I’ve always been a compulsive upgrader; I upgraded to every new Nexus phone, I rooted it before I even installed Facebook, and I installed daily ROMs (and switched ROMs about once a week). Over the years, however, I’ve seen a shift in my taste – I prefer consistency and convenience to being on the buggy, bleeding edge these days. Don’t get me wrong, I signed up for the Nougat beta on day one and still have a dozen or so beta apps installed on my trusty Nexus 6P, but I don’t have enough time or energy in my adult life (sigh) to dedicate to the ever-changing phonosphere anymore.

Looks scarily like every other smartphone on the market. Weird.
Looks scarily like every other smartphone on the market. Weird.

But I digress. You’re not here to hear (read) about my phone purchasing habits, you want to know whether or not you should upgrade to the new Pixel XL to replace Google’s Last, Best Nexus.

In short, no. No you should not.

Let’s take a look; Nexus 6P vs Google Pixel XL.

Screen

5.7″ (1440 x 2560) vs 5.5″ (1440 x 2560)

This is really just a game of numbers, as both phones sport AMOLED screens with scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass and identical resolutions. The difference, small as it may be, lies in the fact that the 6P’s screen is 0.2″ larger on the diagonal, meaning that Pixel’s screen is probably a bit easier to handle and slightly denser.

Internals

2000Mhz Octa-Core vs 2150Mhz Quad-Core

3GB vs 4GB RAM

Adreno 430 vs Adreno 530

This is really the meat of the operation. RAM, Processor and GPU generally determine how snappy and quick the phone runs overall (though you’ll find an army of iOS users that insist that hardware isn’t everything), and Pixel has a distinct advantage in these three major areas. That being said, however, the old mantra “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is relevant in this situation. Slowdowns with my Nexus 6P are few and far between, and it handles everything I can throw at it like a champ. Even running the Developer version of Android 7.1, the 6P rarely falters. As such, I don’t feel that the Pixel is enough of an upgrade to justify dropping $800+. Ask me again in a year (when the 6P will be a year older, and another Pixel device will likely be launching).

downloadInternal Features

Bluetooth 4.2 / USB Type C / 802.11ac WiFi / Fingerprint Sensor

Let’s be honest, here. There’s no difference whatsoever in the hardware features of these two juggernauts. Both include the exact same hardware listed above – the only difference being that one of the phones was released a year after the other. It should be noted that the Pixel lineup features Fingerprint gestures, much to the chagrin of Nexus owners, but Google is on record saying that these gestures may make their way to the last Nexus phones after all – so we’ll call this an even draw.

Battery Life

While both phones feature a 3450mAh battery, the lower power consumption CPU of the Pixel means that you’ll squeeze a bit more time out of the battery – according to Phone Arena, about nine more hours of talk time.

Camera

While the technical specs of these two phones’ respective cameras may seem similar at first glance, tech blogs across the land all agree that the Pixel XL‘s back camera is vastly superior to that of the Nexus 6P. According to Google itself, Pixel’s camera is the highest rated of any sensor to date, at 89 DxOMark.

Exclusive Features

The Pixel lineup can do everything the Nexus lineup can do, and more. Pixel has Google Assistant built-in to the system, and fingerprint gestures give added functionality at a touch. That being said, though, as noted above, Google has gone on record saying that gestures may end up coming to the Nexii and both phones already have access to a limited version of Assistant in the form of Allo. In short, the highly touted ‘exclusive’ features of Google’s Latest-and-Greatest, really aren’t all that game-changing.

Value

$649 vs $869

(Note: I went with retail prices on these two phones, but in reality you can easily find a Nexus 6P for $480 or less.) This is a no-brainer. the Nexus 6P is a flagship quality phone, even by today’s standard, and it was $200 less a year ago, when it first came out. And this, in my opinion, is where common sense comes in. If you have $900 laying around and you really, really want a new phone, go ahead and buy that Pixel XL. But if you’re an average consumer, you’re essentially paying $200 more (original retail price!) for a slight bump in hardware specs, a better camera, and a few exclusive features that may not be exclusive for long.

Verdict

Don’t do it.

