iPhone X vs. Pixel 2 XL: Apple's Phone Is a Notch Above

Update: This story has been adjusted to reflect news of Google pushing out a software update that fixes display issues in the Pixel 2 XL.

Google is challenging Apple with its second generation of smartphones, the Pixel 2.

The Pixel 2 XL is the one closest in size to the iPhone X, but unlike Apple, Google didn’t reserve any features for its 6-inch model.

Now that we've gotten our hands on Apple's OLED screen-packing, bezel-shaving, notch-bearing iPhone X, it's finally time to examine how well it stacks up against Google's latest, the 2 XL.

Sure, the Pixel 2 phones and the iPhones both feature OLED screens, but which is brighter and which is more colorful? And can the Pixel 2's single rear camera keep up with the iPhone X's dual rear lenses? Let's find out.

iPhone X vs. Pixel 2 XL: Specs Compared


iPhone X

Pixel 2 XL

Starting price

$999$849
OS
iOS 11
Android 8.0

Display

5.8 inches (2436 x 1125)

6 inches (2880 x 1440)

CPU
A11 Bionic
Snapdragon 835
Storage
64GB, 256GB
64GB, 128GB

Rear Camera

Dual 12-MP (wide-angle: f/1.8, telephoto: f/2,4)

12 MP (f/1.8)

Front Camera
7 MP (f/2.2)
8 MP (f/2.4)
Battery life

10:49

12:09

Charging

Lightning, Qi-based wireless

USB Type-C

Size

5.7 x 2.8 x 0.3 inches

6.2 x 3 x 0.3 inches

Weight

6.14 ounces

6.2 ounces

Design: Notch or not?

While the iPhone X caught a lot of flack for its notch, the section at the top of its display that holds all of its cameras, at least it looks like a modern phone. The Pixel 2 XL may have minimal bezels, but it looks older than the iPhone X and uninspired.


And while the iPhone X's glass back enables the nifty convenience of wireless charging and its shiny stainless-steel frame turns heads, there's something to be said for the Pixel 2's aluminum back. It offers an excellent grainy feel that makes the Pixel 2 and 2 XL easier to hold, though we imagine many will lose this texture by applying a case to the device.


Apple and Google's phones both use a different cable for charging (Lightning for the iPhone X, USB Type-C for the Pixel 2), neither now feature a headphone jack, so both push users toward a life filled with wireless headphones or dangling dongle adapters.


Measuring 5.7 x 2.8 x 0.3 inches, the 5.8-inch iPhone X is smaller and easier to hold than the 6-inch 2 XL (6.2 x 3 x 0.3 inches). Its 6.1-ounce weight, though, is close to the Pixel 2 XL (6.2 ounces).


Winner: iPhone X. By nearly eliminating the bezels, the iPhone X is the easier-to-hold phone, and its steel frame keeps it looking sexy.

Display: OLED War!

Now that Apple's finally caught up with the competition by giving the iPhone X an OLED touch-screen display, the race for the best smartphone screen is a lot tighter. If only the Pixel 2 XL didn't already feature some newsworthy blunders.

But let's start at the specs: the 5.8-inch iPhone X display has a resolution of 2436 x 1125 pixels, while the Pixel 2 XL’s screen is bigger, at 6 inches and sharper at 2880 x 1440. So Google's phone is off to a good start.



However, the Pixel 2 XL has suffered from some display-quality issues, including weird color balance and OLED burn-in. Google claims its software update — which began to roll out to devices on Nov. 6 — will fix the problems. Said update adds a Saturated display mode that Google hopes is more pleasing to those not satisfied with the original options, In order to prevent OLED decay, this update introduces a "fade out" for the on-screen navigation buttons and an adjustment to the screen's brightness.

The iPhone X is the much, much brighter of the phones, emitting up to 574 nits, outshining the 438-nit Pixel 2 XL. That brightness also helps the iPhone X achieve much wider viewing angles.

The iPhone X produces a narrower range of colors at 128.6 percent of the sRGB color gamut, below that of the 130-percent Pixel 2 XL. However, the iPhone X offers more accurate hues; it registered a Delta-E score of 0.21 (0 is perfect), compared with 0.28 for the Pixel 2 XL.

Winner: iPhone X. The display in the iPhone X is brighter and more accurate and doesn’t have any notable issues.

MORE: Best Camera Phone - Top-Rated Smartphone Cameras

Cameras: Can one as be as good as two?

