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Pixel 2 XL vs. LG V30: Android Heavyweights Go Head-to-Head

Just in time for the holiday season, you've got two new 6-inch Android heavyweights vying for your hard-earned dollars: the Google Pixel 2 XL and the LG V30. From the outset, they appear to be very different devices. The V30 packs double the rear cameras as the Pixel 2 XL as well as a headphone jack, while the Pixel 2 XL offers squeezable sides and the latest in artificial intelligence to better understand the world around you.

Google Pixel 2 XL (left) and LG V30 (right)

Google Pixel 2 XL (left) and LG V30 (right)

But the deeper you dig, the more similarities you find — right down to the price tag. The V30 starts at $800, while the Pixel 2 XL is a bit more expensive, at $849. Both feature POLED (plastic OLED) displays manufactured by LG, and both are powered by the same processor and have the same amount of RAM.

So which should you go with? That's what we're here to decide.

Specs


Google Pixel 2 XLLG V30
PriceStarts at $849Starts at $800
Dimensions6.2 x 3 x 0.3 inches5.9 x 2.9 x 0.3 inches
Weight6.2 ounces5.7 ounces
CPUSnapdragon 835Snapdragon 835
RAM4GB4GB
Storage64GB, 128GB64GB, 128GB
microSDNoYes
Display6 inches (2880 x 1440) POLED6 inches (2880 x 1440) POLED
Rear camera12 MP (f/1.8)16-MP (f/1.6) main, 13-MP (f/1.9) wide-angle
Front camera8 MP5 MP
Battery3,520 mAh3,300 mAh
Battery Life12:096:29

Design

The Pixel 2 XL and the V30 embody 2017 smartphone design: They're slightly curved, water-resistant, full-screen slabs with rounded corners and very little bezel. That said, they still feel different to hold.

LG V30

LG V30

The V30 is more compact, as LG has trimmed a bit more real estate above and below the display. It's also lighter and features a glass back, while the Pixel 2 XL uses aluminum. We like the V30's polished metal frame, though its rear-mounted fingerprint sensor/power button is an oddity that needs some getting used to. We also would have preferred a front-facing speaker on the V30, rather than one mounted on the bottom edge.

Google Pixel 2 XL

Google Pixel 2 XL

The Pixel 2 XL, by comparison, feels a little chunkier, but also a little more traditional. For starters, its power button is on the right side, exactly where you'd expect. The Pixel 2 XL carries stereo front-facing speakers. And although the textured matte finish on the metal back prevents wireless charging, it feels absolutely exquisite. It's grippy, comes off as much more premium than glass, and simply looks absolutely mean.

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There's a lot to like about how both of these smartphones are built, so this one ends in a tie.

Winner: Tie

Display

Here's where things get a little interesting. Both the V30 and the Pixel 2 XL feature 6-inch POLED screens with resolutions of 2560 x 1440. Neither of them is perfect, however, and both exhibit their fair share of issues.

Take one look at the Pixel 2 XL's display, and you can tell something is a little off. The colors just don't pop off the surface like you'd expect from an OLED panel. Everything is a little muted, and if you look closely, there's a graininess wherever bright, solid colors are displayed. The white balance is decidedly toward the warmer end of the spectrum, and there are noticeable blue tint issues when you view at off-center angles.

Google Pixel 2 XL

Google Pixel 2 XL

The LG V30 presents a punchier, cleaner picture, but it, too, suffers from poor visibility unless you look at it exactly head-on. In that respect, it's even worse than the Pixel 2 XL.

Truthfully, the less-saturated tones of the Pixel 2 XL's display may not bother you too much, depending on your taste. Google's explanation is that the display has simply been tuned to be "more natural and accurate." While that doesn't account for the screen's other issues, it looks particularly dull only when situated next to competitors such as the iPhone 8 Plus and the Samsung Galaxy S8.

LG V30

LG V30

Still, we prefer the V30's more saturated colors and sharper contrast. It shares more in common with the leading smartphone displays, and at the end of the day, it's the one we'd rather be watching videos and thumbing through photos on.

Winner: LG V30

Performance

Inside both the Pixel 2 XL and the V30, you'll find Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 processor alongside 4GB of RAM. In our testing, similar hardware yielded similar results.

The Pixel 2 XL scored 6,282 on Geekbench 4, which tests overall system performance, while the V30 turned in 6,131. However, the V30 finished on top in 3DMark's Ice Storm Unlimited graphics test, posting a result of 40,260, compared with 38,800 from the Pixel 2 XL.

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The Pixel 2 XL demonstrated a slight advantage in video editing. It managed to convert a 2-minute 4K clip to 1080p resolution in 2 minutes and 55 seconds. The V30 lagged behind, with a time of 3:32, though both phones beat the Galaxy S8 Plus, which took 4:07.

None of those differences are vast enough to elicit a noticeable difference in usability. Both devices were smooth and responsive during our testing, and they're neck and neck in terms of performance.

