Do we have a good one for you today – the Google Pixel XL takes on the mighty Xiaomi Mi Note 2. The Google Pixel XL uses a flat glass display and a polished glass and metal backing whereas the Mi Note 2 uses a dual curved display and glass backing. The Google Pixel XL may take a while to grow on you with its looks, but the very 'Note 7-like' Mi Note 2 is strikingly beautiful upon first glance. The new Pixel devices, the first with Google Assistant built-in, are part of Google's puzzle to put together an ecosystem with Google Home, Chromecast, and other products. As Xiaomi moves closer to US distribution, for the first time Xiaomi is building a global unit with coverage for US carriers. Let's look at just what these two devices have in common, if anything, and then we will take a closer look at each one in hopes that we can determine a winner of this comparison.
Released just a month apart, the Pixel XL and Mi Note 2 do have a few things in common – starting with the fact that they are both are almost identical in physical size with the Mi Note 2 coming in thinner and 2 grams lighter. The size of the displays is very similar, and they both use an AMOLED display, but the resolutions are different. In one of the more critical areas, these devices see eye-to-eye with the revised Snapdragon 821 and an Adreno 530 GPU to handle the toughest graphics. Both the primary cameras take terrific pictures but go about it in a different way. Both devices have a fingerprint sensor to unlock the device and to authorize mobile payments. They both have a non-removable battery – 3450mAh in the Pixel XL and 4070mAh in the Mi Note 2 – with Quick Charge 3.0 capabilities. They have the usual suspects – WiFi, Bluetooth v4.2, GPS, NFC, and they both have the newer reversible Type-C USB port for charging and data transfer.
Please take a thoughtful 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.
Google Pixel XL
Google steps forward, leaving the Nexus lineup behind like a distant memory to start its own ecosystem where you purchase only Google products because they all work together. The Google Pixel smartphones are the first to include Goggle Assistant directly onto the device. Your Google Pixel XL allows you to communicate directly with Google's new Home products. Google is hoping that if you buy one device, you will want them all. The price is steep for both models, but sales seem to be doing well. For this comparison, we will be looking at how well the high-end Google Pixel XL with its polished glass and metal construction holds up to the new Xiaomi Mi Note 2.
The Google Pixel XL sports a 5.5-inch QHD AMOLED display with a resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels with 531 pixels-per-inch (PPI.) Google (and Xiaomi) used the newly revised Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 quad-core processor with a dual-core clocked at 1.6GHZ and a dual-core clocked at 2.15GHz. The 821 is paired up with the powerful Adreno 530 GPU. 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 on either of these devices. Google did include a large 3450mAh battery for power, and it has rapid charge capabilities.
The Nexus 6P had a great camera, and we were hoping that Google would include an excellent shooter in the Pixel. When we first looked at the specifications, they seemed quite modest – with only 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, instead opting to use EIS (Electronic Image Stabilization.) However, it all works as DxOMark tested the camera and awarded it an '89' – the highest rating yet for a smartphone camera. Google also included an 8MP front-facing camera (FFC) that comes with a f/2.0 aperture, a 1.4µm pixel size, and 1080p video support. This combination of specs will give you some great social media selfies to share with your friends as well as video chatting.
There are many accolades for the new Google Pixels, but one of them is not a great value. The pricing is rather high as there are not a lot of 'bells and whistles' such as a heart rate monitor, or memory expansion. You do enjoy Google Assistant built in that will work with other Google products such as Google Home. It will be running Android 7.1 Nougat out of the box and receive the fastest software updates. It is only IP53 rated against dust and splashing water. 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 (a limited edition color.) The Pixel XL comes with either 32GB or 128GB of storage, and it will cost you about $770 for the 32GB model.
Xiaomi Mi Note 2
It was a long time coming, but it looks like it was worth waiting for Xiaomi to launch its most powerful device, the Mi Note 2. Except for its Full HD display resolution, the Mi Note 2 looks the part of a Galaxy Note 7. It has the dual curved AMOLED display and the same '3D Glass' backing and the front 'Home' button. The Mi Note 2 was initially designed to go up against the Galaxy Note 7, and it will be interesting to see just how well it sells now that the Note 7 is out of the picture. It could give Xiaomi a crack in the door if enough users hear about the device – albeit minus the S-Pen. We are looking at the soon to be released Global model for sale in the US that will handle all of the carriers. Let's see how well it holds up to the Google Pixel XL flagship.
The Xiaomi Mi Note 2 sports a large 5.7-inch AMOLED display, but only a Full HD resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels giving it 386 PPI because of the larger screen size. Xiaomi wisely grabbed the revised 64-bit Snapdragon 821 quad-core processor with dual cores clocked at 1.6GHz and dual cores clocked at 2.15GHz and paired it with the Adreno 530 GPU. The Global model packs 6GB of DDR4 RAM and 128GB of non-expandable internal memory.
Xiaomi worked with two Sony lenses and did an excellent job in the camera area. It sports a 22.5MP Sony lens for its primary camera, an aperture of f/2.0, phase detection autofocus (PDAF,) a dual-tone LED flash, and EIS gyro for stability. For its FFC it uses a nice sized 8MP Sony sensor with a f/2.0 aperture, and autofocus capabilities to give you great selfies or video chatting. The Mi Note 2 uses a large 4070mAh non-removable battery with Quick Charge 3.0 for when you need a rapid charge.
The Xiaomi Mi Note 2 comes with its Hi-Res audio, and that means some great sounds through the earphones. It has no dust or water resistance built-in. The Global model of the Mi Note 2 is their first foray into the US market – it operates on 37 Bands and covers all US carriers. It has a fingerprint sensor for unlocking the device and NFC for authorizing mobile payments. It measures 156.2 x 77.3 x 7.6 mm and weighs in at 166 grams. It has an IR Blaster built-in, and it comes in Piano Black and Glacier Silver. The phone comes with Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow, and the company's MIUI 8 OS installed on top of it. The price is a mere $515 for this flagship.
…And The Winner Is…
The Final Word
This was a tough decision – other than the Pixel's QHD display, these two devices are very evenly matched, and neither one can expand their internal memory. True the Pixel has Nougat already installed and will receive those fast updates, but that shouldn't be the only reason you purchase a device. With all of their similarities in specifications, we must turn to looks and design where the Mi Note 2 blows the Pixel out of the water. Then there is pricing, where the Mi Note 2 easily outdoes the Pixel XL – it looks like a Mi Note 2 win to me.
The Xiaomi Mi Note 2, besides all of the same specs and much better looks, has a larger display, standard 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage, and a much larger battery. You get all of this for almost $260 less than the 32GB Google Pixel XL.
If you are into pure vanilla Android and must have the fastest updates, feel you need Google Assistant on your phone, and do not mind the extra money, then the Pixel XL will not disappoint. But if you want a kickass looking device and do not mind saving almost $300, then the Mi Note 2 should be your choice.