We have a great matchup for you today – the Google Pixel 2 takes on the Sony Xperia XZ1. Here we have two "retro-looking" devices with hordes of followers that are very dedicated to their brand. Some Nexus/Pixel users will have nothing to do with any other brand of smartphones and many Sony fans show the same devotion to the Xperia series. These devices are just coming out, both look similar from the front with their large bezels, have excellent cameras, use the same system-on-chip, and both come running Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box, with the Pixel 2 having a small price advantage of $50 over the Xperia XZ1. Which one of these devices has what it takes to win this comparison? These questions and more are what we hope to answer with this comparison. Before we look at each individual device, let’s take a look at what they have in common.
The Pixel 2 and the Xperia XZ1 have several similar features. Their displays use different technologies but are very close to the same size and both use Gorilla Glass 5 for protection. They both use the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor with the Adreno 540 GPU, 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM, and a base of 64GB of internal flash memory. The two devices use a single camera lens with laser autofocus and PDAF support. The 2,700mAh battery size is used by both smartphones and comes with quick charging support. The Pixel 2 and the Xperia XZ1 both have stereo speakers, a form of water and dust resistance, Bluetooth 5.0 support, a USB Type-C port, and ship with Android 8.0 Oreo.
Please take a thoughtful look at the detailed specifications comparison chart below and you will see just how these two great devices stack up against one another. After that, we will look at each device in greater depth and point out some of its pros and cons. Based on that information, we will try to determine the winner in terms of a combination of specs, design, and general functionality.
Google Pixel 2
The Google Pixel 2 lineup is now a reality and both models are worth a look, although the Pixel 2 that we are looking at in this comparison looks a little dated with its large bezels. However, we are comparing it to the Sony Xperia XZ1, another design which critics would say is lost in time. Still, the Pixel 2 models do use the best processor/GPU out there and have switched to the AMOLED display technology. The Pixel 2 model does keep the older 16:9 aspect ratio and also incorporates an Active Edge that lets the user ‘squeeze’ the sides of the phone to launch Google Assistant without a voice command or silence an incoming phone call, among other things. Google Lens is another feature that can identify details about photos and remains exclusive to the Pixel 2 series for the time being. Pricing is also a consideration – the standard 64GB model will cost you $650. Verizon is once again the exclusive dealer of the Pixel 2 phones, although you can still buy them unlocked to work on any U.S. carrier.
The Google Pixel 2 sports a 5-inch AMOLED display with a Full HD resolution of 1,960 by 1,080 pixels and a density of 441 pixels per inch (PPI). Google kept the 16:9 aspect ratio on the smaller Pixel 2 display. It uses the Always-On display feature for notifications, which helps save battery life by not having to turn-on the main display unless you need more information about your notifications. Both new Pixel 2 models use the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 octa-core processor clocked at 2.35GHz and an Adreno 540 GPU for rendering – the same as the Xperia XZ1. The Pixel 2 has no expandable memory but besides the basic 64GB, you can also order a 128GB model, with both variants having 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM.
The older Nexus models had a decent camera, but when Google switched over to the Pixel line, it upgraded the camera to the best in the industry. We are happy to say that the new Pixel 2 models keep up with that tradition. They use a single camera with a 12-megapixel sensor with an aperture of f/1.8, both EIS and OIS support, laser autofocus and PDAF, and a dual-tone flash. The front-facing camera used for selfies and video chatting is an 8-megapixel unit with fixed focus and an f/2.4 aperture. Because of the processor, FHD display, and Android 8.0, the small, non-removable, 2,700mAh battery will still make it through an entire day with no issues. When you do need to charge the device, fast charging support will make that process relatively swift.
Like all Google phones, the Pixel 2 is a device for a Google purist. Its looks are a little dated, but it should compete nicely with other flagships when it comes to specs. Its biggest drawbacks are a small display and the lack of expandable memory. Another thing to consider is its availability, which has always been a problem with Google’s devices. It has the highest-rated camera on the market and its Camera Lens and Active Edge are attractive unique features. While it does not have Hi-Res Audio, it does feature stereo speakers on the front but no 3.5mm headphone jack. Google finally added water resistance this year, but only IP67. not the IP68-rated one found on most flagships, including the Xperia XZ1. Of course, the Pixel 2 is running Android 8.0 Oreo out of the -box, as is the XZ1, but the Pixel 2 will most certainly receive the fastest Android updates. The Pixel 2 measures 145.7 x 69.7 x 7.8mm and weighs in at 143 grams. It is available in three colors – Just Black, Clearly White, and Kinda Blue. The Pixel 2 will cost about $650 with 64GB of storage and is available for purchase from the Google Store, Best Buy and as a wireless carrier exclusive through Verizon. If you buy it from Verizon, the company will allow you to finance it over 24 months.
