Google Pixel XL vs OnePlus 3T


Google has a distinct vision for how the Android platform should look like: the company debuted its Material Design paradigm a few years ago, and it’s a flat and modern look that many customers have grown fond of.

Unfortunately, you can’t get it on most popular phones like Samsungs and LGs that use their own custom user interfaces that are at odds with some Material Design principles.

If you are looking for a good modern phone that sticks close to those principles you inevitably bump against two names: the Google Pixel series and the affordable OnePlus series. We thought a proper comparison between the two was long due, and that’s why we have the 5.5-inch Google Pixel XL against the equally sized OnePlus 3T. Which is the better phone? What are the pros and cons of each? Let’s find out.

Design and Display


Slim and good-looking, the OnePlus 3T scores design points. The Pixel XL, however, feels a bit more solid and has a reassuring heft to it.

The Pixel XL is certainly one polarizing design: some like it, others go as far as to claim that it’s one of the uglier designs they have seen. You can’t argue with subjective opinion, but what we can say is that it is a solidly built phone with a nice heft to it and a comfortable in-hand fit. It has a slight curve around the side that helps you pick it off a table easier and the glass accent on the back gives it character.

The OnePlus 3T, on its part, is an even thinner phone that gets razor slim around the edges, but it is also a bit more slippery. We find the Pixel XL fits our hand a bit more comfortably, but the looks of the OnePlust 3T catch the eye more.

The OnePlus is also slightly more compact in terms of physical size, which many people will value.


Neither phone is water-proof and both reassuringly have a 3.5mm headset jack. Both sport fingerprint scanners as well, but we find the front-positioned finger reader on the OnePlus at a more comfortable spot, while the rear one on the Pixel is a bit more accurate, but in certain situations it’s a pain to reach.

Both the OnePlus and the Pixel use AMOLED screens of the same 5.5-inch size, and both default to vivid, eye-popping color that many people like. Both phones also support an sRGB mode that dials tones down to deliver a more realistic picture, and those who value accurate color representation might prefer that mode. Both phones also have the neat blue light filter for night use, but it looks better on the Pixel, while the OnePlus turns to a strange, yellow-ish shade.

In our daily use, we noticed how the thinner bezel on the OnePlus display combined with the very sensitive screen results in accidental taps, mistakenly closing apps, and other annoying mishaps. This was much less of an issue on the Pixel, and it’s something that could spoil the smartphone experience a lot.

Interface and Performance


The OnePlus has a clean and fast interface, but the Pixel one-ups it with smoother performance and Google Assistant, possibly the best and fastest voice assistant.

While both phones run a very clean build of Android, there is a bigger difference than just version numbers here.

This difference is in the new Google Assistant that sits front and center at the Pixel experience (just press and hold the circle on-screen button from your home screen), and is missing on other phones, including the OnePlus 3T.


So what is the Google Assistant? It is a big first step towards a ‘smarter’ smartphone, and it brings up contrasting feelings as it’s both a big step and a first step. Here are all the great things about it: it’s an extremely fast (it’s much faster than anything else you’ve tried) and accurate assistant, it recognizes all sorts of accents with an amazing precision, and it understands context (start asking about a person and a team, and you can continue with your questions without mentioning the name of the team, while the Assistant understands that you’re still asking about the same person or team).

On the other hand, though, it still does not know enough about you, does not know enough about the world and current events, and this severely limits the ways that you can use it. And fact remains that most non-techy people do need a pretty solid reason to start talking to a phone. Sure, you can ask it about the weather, directions and calendar appointments, but you already have great and more detailed apps with that information available at a single tap on your phone home screen.

Google Assistant aside both phones get two things right about the Android experience: speed and simplicity. Both come bloatware-free and both run impressively well, but it is the Pixel XL that has more fluidity and a very nice smooth flow of use, while the OnePlus lacks the animations that make a fast phone feel fluid.


