Google has launched a new tool to help you pick a smartphone. But in our time with it, the tool proved far less useful than the company might have you believe.
If you go to Google.com and type in the name of two smartphones with a "versus" in between, the search engine will deliver a comparison detailing the similarities and differences between the handsets. You'll get a sense of which smartphone has a bigger screen, when it was released, and which key features it offers. You'll also get a listing of its current price on contract or when it's unlocked.
I performed several tests on the tool by typing in things like "Pixel 2 vs Pixel 2 XL" or "iPhone 8 vs Pixel 2." In each case, the comparison tool listed a variety of specs in a chart above the search results.
While that might be handy for someone who needs a quick refresher on a smartphone's specs, it's not enough to inform a buying decision. Google offers up a "Reviews" section with a star rating and user reviews, but there are so few user reviews, it's hard to gauge the actual value.
It's also worth noting that there's no real subjectivity in the comparison, so you can't see what it's like to actually use one device over another. Add that to Google taking stated battery lives and not those observed in the real world, and the company's comparison tool becomes far less useful than you might think.
In the Google Pixel 2 vs Google Pixel 2 XL comparison, for instance, Google lists their battery lives at 25.4 hours and 26.7 hours, respectively. While it's unclear where that information came from, it doesn't come anywhere close to matching our own battery life tests, which showed the Google Pixel 2 XL offering 12 hours of battery life. It's possible Google's metric centers on talk time, while hours is based on continuous Web surfing.
Ultimately, Google's new smartphone comparison tool could have some usability for finding out basic information. But if you're looking for a tool that will help you choose a Google Pixel 2 or an iPhone X, look elsewhere.