If it looks like an iPhone, and talks like an iPhone . . . is the new Google Pixel and Pixel XL a viable alternative to Apple’s crowned jewel?
While Samsung has literally and figuratively been knocked off the digital smartphone block, Google seems to want to position it’s latest iteration as the number one major iPhone competitor. The first hint was Google’s entree into the hardware game.
Hardball with Hardware
The Pixel and Pixel XL are now the closest any Android has come to replicating Apple’s modus operandi of owning and controlling both hardware and software offerings for its consumers. “Made by Google” could be their new phone’s mantra as this is a first for Google in designing a device without the assist of its previous manufacturing partner HTC.
As a result, with software and hardware created under the same roof, Google may be ready to give Apple’s iPhone a run for their money? Well . . . let’s see how that shakes out in the early days of this competitive lineup.
Digital Trends Stats
Digital Trends, founded in 2006 is a leading source of tech news and reviews for influential consumers who seek updates regarding today’s cutting edge technological culture. Their editorial endorsements help readers navigate today’s crowded marketplace in determining the best digital products surfacing, through their established testing standards.
To help us better understand how Google Pixel stacks up against iPhone 7, here is a breakdown of its positive and negatives stats according to Digital Trends. Note from pricing starting as low [or as high] as $649, Google worked hard to replicate many of the features many of us have come to love about our iPhones.
Both phones were recently tested by SuperSafTV. The reviewers compared the two competing phones by opening the same app with both to see how quickly they loaded. The Pixel definitely held its own when opening simpler, lightweight apps. However, when it came to more complex and memory-laden apps like games with 3D graphics, Google’s new smartphone was no match for the iPhone 7 Plus according to this study.
The full video is embedded below.
Whether or not you favor one design over another is going to come down to personal preference. Arguably, the Pixel resembles the iPhone aesthetically. Google provides the color choices of white, black or their ‘limited’ edition blue [which according to many reviewers really catches the eye]. The iPhone 7’s jet black color is the appealing limited edition for fanboys and girls, in addition to its regular matte black that neatly conceals the antenna lines for a smooth finished look.
Camera and Storage
Both phones sport 12-megapixel rear cameras and phase detection auto-focus. Both have image stabilization for video shoots. Where the iPhone uses traditional OIS [Optical Image Stabilization] for this purpose, the Pixel has a streamlined system that utilizes the phone’s gyroscope for smoothing out videos.
As far as a major difference, it is perhaps storage fees. The Pixel offers free, unlimited full resolution photo storage in the cloud through Google Photos, while you’ll have to pay for extra iCloud space or full-res Google Photos storage if you own an iPhone.
Software and Operating Systems
The Pixel comes with Android 7.1 installed, the very latest iteration of Google’s operating system, which is purported to be only found in Pixels, at the present time. The Apple iPhone 7 offers its latest OS version – the iOS 10. While the two differ slightly, they have many similarities. Their virtual assistants — Assistant on the Pixel and Siri on the iPhone — are at the ready to address a multitude of tasks, similar for both devices. As far as communication tools, on the Pixel, it’s Duo for video calls and Allo for chats, while on the iPhone there’s FaceTime and iMessage.
Wallets at the Ready
As noted, base prices come in at a dollar apart. Unlocked, without a contract, at the Google Play Store, the Pixel 32GB model will set you back $649 for starters — and for a $100 more, you can get the 128GB. The iPhone 7’s is priced at $650 for the 32GB, $750 for the 128GB, and then $850 for the 256GB model. It can be purchased through the Apple Store, either online or at their retail outlet stores.
Contract prices will vary for the iPhone, but it’s available with each major carrier in the U.S. — whereas the Pixel is a Verizon exclusive. So for those who do not want to be forced into using a preselected carrier, this may be the deal-breaker.
On the other hand, there is some good news regarding a Pixel purchase, according to Digital Trends:
You can buy it unlocked from Google direct and get the same month-to-month financing you get with the iPhone at carriers. We’d suggest not buying either phone locked to a network, or fixed into a contract, anyway. There are financing options available for both the Pixel and the iPhone 7 through Google and Apple respectively too. However, be aware if you choose an iPhone on AT&T or Sprint with financing through Apple, it’ll be locked to that network.
A Smartphone by Any Other Name?
As many critics have pointed out over the years, comparing any new Android phone to the iPhone had become somewhat of a cliché. However with Google’s control over both Pixel’s software and hardware, it makes today’s comparison much more “apple to apples.’ As it stands, it looks like the Pixel has made a valiant attempt at matching the iPhone’s multi-faceted features — and, it’s just a matter of time, if it will truly become the preferred device.
In the months ahead, there will be other comparisons made and differentials pointed out as consumers test both products in the field. As users gravitate toward and are energized by the features that best fit their preferences, certain benchmarks will assert themselves as to how they will one-up each other with future iterations. So please weigh in readers, and let us know of your experiences with either or both products, over time.
Ron is a business and tech writer for Telzio's blog. Previously the Director of Advertising and Public Relations for Marriott International's Caribbean and Mexico division, Ron is the published author of Crude Behavior, Uncle Dubya's Jihad Jamboree and the award-winning graphic novel Facebucks.