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(Pocket-lint) - Google's new pure Android handsets are no longer branded as Nexus, instead moving over to Pixel and tagged as "Made by Google". This is a new direction for Google as the company takes control of its smartphone business more directly as it targets the mainstream with premium devices.

The two handsets go by the names Pixel XL and Pixel and they are not only the first to feature Google Assistant built-in, but they are also the first to be Daydream-ready, as well as pushing a newer version of Android.

Here is how the Google Pixel XL compares to last year's Nexus 6P. Is it worth the upgrade?

Google Pixel XL vs Nexus 6P: Design

  • Pixel XL is smaller and lighter, Nexus 6P is slimmer
  • Both have USB Type-C and a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor
  • Both have premium metal builds

The Google Pixel XL is the larger of the two new devices measuring 154.7 x 75.7 x 8.6mm and weighing 168g. It has a primarily metal build combined with a glass panel for the top third of the rear. Within this panel is a circular fingerprint sensor, along with the rear camera and flash, both of which sit flush.

A simple, subtle "G" sits at the bottom of the rear, but it's otherwise free of branding. There are no physical buttons on the front of the device, with just one speaker at the top in the middle, a sensor below and a front-facing camera in the top left. The power button and volume rocker are positioned on the right edge, while a speaker and mic sit at the bottom of the device, either side of the USB Type-C port.

The Nexus 6P, made by Huawei, features an all metal build and measures 159.3 x 77.8 x 7.3mm with a weight of 178g, meaning it is larger and heavier than the Pixel XL, but slimmer. It has dual front-facing stereo speakers, a circular fingerprint sensor on the rear like the Pixel XL, and USB Type-C. A black strip runs across the top of the back housing the camera lens and flash, which forms a bump at one end.

The Pixel XL is different with that top glass section, which some might find a little odd, but the body is otherwise, arguably, a higher quality finish. The flat back is appealing too.

Google Pixel XL vs Nexus 6P: Display

  • Both have Quad HD, AMOLED displays
  • Pixel XL is 5.5-inches, Nexus 6P is 5.7-inches
  • Both have Corning Gorilla Glass 4 protection 

The Google Pixel XL features a 5.5-inch AMOLED display with a resolution of 2560 x 1440, resulting in a pixel density of 534ppi. It is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 4.

The Nexus 6P has a display that's slightly larger at 5.7-inches. It is also AMOLED technology and it too has a Quad HD resolution for a slightly lower pixel density of 518ppi. Like the Pixel XL, it too is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 4.

The size difference in the two devices being compared here means the Pixel XL will theoretically offer sharper and crisper images compared to the Nexus 6P. That said, the difference isn't likely to be noticeable. What you might notice is that the Nexus 6P gives you a little bit more space to play.

Google Pixel XL vs Nexus 6P: Camera

  • Both have 12.3-megapixel rear cameras with 1.55µm pixels
  • Both have 8-megapixel front cameras
  • Pixel XL offers exclusive Pixel Camera app

The Google Pixel XL comes with a 12.3-megapixel rear snapper, featuring an f/2.0 aperture and 1.55µm pixels. It offers video image stabilisation, a new feature for capturing action shots called Smartburst and HDR+ that the device uses by default. The front-facing snapper offers 8-megapixel resolution.

The Nexus 6P has a 12.3-megapixel rear camera with an aperture of f/2.0 and 1.55µm pixels, like the new phone. The front camera is also 8-megapixels, like the Pixel XL, with an aperture of f/2.4. There is a dual-flash on the rear of the Nexus 6P and IR laser-assisted autofocus.

Same hardware means the same experience, right? Wrong. The Nexus 6P was a great camera, but the Pixel XL goes one better. It's very fast to use and although some elements of the camera app are a little basic (like the Nexus), it's point and shoot performance is very good. The Pixel XL is the better performer.

Google Pixel XL vs Nexus 6P: Hardware

  • Pixel XL is more powerful
  • Both have 3450mAh battery capacities

The Google Pixel XL features the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 chipset, 4GB of RAM and either 32GB or 128GB of internal memory but no microSD support.

There is a 3450mAh battery capacity on board the Pixel XL, along with USB Type-C  and the Pixel XL supports Quick Charge, delivering 7 hours of battery in 15 minutes.

The Nexus 6P has the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor with 3GB of RAM. It is available in 32GB, 64GB and 128GB models, none of which have microSD support.

A 3450mAh battery is on board the Nexus 6P and it was one of the first devices to arrive with USB Type-C.

The Pixel XL has a newer generation of chipset, meaning that it's a faster handset. Both are slick in operation, but the Pixel XL edges out the Nexus 6P in terms of performance.

Google Pixel XL vs Nexus 6P: Software

  • Similar software experience
  • Pixel XL gets exclusive features
  • Google Assistant built-in on Pixel XL

The Google Pixel XL features Android 7.1 Nougat out of the box, enhanced with exclusive features. There is a new launcher, the app icons are now round and the Pixel XL has Google Assistant built-in. Google Assistant opens a range of possibilities that Google Now doesn't offer and there's no word if Google's new AI assistant is going to come to the Nexus.

The Nexus 6P launched on Android Marshmallow but it has been be updated to 7.0 Nougat so the software experience between these two devices is pretty similar. There are some minor differences in terms of those exclusive features, with the Pixel XL just getting a little more polish.

Google Pixel XL vs Nexus 6P: Conclusion

The Google Pixel XL is slightly smaller than the Nexus 6P but offers a premium design and improvements in hardware, including a faster processor and more RAM. Both offer a pure Android experience, but the Pixel XL gets more polish and a handful of exclusive features.

The camera resolutions of the Pixel XL are the same as the Nexus 6P, though Google has added more capability here too, such as HDR+ and faster performance. The Pixel XL also has a sharper display than the Nexus 6P thanks to the slight size reduction, but the technology and resolution remains the same.

The Nexus 6P is cheaper than the Pixel XL however with a starting price of £449 compared to £719. That's a huge difference. The Pixel XL is the better handset, but we'd be tempted to see what software updates appear, before sinking all that extra cash in a new phone if you're thinking of upgrading.

Writing by Britta O'Boyle. Originally published on 4 August 2016.