Do we have a good one for you today – the Google Pixel 2 XL goes up against the HTC U11 – two flagship devices with two great cameras. The HTC U11 made its debut in June while the Pixel 2 XL was released last month. As different as these two phones are, they have a lot in common, right up to the squeezable sides and Google Assistant. The HTC U11 is absolutely gorgeous from the back, but it looks very ‘2015’ from the front with its large top and bottom bezels. The Pixel 2 XL, on the other hand, looks more modern from the front because of its small bezels, while its back could also be described as somewhat passé. While most people will immediately go for the Pixel 2 XL, HTC has packed many features into this solid smartphone, all for $200 less than the Pixel 2 XL. While these two devices do share many of the same internal parts and specs, the overall feel of them is quite different. Let’s take a look to see just what these two handsets have in common and then we will take a closer look at each one of them.
The Google Pixel 2 XL and the HTC U11 share a QHD display resolution, almost identical pixel density, and Corning's Gorilla Glass 5 for protection. These two devices share the same Snapdragon 835 processor and the Adreno 540 GPU. Both have a base of 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal memory, although only the HTC U11’s is expandable. Both use a single 12-megapixel camera and take excellent photos, with the Pixel 2 XL beating out the HTC U11 in professional testing. They both use a non-removable battery and offer rapid charge features. The devices are very similar in physical size and weight and both have stereo speakers. Both have Bluetooth (v5.0 in the Pixel and v4.2 in the U11), IP67 dust and water resistance, Google Assistant, squeezable frames, and a USB Type-C port for charging and data transfers.
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 almost lost its loyal Nexus supporters when it announced the shelving of the Nexus lineup and a new Pixel series of phones last year. The newer line was definitely a step up in quality and specs, but a major leap in price as well. While the devices remain unlocked, Verizon is the sole seller among the U.S. carriers, and as such, you can purchase the new handsets on a payment plan to avoid the initial outlay of cash. In this comparison, we are looking at the Pixel 2 XL, the larger, more advanced member of the Pixel 2 family that has a modern day look with a nearly bezel-less 18:9 display. You will find Android 8.0 running on the new Pixels, as well as Google Assistant. The newer design includes Active Edge, but only allows you to summon Google Assistant or silence an incoming phone call. Google Lens is a new feature that allows you to identify objects and interact with the world through the prism of augmented reality. The 64GB model will cost you $849 and the 128GB model will set you back $949.
The Pixel 2 XL uses a 6-inch P-OLED QHD panel with a resolution of 2880 x 1440 pixels which results in about 538 pixels per inch. Google followed the new trend this year by using an 18:9 aspect ratio for the display. This allows two square sections on the display for multi-window operations. The Pixel 2 XL uses an Always-On screen for notifications which prevents the user from having to wake up the device and use the main display to read the notices. This saves battery life as well as making it more convenient for the user to glance down and see the notifications.
The Pixel 2 XL uses the most powerful processor currently available – the same one found inside the Samsung Galaxy S8, Galaxy Note 8, LG V30, and the HTC U11 – the Snapdragon 835 octa-core SoC clocked at 2.35GHz and paired with the Adreno 540 GPU. The device comes with 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM and either 64GB or 128GB of non-expandable internal memory.
The cameras on the previous Nexus models were merely adequate, but when Google launched the Pixel line last year, its camera shot to the top of the charts. The Pixel 2 models use the same basic camera with a few improvements, and once again, it is rated as the best camera available on a smartphone. The single 12-megapixel sensor has an aperture of f/1.8, it uses both EIS and OIS for stabilization, laser autofocus and PDAF, and a dual-tone LED flash. The front-facing camera sports an 8-megapixel sensor, an aperture of f/2.4, and has a fixed focus. The 3,520mAh battery will easily get you through an entire day and features fast charging support.
When we reviewed the Pixel 2 XL, it left a great impression but it does lack expandable memory, has no 3.5mm headphone jack, and comes with a big price tag. Google Assistant is here, as well as the new Google Lens and the Active Edge feature which should be similar to the Edge Sense on the HTC U11. Although it lacks Hi-Res audio, the Pixel 2 XL does come with front-facing stereo speakers. You won’t find a 3.5mm headphone jack, but Google does supply the dongle that plugs into the Type-C port with the headphone adapter on the other end. Again, not IP68-certified, but Google did give the Pixel 2 XL an IP67 rating. Of course, it is running the newest Android 8.0 Oreo and will receive the fastest updates for three years. 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 who will allow you to get it with monthly payments.
