OnePlus 6 vs. Google Pixel 2 XL: What difference does $300 make?

By offering flagship-level specs at a price hundreds of dollars less than the competition, the OnePlus 6 has shown the world why it deserves to be known as the flagship killer. But what’s in a name, and how does the OnePlus 6 actually fare when it goes head-to-head with one of the top flagships of the moment? To find out, we put the OnePlus 6 against the best Google has to offer — the Google Pixel 2 XL.

Specs

OnePlus 6 Google Pixel 2 XL
Size 155.7 x 75.4 x 7.8 mm (6.13 x 2.97 x 0.31 inches) 157.9 x 76.7 x 7.9 mm (6.22 x 3.02 x 0.31 inches)
Weight 177 grams (6.24 ounces) 175 grams (6.17 ounces)
Screen size 6.28-inch AMOLED display 6-inch P-OLED display
Screen resolution 2,280 x 1,080 pixels (402 pixels per inch) 2,880 x 1,440 pixels (538 ppi)
Operating system Android 8.1 Oreo Android 8.1 Oreo
Storage space 64GB (with 6GB of RAM), 128GB, 256GB (both with 8GB of RAM)
64GB, 128GB
MicroSD card slot No No
Tap-to-pay services Google Pay Google Pay
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
RAM 6GB, 8GB 4GB
Camera Dual 16MP and 20MP rear, 16MP front 12.2MP (with OIS) rear, 8MP front
Video Up to 4K at 60 frames per second, 1080p at 240 fps, 720p at 480 fps super slow motion, HDR Up to 4K at 30 fps, 1080p at 120 fps, 720p at 240 fps
Bluetooth version Bluetooth 5.0 Bluetooth 5.0
Ports 3.5mm headphone jack, USB-C USB-C
Fingerprint sensor Yes (back) Yes (back)
Water resistance No IP67
Battery 3,300mAh

DashCharge

3,520mAh

Fast charging

App marketplace Google Play Store Google Play Store
Network support AT&T and T-Mobile T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint
Colors Midnight Black, Mirror Black, Silk White Just Black, Black & White
Price $530 $850
Buy from OnePlus Google, Amazon
Review score 4.5 out of 5 stars 4.5 out of 5 stars

Performance, battery life, and charging

oneplus 6 hands on chrome
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The OnePlus 6 comes with Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 845 processor, and the benchmarks from our OnePlus 6 review show that OnePlus is using that power well, with results that beat some of the flagships from this year. Being a 2017 flagship, the Pixel 2 XL doesn’t have the luxury of the Snapdragon 845’s power and instead relies on the older Snapdragon 835. In terms of benchmarking and power on paper, the OnePlus 6 has it beat. But in real-world terms, the Pixel 2 XL has the advantage of Google’s Android expertise — simply put, the Pixel 2 XL works so well with Android that it’s an exceptionally smooth mover, and though the OnePlus 6 is also silky smooth, it’s hard to separate them in real terms.

We need more time with the OnePlus 6 to be sure of its battery capabilities, but from our initial testing, the OnePlus 6 will last at least a day. That puts it on par with the Pixel 2 XL’s larger battery, but it remains to be seen whether the OnePlus 6 can stretch out for longer. In terms of charging speed, OnePlus’ Dash Charge is one of the fastest charging methods on the planet, with OnePlus promising a day’s worth of charge in 30 minutes. While the Pixel 2 XL is also a speedy charger, topping up 40 percent in just 40 minutes, we give it to the OnePlus 6 charger here.

It’s exceptionally hard to choose a winner here, and while the OnePlus 6 has the raw power and numbers to back it up, the Pixel 2 XL’s performance speaks for itself. This has to be a tie.

Winner: Tie

Design and durability

Google Pixel 2 XL back
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

To call the Pixel 2 XL’s looks divisive would be an understatement — while we like the unique two-tone blend of metal and glass, there’s definitely a difference of opinion, even in our offices. By contrast, the OnePlus 6 is one of the most gorgeous phones we’ve seen to date, with a beautiful mirror finish on the glass body. They’re both in line with the latest bezel-less trends, but the inclusion of a notch on the OnePlus 6 is sure to cause some consternation, but that may be balanced by the lack of a headphone jack on Google’s phone.

You’re going to want a case for both of these phones — glass may look amazing, but it’s only so strong and one careless moment could ruin your phone’s looks. The Pixel 2 XL comes with an IP67-rating, giving it some water-resistance, while the OnePlus 6 lacks an IP rating, so be careful around the toilet.

