Power: Fantastic Fusion
Google's Pixel is one of the first smartphones to carry the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 system-on-a-chip, which promises a 10% improvement in processing speed over the Snapdragon 820 seen in the OnePlus 3, HTC 10, LG G5, and some regional variants of the Samsung Galaxy S7.
In use, we found the Pixel to be plenty quick with Android 7.0 Nougat, and perhaps even a touch faster than those aforementioned devices. However, the iPhone 7's custom A10 Fusion processor offers significantly higher single-core performance in benchmark tests, and pairs well with the zippy iOS 10.
They're different operating systems, sure, but Apple's pairing here is just a bit swifter - especially since we noticed some inconsistencies within Android Nougat during our testing. And the speed difference even came through with the Pixel carrying twice the RAM (4GB vs 2GB) of the iPhone 7. The Pixel is no slouch, but we see an ever-so-slight edge for the iPhone 7 here.
Winner: Apple iPhone 7
Additional Perks: Pixel, please
Neither phone has microSD support and both devices start at 32GB internal storage, with the next level bumping up to 128GB. However, while the iPhone 7 offers another level of local storage at 256GB, the Pixel does not. Google will give you unlimited cloud storage for photos and video via Google Photos, however, even with 4K video.
When it comes to battery life, the Pixel certainly has the larger cell within: 2,770mAh compared to just 1,960mAh in the iPhone 7. That means the Pixel should offer a solid couple extra hours of usage during the day, even compared to the rather efficient iOS 10 on the iPhone. Better yet, the Pixel has fast charging and can top off about 7 hours of usage in the span of just 15 minutes. Amazing.
Also, the Pixel and Pixel XL are the first phones to support Google's own Daydream VR platform, which is similar to Samsung's Gear VR, plus Google is offering a free Daydream View headset with Pixel pre-orders in certain promotions.
Of course, the iPhone 7 has a unique feature in the form of the 3D Touch pressure-sensitive screen, but it still doesn't feel like a killer, gotta-have addition. Frankly, we'd take the extra battery life and a great VR experience if we're picking perks.
And to state the obvious: the iPhone 7 runs iOS 10, while the Pixel runs Android 7.1 Nougat. We're not going to do a full accounting of the Android vs iOS fanboy wars, but both are great and highly refined, and each has its own myriad benefits. We noticed some hitches with Android Nougat, as detailed in our Pixel review, but it's not enough to sink the experience. Pick your pleasure.
Winner: Google Pixel
Verdict: Apple wins out
Apple's standard iPhone 7 might not even be the best model on the market today - that'd be the feature-packed iPhone 7 Plus - but we'd still give it a slight nod over the Pixel.
Google's phone is a clear attempt to match up with Apple on a streamlined, super-premium device, but it doesn't go all the way. That's most evident with the design, which feels a little cheap in spots and lacks waterproofing, plus the phone has a lower-resolution screen than its Android contemporaries while charging similar prices.
The Pixel tops the iPhone 7 in screen quality and some welcome perks, including battery life and VR support, plus its camera occasionally shows benefits that Apple can't touch. But as an overall experience, Apple's phone still comes off as the better device for the very same starting price.
Google came close this time, though, and we can't wait to see what it has cooked up for 2017. But frankly, if you're going to spend upwards of RM3000 on an Android phone this year, we'd point you towards the Samsung Galaxy S7 or HTC 10 instead... or the OnePlus 3 for half that price.
Overall winner: Apple iPhone 7