LG G6 vs. Google Pixel XL: Which one’s better?

For whatever reason, maybe Samsung’s new Galaxy S8 isn’t doing it for you. Luckily, there are other great large-screen Androids to consider, like LG’s beautifully designed G6 and Google’s impressive Pixel XL.

They’re both great devices, but the G6 and Pixel XL have different strengths. To help decide which one is right for you, I evaluated how they compared in design, camera, performance, features and value. Read on to find out more…

Design: Eye candy and durability

Love it or hate it, the Pixel’s glass shade on top of a metal back makes it stand out from other phones. Personally, I love it. The problem is that glass can crack, as it did with our unit. Also, despite it housing a smaller screen, the Pixel XL is physically larger than the G6, and it’s been pointed out that the Pixel looks too similar to the iPhone. That said, the Really Blue color on the Pixels is particularly eye-catching, and the chamfered edges make it easier to grasp than the G6.

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The G6’s water resistance protects it against splashes and spills.James Martin/CNET

The G6’s smooth edges mean it can easily slip from your hands. The glass is a problem here too: Our unit somehow got a hairline fracture on the front, despite us never actually dropping it (maybe it rubbed against a set of keys or something). But as LG phones go, this is the best-looking one yet. Though I’d struggle to pick it out of a lineup, it looks polished and elegant. And the G6’s ace in the hole is its water resistance. This durability against accidental dunks and splashes is a big benefit.

Winner: If it were purely aesthetics, I’d give it to the Pixel. But water resistance gives the G6 the ultimate leg up.

Camera: Capturing beautiful pics and video

Click to see the Pixel’s camera handling low light.Lynn La/CNET

The G6 has two 13-megapixel cameras on the back, one of which includes a wide-angle lens. That means you can get more content in each frame (great for vast, scenic shots). The 5-megapixel front-facing camera has an option for that too, so you won’t have to struggle too much to fit more peeps in a group selfie. There’s also a Square Camera app that edits neat square photos perfect for Instagram.

Aside from a Lens Blur mode, the Pixel doesn’t have many camera tricks, packing only a simple 12.3-megapixel camera and an 8-megapixel camera. But it doesn’t need to, considering it’s a fantastic camera in and of itself. While both the Pixel and G6 take vibrant and clear photos in bright, well-lit settings, and both have image stabilization features for video, the Pixel has a superior camera. It excels at low-light photography, takes sharper selfies and records steadier video (albeit with a floaty, drone-like quality).

Winner: While the G6’s wide-angle feature has its uses, I’d take the Pixel’s low-light prowess over that, any day.

Performance: Processor speeds and battery life

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Both devices are powered by the Snapdragon 821 chipset.Josh Miller/CNET

Both phones are equipped with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 chipset from 2016. As such, their benchmark scores for Antutu, Geekbench and 3DMark were pretty neck-and-neck (you can check out the hard numbers here). And if you think processing speeds are similar on paper, real life usage (opening up apps, launching the camera, scrolling and typing, etc.) is just as hard to discern since both handsets are fast and speedy.

(As a reminder though, the Pixels came out last year compared to the G6, which launched this month. Their successors, which are expected sometime this fall, will likely have the Snapdragon 835 chipset, or another advanced processor that should be faster and more efficient.)

The G6 has a 3,300mAh battery while the Pixel XL has a slightly higher 3,450mAh. During our battery tests for continuous video playback on Airplane mode, the G6 clocked in 13 hours and 21 minutes while the Pixel lasted 28 minutes longer at 13 hours and 49 minutes.

Winner: The Pixel XL, but only barely because its battery time is slightly longer. It’s not by much, but it don’t matter if you win by an inch or a mile, winning’s winning.

Features: Interface and software goodies

With both handsets running Android 7.0 Nougat and the digital search assistant Google Assistant built right in (which is also available for other Android phones), there’s not much differentiating the G6 and Pixel in terms of software.