At the time of this writing, both phones run on Android 7 Nougat, but some of the signature features of the Pixel are missing on the OnePlus. For instance, the swipe up gesture to bring the app drawer is absent on the OnePlus, and you don’t have the long-press on an icon to get quick shortcuts action, so the experience does differ a bit and we feel that it differs in favor of the Pixel. We also like the added support for landscape use in the Pixel home screen.

There is also a new vibration mechanic on Google’s first own phone, but the feedback it provides feels rather vague and we can’t say that it improves the experience in any significant way.

Camera


The OnePlus has a good camera, but the Pixel XL has a great camera: with wider dynamics, faster focusing and better stabilization.


Let’s get the specs out of the way: the Pixel XL has a 12-megapixel camera with f/2.0 aperture lens and larger individual pixels, while the OnePlus 3T features a 16MP camera with f/2.0 aperture. The camera on the Pixel XL does not have optical image stabilization (Google says that’s an intentional choice) and the camera is beautifully flush with the body, while the OnePlus has OIS and also the camera bulges out the back.

What you care about, though, is the actual quality of the images, and this is where we see both perform well, but it is the Pixel XL that truly impresses. The Pixel XL marks a new era for mobile photography for the way it take pictures: rather than firing just one shot, the camera defaults to using the HDR+ mode, a very subtle HDR effect that enhances the color dynamics of pictures significantly. You just cannot get the same richness in color with a regular shot and despite its excellent camera, the OnePlus shots are just not as impressive.

You will also notice that in the camera app on the Pixel, as you shoot, everything shakes a lot because of the lack of OIS, but don’t worry: the phone manages to stabilize the image and you still get sharp shots.

The Pixel XL also takes selfies quality to a higher level: it uses the same rich colors and paints colors in a bit of a film-like fashion. The OnePlus also takes excellent and very detailed selfies in good light, but in a darker room it blurs details and pictures look messy, while the Pixel remains colorful and sharp.

The Pixel has also got an impressively quick auto focusing, a bit faster than on the OnePlus. This is great for photography, but is even more important for video. While the OnePlus occasionally has trouble staying in focus, the Pixel will switch and hold focus quickly and reliably. And despite not having optical stabilization, the software stabilization that it uses in 4K makes a big difference and provides some of the smoothest, most stable videos on a mobile phone. The OnePlus is not bad, but it does not live up to that higher standard.

You also have one extremely neat thing on the Pixel: unlimited photo and video cloud storage on Google Photos, which not only ensures that you will not accidentally lose your photos, but also frees up space on your device.



Sound



Audiophiles will scorn you for listening to music via your smartphone speakers, but the reality is that many people do often watch YouTube videos and the quality you get from those small phone speakers matters.

Both the OnePlus and the Pixel have a single bottom-firing speaker, but it is again the Pixel that pumps out not only louder, but fuller, juicier sound with a lot of definition.

Both phones also have a 3.5mm headset jack, which might not be the technology of the future, but is still the technology of today.

Battery life


Both will get you through a full day of use and both feature fast charging, but the Pixel XL lasts a bit longer.

The Pixel XL and OnePlust 3T have almost identically sized batteries: 3,450 mAh on the Pixel and 3,400 mAh on the OnePlus.

In real life, both phones will last you a full day without breaking a sweat, and that’s reassuring. It is the Pixel XL, though, that goes the extra mile and is able to push you through a day and a half and a bit more with moderate use. It has the slight edge.

Both also support quick charging and here the OnePlus has a speed advantage: it takes just one hour and twenty five minutes to fully charge its battery, while the Pixel is fast, but not as fast with charging speeds of nearly two hours.

However, the OnePlus also uses a proprietary charging technology requiring a special OnePlus cable (it’s a thicker cable that allows for the higher current to pass), so its quick charging solution called Dash Charge won’t work with a regular USB-C cable. Not a dealbreaker, but something to consider nonetheless.

