Pixel XL vs OnePlus 3 review

WHO KNEW the OnePlus 3 would prove to be one of the most exciting releases of 2016? The so-called “flagship killer” managed to combine a winning price with high-end specs, and we awarded it 9/10.

Just like OnePlus, then, Google is attempting to make similar inroads (at least in the hardware sense), and the Pixel XL has proved a formidable entry in the race for 2016 smartphone dominance. For clarity, we awarded it 8/10.

With all that in mind, we thought it prudent to compare like for like, so when thrown together which of our two competitors comes out on top?

Pixel XL: 155x76x8.5mm, 168g, USB-C
OnePlus 3: 153x74x7.4mm, 158g, USB Type-C

The OnePlus 3 is a real coming of age story. For the first time. the design represents that of a true premium device. The handset deftly mixes a full metal unibody construction with subtle curves. In fact, there’s more of a whiff of the HTC 10 about it, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

OnePlus has really aimed for elegance, as evidenced by the replacement of the sandstone rear with cool aluminium and precision-drilled speaker holes that evoke a sort of industrial chic.

Google’s Pixel XL is also a bit of a looker with its two-tone case and similar full metal jacket. The top third of the Pixel’s rear dazzles with a glass finish, and it’s here where the fingerprint reader and 12.3MP camera reside.

Not to be outdone, the OnePlus 3 incorporates a fingerprint scanner, but here it’s built into the front Home button.


Size-wise the Pixel XL certainly lives up to its name, measuring 155x76x8.5mm vs 153x74x7.4mm. It’s a touch bigger in every dimension, as well as 10g heavier. You’ll struggle to use either one-handed unless you have large hands.

The OnePlus 3 has a further trick up its sleeve in the shape of the Alert Slider. Nestled above the volume controls, the Slider is a physical switch that toggles notification behaviour. Turning the Pixel’s volume all the way down enables a ‘Do not disturb’ mode which has some uses, but for anything else you’ll need to rely on the Nougat OS (see Operating System below).

Both phones have USB Type-C connectivity, and the Pixel XL handily includes an adapter that allows migration from your old phone should you want to transfer.

The OnePlus 3 and Pixel XL both lack IP67/IP67 certification, so you’d best avoid exposing them to dust or water for any length of time. Hopefully, we’ll see this on the specs sheet next year.

The OnePlus 3 is available in Graphite and Soft Gold, whereas the Pixel XL comes in Quite Black and Very Silver.

Winner: OnePlus 3

Pixel XL: 5.5in 2560×1440, 534ppi
OnePlus 3: 5.5in 1920×1080 pixels, 401ppi

The two phones match when it comes to screen size, but the OnePlus 3 doesn’t put it to best use. That 5.5in panel is wasted as it’s capable of only Full HD. Compare that to the Pixel XL’s QHD offering and the OnePlus comes off somewhat lacking. Both use AMOLED panels which are more energy efficient than their LCD counterparts.


When the two phones are put side by side we found blacks are gloriously inky, but there’s a noticeable yellowish tinge to the Pixel when viewing whites. In terms of colour and vibrancy at least, the OnePlus 3 reminds us more of the displays on the latest Samsung Galaxy handsets. It’s definitely a little more in your face.

You’ll want to protect every inch of these large screens. Thankfully Gorilla Glass 4 is at hand, and the OnePlus 3 adds to that by including a pre-fitted screen protector.

Blue light filters are becoming all the rage and these two offer their own night modes to help prevent eye strain when the evening draws in.

Winner: Pixel XL

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