Google Pixel vs Apple iPhone 7

The Nexus-killer guns for Apple's dominant device

Google has finally gone "full Apple" with the release of the Pixel and Pixel XL phones, both of which had their hardware and software designed by Google itself.

HTC might be manufacturing the actual devices, but its name is nowhere to be found and the Nexus brand is toast. Instead, we get a phone that… well, frankly, looks a lot like an iPhone at a glance. However, Google's first real in-house handset brings some noteworthy perks that help set it apart from both the iPhone 7 and Android competition.

Still, the iPhone 7 is only weeks old and the comparisons are too obvious to ignore. Eyeing a glossy, high-end smartphone right now? Here's how the Google Pixel and Apple iPhone 7 compare now that we've put both through our extensive review process.

Design: Can you tell them apart?

From the face and even somewhat from the side, Google's Pixel seems nearly identical to the now-well-familiar iPhone 7 design. It has that sleek, rounded look and similar antenna lines, although there's no fingerprint sensor/home button on the front.

Flip the phone over and you'll see more of a difference. While the lower half looks very much like an iPhone 6sthere's a plastic panel on the upper half that helps set the design apart with a slightly two-tone look... but it can't help but look a little cheap on a flagship phone.

Also, the Pixel isn't waterproof while the iPhone 7 is – a big frustration - and the placement of the fingerprint sensor on the back isn't the most ideal location. The Pixel does have a headphone jack, unlike the iPhone 7, but otherwise it can't help but seem like a less-desirable take on Apple's familiar design (that also isn't waterproof).

Winner: Apple iPhone 7

Screen: Full HD vs... not-Full HD

It seems like we're writing the same thing every time we compare an Apple phone to a flagship Android, but so be it. Apple seems perfectly content with its 4.7in, 750p display on the iPhone 7, which matches the two previous models in resolution, and the latest model does offer increased brightness and a wider colour gamut. It looks pretty nice!

But the Pixel's 5in LCD display bumps up to Full HD, or 1080p, and thus is sure to be crisper than Apple's standard iPhone 7. Resolution isn't all that matters with a smartphone screen, but they're pretty comparable otherwise and the extra detail of the Pixel shines through.

Note that it's not a Quad HD screen, however, like the Pixel XL and some other Android flagships. That's surprising, given how the Pixel's price compares to rival Android options. Still, in this particular comparison, the Pixel handily wins out.

Winner: Google Pixel

Camera: The best ever?

The iPhone 7's camera may not be as feature-packed as the iPhone 7 Plus, but it's still a damn fine smartphone camera. The 12-megapixel back shooter now adds optical image stabilisation, while the f/1.8 aperture and brighter LED flash help turn out reliable great shots. It focuses faster, too, making it one of the best everyday cameras in a smartphone today.

However, Google says it has the best camera on the market with the Pixel. Actually, someone else does too: imaging site DxOMark got its hands on the Pixel early, and gave it a score of 89, its highest smartphone camera rating ever. The iPhone 7, meanwhile, sits at a paltry 86. It's a small difference, admittedly, but it's something.

What makes the Pixel's camera so great? The 12.3MP camera has an f/2.0 aperture and 1.55-micron pixels, and the HDR+ shooting mode combines multiple exposures to turn out a better ultimate result. It also shoots 4K video, much like the iPhone 7. Optical image stabilisation is curiously missing, but the phase detection and laser autofocus make up the difference rather admirably.

We put the Pixel through its paces and came away suitably impressed, although we wouldn't say there's any dramatic difference in quality between the two. It comes down to preference in many cases, and the Pixel might beat the iPhone with some shots and not others.

The outdoor exposure is excellent and the HDR+ mode is sure to give you something great in nearly all lighting scenarios. And the electronic video stabilisation is a nice treat, as well. The Pixel gets the slight edge here overall thanks to handy perks like those.

Winner: Google Pixel