OnePlus 7 Pro vs. Google Pixel 3 XL: Which should you buy?

OnePlus 7 Pro

OnePlus has done it again with the 7 Pro, offering an exceptional phone for a surprisingly low price. This time around we get much-improved hardware, an excellent 90Hz display and little bonuses like great haptics. The specs are incredible, as is the performance, and its battery outperforms the Pixel 3 XL. But the new triple camera unfortunately comes up short.

OnePlus 7 Pro

Superb value

Brilliant 90Hz display
Fantastic performance
Simple and intuitive software
The best possible spec sheet
Cameras are a step down
No water resistance rating
No wireless charging

Google Pixel 3 XL

The Pixel 3 XL is first and foremost defined by its cameras: you get insanely great photos (and selfies) in every situation, but it stands out particularly at night. The rest of the phone is strong, too, with great hardware design and simple software. Odd performance hiccups and weaker-than-average battery life hold it back, though.

Google Pixel 3 XL

Killer camera

Industry-leading camera
Excellent hardware quality
Helpful and sleek Google software
Guaranteed security and OS updates
Wireless charging
Oddly inconsistent performance
Weaker battery life
More expensive for lower specs

What's the difference between the OnePlus 7 Pro and Google Pixel 3 XL?

It's always best to start a comparison by pointing out what's the same, or at least similar, between two phones. Both the OnePlus 7 Pro and Pixel 3 XL are typical big glass-and-metal flagship phones, with slippery exteriors that are well-suited to being protected by a case. The 7 Pro is a tad larger and heavier, which makes it a bit unwieldy, but you're not going to find much relief by going down to the Pixel 3 XL.

These are big glass phones, running excellent software, with lots of the same basic features.

Both phones are running The latest Android software, Pie, and in either case you're getting a simple and clean take on it. OnePlus offers more configuration options to tweak things just the way you like it, and Google has deeper integration with its own services, but anyone would be happy with the software experience on either one. Google guarantees updates on the Pixel 3 XL for years, including monthly security patches, but OnePlus is no slouch in getting updates pushed to its phones either.

Much of the core experience is shared, too. There are stereo speakers on both, you won't find a headphone jack or SD card slot anywhere, and the 7 Pro's in-display fingerprint sensor actually nearly matches the Pixel 3 XL's rear-mounted capacitive sensor. The 7 Pro also surprisingly has haptics that are right up there with the Pixel 3 XL's, which are still setting the standard on Android.

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Header Cell - Column 0 OnePlus 7 ProGoogle Pixel 3 XL
Operating SystemAndroid 9 PieOxygenOSAndroid 9 Pie
Display6.67-inch Fluid OLED3120x1440 (19.5:9)Gorilla Glass 56.3-inch OLED2960x1440 (18.5:9)Gorilla Glass 5
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 855Qualcomm Snapdragon 845Pixel Visual Core
Rear Camera 148MP, f/1.61.6 μm pixelsOIS, EIS12.2MP, f/1.81.4 μm pixelsOIS, EIS
Rear Camera 28MP, f/2.41.0 μm pixelsOIS, 3X telephoto lensn/a
Rear Camera 316MP, f/2.2117-degree lensn/a
Front camera 116MP, f/2.0Fixed focus8MP, f/1.8Auto focus, 75-degree lens
Front camera 2n/a8MP, f/2.2Fixed focus, 97-degree lens
SecurityOptical in-screen fingerprint sensorCapacitive fingerprint sensor
AudioUSB-CStereo speakersUSB-CStereo speakers
ChargingWarp Charge 30W fast charging18W USB-C PDQi wireless
Water resistanceNoIP68
Dimensions162.6 x 75.9 x 8.8 mm206 g158 x 76.7 x 7.9 mm184 g
ColorsMirror Gray, Nebula Blue, AlmondJust Black, Very White, Not Pink

The OnePlus 7 Pro starts to differentiate itself when you look at the spec sheet, which is typical for OnePlus. The 7 Pro has a newer Snapdragon 855 processor, and much more memory: versus the Pixel 3 XL's 4GB, you get 6, 8 or 12GB from the 7 Pro. You also get double the storage, 128GB, on the base model with an option to double up again for just $50 more and still stay under the Pixel 3 XL's base price.

The OnePlus 7 Pro has all of the specs, and puts them to good use.