I do, however, like the Pixel’s interface slightly better than LG’s custom software, called UX 6.0. I prefer the way Google designed details like the icons, dialer and menus. Still, any grievances about the G6’s look and feel aren’t anything a third-party launcher and icon pack can’t resolve.

One thing to remember, though, is that the Pixel is on tap to receive major software updates as soon as Google’s ready to roll them out. If you purchase the G6 from a carrier, that can also add more delays to updates.

Winner: Both — and by both I mean neither, since they have rather unexciting software features outside Nougat and Assistant, which they both provide.

Value: Most bang for your buck

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The G6 is priced lower than the Pixel across different carriers and markets.Sarah Tew/CNET

While both the G6 and Pixel are high-end, premium phones, LG’s phone is consistently less expensive, even when you factor in different countries and carriers. In the US, the priciest G6 is on AT&T, and that still comes in about $50 cheaper than the Pixel (32 GB). In the UK there’s about a £70 difference and you can save about AU$260 with the G6 in Australia.

The Pixel’s price gets even steeper if you spring for the 128 GB version, whereas the G6 has expandable memory and you can increase its storage up to 2 TB via a microSD card.

Of course, prices fluctuate throughout the year, and retailers can list different prices and sales than the one listed above. In addition, retailers may offer different promotions and bundles, like the G6’s buy-one-get-a-Google Home-free special that recently passed (some carriers even included an LG TV). Be sure to look into any offers that may be available at your time of purchase.

Winner: Barring any crazy Pixel deal or bundle I’m not aware of, the G6 is the better value.

And the winner is…

Tallying up the scores, the LG G6 and Google Pixel XL tie. The G6 wins with design (again, water resistance was its saving grace) and value. But the Pixel comes up in camera and performance. If money were no object and I had to consider both devices in a vacuum, the Pixel’s edge in these two categories objectively make it the better phone. But the G6’s lower price (not to mention water resistance) give it a big boost.

Ultimately, a lot of what makes a phone “better” than the other depends on you, the buyer. Deciding on the G6 or the Pixel hinges on your budget and your priorities. Maybe you’d rather take better photos than have a waterproof phone. Or maybe saving extra dough leaves you with enough to purchase something else you’re eyeing.

LG and Google did a great job with both handsets, and the G6 and Pixel are top-notch. Whichever way you go, you’ll be satisfied. The thing is to know which features are most important to you.

LG G6 vs. Google Pixel XL

LG G6 Google Pixel XL
Display size, resolution 5.7-inch, 2,880×1,440 pixels 5.5-inch; 2,560×1,440 pixels
Pixel density 565 ppi 534 ppi
Dimensions (Inches) 5.9×2.8×0.31 in 6.1x3x0.34 in (at its thickest)
Dimensions (Millimeters) 148.9×71.97.x7.9 mm 154.7×75.7×8.6 mm (at its thickest)
Weight (Ounces, Grams) 5.7 oz; 162g 5.92 oz; 168g
Mobile software Android 7.0 Nougat Android 7.1 Nougat
Camera 13-megapixel (standard), 13-megapixel (wide) 12.3-megapixel
Front-facing camera 5-megapixel 8-megapixel
Video capture 4K 4K
Processor 2.35 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 2.15 GHz + 1.6 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 821
Storage 32 GB 32 GB, 128 GB
RAM 4 GB 4 GB
Expandable storage Up to 2 TB None
Battery 3,300mAh (nonremovable) 3,450mAh (nonremovable)
Fingerprint sensor Back cover Back cover
Connector USB-C USB-C
Special features 18:9 aspect ratio; wireless charging (US-only); water resistant Unlimited cloud storage; Daydream VR-ready; first to have Google Assistant
Price off-contract (USD) AT&T: $720; Verizon: $672; T-Mobile: $650; Sprint: $708; U.S. Cellular: $597.60 $769 (32 GB); $869 (128 GB)
Price (GBP) £649 £719 (32 GB); £819 (128 GB)
Price (AUD) AU$1,008 AU$1,269 (32 GB); AU$1,419 (128 GB)

 

 

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