Sony Xperia XZ2 vs. Google Pixel 2 XL: Newest Sony flagship tackles Android king

Although the Samsung Galaxy S9 may be the headliner at this year’s Mobile World Congress, it’s not the only flagship that’s catching our eye. Sony announced the Xperia XZ2, its latest smartphone boasting an all new design along with a beefy Snapdragon 845 processor. While Sony’s newest flagship may offer some of the best hardware available, we wondered how it would do against one of our favorite smartphones from 2017, the Pixel 2 XL.

Even though both phones are perfectly capable, there are a lot of differences between the Pixel 2 XL and Xperia XZ2. Sony’s newest smartphone offers almost all the specs we’d expect from a 2018 flagship while Google built the Pixel 2 XL from the ground up to provide an absolutely seamless Android experience.

If you’re shopping for a new smartphone right now, you may be asking yourself whether you should opt for a tried and true device like the Pixel 2 XL or something entirely new like the Xperia XZ2. We need more hands-on time with Sony’s newest flagship before we can make a definitive call but for now, let’s compare the specs of the Xperia XZ2 with the Pixel 2 XL to see which smartphone comes out on top.

Specs

Xperia XZ2
sony xperia xz2 vs samsung galaxy 9 plus thumb
Pixel 2 XL
Google Pixel 2 XL vs. Apple iPhone X
Size  153 x 72 x 11.1 mm (6.02 x 2.83 x 0.44 inches) 157.9 x 76.7 x 7.9 mm (6.22 x 3.02 x 0.31 inches)
Weight  198 grams (6.98 ounces) 175 grams (6.17 ounces)
Screen  5.7-inch Triluminous LCD display 6-inch P-OLED display
 Resolution 2,160 x 1,080 pixels (424 ppi) 2,880 x 1,440 pixels (538 ppi)
OS  Android 8.0 Oreo Android 8.0 Oreo
Storage  64GB 64GB, 128GB
MicroSD card slot  Yes No
NFC support  Yes Yes
Processor  Snapdragon 845, with Adreno 630 Snapdragon 835, with Adreno 540
RAM  4GB 4GB
Connectivity GSM/HSPA/LTE, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi GSM, CDMA, HSPA, EVDO, LTE, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi
Camera 19 MP rear, 5 MP front 12.2 MP rear, 8 MP HD front
Video  4K at 30 fps, 1080p at 960 fps, 720p at 960 fps Up to 4K at 30 fps, 1080p at 120 fps, 720p at 240 fps
Bluetooth Yes, version 5.0 Yes, version 5.0
Fingerprint sensor Yes Yes
Other sensors Accelerometer, gyroscope, proximity sensor Gyroscope, accelerometer, compass, proximity sensor, barometer
Water resistant  Yes, IP68 rated Yes, IP67 rated
Battery 3,180mAh

Wireless Charging – Qi

Fast-charging

3,520mAh

Fast-charging

Charging port USB-C USB-C
Marketplace Google Play Store Google Play Store
Colors Liquid Black, Liquid Silver, Deep Green, Ash Pink Black, Black and White
Availability Best Buy Best Buy
Price $800 $849
DT review Hands-on 4.5 out of 5 stars

Although both the Xperia XZ2 and Pixel 2 XL are more than capable of handling the most strenuous smartphone tasks, Sony’s newest flagship definitely has the advantage. The Xperia XZ2 packs in this year’s latest and greatest Snapdragon 845 processor, theoretically giving it a 25 percent performance boost over the Pixel 2 XL’s Snapdragon 835 chip. We qualify the performance boost between the Xperia XZ2 and Pixel 2 XL, however, because Google’s flagship runs a stock version of Android 8.1 Oreo that isn’t lagged down by the theme and bloatware you’ll find on the newest Sony smartphone.

In terms of RAM, the Pixel 2 XL and Xperia XZ2 are tied. Both have the same 4GB of RAM on board, which should be plenty for most people. Both phones offer 64GB of internal storage in the base model, while the Pixel 2 XL also comes in an upgraded 128GB model. Although the Xperia XZ2 only comes with a 64GB option, it does also have a MicroSD card slot, allowing you to add up to 400GB of extra storage.

We don’t think you’ll really feel the difference in everyday use now, but the Xperia XZ2 offers a more powerful processor and superior storage capacity, making it the winner.

Winner: Xperia XZ2

Display, design, and durability

Xperaia XZ2
Julian Chokkattu / Digital Trends
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

In terms of design, the Xperia XZ2 is worlds apart from its predecessors. Gone is the boxy design Xperia had been known for; it has been replaced with Ambient Flow — Sony’s new design standard that favors rounded edges and a more-refined feel overall. Without a doubt, the Xperia XZ2 is the most attractive Sony handset to date, featuring a nearly bezel-less 5.7-inch display and glass back. You’ll also find stereo speakers discretely nestled in the front that are 20 percent louder than those on the Xperia XZ1.

Flip the Xperia XZ2 over and you’ll find a single lens camera and flash. Below the camera, there’s a working fingerprint sensor. There was a fingerprint sensor on the side of the Xperia XZ1, but it was deactivated in the U.S.

The 6-inch display dominates the front of the Pixel 2 XL and it is one of the sharpest displays we have ever seen with a resolution of 2880 x 1440 pixels, giving it a pixel-per-inch score of 538. Thin bezels top and bottom house the front-facing stereo speakers, microphone, front-facing camera, and a few other sensors. The Pixel 2 XL is a touch taller and wider than the Xperia XZ2, but the Sony phone is heavier.