The Pixel 2’s and iPhone X's cameras are both great, but each has its own strong suit. You'll find the best image quality for photos taken in daylight with the dual 12-megapixel shooters in the iPhone X, which also captured more natural skin tones during our testing. The iPhone X also benefits from a 2x optical zoom from its dual rear shooters, while the Pixel 2 XL gets by with digital zoom.

However, the Pixel 2 XL produced superior photos in low light. Comparing shots taken in a sparsely lit restaurant, my colleague Mark and the table he was sitting at appeared brighter and more clearly in the photo taken by the Pixel 2 XL, while a burning candle was rendered as a blown-out white cylinder in the snapshot from iPhone X.

Fortunately for selfie takers, both the iPhone X and Pixel 2 xL offer portrait mode with their front and rear cameras. The iPhone X’s camera provides a more-even bokeh effect, but we preferred the selfie image quality from the Pixel 2.

Winner: A tie! The iPhone X and Pixel 2 are too close to call for photo quality.

Performance: Not even close

While the Pixel 2 and iPhone X seem to be neck and neck in many ways, that's not the case with their performance. Both feel responsive in everyday use, but the A11 Bionic processor in the iPhone X puts the Snapdragon 835 chip in the Pixel 2 to shame when performing resource-intensive tasks and in synthetic benchmarks.


For example, it took the iPhone 42 seconds to transcode a 2-minute 4K video in the Adobe Clips app, while the Pixel 2 took a whopping 2 minutes and 55 seconds. The iPhone X's Geekbench 4 general-performance test score of 10,357 is also a massive win, towering over the 6,282 of the Pixel 2.

Winner: iPhone X. The iPhone X's A11 Bionic power blows the Pixel 2 XL out of the water.

Special Features: To each their own

The Pixel 2 and the iPhone X both feature biometric security, but Apple's flagship offers one significant trick that Google's doesn't.

Face ID proved pretty dependable during our testing, allowing you to log in just by starting at the front of the iPhone X and swiping up. The Pixel 2's fingerprint reader is no slouch, though, snappily unlocking that handset. Between the two, the edge goes to the Pixel 2, as it requires only one step to get into your phone.


The iPhone X's Animoji are cute and impressive. These characters come to life based on your expressions, and include the audio of what you say; they feel like the start of a trend, compared with the Pixel 2's ho-hum AR stickers.


You also get Qi-based wireless charging from the iPhone X, saving you the time and effort of connecting it to a wireless charger. Also, charging the iPhone X from its glass back frees up its Lightning port for use with a headphone adapter, if you're not ready to abandon your wired headphones.



The Pixel 2 XL has a secret weapon of its own in Google Assistant, which is not only smarter and faster than Siri, it gets tripped up less with your queries. Plus, you can summon Google Assistant with a quick squeeze of the bottom of the phone.

Winner: Tie. The iPhone X has wireless charging, but the Pixel 2 XL has the superior digital assistant.

Battery Life: Which lasts longest?

The iPhone X lasts for a long time on a single charge, but the Pixels XL goes further. On the Tom's Guide Battery test (continuous web surfing over LTE), Apple's flagship lasted 10 hours and 49 minutes, which is over an hour behind the 12:09 time from the Pixel 2 XL.


Winner: Pixel 2 XL. Google's phone has more endurance.

Value: How big is your budget?

If you opt for the $849 Pixel 2 XL, you'll be saving $150, compared with the iPhone X. The standard Pixel 2 XL comes with 64GB of storage, but spending $100 more will get you 128GB.


The iPhone X starts at a whopping $999 for 64GB, and you can quadruple that for $1,149. That’s a high price, but you'll be much less likely to run out of room with 256GB.

Winner: Pixel 2 XL. You'll have more cash left over for accessories and stuff like food.

Bottom Line

At 5 to 4, the iPhone X wins this close battle of flagship smartphones. These two phones simply excel in different areas, and what matters to you most will likely sway your decision.


Apple iPhone X
Google Pixel 2 XL
Design
X

Display
X

Cameras
X
X
Performance
X

Special Features
X
X
Battery Life

X
Value

X
Overall
5
4


The Pixel 2 XL offers a bigger and sharper display, a better digital assistant and longer battery life at a significantly lower price. Its cameras also beat the iPhone X in low light while offering better detail and more even exposure. However, some early quality-control issues with the display
— which Google is trying to fix — could give some pause.

