Google Pixel XL vs Google Nexus 6P full review

Last year, the Nexus 6P was launched alongside the smaller alternative of the Nexus 5X. In 2016, we’ve got two more Googlephones, but this time they’re ‘made by Google’ and the smaller Pixel doesn’t have cut-down features. However, while you can check out our Pixel vs Pixel XL comparison, here it’s Nexus 6P vs Pixel XL where we highlight how the two phablets differ. See also: Pixel XL release date

Nexus 6P vs Google Pixel XL: Price

The Pixel XL is a far cry from the days of the early Nexus phones which offered great specs at a surprisingly low price. At £719, the Pixel is one of the most expensive phones you can buy. The same price as the 32GB iPhone 7 Plus in fact. It also matches the 128GB version of that iPhone at £819. You can buy the Pixel XL from Currys, plus many other retailers, including Google's online store.

You can still buy a new Nexus 6P, although the 128GB capacity is less common. Expect to pay around £370 for the 32GB and £430 for the 64GB. Ultimately, it's almost half the price of the Pixel XL. 

Nexus 6P vs Google Pixel XL: Design

The Pixel XL (manufactured not by Google but by HTC) is less fussy in terms of design than the Huawei-made Nexus 6P. However, the rear of the phone is still controversial. With the 6P, it was the ugly camera strip which caused offence. The Pixel XL has a weird glass panel covering the top third of the back and surrounding the fingerprint scanner, camera, mic and LED flash.

Here’s how the two phones stack up for size and weight.

  • Pixel XL: 154.7 x 75.7 x 8.6mm, 168g
  • Nexus 6P: 159.3 x 77.8 x 7.3mm, 178g

So the Pixel is a bit smaller and thicker, and weighs a little less than the 6P. On paper (well, on screen presuming you haven’t printed this out) it’s impossible to tell whether those measurements make much of a difference, but believe us when we say the Pixel is a much nicer phone to live with.

Where the 6P was just that bit too wide for comfort, the Pixel XL carefully balances screen size with the overall dimensions and doesn’t feel any thicker than the 6P. The chamfered edges still feel a little sharp, but the phone is beautifully weighted and feels very much the premium device.

Where the 6P had great front-facing stereo speakers, the Pixel XL’s front panel is very plain with only the earpiece, camera and light sensor breaking up the otherwise featureless landscape.

Although it appears to have two speakers on the bottom edge (like an iPhone) the Pixel XL has only one speaker. There’s the same USB-C connector for synching and charging and the headphone port on the top edge, just like the 6P. Power and volume are on the right, with a single nano-SIM slot on the left. There’s no two-SIM option, nor a microSD slot. Again, just like the 6P.

Plenty had hoped the switch to Pixel branding might mean the addition of expandable storage, but no such luck. Like iPhones, the new Google Phone gives you two fixed options: 32GB or 128GB. The only consolation is that you get free, unlimited online storage at original quality for photos and video – even if you shoot in 4K. And that benefit is certainly worth something.

Nexus 6P vs Google Pixel XL: Specs

Here’s how the phones compare for key specifications:

Pixel XL

  • Screen: 5.5in, 2560x1440, 534ppi, AMOLED
  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 821
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 32 / 128GB
  • Battery: 3450mAh

Nexus 6P

  • Screen: 5.7in, 2560x1440, 518ppi, AMOLED
  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 810
  • RAM: 3GB
  • Storage: 32 / 64 / 128GB
  • Battery: 3450mAh

The most obvious difference between the phones is that the Pixel XL gets a newer, faster Snapdragon processor. Hardly a surprise, though. No-one would expect a new flagship phone to stick with last year’s chip. Google has also increased RAM by 50 percent from 2- to 3GB.

Screen size drops by 0.2in but remains the same resolution and technology, and both panels are protected by the same Gorilla Glass 4.

 We've yet to finish running our battery tests on the Pixel XL, so can't yet say for sure if it lasts longer than the 6P, but it certainly does last. Both phones support rapid charging, and the Pixel claims to offer 7 hours' use from 15 minutes' charging.

Nexus 6P vs Google Pixel XL: Cameras

There’s little difference in facts and figures when it comes to cameras. At the rear, both phones have a 12.3Mp camera with an f/2.0 lens and 1.55um pixels.

At the front of both sits an 8Mp selfie camera with an f/2.4 aperture.

So what’s new? The Pixel XL additionally gets phase-detection autofocus alongside laser, and it also adds stabilisation for video. Not optical stabilisation, sadly, only software-based.

And that, in a nutshell, are the photographic differences.

Nexus 6P vs Google Pixel XL: Software

Usually with Android phones there’s plenty to say about software, but when it comes to the Pixel XL and Nexus 6P, both run the un-doctored version. The Nexus shipped with Marshmallow (Android 6), but has now been updated to 7, which is what the XL ships with.

Now that Android 7.1 is available, the interface has been tweaked slightly, but the 6P will get this too, so the experience of using both phones is essentially the same.

There's one difference, though: the Pixel comes with the new Google Assistant which pops up when you long-press the home button. It's not yet downloadable as an app on the 6P, but it won't be long before it is. And if you're happy to get your hands dirty, it is possible to hack the assistant to work right now.

Read next: Best new phones coming in 2017


Google Nexus 6P: Specs

  • 5.7in 2560x1440-pixel Quad HD capacitive touchscreen
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 v2.1 octa-core processor at 2.0GHz
  • 32/64/128GB storage
  • 3GB RAM
  • Android Marshmallow 6.0
  • 12.3MP main camera, dual-LED flash, support for 4K video at 30fps
  • 8MP secondary camera
  • 802.11ac dual-band Wi-Fi with 2x2 MIMO
  • Bluetooth 4.2
  • GPS
  • NFC
  • 77.8x159.3x7.3mm
  • 178g

Google Pixel XL: Specs

  • 5.5in QuadHD display running at 1440 x 2560 resolution, Snapdragon 821 CPU 2.15 GHz + 1.6 GHz, Adreno™ 530 GPU 64-Bit Quad-Core processor , 4GB RAM, 32GB or 128GB storage, 12.3MP rear camera, 8MP front camera, 3450mAh battery, 4G LTE, 802.11ac WiFi, BT 4.2, USB-C charging port, Fast Charging support, headphone jack, Android 7.1 OS