In terms of durability, the Xperia XZ2 boasts an IP68 rating while the Pixel 2 XL has an IP67 rating. While they’re both water and dust resistant, the Xperia XZ2 has the edge here. If we’re looking at body components for the two phones, however, the aluminum body on the Pixel 2 XL is sure to weather drops and dings better than the Xperia XZ2, which is glass front and back.

Neither of these phones has a 3.5mm audio jack, but Sony provides USB-C headphones as well as an adapter for the Xperia XZ2. If you have a Pixel 2 XL, you’ll need to pony up for a set of USB-C or Bluetooth headphones.

The Pixel 2 XL has a slightly bigger and sharper display, but the Xperia XZ2 boasts a higher IP rating. They’re both attractive phones, so this one’s close, but we’re going to give it to the Pixel 2 XL.

Winner: Pixel 2 XL

Battery life and charging

sony xperia xz2 vs pixel 2 xl software

At 3,520mAh, the battery on the Pixel 2 XL is more than capable of getting you through the day. While the Xperia XZ2 has a slightly smaller battery at 3,180mAh, it also has a smaller screen and more efficient processor than the Pixel 2 XL. While we still need to test the Xperia XZ 2 out in the wild, we assume that the two phones will offer comparable battery life.

As for charging, the Xperia XZ2 supports Qualcomm Quick Charge, meaning you can potentially gain five hours of battery life with just five minutes on the charger (provided you’re using the right quick charging cable). The Pixel 2 XL supports fast charging, too, but at a slower rate, with a 15-minute charge providing up to seven hours of battery life.

In addition to quick charging, the Xperia XZ2 also supports wireless charging via the Qi standard, which is very handy if you have wireless phone chargers. Sadly, the Pixel 2 XL doesn’t support wireless charging. While the Pixel 2 XL boasts a slightly bigger battery, the Xperia XZ2 offers faster charging and wireless charging, making it the winner of this round.

Winner: Xperia XZ2

Cameras

Julian Chokkattu / Digital Trends
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Following in the footsteps of the Google Pixel 2 XL, the Xperia XZ2 comes with a single-lens rear camera. While Google has proven you can do some pretty amazing things with a single lens, a dual-lens setup for flagships looks like the norm in 2018.

On the Xperia XZ2 you’ll find a 19-megapixel rear-facing camera along with a 5-megapixel selfie cam. Although the camera hardware on the XZ2 sounds good on paper, we’ll have to wait and see if the image processing software has improved from last year’s Xperia XZ1, which offered underwhelming results.

With a DxOMark score of 98, the highest ever for a smartphone, the Pixel 2 XL is pretty hard to beat. It features a 12.2-megapixel rear-facing camera with an f/1.8 aperture, and an 8-megapixel front-facing camera.

During our hands-on time with the Xperia XZ2 we didn’t have an opportunity to do a full camera comparison with the Pixel 2 XL, but we did manage to grab a few test shots. While the Xperia XZ2 took perfectly adequate photos, the Pixel 2 XL was the clear winner.

On the video front, the Xperia XZ2 can shoot at 30 fps in 4K and a very impressive 960 fps in 1080p. Sony also claims the Xperia XZ2 is the first smartphone camera that offers 4K HDR recording. By contrast, the Pixel 2 XL tops out at 30 fps for 4K and 120 fps for 1080p footage.

Although we had limited hands-on time with the Xperia XZ2, we’re pretty confident the Pixel 2XL is the clear camera winner. We want to test the camera on the XZ2 further, and will definitely update our coverage if it outperforms the Pixel 2 XL.

Winner: Pixel 2 XL 

Software

pixel 2 xl vs razer phone

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The Xperia XZ2 ships with Android 8.0 Oreo, as opposed to the more recent Android 8.1 update you’ll find on the Pixel 2 XL. On the Xperia XZ2 you’ll also find Sony’s custom user interface which is decent, but definitely inferior to the stock Android you’ll find on the Pixel 2 XL. On the plus side, Sony’s 3D Creator app is available for both the front and rear cameras on the Xperia XZ2.

The Pixel 2 XL, on the other hand, offers stock Android 8.1 Oreo. There’s no clunky theme to deal with and you don’t have to worry about bloatware taking up precious storage space. You’ll also find Google Lens, an AI companion that uses image recognition to provide information about objects and landmarks, exclusively on the Pixel 2 XL.

With stock Android and Google Lens, the Pixel 2 XL is the clear winner in the software category.

Winner: Pixel 2 XL

Pricing and availability

Xperia XZ2

We don’t know exactly how much the Xperia XZ2 will cost, nor exactly when it’ll be available. According to Sony, the phone will be released in “late spring 2018,” but that’s about all we know.

The Pixel 2 XL starts at $850. Unfortunately, it’s a Verizon exclusive, but you can buy it unlocked and use it with your preferred carrier. Check out our Pixel 2 XL buying guide for all the details.

Simply comparing the two phones side by side, it would appear that the Xperia XZ2 offers more value at a lower price. We need to spend a little more time with Sony’s newest smartphone before we can officially make the call.

Winner: Tie

Overall winner: Pixel 2 XL

Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL tips and tricks

Both the Xperia XZ2 and Pixel 2XL are very capable phones. By specs alone, Sony’s newest flagship would appear to win, but specs alone fail to tell the entire story. While other phones have come along boasting better hardware than the Pixel 2 XL, they’ve failed to live up to the hype. Google, like Apple, managed to create a fiercely efficient smartphone that can do a lot with fewer resources than its competitors.

The Pixel 2 XL is one of our favorite phones of all time, and remains our top Android pick, for now, but we’re looking forward to spending more time with the Xperia XZ2.

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