While Google’s Pixel is an admirable first foray into the mobile hardware market, the incremental hardware upgrade and not-so-exclusive features do not justify the massive increase in price.

But hey, what do I know.

  • DarrenSaw

    Upgrading annually is pretty much totally pointless these days so the handsets are almost a moot point.

    • John Fozzee Foster

      That is a matter of opinion. Most next generation upgrades see only minor improvements but if people choose to spend their hard earned money to have the latest and greatest I wouldnt call that pointless.

      • DarrenSaw

        I agree, if somebody wants to then that’s all well and good, I understand it’s nice to have the latest and greatest.

        However if you apply any kind of “is it with it” logic it’s unlikely you would make a case to say the iterative change would make it a logical purchase, and that’s what this article does.

        • John Fozzee Foster

          I understand the point of the article my point is saying the upgrade is pointless infers people who upgrade are foolish.

          I totally agree the upgrade may be unnecessary but none the less it is an upgrade and for many not a “pointless” upgrade.

          • DarrenSaw

            I’m with you, I don’t believe people are foolish for upgrading, but those people are making their own choice because they want a new device because they can, and why not.

            My point was purely to say that those people are not going care, they will do what they want, they won’t be swayed by a comparison article like this which will never come out with a conclusion that it’s worth it on a years worth of new tech.

            I’m sure we are on the same page.

      • Donovan Jeska

        Hi John – Generally speaking, you’re going to see a much bigger jump in stats, features and quality of internal components over the course of two years than you will buying every single year. If you have the money laying around for an upgrade, great – but most people don’t have the $700+ it’ll take to upgrade each year; and even of those that do, I’m willing to bet that most of them won’t notice a significant, real-world upgrade from their last phone.

  • Kevin Davis

    Nice article, as opposed to the vast majority of the gushing & swooning crap in other writeups(while overlooking or ignoring obvious shortcomings), I agree.

  • Mark Weiner

    I agree completely. There’s no question that the new Pixel XL is a very nice phone, BUT, if you purchased a Nexus 6P in the last 12 months, there’s just not enough of an upgrade to justify the quantum leap in price. Sure, if you just want to burn up cash and have the bragging rights about the newest model and processor, go for it. I think the smart money is on the next model and that remains to be seen. People who just blindly upgrade for the sake of upgrading don’t appreciate the value of money. You don’t trade your car in every year for a new model? Do you?

    • sirdickhead

      Maybe…. 😀

  • Me

    I am still using the Nexus 6 which is still comparable to the Nexus 6p and the Pixel XL. Simply the fact that neither of the two newer phones have wireless charging, I cannot justify upgrading. But maybe by October 2017, Google will finally add this feature and possibly waterproofing, which would likely push me to upgrade.

    • disquswithme

      Why does everyone keep bringing up the speakers on a phone?? If you’re so inclined and worried about the speakers then get a BT speaker / headphones…

      • Bryan Edwards

        Because it is a VERY valid comparison point. Why would I want to lug along headphones or a Bluetooth speaker?!? I have both phones and when you are watching videos, it is the number 1 thing I miss because the 6P speakers are WAY better! That being said, the camera and battery life in the pixel xl and significantly better! ☺️

        • disquswithme

          That’s fair. I just have my headphones on me all the time. I rarely use my phone speaker ever. I guess that’s something that helped me make my purchasing decision.

          • Bryan Edwards

            Yeah, I do love headphones just don’t usually carry them. I would love to hear a LG V20 with some decent headphones!

          • disquswithme

            I have the Solo 3 wireless headphones. I am pretty content with them since they have a 40 hr battery life. BT headphones are becoming so mainstream it’s hard to ignore.

            PowerAmp is the best music player on the market if you’re looking to play with the EQ. Even when it’s stock, it kicks the stock music player’s sound and functionality out of the water. Great app you should look to invest in!

          • Bryan Edwards

            I’ve tried Power Amp and like it too. I can’t remember if that’s what I’m using for uncompressed music or not though. I have the Audio Technica ATX M50x and some nice Sennheiser ear buds and use both with a little portable headphone amplifier with the eq built in. LOVE that combo.

