Should you upgrade to the Pixel 2 XL from the Nexus 6P?

It's been two full years since Google released the Nexus 6P, the final entry in the celebrated Nexus brand. Despite releasing a very solid debut with its new Pixel brand last year, many diehard Nexus fans have stuck by their trusty 6P well into 2017.

But with the Pixel 2 XL officially on sale, there may never be a better time to upgrade to your next phone. If you've been considering it, you're not alone — there are a number of Nexus 6P users in the forums who've said they're set on upgrading to the latest Google phone for various reasons, but most frequently because they see the writing on the wall.

Should you be considering the upgrade to the Pixel 2 XL, too? Let's compare.

Hardware and specs

It's easy to fall in love with the design of the Nexus 6P, which is likely why Google borrowed from it so heavily with the first Pixel XL. Both were built out of aluminum with familiar port placements and comparable specs on the inside.

With the Pixel 2 XL, Google has reintroduced great features found in the Nexus 6P like the front-facing speakers while refining the design direction started with the Pixel XL. You're also going to get more RAM, the latest Gorilla Glass 5, and a bigger and faster-charging battery.

This year saw phone manufacturers doing their best to minimize the bezel around the screens. Google accomplished this goal by curving the corners of the Pixel 2 XL's 18:9 pOLED display, but first reviews have revealed less-than-spectacular results compared to the rivaling Samsung Galaxy S8+. You may have read about issues with the Pixel 2 XL's display — the blueish tint and the screen burn-in. Well, Google is attempting to address the issues with a software fix and has also expanded the warranty period to two years which is a nice move for consumers.

It's also worth noting that Google has done away with the headphone jack on the newest Pixel phones. In its place is a single USB-C port and a USB-C to 3.5mm dongle included with every phone.

The core camera hardware specs haven't changed too much since 2015, but with the Pixel 2 XL Google has a wider aperture (ƒ/1.8) and OIS. Coming from the Nexus 6P, you're going to notice a marked improvement in your photo and video quality. You're also sure to notice a significant improvement overall camera speed and performance thanks to the Pixel XL 2's increased processing power.

Here's a full specs comparison between the two devices.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
CategoryGoogle Pixel 2 XLNexus 6P
Operating SystemAndroid 8.0Android 8.0
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 835Qualcomm Snapdragon 810
Display6-inch 2880x1440POLEDGorilla Glass 53D glass, 538ppi100% DCI-P3 color space5.7-inch 2560x1440AMOLEDGorilla Glass 4
Rear Camera12.2MP ƒ/1.81.4μm pixelsOIS, EISPDAF, LDAF12MP, ƒ/2.01.55-micron pixelsLDAF
Front camera8MP, 1.4μm pixelsƒ/2.4, fixed focus8MP, ƒ/2.4
Battery3520 mAhNon-removable3450 mAhNon-removable
ChargingUSB-PD, 18W rapid ChargingRapid Charging
ConnectivityUSB Type-C, Bluetooth 5.0USB-C, Bluetooth 4.2
Fingerprint sensorYesYes
Dimensions157.9 x 76.7 x 7.9 mm159.3 x 77.8 x 7.3 mm
Weight175 g178 g

How's your battery life?

The two-year upgrade cycle for phones has been hammered into our collective minds by carriers and phone manufacturers even for devices we've taken good care of that are still working fine. But one place where you're going to see the biggest improvement is in battery life.

The estimated life of a typical lithium-ion battery is around two to three years, which means that if you haven't already noticed your Nexus 6P battery performance slipping it's only a matter of time. Google and Huawei were even taken to court back in April over the Nexus 6P's performance issues and the jump to Android 8.0 has led to mixed results at best.

Not only does the Pixel 2 XL have a slightly larger battery capacity, its Snapdragon 835 chipset is significantly more efficient than the 810 found in the Nexus 6P, meaning you should be able to get more use out of your phone on a single charge. And when it's time to plug in, you'll be able to rapid-charge up even faster with the included 18W power brick.

Google has also been offering customers a Pixel XL for out-of-warranty issue claims since September. If you bought your Nexus 6P through Google and are experiencing performance issues it may be worth reaching out to support to see what they can do.

On the topic of trading in phone, if you've managed to keep your phone in immaculate condition you may also be interested in Google's trade-in program which lets you exchange your Nexus 6P for up to $165 towards a new Pixel 2 XL (or $400 if you happen to have recently had your Nexus 6P warranty replaced with a brand new Pixel XL).

Camera improvements galore

The Pixel 2 XL may have the same number of megapixels on the box, but its camera is all new — and it's powered by Google's improved HDR+ algorithms. Not only is HDR+ itself much faster to process on the Pixel — the Nexus 6P was notorious for forcing users to wait a few seconds between HDR shots — but it is much better in low light.

There are also features unique to the Pixel, including Portrait Mode, Motion Photo and more.

Be set for future software updates

Hardware specs only count for so much — it doesn't matter how much RAM or processing power your phone as if its no longer being supported with software and security updates.

The Pixel 2 XL will be supported through until Android R.

Google has confirmed that the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL will receive three years of software updates and security patches, meaning you'll be able to rock the latest version of on the phone you buy today well into the year 2020. If your the type who commits to a phone for multiple years, that's great news.

According to Google's support documents, the Nexus 6P will stop receiving crucial security updates after November 2018. So while you can still safely rock your Nexus 6P for another year, there's no better time to upgrade then right now.

Should you upgrade?

Upgrading to a Pixel from a Nexus 6P last year was a toss-up call — the Pixel was a great phone, but not leaps and bounds better than the Nexus 6P.

But a full year of heavy usage and a freshly updated operating system finds a way of making issues bubble up to the surface. If your Nexus 6P is still running smoothly you're probably best to count your blessings and capitalize on the existing trade-in value of your phone towards a new phone.

The Nexus brand catered toward hardcore Android enthusiasts, and you'll still run into folks proudly rocking the Nexus 6P or 5X because they're still good phones. But if the battery or performance issues haven't already started popping up two years on the clock is ticking — and the timing is right to upgrade to the Pixel 2 XL.

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Marc Lagace

Marc Lagace was an Apps and Games Editor at Android Central between 2016 and 2020. You can reach out to him on Twitter [@spacelagace.