Pixel vs Nexus UI comparison: are there any major differences?

Pixel vs Nexus UI comparison: are there any major differences?
For years, Google partnered with various major smartphone manufacturers to build the Nexus devices — handsets that ran Google's vision of Android. This meant no reskins, crazy UI designs, or bags of features — just good ol' snappy performance. The community has been calling this "pure" or "stock" Android to describe its lack of bloat and it's embodiment of how Google wants the operating system to look and function.

But when the Pixel phones were announced back in October, it was a bit unclear what would happen to the Google Android UI afterwards. It was promptly announced that when Nougat rolls out to the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P, the phones wouldn't have all the features that the Pixels launched with, and wouldn't get the new Pixel Launcher.

So, does that mean that the user interface on the two new Pixel phones is no longer the clean Nexus experience we've come to know and love? We thought we'd compare the interfaces of the Nexus 6P and the Pixel to see just how different they are.

On to the big question. Drum roll, please...


Is Google's "clean" Android dead?


Sorry for the anti-climactic response, but no, it's not. Yes, the fact that the Nexi didn't get the shiny new interface elements and features creates a juxtaposition here, and it looks like two different "Google Android" platforms are now out in the wild. But then again, the differences are not that huge. We went ahead and scrolled through every nook and cranny of each phone, and checked for differences. There weren't that many to speak of. Here, see for yourselves!


And that's it. Those are the only differences in the interfaces between the new and old Google phones we could find. So, the Pixel Android is not “non-pure”, don't worry about it. Yes, it does have a few features, which don't look very "Google Android"-ish, considering what we've grown accustomed to, but we wouldn't go as far as to call them “bloat”, at least not for now. We wouldn't rule out the possibility of Google going nuts with features in the future, but for now, the Pixel's software still offers a snappy and light user experience.

Now, on to some example shots of how much the Pixel and Nexus interfaces are the same!

Try and find the differences!


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23 Comments

1. Settings

Posts: 2943; Member since: Jul 02, 2014

Pixel is just a glorified Nexus just so Google can milk their fans. PERIOD.

7. GreenMan

Posts: 2697; Member since: Nov 09, 2015

So Google can milk its fans...? Well, that pretty much sums it up... I thought the VERY same thing when I heard about Pixel's prices...! Yes, Google bumped-up the software a tad so it can... Err... Charge its loyal users more...! What any rich man wants? More money...! Oh well, I'm going to stick with Samsung from now on...! G'Day!

12. sgodsell

Posts: 7368; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

The Pixel launcher also offers a 3D touch like feature, so if you hold an icon you will get shortcuts displayed if that app implemented any shortcuts. Under moves Double tap to wake made it to the Nexus 5x and 6p. The only thing that didn't make it was the scroll feature for the fingerprint scanner. Daydream VR and the sensors are a huge part of the Pixels. Which can't make it to any Nexus. For instance the EIS on the 6p vs Pixels. It's impossible to get the Pixels EIS on the 6p, unless the sensors were physically swapped out.

17. Leo_MC

Posts: 7432; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

EIS is a software option; why couldn't it be implemented in Nexus?

19. sgodsell

Posts: 7368; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

The Pixels sensors can sample very fast and they are also very accurate. The Nexus and just like many other smartphones on the market including the iPhones and Samsung Galaxies are all using regular accelerometers and gyroscopes. It's one of the reasons why the Gear VR uses a faster IMU on its headset for tracking. However the Pixels have very fast and accurate sensors to not only help out on image stabilization (EIS), but they are also used in Daydream VR. The Pixels sensors can sample at up to 1000 times a second. This is why there is nothing to plug in when you use Google's Daydream VR headset. Not to mention this makes the headsets cheaper, because the sensors are all built into any Daydream compatible smartphone.

21. Leo_MC

Posts: 7432; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

So you're saying that EIS is not a software feature but a feature that depends on hardware...just like OIS depends on hardware (albeit of different type)?

22. sgodsell

Posts: 7368; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

EIS is software, but it is relying on sensors to give it the stabilization that it's needs. Slower and less accurate sensors means worse electronic image stabilization (EIS). So that is why the EIS is so much better on the Pixels. But those same sensors also give a great benefit to VR as well. In this case the Pixels Daydream VR.

2. sip1995

Posts: 1771; Member since: Feb 07, 2014

Nexus ftw.

3. Bankz

Posts: 2543; Member since: Apr 08, 2016

Meh.. TouchWiz UI >>>>>>>>>>> every other android UI except the iPhone UI (which it copied) in aesthetics but in terms of functionality and features, TouchWiz UI >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> every other UI on the planet.

6. Settings

Posts: 2943; Member since: Jul 02, 2014

Lol! Comparing Touchwiz to vanilla Android is utterly useless. Not all need those bells and whistles Touchwiz offers. Some just need to do essentials. Plus, theres the Play store when you want any other features.

4. Valdomero

Posts: 677; Member since: Nov 13, 2012

I hope Nokia makes a good flagship with near-stock Android (Or stock Android). I like the UI as stock as possible, that's one reason I chose the Nexus brand. Also for the timely updates :)

5. bartek010

Posts: 6; Member since: Jan 01, 2015

So, there is no Google Now on Tap on Pixel?

10. vincelongman

Posts: 5694; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

Nope, its missing Unless you disabled Google Assissant Hopefully Google reintroduce it soon

13. sgodsell

Posts: 7368; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

Google Assistant has Google Now and on tap built in. Clearly you never used a Pixel before.

18. vincelongman

Posts: 5694; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

How do I use Now on tap? I literally just got my Pixel a day ago, still learning its new features and differences haha

20. sgodsell

Posts: 7368; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

I know you are a liar. Because you don't have to ask how to use it, because it's the exact same thing that is found on Nexus devices.

23. vincelongman

Posts: 5694; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

Come on, no need to be a dick I literally just got it, been too busy working, haven't used it much other than set up apps I found it Didn't realise all had to do was wait and scroll down Glad its still there

8. salami1980

Posts: 80; Member since: Dec 27, 2016

for me I only use Samsung & Sony smartphones, they are the best.

9. avalon2105

Posts: 352; Member since: Jul 12, 2014

One honest question for any Nexus/Pixel users. How can you tolerate that notification area on stock android. Most of stock android look and feel is garish, but that notification area is simply abhorrent. How can you slide it down to see notifications/toggles and not want to gouge your eyes out?

11. Valdomero

Posts: 677; Member since: Nov 13, 2012

I want to believe you're joking.

14. avalon2105

Posts: 352; Member since: Jul 12, 2014

No, I'm not. I'm genuinely curious how can people tolerate that shade of gray, colorpicked straight from rat's a$$? Inability to change number of toggle boxes, or remove brightness and volume sliders, and stuff like that. And whole one swipe/two swipes exercise seems really tedious.

15. sgodsell

Posts: 7368; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

You must be new to Android, but you can create any kind of notification to your heart's desire. If you don't like the volume slider or brightness sliders. Then you could always create your own. You could even create your own brightness or volume sliders if you really wanted to create your own type(s) notification. https://developer.android.com/guide/topics/ui/notifiers/notifications.html As far as the whole one/two swipe exercise. Have you tried two fingers instead, because it's much easier. I hope you know that Android gives you the ability to customize the crap out of it.

16. chenski

Posts: 768; Member since: Mar 22, 2015

Nexus with nova prime > all, period

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