It was not that many years ago when an HTC smartphone was the device to own, but all of the changed as Samsung and LG took over the Android market. In 2017, which seems to be the year of change, HTC released the U Ultra, and then the new HTC U11. The U11 has a beautiful all-glass design with all the right curves to make it easy to grasp, as well as a fingerprint magnet. It is full of up-to-date technologies, includes a great camera, and some real innovation with its Edge Sense functionality. The only things that hold it back are its larger bezels, no 3.5mm headphone jack, and a 16:9 display. Just how well does this feature set compete with the new Google Pixel 2 XL?
The HTC U11 uses a 5.5-inch Super LCD5 display with a QHD resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels and a pixel density of 534ppi. HTC stuck with the 16:9 display ratio rather than jumping on board with the other flagships and upping that ratio to 18:9. There is no Always-On or secondary display for notifications, but HTC does use Gorilla Glass 5 to protect the screen of the flagship. HTC did include the most popular and up-to-date processor available when the device was released – the Snapdragon 835 octa-core SoC clocked at 2.45GHz backed by the Adreno 540 GPU. The HTC U11 comes with 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM and 64GB of expandable internal memory thanks to its dedicated microSD card slot supporting up to 256GB of additional storage.
HTC, like Google, is sticking with a single rear camera, and why not when you can get results like these two devices? The HTC U11 uses a 12-megapixel sensor that relies on HTC’s exclusive UltraPixel 3 technology. It comes with a large f/1.7 aperture, PDAF, OIS, and a dual-tone LED flash. During our testing, the focusing was fast and the pictures were consistently good. HTC uses a large 16-megapixel secondary camera with an aperture of f/2.0 for selfies and video chatting. A 3,000mAh non-removable battery powers the device and has Quick Charge 3.0 support but offers no wireless charging.
After reviewing the HTC U11, we really liked HTC’s efforts. The all-glass design is beautiful, even if it does show every fingerprint. It includes Hi-Res audio and stereo speakers that provide one of the best listening experiences on a smartphone to date. You won’t find a 3.5mm headphone jack, but HTC supplies you with the necessary dongle that plugs into the USB Type-C port with the headphone adapter on the other end. While it's not IP68-certified, it does have an IP67 rating. The HTC U11 may not be running pure Android, but its Sense UI overlay is light and fast. The Edge Sense allows for a slew of options when you squeeze the sides of the device and is not just a gimmick but an extremely useful feature. You also receive a set of USonic headphones with your purchase, adding to the U11’s value. The HTC U11 measures 153.9 x 75.9 x 7.9mm and weighs in at 169 grams. It is available in Amazing Silver, Sapphire Blue, Brilliant Black, Ice White, and Solar Red. The U11 will cost about $650 with 64GB of RAM and is available unlocked from the Amazon, Best Buy and Sprint who will allow you to purchase it on a monthly payment plan.
...And The Winner Is...
The Final Word
As much as we like the Google Pixel 2 XL, we have to pick the HTC U11 as the winner in this comparison. If you want pure vanilla Android and the best camera out there, then you should spend the extra $200 and get the Pixel 2 XL. However, HTC uses a very ‘lite’ overlay and its camera is nothing to sneeze at. Add to that expandable memory, Hi-Res audio, and a much better iteration of what you can do with a squeezable edge, as well as a generally eye-catching device (especially from the back) – not to mention $200 in savings – and the HTC U11 ends up being the winner.
The Pixel 2 XL sports half an inch larger P-OLED display, is running Android 8.0 Oreo, has a newer version of Bluetooth, and boasts a slightly larger battery – but are those worth $200? The HTC U11’s battery is sufficient to get you through an entire day on a single charge and most people will not even care about what Bluetooth version their device is running. HTC’s Edge Sense allows you to do so much more than Pixel’s Active Edge. As long as you don’t mind the larger bezels on the HTC U11, the Taiwanese company's Android flagship is the clear winner in this comparison.