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The Pixel is a 5-inch phone, while the Pixel XL is a 5.5-inch phone. Naturally, this makes it smaller, lighter, and a bit easier to hold and use with one hand. Being smaller, the display doesn’t need to be quite as high-resolution as that on the XL. The Pixel’s AMOLED display is carries a resolution of 1920 x 1080, while the XL is 2560 x 1440. That’s a pixel density of 441 pixels per inch, vs 534 for the bigger phone.
Is this a big deal? Hardly. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to notice the difference at all in normal use. The displays seem otherwise identical in terms of color gamut, white balance, contrast, viewing angles, and brightness. A density of 441 PPI is sharp enough that you can’t see the pixels at all, and even fine lines in Maps are razor sharp.
Smaller, lower-resolution displays eat up less power, so the difference in usable time isn’t quite so dramatic. In our PCMark battery benchmark, the Pixel lasted 6 hours 17 minutes, while the XL lasted 6 hours 56 minutes. That’s an 11% difference. In my daily use, I would usually see about 5.5 to six hours of screen-on time with the XL, and the smaller Pixel generally came in around half an hour below that.
Where Apple saw fit to give its bigger iPhone 7 Plus a special dual camera system and an extra gigabyte of RAM, Google has made sure both sizes of its phones have the same capabilites. That means everything we love about the Pixel XL still holds true here. It’s got that highly responsive, buttery-smooth performance that feels even faster than the benchmark numbers (which are still quite good) would indicate. It’s first with Android 7.1, first to support Daydream VR, and comes with all those delightful touches in the custom Pixel software.
While there are certainly areas in which we would improve the Pixel, we can’t ignore the fact that every time we use another Android phone, we don’t enjoy it as much. In the Pixel, as with the Pixel XL, rock-solid responsiveness meets simple-but-powerful software meets top-notch camera in a phone that is blissfully free of bloatware and bundleware, and first in line for future Android updates. Other Android phones may have a longer list of features, but are saddled with a longer list of grievances, too.