Google has announced the new Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, succeeding the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. Whether you are looking to upgrade from the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL or the 2016 Pixel and Pixel XL, or you're trying to decide whether to invest in the Pixel 3 or Pixel 3 XL over the 2017 devices, this is how all six Pixel smartphones compare.

How have Google Pixel handsets have changed over the last three years and how do they differ from each other?

Pixel designs

  • Pixel 3: 145.6 x 68.2 x 7.9mm, 148g
  • Pixel 3 XL: 158 x 76.7 x 7.9mm, 184g
  • Pixel 2: 145.7 x 69.7 x 7.8mm, 143g
  • Pixel 2 XL: 157.9 x 76.7 x 7.9mm, 175g
  • Pixel: 143.8 x 69.5 x 7.3-8.5mm, 143g
  • Pixel XL: 154.7 x 75.7 x 7.3-8.5mm, 168g

The Google Pixel and Pixel XL have the same design, differing only in physical size. Both are built from a combination of glass and metal, with the top third of their rear featuring a glass panel that houses a circular fingerprint sensor and the singular camera lens, while the bottom is metal with "G" branding and an antenna strip.

The two devices have bezels at the top and bottom of the screen on the front but there are no physical buttons. Neither the Pixel or Pixel XL are waterproof, though both come with USB Type-C, 3.5mm headphone jack and a bottom firing speaker.

The Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL follow a similar design to the 2016 models on the rear, but there are no visible antenna lines and the glass panel is smaller. The camera lens remains within it while the fingerprint sensor moves into the metal part of the rear with the "G" branding.

As with the Pixel and Pixel XL, physical size is different between the the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, but they also differ from the front. The Pixel 2 XL offers an all-screen front with super slim bezels at the top and bottom, while the Pixel 2 offers a standard screen like its predecessors with larger bezels. Both devices have dual-firing front speakers within their bezels and an IP67 rating for water and dust resistance.

They also both feature USB Type-C, but they ditch the 3.5mm headphone jack. Additionally, the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL come with squeezable frames called Active Edge for launching Google Assistant.

The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL take design cues from their predecessors, but the Pixel 3 XL moves towards a notched display, offering a bezel at the bottom only. The smaller Pixel 3 retains the bezels above and below the screen but Google has curved the edges of the display, like it did with the Pixel 2 XL.

The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL both move towards an all-glass rear too, but there is still a divide in texture, with the glossy top section on both devices housing the singular camera lens, while the matte bottom section has a circular fingerprint sensor again and "G" branding. Waterproofing is present again, along with USB Type-C, the Active Edge squeezable edges and no 3.5mm headphone jack.

Pixel displays

  • Pixel / Pixel 2: 5-inch, Full HD, 441ppi
  • Pixel XL: 5.5-inch, Quad HD, 534ppi
  • Pixel 2 XL: 6-inch, Quad HD+, 18:9, 538ppi
  • Pixel 3: 5.5-inch, Full HD+, 18:9, 443ppi
  • Pixel 3 XL: 6.3-inch, Quad HD+, 18.5:9, 523ppi

The Google Pixel and Pixel 2 both have a 5-inch display with a Full HD resolution, offering pixel densities of 441ppi. Both have a standard 16:9 aspect ratio and both use an OLED panel, though the Pixel 2 adds True Black Level technology for blacker blacks.

The Pixel XL has a 5.5-inch display with a Quad HD resolution for a pixel density of 534ppi. It too has a standard 16:9 aspect ratio and it also opts for an OLED panel. 

The Pixel 2 XL bumps the display size up to 6-inches and changes the aspect ratio to 18:9, reducing the bezels at the top and bottom of the screen to make better use of the space. The Pixel 2 XL also bumps up the resolution to a 2880 x 1440 pixels, which results in a similar pixel density to its processor but on a 0.5-inch larger display.

The Pixel 3 comes with a 5.5-inch display with a Full HD+ resolution but it adopts an 18:9 aspect ratio like the Pixel 2 XL, making for quite a change compared to the original Pixel and Pixel 2. This change in aspect ratio is the reason the Pixel 3 has a 0.5-inch larger screen than the Pixel 2 but within an almost identical footprint. The Pixel 3 uses an OLED panel like the previous Pixel devices but it doesn't feature a notch like the larger Pixel 3 XL.

The Pixel 3 XL has a 6.3-inch display with a Quad HD+ resolution and 18.5:9 aspect ratio, featuring a notch at the top like many other Android flagships do including the LG G7 and LG V40. Like the Pixel 3, it too has an OLED panel. Both the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL add mobile HDR support they are both protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 5. They also both come with the True Black technology from the Pixel 2 and 2 XL.