While pricier, the iPhone X boasts a superior OLED display, a sleeker design and much faster performance along with wireless charging. The device has serious camera chops, too, as its rear camera sports an optical zoom, and its front and rear shooters capture more natural-looking portraits. You really can't go wrong with either phone, but the iPhone X has the edge.

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  • ianworthing
    The fact that you had to compare Google Assistant to wireless charging because you know Siri loses the category handily says it all. Pixel 2 XL for the win. And i woukd take a USB C charger that is compatible with a macbook over slow QI charging anyday.
  • jinda_2k3
    Tom's review for the iPhone x had been blatantly biased its so embarrassing. He tied iphone with note 8, giving iPhone the advantage on display wtf? With that ugly notch, lesser pixels and smaller screen, how can it beat note 8's display.

    Then gave ipx the win for the camera when Dx0mark even gave both of them equal score with note 8 getting a perfect 100 on still images.

    Then tied on the price when ipx is $50 more expensive than note 8.

    The score was tied at 4 when reality is, Note 8 obviously won with 6-2. Note 8 should take design, display, camera (tied), battery, special features and price. While ipx should only get camera (tied) and performance.
  • jayjaysonic21
    i thought that the picture was worse until i realized the pictures were taken at two different times of day
  • allinbigt
    Regardless of who is biased or not..iphone X is going to win in the popularity and sales department. Preorders were over 40 million...not one single android handset was even remotely close in over all sales...and Samsung dropped $300 on the S8s the week iphone X was released because of sagging sales. The Note 8 is a beautiful phone though no lie, but since the iphone 4 I have been strictly iphone, and I came for weak toy-like plastic of the S3/S4 handsets of Samsung.
  • gauravgaikwad777
    Fingerprint Reader(+ Trusted Face) vs FaceID, user experience is far way better on any android phone
    Picture in Picture mode, Pixel win
    Screen tilt shift, tie
    Screen top notch, Pixel Win
    Google Assistance vs Siri, Pixel Win
    Free Unlimited 3 years original quality photos vs $10 per month * 36 months = 360$ min, Pixel wins
    2 year vs 1 year warranty, Pixel Win
    Camera, Pixel win(see comments and video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3b-VvmAZn14&t=331s)
    Mic quality, Pixel Win (Check last video)
    All this for $150 less, Pixel Win

    Too much biased opinion just because you are Apple Fan boy.
  • strangeanomaly
    I don't quite understand how someone can give the iPhone X the design win with that notch. It's kind of an eyesore. But design is such a subjective issue that it is difficult to take it seriously as a hard category for points anyway.
  • anastasia.milakovic
    I have to say that I agree with the design winner. I absolutely despise rear fingerprint scanners. In terms of usability, I want to be able to biometrically unlock my phone while leaving it laying on the table - meaning without having to type in the passcode instead. It looks awful as well - maybe not everyone agrees. Just as I don't mind the notch - I don't love it, but I just have no feelings on it. Having the notch moved those couple of pieces of phone data like signal, battery life, and time, into the spaces at either side of the notch so the real usable screen area extends up to the notch. So for me, the quality of the OLED display plus not minding the notch at all plus the issues with Pixel's LG OLED panels makes iPhone the clear design and screen quality winner for me.

    I do think the camera being a tie is a stretch. To be sure, this iteration of iPhone has drastically improved the photo quality, but low lighting is so common that needs to be weighted more heavily. The Pixel 2 has really improved their portrait mode. Portrait mode in iPhone 7Plus blew the Pixel out of the water, now they are even at best, iPhone possibly losing.

    Having spent several days with Face ID, I can say for sure it is just a delight. Works quickly and correctly unless I'm laying in bed with my face smashed in my pillow. Also works in very bright sunlight and a completely dark room. This is not just hype- it's awesome.

    Google assistant definitely beats Siri.

    I don't know where $10 a month for icloud storage came from? It's free for the first 5G, so you don't *have* to pay for anything. I've had an iPhone since 2007, and only in 2016 did I exceed the need for 5G of storage. I now pay $2 a month for 50G of icloud storage. Where did $10 a month come from?

    Stereo speakers - iPhone wins. Only important if you ever play music or watch videos with your speakers on...I don't really ever.

    Price Pixel wins.

    Security - iPhone win. Apple turns down far more government requests for information than Google.