Do we have a good one for you today – the Google Pixel 2 XL goes up against it archenemy, the Apple iPhone 8 Plus. Both phones are Google's and Apple's everyday flagships designed to compete against the Samsung's and the LGs. I know I will hear about this comparison from both sides of the aisle that we should not be comparing an Android and Apple phone and I say, “why not?” We need to know what our competition is doing and if our beloved Android is keeping up or surpassing iOS. The year 2017 marks the tenth anniversary of the iPhone – and whether we like to admit it or not, it changed the way we think about smartphones. Even running an Android OS, the Nexus models were never quite up to par with the best that Apple had to offer. However, all of that changed when Google introduced their new Pixel models last year and the new Pixel 2 XL can hold its own against any iPhone 8 or 8 Plus. Before we examine each individual device, we will first see what these two flagships have in common, if anything.
When looking at the specs for these two devices, you can see that they are very different from each other, although their physical size is almost identical with the iPhone 8 Plus weighing in a full 27 grams heavier. The Google Pixel 2 XL and the Apple iPhone 8 Plus both use a different aspect ratio, different display technology, and different display size. Both use a special glass for protection on the front, a metal frame, and a glass backing (partial on the Pixel 2 XL) – Gorilla Glass 5 on the Pixel 2 XL, but the iPhone 8 Plus is unknown. Both come standard with 64GB of RAM and both offer no expandable memory – you can purchase a 128GB Pixel 2 XL or a 256GB iPhone 8 Plus model. The Pixel 2 XL offers Google Cloud storage and the iPhone 8 Plus offers iCloud storage. Both devices use a 12-megapixel for their primary shooter, but the iPhone 8 Plus has two of them. They both have a quick charge option, with the iPhone 8 Plus including wireless charging. The Pixel 2 XL and iPhone 8 Plus will work on all major US carriers, and include WiFi, BT 5.0, facial recognition, stereo speakers, IP67 water resistance, a fingerprint sensor, and some form of a personal assistant. Both are running the most recent OS for their respective brands. They both lack a 3.5mm headphone jack and must use an adapter to use wired headphones.
Please take a careful look at the detailed specifications comparison chart below and here you will see just how these two great Android flagships stack up against each other on paper. After that, we will look at each handset in more detail and point out some of its pros and cons. From all of this information, we will try to determine the winner based on overall specs and the execution of design and functions.
Google Pixel 2 XL
Google’s new line of Pixel 2 smartphones are the best that Google has ever sold. The Pixel 2 XL is a top-of-the line device that can hold its own with almost any Samsung, LG, and even Apple phone on the market. It is truly the pinnacle of Google’s design and software with its top of the line technology and Android 8.0 Oreo. Google realizes that if they want to compete with Apple they had to up the quality (and price) and try to define their own ecosystem. Once again, DxOMark has rated the new Pixel 2 camera the best mobile shooter on the market even though it only has one camera. Google has followed Apple’s lead and some other high-end devices by eliminating the 3.5mm headphone jack. Google added Active Edge and Google Lens as well as an improved Google Assistant.
The Google Pixel 2 XL has the newest 18:9 ratio display with small bezels – but no curved edges. Google went with a 6-inch P-OLED QHD display with a resolution of 2880 x 1440 pixels and a density of about 538 pixels-per-inch (PPI). The new 18:9 ratio gives the user a better entertainment experience when watching movies or playing games, as well as two perfect squares for dual-window multitasking. Google also included the Always-On display to make it easier on the battery and the user to check notifications without having to open their device.
The Pixel 2 XL followed the other 2017 flagships and used the powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 octa-core processor with one quad-core clocked at 1.9GHz and another quad-core clocked at 2.35GHz. This is paired up to the Adreno 540 GPU for outstanding graphics whether you are watching a graphic intense movie or playing a video game. The Pixel 2 XL comes with 4GB of DDR4 RAM and a base of 64GB of non-expandable internal memory, but you are given Google Cloud space for free. For an additional $100, you can purchase the 128GB model.
Google’s Nexus devices were never concerned about real picture quality, but all of that changed when Google came out with their Pixel smartphones. The Pixel model quickly shot to the top on DxOMark’s ratings and the Pixel 2 models – adding a few improvements – jumped right to the front of the line. The primary camera is 12-megapixel with an aperture of f/1.8, with both PDAF and laser autofocus, EIS and OIS for stabilization, and a dual-tone LED flash. The front-facing camera (FFC) is 8-megapixel, with an aperture of f/2.4, and fixed focus. The Pixel 2 XL has a large battery at 3,520mAh that will get you through an entire day and offers fast charging, but no wireless charging.
