There’s no question that Apple’s iPhone 7 and 7 Plus and Google’s Pixel and Pixel XL are four of the most impressive smartphones on the market today. Both the iPhone 7 series and the Pixel series sport state-of-the-art hardware – some of the fastest processors available today, two of the most impressive smartphone cameras on the market – they both represent the best that smartphones have to offer. Differences between iOS and Android aside, both phones will likely perform very similarly in many circumstances. Those who are more comfortable with, or prefer iOS will likely be very happy with the experience the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus have to offer. On the other hand, those who prefer the Android operating system will likely find the Google Pixel and Pixel XL among the finest Android phones they’ve ever used. That said, each phone boasts several features not found on the competitors’ phones. Let’s take a look at features found on the Google Pixel series that you won’t find on the iPhone 7 series – and vice versa.
Google Pixel’s Additional Features
The Google Pixel and Pixel XL are the first phones that Google is marketing as “Made by Google.” The Pixel series replaces the Nexus line as the phone offering the most “pure” Android experience. Although Google certainly had a hand in the design of the Nexus line, the phones were always entirely built by third-party manufacturers such as LG. With the Pixel line, Google takes a more hands-on approach with the software and hardware design – the phones are still actually manufactured by HTC, but the design is all Google.
Sporting a “pure” Android OS – that is, without any of the extra modifications, bloatware, “skins”, launchers, and non-removable apps that many manufacturers place on their phones – the Pixel series is the first to receive new Android software updates. While the fragmentation of the Android OS is usually a knock on Android phones when compared to iPhones, which always receive iOS updates as soon as they are available, this isn’t necessarily the case with the Pixel line. Pixel users will receive the latest, pure/stock Android operating system as soon as it’s available.
The Pixel is also the first Android phone to feature Google Assistant built into the OS. Google Assistant is Google’s ambitious and robust virtual assistant, designed to take on the likes of Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa. Although still going through some growing pains, Google Assistant is already an incredibly solid AI assistant, expanding upon the best parts of Google Now. And the Pixel and Pixel XL are currently the only phones that support it.
The Pixel line also has support for Google’s DayDream Virtual Reality platform built-in. Featuring an already-impressive lineup of apps, movies, games, and even events – such as the livestream of the upcoming GoodFest music festival – Google’s DayDream platform is probably the best and most streamlined take on virtual reality yet. While the technology is sure to grow, and plenty of competitors are sure to spring up, the Pixel series offers a chance to get in at the ground level for some exciting new technology.
Here’s another feature on the Google Pixel series that you won’t find on Apple’s iPhone 7 series – a headphone jack. Although the traditional 3.5mm headphone jack certainly isn’t anything to boast about – it has been in use since the 1950’s, after all – Apple’s notorious removal of the headphone jack for the iPhone 7 drew plenty of criticism and online uproar. Although Apple quelled much of the hubbub by including Lighting-compatible Earpods as well as a 3.5mm-to-lightning adapter in the box with iPhone 7 and 7 Plus phones, some are still angry about the decision. Don’t be surprised, however, if more smartphones and tablets begin to axe the headphone jack in the future.
Oddly absent from this list, however, are two Android mainstays – features that Android users often tout as necessities in a smartphone – removable storage and a removable battery. The ability to add storage to your device and/or to remove/replace your battery are two features that many Android phones have featured that have never been available to iPhone users – a choice that many Android users have long derided Apple for. Surprisingly, neither feature is available in Google’s Pixel line – there are no SD or micro-SD card slots on either phone, and the battery is fixed within the casing of both phones.
iPhone 7’s Additional Features
Before the official announcement of the iPhone 7, many pundits were predicting a disappointing release. Citing the lack of innovative new features, the almost identical design to the iPhone 6s, and the controversial removal of the headphone jack, many on the internet foresaw doom and gloom for the latest Apple phone. Although the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus certainly do look a lot like the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus (aside from the redesigned antenna lines and the new colors), however, the new phones are markedly different. With a more detailed, brighter display, wide color gamut, improved performance, faster modem, upgraded camera, and redesigned capacitive home button, the iPhone 7 is a whole different beast from its predecessor.
Although the iPhone 7 is certainly more of an “upgrade” over the iPhone 6s than a complete redesign, one added feature stands out among the other upgrades – water resistance. The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus have a water resistance rating of iP67, meaning the phones can be submerged in up to one meter of water for up to 30 minutes without any damage. CNET put the iPhone 7 through a series of abuse tests, dropping the phone in the deep end of a pool as well as swimming laps with it – way beyond what Apple recommends – and the phone survived (although the speakers reportedly sounded muffled after all the abuse). The improved water resistance is a huge step forward for the iPhone 7’s durability, and a feature that most expect nowadays from flagship phones. However, this feature is nowhere to be found on Google’s Pixel line. Google makes no claims about any water resistance for the Pixel line. Independent tests show that the phones will likely survive a splash of water, and may even survive a quick drop in the sink, or worst-case scenario, in the toilet. However, there are no guarantees, and it’s certainly not recommended.
3D Touch is another feature not found on the Google Pixel line – in fact, it’s an iPhone and iPad exclusive. Introduced alongside the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, 3D Touch technology senses how much force is being pressed on the screen, offering a variety of quick navigational shortcuts, contextual menus, and more. With iOS 10, 3D Touch allows users to quickly switch between apps, preview emails and websites, and interact in more ways with their notifications. The Google Pixel line, and really any other flagship Android phone at the moment, lacks such a feature, although it’s rumored that Google is currently working on adding support for a similar feature into the Android operating system.
A first for the iPhone line, Apple added stereo speakers to the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. One speaker sits at the bottom of the phone, in the same place it has in previous iPhone models, but Apple has also added another speaker sitting atop the earpiece near the top of the phone. Although not a terribly exciting feature considering most users either use headphones or a separate speaker to listen to music, Apple claims that the new speaker setup delivers double the volume of the iPhone 6s and “increased dynamic range.” The Pixel series, by contrast, only features one bottom-firing speaker.
One last feature found on Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus that isn’t found on any other device (including Google’s Pixel or Pixel XL) is the addition of a dual-lens camera. Although the camera on the iPhone 7 and the camera on the Google Pixel perform very similarly in most conditions, the camera on the iPhone 7 Plus is second to none. The additional of the second camera lens allows for true optical zoom up to 2x, and offers incredible detail even when zoomed in even up to 5x and 10x. Taking advantage of the dual-lens, Apple introduced a “portrait mode” for the iPhone 7 Plus, which creates a “bokeh” effect, focusing on the subject in the forefront and beautifully blurring the background. The iPhone 7’s portrait mode even allows users to see a live preview of the depth effect on the display of the phone – a feature that you can’t even find on many high-end DSLR cameras. Although the dual-lens camera is only featured on the iPhone 7 Plus, you won’t find anything similar on Google’s Pixel or Pixel XL smartphone.
Pure Android vs. iOS, Google Assistant vs. Siri, headphone jack vs. waterproofing and stereo speakers, virtual reality vs. dual-lens camera – as with most other areas, there’s no clear winner when it comes to feature sets in Google’s Pixel series and Apple’s iPhone 7 series. Each has unique features not found on the other phone, and each feature should be taken into account when trying to decide between the two highly-desirable smartphones.