WITH ITS MID-RANGE price tag and high-end specs, the OnePlus 3 has proved itself to be one of the most exciting releases of 2016.
It's still early days but OnePlus is gradually making a name for itself, and with Google attempting to make similar inroads we couldn't resist pitting the two against each other.
We thought it prudent to compare like for like, so we've chosen the larger Google Pixel XL to square up against the 5.5in OnePlus 3.
Pixel XL: 155x76x8.5mm, 168g, USB-C
OnePlus 3: 153x74x7.4mm, 158g, USB Type-C
We said in our original OnePlus 3 review that the handset is perhaps the best-looking piece of hardware OnePlus has released, and Google's Pixel XL is also a bit of a looker with its two-tone casing. Both smartphones feature a full metal unibody construction, and the rear of the OnePlus 3 is brushed metal while the Pixel dazzles with a mirrored finish.
The Pixel XL certainly lives up to its name, and it's a shade bigger in every dimension and 10g heavier. You'll struggle to use either one-handed unless you have big hands.
USB Type-C is offered on both handsets, but the Pixel XL includes a handy adapter that allows migration of data between phones.
Neither includes any sort of resistance to dust or water. This kind of protection is becoming common, and is certainly an area where both handsets fall down.
Pixel XL: 5.5in 2560x1440, 534ppi
OnePlus 3: 5.5in 1920x1080 pixels, 401ppi
Both phones have 5.5in screens, but the OnePlus 3 is only Full HD, compared to the Pixel XL's QHD offering. Both use AMOLED panels which are more energy efficient than their LCD contemporaries and offer deeper blacks.
Each are afforded some extra protection with Gorilla Glass 4, but the OnePlus 3 has a screen protector that comes pre-fitted.
For those who can't help looking at their phones before going to bed, there are Night Light and Night Mode on the Pixel and OnePlus 3 respectively that use blue filters to reduce eye strain.
Pixel XL: Android 7.1 Nougat
OnePlus 3: Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow, Oxygen OS
There is the guarantee of a purer Android experience on the Google phone along with instant OS upgrades. It runs the very latest Android build (7.1) which adds a few more features like the aforementioned Night Light, support for Daydream VR, a manual storage manager and new developer tools.
It's also currently the only handset with Google Assistant (think of it as a super-powered Siri) and the Pixel Launcher Home screen.
The OnePlus 3 runs Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow, but we suspect an imminent update to Nougat. On top of this lies OnePlus' Oxygen OS layer, which doesn't take much of the focus away from Android. It adds support for gesture-based controls and the proximity display, and integrates popular keyboard app SwiftKey from the off. There's an abundance of unofficial utilities and tools if you like to tinker.
Pixel XL: Snapdragon 821, quad-core 2x 2.15GHz and 2x 1.6GHz, 4GB RAM
OnePlus 3: Snapdragon 820, quad-core 2x 2.15GHz Kryo and 2x 1.6GHz Kryo, 6GB RAM
The OnePlus 3 scored highly across all fields in our tests. We can expect the Google Pixel to improve on this slightly owing to the slight bump in chipset architecture. Interestingly, the clock speeds for the Snapdragon 820 and 821 processors are the same.
At this point, it's also worth addressing the elephant in the room: the OnePlus' epic 6GB of RAM. Earlier this year we compared the OnePlus 3 with phones using the same Snapdragon 820 chipset (albeit with less RAM), and time and again the challenger from China blazed ahead. Whether this will still be the case with the 821-powered Pixel XL is a question better left to our review.
The OnePlus 3 incorporates a fingerprint reader into the Home button on the front of the device, while Google's Pixel Imprint scanner lives on the back below the camera.
Pixel XL: 12.3MP rear-facing, f/2.0, 8MP front-facing
OnePlus 3: 16MP rear-facing, f/2.0, OIS, EIS, 8MP front-facing
The OnePlus 3 captures images with complex details and realistic shadows. The 16MP camera has two different shooting modes: HDR and HD. Confusingly, HD stands for High Quality, rather than the more familiar HDR, or High Dynamic Range. The Pixel XL goes one further with HDR+ mode, which is enabled by default.
The Pixel's 12.3MP snapper is currently at the top of the DxOMark leaderboard, so we expect something special when we get our hands on the thing.
Both phones use a f/2.0 aperture, but the Google phone's 1.55µm pixel size should give it an edge by allowing more light into the camera.
The OnePlus 3 offers optical and electronic image stabilisation, while the Pixel XL employs EIS only when shooting video.
Pixel XL: 3,450mAh
OnePlus 3: 3,000mAh
The Pixel XL has a beefier battery capacity than its Pixel sibling and the OnePlus 3. Quoted life for the Pixel XL is 14 hours for WiFi/LTE date use, whereas the OP3 lasts until around bedtime on an average day.
We've been waiting for OnePlus to embrace fast charging and our prayers were finally answered. Dash Charge can fully charge an extinguished battery in just an hour, which is insanely quick. Google is never one to be outdone, however, and the Pixel XL can get seven hours of charge in as little as 15 minutes.
Pixel XL: 32GB/128GB
OnePlus 3: 64GB
The OnePlus' 64GB is a good starting point, but it's disappointing to learn that neither handset is able to take advantage of expandable storage. If you crave that little bit more you might be better off with the Pixel's top-tier offering.
The Pixel wins here. The 128GB capacity is generous, and Google offers unlimited storage in the cloud for photos and videos. If you take a lot of pictures, or shoot lots of video, this might be the incentive you need.
Google Pixel XL: £719 (32GB), £819 (128GB)
OnePlus 3: £329 (64GB only)
The two phones appear relatively evenly matched on paper. And as for the rest, there are a lot of unanswered questions.
The OnePlus 3 camera has more megapixels, but will Google's sensor technology give it the edge? Does an upgrade to Snapdragon 821 beat the OnePlus 3's increased RAM?
For us, the only kicker here is the price. Even at the base 32GB level, the Pixel XL costs more than twice as much as the OnePlus 3, so come review time it really needs to impress to justify the price. µ