Battery life (hours) Higher is better
Google Pixel XL 7h 19 min (Good)
OnePlus 3T 5h 41 min (Average)
Charging time (minutes) Lower is better
Google Pixel XL 118
OnePlus 3T 85

Conclusion


The big difference between the Google Pixel XL and the OnePlus 3T is in price: while an unlocked Pixel XL costs a full flagship price of $770, the OnePlus 3T is sold for just $440. The Pixel XL, however, works on Verizon Wireless (and is sold via the carrier), while the OnePlus 3T will only work on AT&T and T-Mobile.

At its alluring price, the OnePlus 3T is an excellent value for the money and a great phone all around. However, if money is no concern, the Pixel XL does a little bit better in every aspect: its battery lasts a bit longer, its camera takes slightly better pictures and videos, its display looks a little bit better, it’s got that new Google Assistant and it comes with the promise of day 1 Android updates. Yes, it also works a little smoother, with more pleasing animations and overall experience.

And while we are not fully certain whether that’s worth the extra $300, the overall polish of the Google Pixel XL wins our recommendation.

Related phones

Pixel XL
  • Display 5.5" 1440 x 2560 pixels
  • Camera 12.3 MP / 8 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 821, Quad-core, 2150 MHz
  • Storage 128 GB
  • Battery 3450 mAh(32h talk time)
3T
  • Display 5.5" 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Camera 16 MP / 16 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 821, Quad-core, 2350 MHz
  • Storage 128 GB
  • Battery 3400 mAh

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21 Comments

1. Sidewinder

Posts: 515; Member since: Jan 15, 2015

Oneplus 3t has poor optimisation. It has the same soc powered by a bigger battery pushing just a fhd display and still doesn't match the battery life of pixel xl. If Google had the same hardware, they would have worked wonders with it. But that being said, custom kernels available for the op3t can overcome the shortcoming associated with poor battery life.

2. JakeH

Posts: 89; Member since: May 01, 2014

True, but keep in mind OnePlus has a tiny software development team. I've had virtually no lag at all with my 3T, and battery life is great.

3. lionking80

Posts: 8; Member since: Sep 13, 2015

1) Not the same chip. Higher frequency on Oneplus 3T. 2) MUCH better battery life on Oneplus 3T than Pixel XL. PhoneArena's battery benchmarks are a joke. There are multiple benchmarks on internet that support my claim. They are not even in the same league regarding battery that is how much better is Oneplus 3T in this regard.

5. lionking80

Posts: 8; Member since: Sep 13, 2015

gsmarena, notebookcheck, anandtech etc...

6. bucky

Posts: 3785; Member since: Sep 30, 2009

friend at work has the Oneplus 3 and says the battery life is pretty poor.

11. BaffledTruffle

Posts: 523; Member since: Dec 07, 2013

The 3 runs on an S820 though. As far as I know, the 821 is more efficient.

13. lionking80

Posts: 8; Member since: Sep 13, 2015

Depending on the implementation in a certain device, at the same frequency, 821 should be more efficient. On higher frequency for 821 however, 820 is more efficient. Look at comparisons between Onellus 3 and 3T on anantech review where you can actually see how much power it draws in various conditionseach device. Sure, it matters also the different OS version on the test devices but you can still have a good picture.

12. lionking80

Posts: 8; Member since: Sep 13, 2015

I also have OnePlus 3, not 3T and for me the battery life is great (I used to have 6-7h SOT on Android 6.0 and 5-6h SOT on Nougat), no games, but a lot of chrome browsing, whatsapp and youtube and data and wifi connected all the time. Maybe standby time is not that great, but during usage it draws very little power.

15. crzykiller

Posts: 86; Member since: Jan 03, 2015

if your friend has bad battery life with the Oneplus 3, he does not know what hes doing with his phone. I have the OP3 and it has amazing battery life... Root it and install a good rom and kernel and youll get 7h screen on time with all day battery life easy. It looses 1% every 7 hours with wifi and 4g on when standby

4. Plasticsh1t

Posts: 3108; Member since: Sep 01, 2014

With that price there is no point of getting the Pixel.