This is another tough category to judge — the OnePlus 6 is probably the more attractive phone, but we don’t find the Pixel 2 XL’s unique looks bad at all. For those to whom durability is a bigger issue, the water-resistance on the Pixel 2 XL is the clincher here. For others, the lack of headphone jack on the Pixel 2 XL will mean the OnePlus 6 wins. This is another draw.

Winner: Tie

Display

oneplus 6 hands on home screen
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

You’ll find OLED tech in both of these screens, and they’re both crisp, and capable of showing a huge depth of colors and inky blacks. In terms of color reproduction and quality, there’s not much to really separate the two. However, you’ll find a much higher resolution (and therefore, a sharper display) on the Pixel 2 XL’s 6-inch screen, with a resolution of 2,880 x 1,440 pixels going up against the OnePlus 6’s 2,280 x 1,080-pixel display. While you might be hard-pressed to tell the difference in normal usage, the Pixel 2 XL’s display is the superior here.

Winner: Google Pixel 2 XL

Camera

Google Pixel 2 XL camera app
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The OnePlus 6 comes with a dual-lens system in the rear of the phone, with the 16-megapixel and 20-megapixel lenses working together to provide an excellent camera experience. While we haven’t had a chance to really put it through its paces yet, the initial signs for the OnePlus 6’s camera are good. But it’s up against one of the greats here — the Pixel 2 XL has been on top of our list of the best camera phones for some time, and it’s going to take a monumental effort to shift it. What everyone else does with two lenses Google does proudly with one. It’s quite simply one of the best cameras in the business for shooting still images.

It’s more of a mismatch in video. The OnePlus 6 can shoot 4K video at a full 60 frames per second, as well as slow-motion video at 480 fps — the Pixel 2 XL can only shoot 4K at 30 fps and slow-motion at 120 fps. However, how much of a difference either one of those makes to your daily life is purely personal — for us, images are more important than video.

Without having fully completed our tests on the OnePlus 6, it’s impossible to deliver a real verdict here. The Pixel 2 XL is one of the finest camera phones around right now, but a good number of phones are nipping at its heels, or exceeding it in different areas. The OnePlus 6 could be one of them. This is a tie.

Winner: Tie

Software and updates

oneplus 6 hands on apps
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

If you want the most up-to-date version of Android, then you’re in luck. Both of these phones have the latest build of Android — Android 8.1 Oreo. If you prefer the stock Android experience, then the Pixel 2 XL is about as stock as you can get, while the OnePlus 6’s OxygenOS Android skin is still a pleasure to use.

In terms of update speed, while OnePlus is generally quite quick with updates, Google literally makes Android — so the Pixel range is always going to get the latest Android builds first. That includes the upcoming Android P — although both these phones can access the Android P beta right now.

Winner: Google Pixel 2 XL

Special features

Google Pixel 2 XL in hand ok google
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The OnePlus 6 is a flagship-level phone with a midrange price point — as such, there probably wasn’t much room to cram in extra features once the basics were polished. However, there are a couple of additional options that might catch your eye. There’s an optional gesture system, similar to the iPhone X and Nova Launcher software, as well as the slide-in Shelf, which shows recent apps, contacts, and other useful info.

The Pixel 2 XL is similar, being mostly a stock Android experience. There are a few additions though. Google Assistant is obviously closely tied into the phone, with the Pixel 2 range having the special “Now Playing” feature that identifies music around you without needing a command. Google has taken a page from HTC’s book with squeezable sides that trigger commands — here known as Active Edge. It’s useful, especially to activate Google Assistant without needing a voice command. Plus, there’s always Google’s Daydream VR.

There’s not much to pick from here, but we think the Pixel 2 XL edges its rival with just slightly more useful features.

Winner: Google Pixel 2 XL

Price

Here’s the big difference. You can grab the Google Pixel 2 XL right now, and buying it from Google means you can get the phone on any major U.S. carrier. Buying one SIM-free will set you back $850. In contrast, the OnePlus 6 will only set you back $530, but it’ll only work on AT&T and T-Mobile. Still, that’s one heck of a price difference.

Overall winner: Google Pixel 2 XL

That was one heck of a battle, and it’s a close result. Despite having the older hardware, the Pixel 2 XL’s close relationship with Android really means it comes out ahead, even against newer hardware. It’s an amazing piece of tech, and really showcases how well Google can tune software to match hardware perfectly. For our money, it’s the consistently superior of the two.

With that said, there’s really not much in it, and with the OnePlus 6 being more than $300 cheaper than the Pixel 2 XL, OnePlus’ newest flagship wouldn’t be a bad choice at all — especially if you can’t bear to lose your headphone jack, or if your budget (understandably) doesn’t stretch to $800 for a phone.

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