Google has officially unveiled its flagship Pixel 2 phones, which come packing a mighty price tag. We investigate to see if the OnePlus 5, another Android mobile that delivers top-end specs at a greatly reduced price, is a better option for consumers.
The Pixel phone from Google proved to be one of the best Android handsets of 2016, which isn’t a massive surprise when you consider A) Google has more money than God and B) the search giant also created Android. Even one year on, the Pixel is a pleasurable handset to use - check out our long-term review if you don’t believe us.
That’s why we’re thrilled to see the Pixel 2 finally launched, at Google’s huge October 4 event. This updated device offers a specs boost, slick new camera tech and other refinements, to bring the Pixel family up to date.
However, there’s one big problem with the Pixel 2 and that’s the asking price. You’ll be paying through the nose for the new Google handset (which starts at £629) and stumping up even more if you fancy the super-sized Pixel XL 2 (starting from £799). Which is where rivals such as the OnePlus 5 deserve a mention.
The OnePlus 5 sports similar specs to the Pixel 2, and in some ways surpasses Google’s phone. Yet despite this, you’ll only need to pay £450 for this great-value device.
So which mobile is best for you, the Pixel 2 or OnePlus 5? This comparison will hopefully make the decision easier, and check out our other versus articles with Google's new blowers:
Google Pixel 2 vs OnePlus 5: Specs
|Phone||OnePlus 5||Google Pixel 2|
|OS||Android Nougat + OxygenOS||Android Oreo 8.0|
|Processor||Snapdragon 835||Snapdragon 835|
Google Pixel 2 vs OnePlus 5: Design
Both of these handsets sport a metal finish that’s pleasingly rugged and feels good in the hand, although the Pixel 2 also rocks a part-glass rear surfacing that helps it to stand out from the crowd.
The Pixel is also easier to use one-handed thanks to its relatively compact nature. The OnePlus 5 is a 5.5-inch beast compared with the 5-inch Pixel, although you do get a little software help to make it more manageable. Likewise, Google’s blower is lighter and slips without complaint into even tiny pockets and bags.
One area where the Pixel upstages the OnePlus 5 is its ability to handle drink. Or rather, Google's phone is water resistant (IP67 rating) while its rival can just about handle a bit of heavy rain, but no dunking.
The Pixel 2 sports a fingerprint sensor on its rear end, which is effortless to find when you pick up the phone. OnePlus’ phone also boasts fingerprint security, with a scanner that’s positioned beneath the display instead.
Google Pixel 2 vs OnePlus 5: Screen and media
If you’re after a capable media machine, the OnePlus 5 and Pixel 2 both deliver. In each case you get a Full HD AMOLED panel, which means sharp visuals and colours that really pop from the screen. Brightness levels, viewing angles and other key factors are essentially a match.
Of course, the OnePlus 5 does sport a slightly larger panel, at 5.5-inches vs 5-inches. Not much in it, as you can see, so it’s not really much of an advantage when it comes to media.
Likewise, both handsets here offer at least 64GB of storage space, with an option to upgrade to 128GB if you need more room for apps, photos and the rest. Neither phone can be expanded via microSD, sadly.
Google Pixel 2 vs OnePlus 5: Features and OS
Android is the operating system of choice in each of these flagship mobiles, although in quite different forms.
The Pixel 2 serves up Android Oreo, the latest version of Google’s mobile OS, in an untouched form. Meanwhile the OnePlus 5 still rocks the older Android Nougat, complete with its own OxygenOS overlay.
Android Oreo offers some pretty cool new features compared with Nougat, including smarter notifications handling, picture-in-picture YouTube support and slick resource management. Check out our Oreo guide for all of the best bits. Of course, the OnePlus handset will eventually be upgraded to this latest version of Android, though you’ll have to wait a bit.
As for OxygenOS, this also delivers some nifty features of its own, stacked on top of Google’s software. This includes easier one-handed operation, improved customisation, gesture shortcuts and more. Have a gander at our OnePlus 5 tips and tricks guide for our favourite additions.
Speaking of shortcuts, the Pixel 2 has a funky pressure sensor built into its sides, so you can load up the likes of the Google Assistant with just a squeeze. That’s something you don’t get on the OnePlus.
If you’re interested in VR, the Pixel 2 is your best selection. This handset obviously supports Google’s own Daydream VR platform, offering a tight selection of games and experiences. Meanwhile the OnePlus 5 can only cope with standard Google Cardboard-style virtual reality apps.
Google Pixel 2 vs OnePlus 5: Performance and battery
If performance is the big thing for you when scouting out a new smartphone, then good news. The Pixel 2 and OnePlus 5 deliver smooth running at all times, thanks to the capable Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipset packed into both blowers.
In the OnePlus 5 you have more memory to keep your experience stutter-free for the foreseeable future (a choice of 6 or 8GB). However, even with 4GB of RAM, the Pixel 2 shows nary a stammer as you skip through Android and load apps. The latest games should play with a perfect frame rate for a long time to come, whether you go Google or OnePlus.
As for battery life, you can expect roughly the same longevity from these devices. In other words, over a day of pretty heavy use per charge. Even though the OnePlus 5 packs in a bigger battery, the larger display and other differences means you won’t get longer life.
Of course, the OnePlus 5 does boast the brilliant Dash Charge tech, which keeps the battery cool while filling it in next to no time. We’ll be testing the Pixel 2 to see if its own fast charge solution is as strong, although Google reckons you'll get a few hours of life with just fifteen minutes at the plug.
Google Pixel 2 vs OnePlus 5: Cameras
With the OnePlus 5, this manufacturer really showed us what it could do with a smartphone camera. This dual lens snapper packed a 20-megapixel and 16-megapixel lens, which in combination capture detail-packed, attractive shots in almost any kind of conditions. You can shoot RAW images and record up to 4K resolution video, with smooth digital stabilisation even at that top setting.
In addition you have a great 16-megapixel selfie camera, that’s also ideal for shooting crisp images.
Check out our OnePlus 5 camera review for all you need to know.
So, can Google’s Pixel 2 compete? Well, if you’ve read our review of the excellent Google Pixel camera, you’ll know that last year’s flagship phone boasted one of the best mobile snappers of all time.
Which means we’re already excited to fully test the Pixel 2’s 12-megapixel rear camera. Especially as DxOMark has just rated it 98 out of 100, the best score awarded to any mobile to date.
Even though the specs don't appear to have changed, you can now shoot even better high-contrast shots thanks to the improved HDR+ mode. Like the OnePlus, you get a Portrait mode to add background blurring to your snaps - although the Pixel can handle this with the front as well as the rear camera. We're expecting video results to be just as strong as well, with 4K resolution on offer and a combination of OIS and EIS to keep things smooth when moving and shooting at the same time.
Check back soon for our full Pixel 2 camera review and in-depth phone review.