So what do you get for all of the specs, other than bragging rights? Well, it translates directly to better and more consistent performance. OnePlus has the fastest and most consistent performance you can get — the 7 Pro never skips a beat, no matter what you throw at it. Google for the most part hast he Pixel 3 XL's performance hiccups sorted out now, but there are still areas where it uncharacteristically slows down and stutters with intensive multitasking and while using the camera — that just never happens on the 7 Pro. This is where you start to appreciate all of that extra RAM, and you'll appreciate it even more after using the phone for a year or two as apps get even more resource intensive.

That fast and fluid performance is a perfect partner with the OnePlus 7 Pro's display, which is another win over the Pixel 3 XL. It's bigger, sure, but that's not what matters here — the panel just looks better overall, and gets much brighter in direct sunlight. Indoors and through regular use the Pixel 3 XL is right there in terms of colors and clarity, but on the edge cases you notice where the 7 Pro's screen stands out. The 7 Pro also has a 90Hz refresh rate, which dramatically smooths out motion on the screen as you scroll and navigate through the interface and apps — it isn't something you think about until you experience it for yourself, and then you'll never want to go back.

Even with fast and consistent performance, battery life is still better on the 7 Pro.

Even though the software runs at a breakneck speed and never stops, the OnePlus 7 Pro still has better battery life than the Pixel 3 XL. Even though the 7 Pro's battery isn't quite as strong as the Galaxy S10+ or Huawei P30 Pro, it easily beats the 3 XL. You can get through a normal day just fine with either one, but the 7 Pro will have much more battery left at the end — and that means it can handle a heavier day without worry, which just isn't the case on the Pixel 3 XL.

The OnePlus 7 Pro may win on battery life, but the Pixel 3 XL actually has the upper hand on charging. Yes the 7 Pro has amazing Warp Charge 30W tech that can aggressively recharge as fast as any phone on the market — but that also silos you into only Warp Charge. The Pixel 3 XL supports USB-C Power Delivery, which is a charging standard you can find just about anywhere. Your Pixel can recharge very quickly from the included 18W charger, but can also pull down the same speeds from just about any modern laptop or tablet charger, and third-party chargers and batteries with USB-C PD are plentiful and inexpensive. You also get wireless charging, which means midday top-ups and overnight charging is a breeze.

The Pixel 3 XL wins the camera battle back to front, and it isn't even close.

Google is also the undisputed winner in camera quality, from top to bottom. Sure it only has a single camera on the back, but that camera takes some of the best photos you can get out of any smartphone — and does it time after time, in every situation. Every photo is processed to perfection, and its capabilities in low light are something you just don't get anywhere else; its portrait mode is surprisingly good, too. Selfies are another strong point, with a wide-angle camera for group shots and an excellent standard camera with auto focus that matches the same level set by the rear camera. The OnePlus 7 Pro's main camera is above average, but it just doesn't challenge the Pixel's — and even though it has a wide and telephoto camera supporting it, they don't add enough to the experience to make up for the gap in shot-to-shot quality.

Is the OnePlus 7 Pro or Google Pixel 3 XL right for you?

Six months on, the Pixel 3 XL has dropped to about $800, but even still that's more than the OnePlus 7's base price of $670 — and that immediately shifts people to consider it. For less money, you're getting higher specs, a better display, longer battery life and software performance that is absolutely top-notch. All while experiencing comparable hardware quality and features.

Most people are going to land on the OnePlus 7 Pro for its incredible value.

But don't think this is an open-and-shut decision — the Pixel 3 XL still has a lot to offer. With the Pixel you're getting better photo quality across the board, plus nice-to-have additions like water resistance, wireless charging and standardized USB-C PD wired charging — plus, the phone is a little smaller and lighter if you don't think you can handle the 7 Pro. And you can't discount the deep Google services integration in the software, plus guaranteed updates every month for years to come. Let's remember that so much of the experience is nearly the same between the two as well; you'll be happy with the core hardware and features on either one.

Looking at the complete package, and the difference in price, most people are going to land on the OnePlus 7 Pro — and I wouldn't blame them one bit. It's a fantastic overall phone. But if you value having the best possible camera in a smartphone today, plus all of the little perks of owning a phone made by Google, the Pixel 3 XL is a really good choice for not that much more money.

Andrew Martonik

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.