        • Bocomomark

          We frequently use the phone for two things that conflict with that approach.
          1) use it to entertain our kids. And I haven’t figured out how to get multiple headphones to work. Both kids want to watch and hear the same thing…
          2) usually we will watch content at bedtime togeather (wife and I). It’s nice that the sound is good enough that we don’t have to bother with a bt speaker.

          On my previous phones we always used an external speaker. Now we don’t bother. Having good speakers on my phone is something that has worked out to be surprisingly nice. To the extent that soon as I noticed the pixel didn’t have them, any thoughts of upgrading vanished.

      • Bocomomark

        Bocomomark

    • Gekko

      without fingerprint scanner and USB-C you are behind the times IMO.

      • Me

        I agree with the fingerprint scanner but USB C charges and downloads faster, the Nexus 6 came with a fast charger and I work in an office where I am always near a power source, so I don’t see the benefit of USB C.

        But I get your point.

        Maybe October 2017 Google will pull it all together and I will upgrade at that point.

        • Gekko

          USB-C is the future. i have a launch day Nexus 6P and i didn’t upgrade to Pixel XL. i kept my 6P – not enough of an upgrade – not even close. but from Nexus 6 it is IMO. my strategy is to upgrade Nexus/Pixel every 2 years but now that they cost ~$900 i might change that to every 3 years. MSRP could come down with next Pixel depending on manufacturing partner – it has fluctuated in past. HTC vs. Huawei vs. LG vs. Samsung etc. good luck.

  • Yep, I’m rowing in the same boat as you, Donovan. Hell, I’m actually kinda glad that the Pixel’s hardware specs are, “meh” and not, “WOW”. I would’ve felt compelled to throw common sense to the wind and drop a ridiculous amount of money on a new phone that I didn’t need had they been the latter.

  • Bocomomark

    What about audio? I’m constantly impressed with the audio on my 6p. It’s on par with my laptop… Initially I was annoyed that Google chose to use two speakers on the front of the phone (taking up valuable real estate). Now I’m a beleiver.

    • Joshua P.

      Weird, I find the headphone jack audio quality to be pretty terrible even when compared to my oneplusone. Anyone who has tested the audio quality of the 6p has agreed.

      • Bocomomark

        I’ve never used the jack so I wouldn’t know. It’s either the speakers or Bluetooth for me.

  • Hemanth Kumar

    U have missed few more highlighting features in both mobiles ,,,

    6p has the dual front facing speakers,were as pixel doesnt.

    Best feature of pixel is that unlimited storage of photos, which is amazing.

    If pixel was waterproof and had the dual front speakers, I would blindly buy it.

    I’m mainly disappointed with google for not making it waterproof

    • Donovan Jeska

      Excellent point on the unlimited Photo Storage – the speakers, while nice, generally don’t affect the volume level when compared to the Pixel.

  • Damian Crowle

    I ordered my 128gb 6P the day I saw the specs for the pixel, paid $700 aud vs $1419 for the pixel xl same size. No brainer…

  • disquswithme

    Love the Pixel XL 128GB. I can use all the space in the world for my music and apps. The unlimited Google Photos storage is amazing. You really can’t go wrong with either. I chose the Pixel XL simply because I know this is a phone I can rely on for the next two years.

    • saintdick

      I am in the same boat + this is my first ever phone purchase. I chose the Pixel because I admire Google’s no-bloat policy and I plan on joining with Google Fi with the Pixel XL. I’ll download my entire consciousness into the Google DB. See how it goes 😉

  • Sam De Clercq

    I totally agree also. I do own the whole nexus series from n1 to n9 and my n6p is by far the best phone I had. check the cameratest n6p vs pixel and you will think twice. YES I do have a pixel but that is an upgrader for my old N9, meaning the pixel C. thankx to the magnets with the keyboard the NFC chip is gone. so if you order for the N6p recent it is a good choice you made, I should go for my second n6p in a few weeks.

    • Bryan Edwards

      Umm, comparing the pixel tablet to the pixel phone camera is WAY off base here. The pixel phone camera is significantly better even though the 6P was also great.

  • jondrey

    Just bought a like new 64gb 6p for $350 off Swappa. Personally I think the back of the pixel looks terrible.