Pixel XL 2 vs iPhone 8 Plus: The biggest Android and iOS flagship phones do battle

We pit Google’s mighty 6-inch Pixel XL 2 against the 5.5-inch iPhone 8 Plus, to see which massive flagship mobile boasts the most premium specs, sharpest screen, best performance and most capable camera.

If you like your smartphone on the big side, this is the comparison review for you.

Google has just unveiled the new Pixel XL 2, a super-sized 6-inch handset that towers over the standard Pixel phone. This beastly blower sports the latest (and greatest) Android Oreo OS as well as updated camera tech, to capture even better results than last year’s excellent shooter.

However, if you’re not already loyal to Google’s Android ecosystem, you might also be enticed by Apple’s all-new iPhone 8 Plus instead. This 5.5-inch mobile is Apple’s biggest handset right now, packing the powerful A11 Fusion chipset for sterling performance as well as the super-smart iOS 11 and a nifty dual lens camera.

So what’s the difference between these Apple and Google mobiles and which might be better suited to your particular needs? Here’s our in-depth comparison, and check out our other versus features:

Pixel vs Pixel 2

Pixel 2 vs Pixel XL 2

Pixel 2 vs OnePlus 5

Pixel XL 2 vs iPhone 8 Plus: Specs

Phone iPhone 8 Plus Google Pixel XL 2
Screen size 5.5-inches 6-inches
Screen resolution 1920×1080 2560×1440
Fingerprint sensor? Yes Yes
Water resistant? Yes Yes
OS iOS 11 Android Oreo 8.0
Processor Apple A11 Bionic Snapdragon 835
Memory 3GB 4GB
Storage 64/128GB 64/128GB
Battery 2690mAh 3520mAh
Rear camera 12MP+12MP 12MP
Front camera 7MP 8MP

Pixel XL 2 vs iPhone 8 Plus: Design

As these handsets are the biggest devices offered by both Google and Apple, they’re unsurprisingly not too easy to operate one-handed. They’re not only beefy but quite heavy too, which you’ll notice the instant you pick one up.

Still, even though the Pixel phone rocks a bigger screen, it’s about the same size as the iPhone. That’s because the bezels surrounding the screen are pleasingly slender – helped by a fingerprint sensor that’s mounted on the rear instead of beneath the display.

The Pixel XL 2 is constructed mainly from metal, with a glass strip running across the top of the back edge to give it that distinguishable Pixel design. It certainly looks slick and feels hardy too. By comparison, Apple’s latest Plus-sized iPhone now sports mainly glass surfacing, with a glossy rear replacing the matte metal finish of old. This is also impressively durable, all things considered, while hiding fingerprints and other marks well.

Both of these phones are also fully water resistant, so you can dunk them in liquid with no ill effects.

Pixel XL 2 vs iPhone 8 Plus: Screen and media

Although both of these handsets serve up a spacious screen that’s great for watching movies and shows on the go, they’re also quite different when it comes to image reproduction.

Apple has packed a 5.5-inch IPS Retina screen onto the iPhone 8 Plus, which specialises in natural colour reproduction. Meanwhile the Pixel XL 2 uses a 6-inch AMOLED panel (with a stretched 18:9 aspect ratio), which deals in more vibrant hues that really pop. Neither is better than the other, necessarily; it’s all down to personal preference.

That said, the Pixel XL 2 does offer superior detail levels, thanks to its Quad HD 2560×1440 resolution. Even though the iPhone 8 Plus’ display is smaller, the Full HD 1920×1080 resolution means you don’t get as much detail packed into every frame.

Neither phone offers a 3.5mm jack for connecting wired headphones, although you do get Bluetooth 5 support so you can stream your audio to one or two speakers or ‘phones at the same time.

Pixel XL 2 vs iPhone 8 Plus: Features and OS

When it comes to the actual software side, these phones are completely different – although they offer many similar features.

The Pixel XL 2 of course uses Google’s Android Oreo OS, which offers a little more customisation than the iPhone 8 Plus’ iOS 11. Both phones offer solid resource management, including battery saver modes and the ability to cull a specific app’s permissions and activities. You also get a cloud solution for backing up and sharing your files, a voice assistant for hands-free operation and so on.

Check out our complete guide to iOS 11 and in-depth Android Oreo feature for all you need to know.

Want to carry around lots of photos, movies and apps? These handsets are evenly matched when it comes to storage, serving up 64GB of space as standard. You can also boost up to 128GB with the Pixel XL 2, or 256GB with the iPhone 8 Plus. If you’re hoping to expand though, you’re out of luck; neither of these flagship phones offer microSD expandability.

Interested in VR? Google’s Daydream VR platform is supported by the Pixel, while Apple is yet to offer dedicated virtual reality on its iPhones. Although you do now get support for AR experiences. The Pixel also offers the new Active Edge pressure sensor for quickly accessing Google Assistant, while the iPhone has 3D Touch for accessing specific app features in a flash.

Pixel XL 2 vs iPhone 8 Plus: Performance and battery

If you want the best performance in a smartphone right now, the Pixel XL 2 and iPhone 8 Plus certainly deliver.

In the Google phone you’ll find Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 835 chipset, backed by 4GB of RAM. That’s easily strong enough to blast through the latest games with a perfect frame rate and shouldn’t show any signs of slowdown for quite some time.

You’ll get the same super-reliable performance from the iPhone 8 Plus, with its A11 ‘Bionic’ platform of Apple’s own design. This hexa-core chipset is built for multitasking, with Metal 2 support for great-looking mobile games.

So what about battery life? Well, the iPhone 8 Plus offers over a day of heavy use per charge, including media streaming, gaming and plenty of camera use. We’re expecting the same from the Pixel XL 2, especially as it offers a bigger capacity battery. Stay tuned for our in-depth review to see if Google can better the iPhone.

The iPhone 8 Plus now offers wireless charging, a first for Apple’s mobile devices. This handset uses the Qi standard to charge up cable-free, so you can power it back up at the likes of Starbucks stores, and wherever else offers these pads to customers.

Pixel XL 2 vs iPhone 8 Plus: Cameras

These handsets offer a very different camera experience too, although you’ll get a very capable portable snapper in either case.

The iPhone 8 Plus rocks a dual lens camera with a wide-angle and telephoto lens on offer. These are swapped between automatically depending on the kind of shot you’re trying to get, while they can also combine for the Portrait mode to add a bokeh-style background blur to your photos.

Snaps are packed with detail while you can shoot up to 4K resolution video at 60 frames-per-second, for a supremely natural finish. Check out our iPhone 8 Plus camera review for samples and more.

Google’s Pixel XL 2 rocks a single 12-megapixel lens, which is f/1.8 aperture like the iPhone’s standard wide-angle snapper. This can capture great high contrast shots thanks to the smart HDR+ mode, as well as Portrait mode photos just like the iPhone 8 Plus, despite using a single lens. This is thanks to a combination of machine learning and the Dual Pixel Sensor tech packed inside. In fact, because a lot of it is down to software smarts, you can even shoot Portrait snaps with the selfie cam. You can’t do that with the iPhone.

While 4K video tops out at 30 frames-per-second, you do get a combo of OIS and EIS to smooth out any footage while moving and shooting. The results should be less shaky than with the iPhone.

Expect our full Pixel XL 2 camera review soon, as well as our in-depth phone review.