Do we have a good one for you today – the Sony Xperia XZ takes on the Google Pixel XL. The Xperia XZ follows their last model with an all-metal construction as they abandoned the all-glass models in years past. The Google Pixel XL uses a polished glass and metal backing that some people say you need to let grow on you, but it makes for a nice looking device and that limited Really Blue color is a true attention grabber. Sony still has its problems distributing a smartphone in the US – for instance, the US version of the Xperia XZ does have the fingerprint sensor on the device, but you would need to flash a firmware update from the UK version for it to work in the US. Google also created some controversy among followers by ditching the Nexus line and replacing it with the Pixel line. Let's see just what these two smartphones have in common and just how much they differ.
These two flagships do have a few things in common, starting with their close physical size and they only weigh 7 grams different from one another. The display could not be more different – they use a different technology, resolution, and are a different size. To protect their screens from abuse, the Xperia XZ uses an unspecified Gorilla Glass, and the Google Pixel XL uses the newer Gorilla Glass 4. They both use a 64-bit Snapdragon processor – 820 versus 821 – and they both use an Adreno 530 for their graphic needs. Both devices are packing 32GB of expandable internal memory in the Xperia XZ only – the Google Pixel XL has a choice of 32GB or 128GB. The camera areas are both terrific, but they use a very different pathway to achieve their results. They both use non-removable batteries, although the Pixel XL's battery is considerably larger and both offer rapid charge capabilities. They have the usual suspects – WiFi, Bluetooth v4.2, GPS, NFC, and the newer Type-C reversible port for charging and data transfer.
Please take a careful look at the detailed Specifications Comparison chart below and here you will see just how these two great devices stack up against one another – click on the "View Full Comparison" link at the end of the chart to expand the details. After that, we will look at each device in greater depth and point out some of its pros and cons. From all of this information, we will try to determine the winner based on specs and execution of design and functions.
Sony Xperia XZ
The Sony Xperia XZ retains the new all-metal design, its unmistakable rectangle shape, and large top and bottom bezels. The Xperia XZ did find its way to the US quicker than usual, but with no fingerprint firmware that enables it to work in the US. Nor can it work on any networks that are not GSM – AT&T or T-Mobile – so that means no Verizon or Sprint customers can purchase one without flipping carriers. If you are a techie or know one, you can flash the UK firmware to the US Xperia XZ to use the fingerprint sensor in the US, provided you are on a GSM network. However, at a price of $699, it should have all of the bells and whistles – including a fingerprint sensor and the ability to work on all US networks. Why does Sony continue to make it so difficult for the US to use their devices?
The Sony Xperia XZ sports a slightly small 5.2-inch IPS Full HD display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels and 424 pixels-per-inch (PPI.) Sony did use the excellent 64-bit Snapdragon 820 quad-core processor with dual cores clocked at 1.6GHz and dual cores clocked at 2.15GHz, but then used only 3GB of DDR4 RAM and added 32GB or 64GB of expandable internal memory.
Sony worked on the camera area in the Xperia XZ and included its new 23MP Sony lens with an aperture of f/2.0, 24mm angle, phase detection autofocus (PDAF), and laser autofocus, EIS (gyro), and LED flash. Sony included a large 13MP FFC with a f/2.0, 22mm to give you great selfies or video chats. The Xperia XZ is packing a 2900mAh non-removable battery with Quick Charge 3.0 to provide a rapid charge.
The Xperia XZ continues the traditional looks of a Sony smartphone and keeps its IP68 certification for dust and water resistance. Another Sony trademark that luckily remains is the excellent sounds from its Hi-Res audio and its dual front-facing stereo speakers. It makes for good listening while watching a movie or YouTube video. The XZ measures 146 x 72 x 8.1MM and weighs in at 161 grams. It comes in Mineral Black, Platinum, Forest Blue, or Deep Pink. Sony is asking $699 for its newest flagship.
Google Pixel XL
It seems odd that we are not reporting about the new Nexus phones – but Google made a huge move to create an Apple-like ecosystem where Google fans can use their new Home products and Chromecast right along with their new Google Pixel phone. We will be looking at the Google Pixel XL this time around to see just how this newly designed Pixel XL with its polished glass and metal construction holds up to the all-metal Sony Xperia XZ.
The Google Pixel XL is sporting a larger 5.5-inch QHD AMOLED display with a resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels with 531 PPI. It is using the newest Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 quad-core processor with a dual-core clocked at 1.6GHZ and a dual-core clocked at 2.15GHz. According to Qualcomm, the Snapdragon 821 is 10-percent quicker than the original Snapdragon 820. They packaged it with the Adreno 530 GPU to tackle the toughest graphics. It packs 4GB of DDR4 RAM and 32GB or 128GB of the faster UFS memory. There are no means to expand the built-in memory. It uses a large 3450mAh non-removable battery for power and has rapid charge capabilities.
The Pixel camera (the same one is used on both models) certainly does not have impressive looking specifications. It comes with a 12.3MP sensor for the primary camera along with an aperture of f/2.0, phase detection autofocus (PDAF,) a dual-tone LED flash, and no OIS. However, it was tested by DxOMark and received a score of 89 – the highest yet for a smartphone. There is a large 8MP FFC that comes with a f/2.0 aperture, a 1.4µm pixel size, and 1080p. This combination of specs should offer great selfies and video chatting.
The Pixel XL measures in at 154.7 x 75.7 x 8.6mm and weighs in at 168 grams. There are three different colors available: Quite Black, Very Silver, and Really Blue (called a limited edition color.) A rear-mounted fingerprint sensor will allow you to unlock your device or authorize mobile payments and will have Android Pay. It will be running Android 7.1 Nougat out of the box, and the 32GB Google Pixel XL is IP53 rated against dust and splashing water and will cost you about $770.
…And The Winner Is…
The Final Word
There is no choice in this comparison but to pick the Google Pixel XL as the winner. It has a larger display, better resolution, uses AMOLED technology, terrific camera area, faster processor, more RAM, larger battery, a fingerprint sensor that works, and available for all major US carriers. No, it is not IP68 certified, nor does it have dual front-facing stereo speakers, but it comes with Android Nougat and will receive the latest updates.
The Xperia XL is priced at $700, and for that amount of money, it should have a QHD display, a fingerprint sensor that works and be able to handle more than GSM networks.