Sony Xperia XZ1
The new Sony Xperia XZ1 still looks like a typical Sony-designed smartphone, as the company's main design has not changed for years. That’s not to imply it is a bad-looking phone or that Sony does not make small improvements each year, just that you're not getting the latest popular aesthetic with it. Most smartphone manufacturers are doing away with bezels and going with larger, edge-to-edge QHD displays now, but Sony proudly holds on to its rather ‘blockish’ look with large bezels on the top and bottom and smaller FHD displays, though the company will reportedly make a change in this regard next year. The Xperia XZ1 does have the latest processor/GPU, great battery life, stereo speakers, and a solid camera. It is also the first non-Google smartphone to run Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box. The U.S. model only works on AT&T and T-Mobile and Sony is still disabling the fingerprint sensor on its U.S. smartphones. Let’s see just how it compares to the new Google Pixel 2.
The Xperia XZ1 sports Sony’s 5.2-inch Triluminos IPS LCD display with the normal 16:9 aspect ratio. It is a Full HD display with a pixel resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 and a density of 424 PPI. Sony also uses Corning Gorilla Glass 5 for protecting the screen, but metal for the back of the device. Sony moved the antenna from the back to the sides, giving the overall appearance a more solid look, rather than one that appears to have been pieced together. The Xperia XZ1 uses the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 clocked at 2.35GHz and an Adreno 540 GPU found in the Pixel 2. It sports 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM and 64GB of expandable memory.
Sony has a reputation for camera lenses and many other smartphone manufacturers use a Sony lens in their devices. This expertise carries over to the Xperia XZ1, although it is still rated lower than the Pixel 2 in terms of its imaging capabilities. It comes with a main 19-megapixel sensor with an f/2.0 aperture, laser and phase detection autofocus, dual-LED flash, and EIS support. The secondary module uses a large 13-megapixel sensor with an f/2.0 aperture and a wide-angle lens with EIS. The Xperia XZ1 packs a 2,700mAh non-removable battery but it is running on a very efficient OS and a processor that is energy-conscious, in addition to having a small FHD display. The device incorporates Quick Charge 3.0 for fast charging and you should have no trouble getting through an entire day on a single charge.
Although the Sony Xperia XZ1 looks a little retro, Sony did make some updates to the body on the corners. The company also nicely rounded the edges to make the Android smartphone significantly more comfortable to hold and its antenna has been removed from the back and placed on the sides of the device. The Xperia XZ1 comes with IP68 certification for water and dust resistance, stereo speakers, Bluetooth 5.0, and NFC allowing you to use Android Pay. It is available in Black, Warm Silver, Venus Pink, and Moonlit Blue, depending on the market. It ships with Android 8.0 Oreo, measures 148 x 73.4 x 7.4mm in size, and weighs in at 155 grams, with prices starting at approximately $700.
...And The Winner Is...
The Final Word
Both devices have a similar look and many of their internal components are the same, but even without expandable memory, high-res audio, and a 3.5mm headphone jack, we have to pick the Google Pixel 2 as the winner of this comparison.
For starters, the Pixel 2 has an AMOLED display that incorporates the ‘Always-On’ feature. Its camera is widely regarded as the best mobile setup ever and it has a fingerprint sensor that functions, making it easier to use Android Pay and unlock the device. The Pixel 2 has Google Assistant built-in and an Active Edge feature which essentially acts as an unconventional but useful physical shortcut system. The Pixel 2 is usable on any U.S. network and if you're a Verizon customer, you can pay for it in installments and ultimately be set back $50 less than if you bought the Xperia XZ1. While both come with Android 8.0 Oreo, you can be sure that the Pixel 2 will receive its updates faster than the Xperia XZ1 will.
The Sony Xperia XZ1 is a solid device and it did well in our review, but with a higher price, lack of a fingerprint sensor, and being limited to only AT&T and T-Mobile in the U.S., it will take second place to the Pixel 2. It does have high-res audio, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and expandable memory, and if these features are must-haves for you, then the Xperia XZ1 would be your choice and you still wouldn't miss out on a lot as Sony's compact Android flagship is a truly great device in its own right.