Pixel cameras

  • Pixel / Pixel XL: 12.3MP rear, 8MP front
  • Pixel 2 / Pixel 2 XL: 12.2MP rear, 8MP front
  • Pixel 3 / Pixel 3 XL: 12.2MP rear, 8MP dual front

The Google Pixel and Google Pixel XL both come with the same camera capabilities and they both deliver excellent results. There is a single 12.3-megapixel sensor on the rear with 1.55µm pixels, an aperture of f/2.0 and both phase detection autofocus and laser detection autofocus. On the front of the Pixel and Pixel XL, you will find an 8-megapixel sensor with 1.4µm pixels, an aperture of f/2.4 and fixed focus.

The Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL feature similar camera specifications as their predecessors, with both models offering a single lens 12.2-megapixel rear camera with dual pixel PDAF and LDAF, along with an 8-megapixel front-facing camera.

The rear camera has 1.4µm pixels however and a wider f/1.8 aperture, while the front camera has the same-sized pixels and the same aperture as the previous models. Google focused on adding new features to the Pixel 2 and 2 XL models rather than make the new devices all about megapixels. For example, despite a single lens rear camera, they offer Portrait Mode using software-induced bokeh blur rather than hardware.

The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL continue to opt for a single lens camera system on the rear. Like the Pixel 2 and 2 XL, there is a 12.2-megapixel sensor on the rear camera with 1.4µm pixels and an aperture of f/1.8. New features have been introduced again though including depth control to Portrait Mode, a Night Sight feature for better low light images and Top Shot, which allows you to pick the best shot, much like Live Photos on the iPhone.

Google also added an extra sensor to the front of the Pixel 3 and 3 XL resulting in a dual 8-megapixel camera system, with a super-wide secondary lens, helping to achieve the new Group Selfie feature. The telephoto lens has an f/1.8 aperture and 75-degree field of view, while the wide-angle lens has a f/2.2 aperture and a 107-degree field of view.

Pixel hardware

  • Pixel / Pixel XL: SD821, 4GB RAM, 32GB and 128GB storage
  • Pixel 2 / Pixel 2 XL: SD835, 4GB RAM, 64GB and 128GB storage
  • Pixel 3 / Pixel 3 XL: SD845, 4GB RAM, 64GB and 128GB storage

The Google Pixel and Pixel XL both come with the same hardware, with no variation between little and large, except for the battery capacity. The two devices run on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 platform, supported by 4GB of RAM and they are available in 32GB and 128GB storage options, neither of which offer microSD expansion.

The Pixel comes with a 2770mAh battery, while the Pixel XL has a 3450mAh battery, but both are compatible with quick charging, offering up to seven hours use from 15 minutes of charging.

The Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL both run on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor with 4GB of RAM. Storage options are 64GB and 128GB and again, no microSD support is present on either.

As with 2016's models, the Pixel 2 has a slightly smaller battery capacity to the larger model at 2700mAh compared to 3520mAh, meaning similar capacities to their respective predecessors. USB Type-C is responsible for charging and quick charging is supported once again with the same seven hours in 15 minutes.

The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL also offer the same hardware as each other with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor, 4GB of RAM and 64GB and 128GB storage options. The Pixel 3 has a 2915mAh battery, while the Pixel 3 XL has a 3430mAh battery. Both support quick charging, as previous Pixel models, but they will also support wireless charging

The Pixel 3 and 3 XL also offer 40 per cent louder speakers from their dual front-firing speakers compared to the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. The Pixel and Pixel XL have a bottom ported speaker so you should notice a big difference between the new devices and the 2016 models.

Pixel software

  • Android Pie
  • Google Assistant

The Google Pixel and Pixel XL both launched on Android 7 Nougat with various exclusive features including Google Assistant, Pixel launcher and the Pixel camera. They have since been updated to Android Pie.

The Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL both launched on Android 8 Oreo, and they too offer some of their own features, such as launching Google Assistant from squeezing their frames, along with a redesigned Pixel launcher. They too have been updated to Android Pie now.

The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL launch on Android Pie and they too offer a couple of their own features, including "Flip to Sssh" that mutes sounds and notifications when you place the phones face down on a surface. You can expect a very familiar user experience across all the Pixel devices though, even if there are a few extra features here and there.

Pixel prices

The Google Pixel and Pixel XL are now available for around £300 for the 32GB models.

The Google Pixel 2 meanwhile, can now be picked up from around £400, while the Pixel 2 XL will set you back around £500.

The Google Pixel 3 starts from £739 and the Google Pixel 3 XL starts from £869. Both can be pre-ordered on the Google Store from 9 October.

 

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