OnePlus 6 vs. Google Pixel 2 XL: Which should you buy?

Six months after its launch, the Pixel 2 XL continues to be one of the best phones available today. Its camera holds up to the best that Huawei and Samsung have to offer, and the software experience is unmatched.

OnePlus, meanwhile, has made a habit out of undercutting traditional flagships by several hundred dollars, and the same is true of the OnePlus 6. The phone features a glass back, a new 19:9 display with a cutout at the top for the front camera module, and a new imaging sensor for the rear camera.

The 64GB variant of the Pixel 2 XL retails for $849, or $320 more than the base model of the OnePlus 6 with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, which is available for $529. It's time to find out if the Pixel 2 XL warrants the premium.

OnePlus 6 vs. Google Pixel 2 XL: Specifications

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CategoryOnePlus 6Google Pixel 2 XL
Operating systemAndroid 8.1 OreoOxygenOS 5.1.2Android 8.1 Oreo
Display6.28-inch AMOLED, 2280x1080 (19:9)Gorilla Glass 56-inch pOLED, 2880x1440 (18:9)Gorilla Glass 5
ChipsetOcta-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 8454x2.80GHz Kryo 385 + 4x1.70 Kryo 385Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 octa-core4x2.35 Kryo 280 + 4x1.90GHz Kryo 280
GPUAdreno 630Adreno 540
Storage64GB/128GB/256GB (UFS 2.1)64/128GB
Rear camera 116MP, 1.22μm, f/1.7OIS, EISDual LED flash4K@60fps, 720p@480fps12.2MP, 1.4μm, f/1.8OIS, dual LED flash
Rear camera 220MP, 1.0μm, f/1.7None
Front camera16MP, 1.0μm, f/2.08MP, 1.4μm, f/2.4
ChargingUSB-CDash Charge (5V 4A)USB-C
Water resistanceSplash resistant (no IP rating)IP67 dust and water resistance
SecurityFingerprint sensorFace unlockFingerprint sensor
AudioAptX HD, Dirac HD Sound, Dirac Power SoundAptX HD, USB-C audio
ConnectivityWi-Fi 802.11ac , 2x2 MIMO, Bluetooth 5.0USB-C (2.0), NFCGPS, GLONASS, BeiDou, GalileoWi-Fi 802.11ac , 2x2 MIMO, Bluetooth 5.0USB-C (3.1), NFCGPS, GLONASS, BeiDou, Galileo
NetworkLTE Band 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/1217/18/19/20/25/26/2829/30/32/34/38/39/40/41/66/714xCA, 256QAM, DL Cat 16, UL Cat 13LTE Band 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/1213/17/20/25/26/28/2930/32/38/40/41/664xCA, 256QAM, DL Cat 12, UL Cat 13
Dimensions155.7x75.4x7.75mm177g157.9 x 76.7 x 7.9 mm175g
VariantsMirror Black, Midnight Black, Silk WhiteJust Black, Black & White

What's the same

OnePlus 6 vs. Google Pixel 2 XL

The OnePlus 6 has a slight edge when it comes to the specs thanks to the generous amount of RAM, but you won't notice any differences between either device in day-to-day usage. OnePlus devices, in general, are well-optimized, and the OnePlus 6 is no exception. The phone is just as fluid as the Pixel 2 XL, and you're not going to see any slowdowns whatsoever.

OnePlus has also done a remarkable job with OxygenOS in recent times, striking the ideal balance between customizability and a clean user interface. OxygenOS also picked up iPhone X-style gestures at the start of the year, and they're included out of the box on the OnePlus 6.

What's different

OnePlus 6 vs. Google Pixel 2 XL

There's a stark difference between the two phones when it comes to the design side of things. OnePlus has switched to a glass back with the OnePlus 6, and Google offers a ceramic coating over a metal back with the Pixel 2 XL. The Pixel 2 XL is the gripper of the two on account of that ceramic coating, and far less prone to fingerprints. The OnePlus 6 with its Gorilla Glass 5-encased back is a smudge magnet.

Things are different up front as well. The OnePlus 6 has a notch at the top of the display — designed to maximize screen real estate — and the Pixel 2 XL does not. The result is that the OnePlus 6 offers a larger display in a smaller body, but the net gain is offset by the fact that there's an unseemly cutout on the screen.

The Pixel 2 XL may not have a cutout, but its screen issues are well documented, so you're effectively making a compromise with either device. At least on the OnePlus 6, you can mask the cutout via the settings.

While the OnePlus 6 is resistant to the splash of water, it isn't certified for dust or water ingress. On the other hand, the Pixel 2 XL is IP67 rated, which means it's safe to use in a pool. The Pixel 2 XL also has stereo speakers at the front, and while the OnePlus 6 leverages Dirac's Power Sound to boost the volume from its single speaker, it isn't quite as loud or detailed as that of the Pixel 2 XL.

However, the OnePlus 6 does have a 3.5mm jack, giving it a distinct leg-up over the Pixel 2 XL in the audio department.

Which should you buy?

OnePlus 6 vs. Google Pixel 2 XL

Like previous launches, OnePlus has managed to offer a device that delivers 90% of the same user experience as devices that cost several hundred dollars more. The OnePlus 6 builds on that by offering a more premium chassis, upgraded internals, and a 256GB storage option.

I'll delve into the battery and camera comparisons early next week, but from a value standpoint alone, there's a lot to like on the OnePlus 6. The phone will go up for sale starting May 22 in North America, and from May 21 in India.

Harish Jonnalagadda
Senior Editor - Asia

Harish Jonnalagadda is Android Central's Senior Editor of Asia. In his current role, he oversees the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, networking products, and AV gear. He has been testing phones for over a decade, and has extensive experience in mobile hardware and the global semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.