8. phonearenarocks

Posts: 606; Member since: Mar 26, 2015

There is no point in getting an iPhone 7/7 plus either.

9. Plasticsh1t

Posts: 3108; Member since: Sep 01, 2014

Exactly. The Oneplus 3T got the best value for money among flagship phones.

7. xdza1979

Posts: 296; Member since: Aug 08, 2015

My one plus 3t had an average battery life , but when i upgraded to Nugat the battrry noe is much better. Almost like 30℅ more life ..

10. Ca51no

Posts: 31; Member since: Sep 14, 2015

Only complaint I have with my 3T is the touch latency. All else is great. Battery life is great, charge rates are insane, OS is great......Just can't play rapid touch/swipe based games on it

14. Ibiva

Posts: 4; Member since: Jan 16, 2017

OnePlus 3T is much better phone for the money. For 770$ you can buy OnePlus 3T + Samsung Gear S3 + dinner for two in nice restaurant.

16. srgonu

Posts: 554; Member since: Feb 13, 2012

I had OP3 for few months. Overall its a good phone but some small glitches irritate. Its hard to take kids photos. Only still images look good. Even my old Note 4 takes photos of kids better than OP3 (Don't want to talk about Front camera as it is horrible). When you click on recent apps after opening an App, the recent opened App will not be part of the list anymore. Some of these are annoying and so I went to 64 GB Note5 for the same price as OP3 and this one is excellent.

22. ebilcake

Posts: 1230; Member since: Jul 16, 2016

Ignoring the huge price difference the PIxel XL is the better of the two. The OnePlus 3T is good but the cameras are no match for flagship devices, unless in good lighting where it does quite well, also 1440p vs 1080p really is a no brainer, although there are advantages to having a 1080p display. I would recommend the OnePlus 3 over the 3T, the SoC upgrade changes nothing, the camera upgrade to the front facing camera is minor with the quality still being fairly poor. The battery improvement is the only real improvement, but you probably won't notice it in the real world as the biggest issue on Android with regards to battery life is the software itself and not the size of your battery.

23. iDroidPhony

Posts: 59; Member since: Sep 21, 2016

With the assurance of future updates, Pixel is the way to go.

25. BatLine

Posts: 1; Member since: Feb 04, 2017

Battery life is good as hell. You'll get through the day, + it charges insanely fast. Plug device in, go to the toilet, (wash hands!), Come back: +5-10% already

29. Tooluka

Posts: 66; Member since: Nov 27, 2014

All pros for OP3T are carefully excluded or toned down. All in all it reads as "please buy Pixel, oh please just buy it". No, for real. Build - about the same but 3T has metal speaker grill instead of cloth and sapphire camera glass (hardness 8) instead of larger glass back on Pixel (and Pixel back glass is less hard than regular front glass on both phones and scratchable by metal, hardness probably about 5). OIS - downplayed as "not important". Camera position is never mentioned (closer to fingers on Pixel, hard not cover image while holding horizontally). Battery test is hmm... Lets call it weird. No other resource has tests that are remotely similar to PAs. No mention about side slider (other minor features are mentioned for Pixel). No mentions about other useful stuff in 3T - sleep gestures, AOD stuff etc. Animations part I didn't understand at all - less animation in 3T so it is more laggy? What? In other reviews faster GUI get more praise but not here. I don't bash Pixel and I do think that its camera is better after reading different tests, despite no OIS, and probably it is better overall but the writing style of this comparison is not very good.

30. mimi098

Posts: 3; Member since: Dec 06, 2016

Thank You for this article. I think this tips give you a good knowlodge about this smartphones. New smartphone comes with different feature. All are the great smartphone and there feature. If you know about more awesome smartphone visit online shopping site in Bangladesh.

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