I’ve been switching back and forth between my iPhone 6s Plus and our Google Pixel review unit, and I keep wishing I had the Pixel.
You should note that everything here is subjective. The iPhone has great features that the Pixel doesn’t have, and the Apple ecosystem is in a league of its own.
But damn the Pixel is good.
You should also note that I’m comparing the Pixel XL experience with my iPhone 6s and not the iPhone 7 series. That’s because I have more experience with the 6s Plus, as it has been my phone for the past year and a half. However, the iPhone 6s Plus isn’t that much different, as a whole, from the iPhone 7. The performance between the two phones is still comparable, and the iPhone 7’s camera upgrades aren’t as important as some of the Pixel’s more functional features.
Check out what I think makes the Pixel a better phone than the iPhone:
My iPhone 6s Plus' weight (192 grams) never bothered me until I picked up the Google Pixel XL (168 grams). The iPhone 7 Plus is slightly lighter than the 6s Plus at 188 grams, but that's a difference of only 4 grams, so I'd still consider the 7 heavy compared with the Pixel.
The Pixel's lighter weight has no ill effect on its reliability, and it's easier to manage in your hands.
The difference is slight, but it's there and noticeable on a device you hold and use many times a day.
The iPhone is in the lower end in terms of screen-to-bezel ratio (67.7%) compared with the Pixel XL (71.2%).
The Pixel's design is more utilitarian than it is beautiful, but its AMOLED screen outshines the iPhone's Retina display. Everything looks better on the Pixel than on the iPhone's LCD display. Pictures, videos, and apps pop with inky blacks and vibrant (but not oversaturated) colours on the Pixel, which makes for a more premium and modern look overall.
In the photo above (taken with the Pixel, by the way), the Pixel XL and the iPhone 6s Plus are showing the same photo on full brightness. The iPhone's LCD screen is nice, but the colours aren't as rich, and the contrast isn't as pronounced, as on the Pixel's display.
Also, the iPhone 7 Plus has a 1080p screen that's fine and sharp enough, but the Pixel's 1440p screen is sharper.
I don't like cases, but I have to use one for my iPhone. As nice as the iPhone's metal back and edges are, they don't offer any grip, and I've dropped and dinged my iPhone a couple of times as a result.
The glass inlay on the Pixel's back doesn't look particularly nice (it looks better on the white model), but it's actually a great grip for your index finger, which makes the Pixel feel more secure in your hands.
Above, tech YouTube channel SuperSaf TV tested the charging times of the Pixel XL, the iPhone 7 Plus, and the Galaxy S7 Edge with the chargers included in each phone's packaging. The Pixel XL is nearly 100% charged after two hours of charging, while the iPhone 7 Plus is dragging its feet at 72%. The Galaxy S7 wiped the floor with the other two, having charged to 100% after an amazing one hour, 29 minutes. Still, the Pixel charged faster than the iPhone.
Charging speed is actually a huge deal, especially for a device that's designed to be portable and mobile. It means your smartphone can spend less time tethered to a charging cord. The Pixel's USB-C fast charging is faster than the iPhone's comparatively slow charging, and it's one of the harder things to adjust to when switching back to the iPhone.
I can adjust Android to make it feel faster than iOS by cutting down, or removing altogether, the animations when I open apps and swipe between screens.
Apple's iOS has a 'Reduce Motion' option, but it seems to only change the default zoom-in and zoom-out animations when opening and closing apps to fade-in and fade-out animations. Apps don't appear to open or close any faster.
Android's Doze feature is exceptionally effective. It does a fantastic job of reducing the Pixel's power consumption when I'm not using it compared with iOS on my iPhone.
I simply get along better with Android than I do with iOS.
Apple still hasn't figured out how to show me notifications in iOS as well as Android does. They're easier to manage from the Android lock screen, where I can clear notifications away with one swipe compared with iOS' swipe-and-tap to clear. I can also pull down on the notifications to peek at more details compared with iOS, which doesn't show me very much.
Notifications also manage themselves better in Android. For example, when I open a new email or Hangouts conversation on my computer, Android will automatically clear those notifications on the Pixel, whereas they remain on my iPhone until I manually clear them.
It's also difficult in iOS to swipe up from the bottom of the screen for things like changing the brightness when the on-screen keyboard is on. On Android, I can easily swipe down from the top of the screen to access the most important settings from any app, whether the keyboard is on or off.
The universal back button that simply brings you back to the most recent screen or page you were on is incredibly useful, as it's always in the same place. On iOS, the back button for apps and screens can differ from app to app.
There's also the usual 'I can hide my apps in the app drawer and put them wherever I want on the home screen' customisation argument, which has been a classic Android argument since its release.
Finally, for those who use a voice-activated assistant, Google's Assistant has proved to be far more advanced than Siri, too.
Well, I paid actual money for my iPhone 6s Plus, and storing it away while I use the Pixel would feel like wasting that money. Sure, I could sell my iPhone on eBay to help pay for a new Pixel, but we're over halfway through the Pixel's estimated annual cycle, and we're expecting Google to announce a new Pixel in October. So, I think I'll hold on to my iPhone 6s Plus for now until the Pixel 2 comes out. Plus, my iPhone 6s Plus isn't a bad phone, it's actually very good and there's lots to love about it.
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