Winner: Tie

Camera

Google caught a bit of flak for neglecting to outfit the Pixel 2 XL with a second lens for its 12-megapixel rear camera. It turned out that the concern was unwarranted. While Google's best device didn't necessarily outclass our favorite camera phone, the iPhone 8 Plus, in every photo op, it still delivered excellent dynamic range, as well as a Portrait Mode that runs through software rather than hardware.

Google Pixel 2 XL

Google Pixel 2 XL

The V30 boasts a 16-MP main shooter with an f/1.6 aperture, paired with a secondary 13-MP sensor that has a 120-degree field of view. It's the largest aperture ever in a phone camera — at least until Huawei's Mate 10 comes along — and it allows the V30 to pick up definition in dimly lit scenes where others can't. Plus, the wide-angle lens is a rarity among high-end handsets.

Both are excellent cameras, so we compared the two on a beautiful fall morning in New York. While the V30 has an abundance of modes you won't find in the Pixel 2 XL's more straightforward app, it was the Pixel that produced more consistently pleasing results, with a crisper exposure and more lifelike hues. In the majority of situations, it's the camera we'd rather have in our pocket.

Winner: Google Pixel 2 XL

Battery

While the Pixel 2 XL lacks the V30's wireless charging capabilities, Google's device easily qualifies as one of the longest-lasting flagships on the market. It outlasted the iPhone 8 Plus, Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Note 8 in our Tom's Guide Battery Test, with a time of 12 hours and 9 minutes.

Much of that has to do with the Pixel 2 XL's generously sized 3,520-mAh battery. The V30's is smaller, but not by much, at 3,300 mAh. Yet surprisingly, LG fared significantly worse in testing.

It took only 6 hours and 29 minutes before the V30's battery was spent. That's roughly half what the Pixel 2 XL achieved, and well below the 9:40 smartphone average.

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Both devices are capable of fast charging. The Pixel 2 XL can replenish 7 hours of battery life in 15 minutes of charging with the included wall adapter, and the V30's Quick Charge 3.0 technology will deliver 80 percent in 35 minutes.

Winner: Google Pixel 2 XL

Special Features

Although Google Assistant has made its way to most new Android phones, the Pixel 2 XL offers a unique way to trigger it: simply by squeezing the sides of the handset. It also features Google Lens, the company's new software that uses your camera to identify people, places and objects, and calls up related actions.

The V30 doesn't include anything like that, but it does tout a variety of video-recording and editing tools. LG has loaded the V30 with Cine Effects, a suite of filters engineered by Hollywood colorists that aims to make your films look theater-ready. There's also Point Zoom, which allows you to zero in on a specific area of the frame besides the center. Experts can even shoot in Log, the video format preferred by those who'd rather colorize their production in programs like Adobe Premiere.

LG V30

LG V30

But the V30's other claim to fame that should be more appealing to mainstream users is its excellent audio quality. The V30 has not only a 3.5-millimeter jack but also a digital-to-analog converter that noticeably improves quality when you're listening through headphones. LG has led the way in improving  sound in smartphones in recent years, and if music is important to you, you'll want to try it on the V30 yourself.

Winner: LG V30

Value

The Pixel 2 XL starts at $849 for 64GB of storage, and costs $949 for 128GB. Verizon is the only network that carries it, though you can also buy the phone unlocked and take it to the likes of Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile. There's also Google's Project Fi network, which allows you to pay only for the data you consume.

The LG V30 is a little less expensive, starting at $800 — though pricing differs depending on where you buy it. LG does not yet offer an unlocked version, so you'll have to go to one of the Big Four carriers. T-Mobile is currently the cheapest; AT&T is charging $809, and Verizon is charging $840. Sprint has the V30 Plus, which is exactly the same except it has double the storage, for $912.

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While Google's phone is more expensive at launch, you also have more freedom in the networks you can take it to. Conversely, if you're a postpaid customer, chances are, the V30 is already supported by your carrier, so this round ends in a wash.

Winner: Tie

Software

The Pixel 2 XL features the newest release of Android, version 8.0 Oreo, where as the V30 runs 7.1.1 Nougat incorporating LG's interface modifications. The V30's rendition of Android is a pretty stark departure from the stock layout, and it's a little cluttered and not particularly intuitive.

Google Pixel 2 XL

Google Pixel 2 XL

One major advantage on Google's side is the Pixel 2 XL's confirmed three years of software updates. Pixel devices are already the first to receive new versions of Android when they are released, usually many months before companies like LG, Samsung and HTC get around to it. But up until now, Android customers have been given only two years of software support, while their iPhone-toting friends average around four years. Google's move to a three-year cycle is a positive, refreshing change we hope to see more manufacturers follow.

Winner: Google Pixel 2 XL     

Overall Winner: Google Pixel 2 XL


Google Pixel 2 XLLG V30
Design
Display
Performance
Camera
Battery
Special Features
Value
Software
Overall65

Google's and LG's latest big-screen smartphones are fantastic in different ways, but overall, the Pixel 2 XL is the better handset. We love its tasteful design, versatile camera, incredibly long-lasting battery and extra year of software support. Google Lens is a powerful addition that will make smartphones even smarter, but the Pixel 2 XL is a sneak peek at that AI-powered future right now.

Credit: Tom's Guide