Google has developed a very impressive device in the Pixel 2 XL, with its biggest downfalls being no memory expansion and no 3.5mm headphone jack. Although it lacks any Hi-Res audio, it does provide two front-mounted stereo speakers. Google Assistant continues to improve, giving Siri a run for its money and you can summon it by squeezing the edges of the device. This Active Edge is a nice feature, but Google needs to do more with it – possibly a software upgrade. Google gave the new Pixel 2’s IP67 dust and water resistance and a promise of three years’ worth of updates. The Pixel 2 XL measures 157.9 x 76.7 x 7.9mm and weighs in at 175 grams. It is available in two colors – Just Black and Black & White. The Pixel 2 XL will cost about $849 with 64GB of RAM and $949 with 128GB of RAM and is available from the Google Store, Best Buy and as a carrier exclusive of Verizon where you can purchase it with monthly payments.
Apple iPhone 8 Plus
Apple has always amazed me with their marketing skills. They somehow can make buyers think that they were the first company to employ new technology – and their loyal fans buy into that notion. In reality, they are generally behind when it comes to AMOLED displays, larger displays, higher resolution displays, smaller bezels, and software flexibility. The Apple iPhone X helps a lot in this area, but it took Apple ten years to make those changes. Let’s see just how well the iPhone 8 Plus holds up to the Google Pixel 2 XL.
The iPhone 8 Plus uses a 5.5-inch LED backlit IPS LCD display with a pixel ratio of 1920 x 1080 that amounts to 401 PPI with the older 16:9 display ratio. It retains Apple’s 3D Touch capabilities, which is a nice feature allowing the user to apply multiple pressures on the display for additional options. It uses its own Apple A11 Bionic chip and their Apple GPU for graphics but offers no speed specifications - suffice it to say, it is fast. It packs only 3GB of RAM and a base of 64GB of non-expandable memory – you must purchase the 256GB model if you want more internal storage.
At one time Apple had the bragging rights when it came to smartphone cameras, but many Android flagship devices have passed the iPhone by during the last two years – in fact, the Google Pixel 2 XL is the number one rated camera. The iPhone 8 Plus offers dual 12-megapixel cameras mounted in a horizontal position on the back left edge of the device. They have an aperture of f/1.8 and f/2.8 with OIS, PDAF, quad-LED dual-tone flash, and 2X Optical Zoom. The FCC is a 7-megapixel affair with an aperture of f/2.2 for selfies and Appletalk video chatting. Apple included a non-removable 2,691mAh battery with a rapid charge feature and finally included wireless charging, but only for the Qi format.
The Apple iPhone 8 Plus does have stereo speakers – one is the earpiece and the second is on the bottom edge of the phone – and now offers IP67 certification for dust and water resistance. The fingerprint sensor on the iPhone 8 Plus is front mounted and the large bezels make the device look very outdated. You are limited to Apple Pay so your mobile payments are limited only to merchants that purchased the necessary hardware to accept Apple Pay. As with all Apple iPhones, the iPhone 8 Plus has no 3.5mm headphone jack and uses Apple’s proprietary Lightning Port with an included dongle to use wired headphones. Apple’s heralded Siri is ready, willing, and able to serve you. It arrives with iOS 11 and will be updated yearly. It measures 158.4 x 78.1 x 7.5mm, and weighs in at a hefty 202 grams. It is available in Gold, Silver, or Space Gray. The iPhone 8 Plus will cost about $800 outright for the 64GB model.
...And The Winner Is...
The Final Word
I have to crown the Google Pixel 2 XL as the winner of this comparison – not because it is an Android phone, but because of its looks, the specs, and flexibility of the OS, it is the better device. The Pixel 2 XL has a larger display, a higher resolution, OLED technology, 18:9 aspect ratio, and an Always-On notifications display. It packs more RAM, has the top-rated camera, a larger battery, and NFC that can be used for more than just Android Pay. It has a standard Type-C port, has better stereo speakers than the iPhone, IP67 dust and water resistance, and cloud storage. It also has Active Edges and Google Lens, besides the wonderful customizations that Android 8.0 Oreo allows.
The Apple iPhone 8 Plus is a great device – well-built, fast, and smooth operating – although its looks are getting a bit dated with its large bezels and home key. Once you get past its powerful processor, you have only a Full HD resolution, wireless charging, a smaller battery, limited to Apple Pay, and a closed iOS. Yes, it does have dual cameras, but the Pixel 2 XL beat it out in the DxOMark testing. With pricing very similar, you are better off buying the more modern and feature laden Pixel 2 XL.