and good, but when a phone instantly does everything you want it to the differences are irrelevant. It also has some features the iPhone 7 doesn't have. That said, it is over-priced. The iPhone 7 / 7 Plus are too, but the Apple brand is big enough to support the pricing, I'm not sure Google (as a hardware brand) is.
  • Reply 13 of 190
    tzeshan said:
    Pixel has 4 GB RAM.  This is the official specs.

    To be fair, that will be equivalent to 3 GB. on iPhone. 
  • Reply 14 of 190
    john.b said:
    2016 price with 2015 specs...
    Snapdragon 821 is not 2015 specs
    The benchmark shows it is. 
  • Reply 15 of 190
    tzeshantzeshan Posts: 2,351member
    Another important feature Pixel misses is it does not have a Google Care like the Apple Care.  Does it? 
  • Reply 16 of 190
    tzeshan said:
    Another important feature Pixel misses is it does not a Google Care like the Apple Care.  Does it? 

    Does Google ever care?

    Well, who knows.. buy this and you might get Google Not Care+. 
    edited October 2016 williamlondonsockrolidapplepieguycalilolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 190
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 24,286member
    tzeshan said:
    Another important feature Pixel misses is it does not have a Google Care like the Apple Care.  Does it? 
    It does. Not sure how long it's been available but I noticed it last year when I bought my daughter a Nexus for the holidays (it's what she wanted tho she's had iPhones before)

    They also offer 24 hour support/help, which I thought a bit surprising myself.
    edited October 2016 cyberzombieDesignNev
  • Reply 18 of 190
    koopkoop Posts: 337member
    I think people here aren't going to like this, but iOS/Siri is more of a liability for Apple than it's ever been since the first iPhone. Pixel is basically trying to sell itself on software and artificial intelligence. They are selling this as their A.I. phone. You can giggle about the spec wars, but you're missing the big picture that Google has surpassed Apple in software years ago, and Google is going to drive their "information" advantage into a hardware war that wont be about who has the faster CPU or most RAM. 

    I can only imagine in 2030 it's really about what company has the bigger server farms, artificial neural networking and machine learning algorithms that determines which product makes consumers lives the easiest. Not some display resolution or wide color gamut. 

    Google has the long game here. We're still figuring out what Apple has besides their phone at this point.
  • Reply 19 of 190
    mysongranhillsmysongranhills Posts: 1unconfirmed, member
    This article is so filled with bias and inaccurate information, who ever wrote it should feel ashamed for mailing it in and doing basically no work to research.
  • Reply 20 of 190
    This article is so filled with bias and inaccurate information, who ever wrote it should feel ashamed for mailing it in and doing basically no work to research.
    Then tells us, what are these inaccurate informations that's "filled" this article?
    williamlondonDan Andersenmacseekermagman1979nolamacguyDeelronbaconstangchiacaliwatto_cobra
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