Pixel 4 vs. OnePlus 7T: Which Is the Better Android Phone?

 tomsguide.com  10/19/2019 10:00:00  2  Philip Michaels

Since debuting in 2016, Google's Pixel phones have tried to make their case as the go-to device for Android fans. But it's been a challenge for the company to establish its Pixel as the best Android phone. Not only does Google have to compete against flagships from established players like Samsung for smartphone supremacy, it's also being challenged by up-and-comers like OnePlus, with its lineup of more affordable phones promising premium features.

That scenario is playing out again with the release of the Pixel 4, Google's latest phone. While Google can point to the pure Android experience, improved photos and built-in smarts of the Pixel 4, it's still got to make the case that its latest handset is a better value than the less-expensive OnePlus 7T, and its array of impressive features.

Can the Pixel 4 surpass the OnePlus 7T, which we think is the best smartphone value available right now? We'll need to finish evaluating Google's new phone to offer a true verdict, but for now, here's how the Pixel 4 and OnePlus 7T compare.

Pixel 4 vs. OnePlus 7T: The specs

Pixel 4Pixel 4 XLOnePlus 7T
Starting Price$799$899$599
Display (Resolution)5.7-inch AMOLED (2280 x 1080)6.3-inch AMOLED (3040 x 1440)6.55-inch AMOLED (2400 x 1080)
CPUSnapdragon 855Snapdragon 855Snapdragon 855 Plus
Memory6GB6GB8GB
Storage64GB, 128GB64GB, 128GB64GB, 128GB
MicroSD?NoneNoneNone
Rear Cameras12.2-MP main (f/1.7), 16-MP telephoto (f/2.4)12.2-MP main (f/1.7), 16-MP telephoto (f/2.4)48-MP main (f/1.6), 16-MP ultrawide (f/2.2), 12-MP telephoto (f/2.2)
Front Camera8-MP8-MP16-MP
Battery Size2,800 mAh3,700 mAh3,800 mAh
Battery Life (Hrs:Mins)Not yet testedNot yet tested8:47
Water Resistance RatingIP68IP68Not rated
Size5.7 x 2.7 x 0.3 inches6.3 x 2.9 x 0.3 inches6.3 x 2.9 x 0.3 inches
Weight5.7 ounces6.8 ounces6.7 ounces
ColorsClearly White, Just Black, Oh So OrangeClearly White, Just Black, Oh So OrangeFrosted Silver, Glacier Blue

Pixel 4 vs. OnePlus 7T: Design

The OnePlus 7T's a tall phone. At 6.3 x 2.9 x 0.3 inches, it's about as large as Google's supersized Pixel 4 XL. The Pixel 4 looks downright compact compared with the 7T, with its 5.7 x 2.7 x 0.3-inch dimensions. Google's smaller phone is certainly easier to use with one hand.

Still, the 7T makes a striking impression overall, thanks to its Glacier Blue color scheme and 3D glass back that employs a matte effect, which makes OnePlus' phone easy to hold on to. (You can also get a Frosted Silver 7T, though it's not as eye-catching in our opinion.) The Pixel 4 only opts for a matte texture on its Clearly White and Oh So Orange models, while the Just Black version of Google's phone offers a glossy, mirrored finish.

Pixel 4 XL and Pixel 4

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The most noticeable difference between the two phones is how they choose to house the front cameras. The OnePlus 7T opts for a teardrop-style notch that dips down into the display, but allows OnePlus to squeeze in extra screen real estate. Both the Pixel 4 and 4 XL feature an old-school bezel on the top of the phone, which contains not only the front-facing camera but all the sensors needed to support the phone's Motion Sense feature (which we'll discuss in detail below). However you feel about notches, the 7T's look is more in line with current smartphones.

OnePlus 7T

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Flip the phone over, and you get a battle of the distracting camera arrays. The 7T houses its three rear cameras in a circular hump so prominent, it's hard to look anywhere else. The Pixel 4's cameras are housed in a square box that takes up less space but isn't any less noticeable. Don't expect a sleek look from either phone.

Pixel 4 vs. OnePlus 7T: Display

With Google's phones, you get a choice in screen sizes — a 5.7-inch AMOLED panel with the $799 Pixel 4 or a larger 6.3-inch display for $100 more with the Pixel 4 XL. There's only one screen size for the OnePlus 7T, which uses a 6.55-inch AMOLED panel.

We still need to test the Pixel 4's screen, but the OnePlus 7T will be a formidable competitor when it comes to colors. OnePlus' phone covers 155.1% of the sRGB color spectrum when set to its default Vivid Color profile. Those colors are accurate, too, as we measured a Delta-E rating of 0.27 for the OnePlus 7T. (The closer to zero, the more accurate the colors.) The OnePlus 7T's screen could be a little bit brighter, as we measured it at 474 nits with a light meter.

OnePlus 7T

(Image credit: Future)

The real standout display feature for both phones is a 90-Hz refresh rate, which makes for smoother scrolling, better gaming and more immersive experiences. The OnePlus 7T was one of the few phones to offer a 90-Hz refresh rate until the Pixel 4 came along, and Google outdid OnePlus by making the feature dynamic. The Pixel 4 will adjust its refresh rate depending on what you're using the phone to do, saving your battery life by switching to a lower refresh rate when the phone's screen is static.

Pixel 4 vs. OnePlus 7T: Cameras

Given the Pixel's reputation as the phone to get when all you want to do is snap photos, there's going to be a lot of attention paid to the Pixel 4's photographic prowess. That's especially true now that Google has broken with tradition and added a second lens to the back of its phone. In addition to a 12.2-MP main shooter, the Pixel 4 offers a 16-MP telephoto lens capable of offering a 2x optical zoom. Throw in Google's Super Res Zoom technology, which uses computational photography to clean up optically zoomed photos, and you can zoom even farther.

Pixel 4

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Super Res Zoom isn't the only software-powered feature you'll find with the Pixel 4's cameras. Night Sight, which helps you take clear photos even when the lights are low, is back and beefed up enough to where the Pixel 4 can now take pictures in the night sky. The high dynamic range (HDR+) capabilities on the phone are new and improved, too — you can turn to dual exposure controls to adjust brightness and shadows on shots, while a Live HDR+ feature shows you how your photos will look in the viewfinder before you've even snapped a shot. The Pixel 4 also uses machine learning to boost its white balance, which Google says will lead to more accurate colors even when the lighting is challenging.

The OnePlus 7T takes all that on with a trio of rear cameras. In addition to the the 48-MP main sensor, the 7T sports a 16-MP ultrawide lens with a 117-degree field of view and a 12-MP telephoto lens to support a 2x optical zoom. There's software smarts at play here, too: the OnePlus 7T has a night mode of its own that's been improved from past OnePlus models, and we're particularly impressed by the 7T's Macro Mode for shooting objects up close without the bothersome blur that can result when you move in on your subject.

OnePlus 7T

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Up front, the Pixel 4 gets rid of the dual selfie camera that characterized the Pixel 3 lineup for a single 8-MP lens. The OnePlus 7T has a 16-MP front camera, housed in that teardrop notch.

We'll have to do a formal face-off before we can definitively state whether the OnePlus 7T can keep pace with the Pixel 4. That said, the cameras have been one area of OnePlus phones that have struggled to keep up with pricey flagships. Although the OnePlus 7T did take better photos than previous models, it's still no replacement for top camera phones from Apple, Samsung and — you guessed it — Google.

Pixel 4 vs. OnePlus 7T: Performance

We still need to benchmark the Pixel 4, but logic dictates that the OnePlus 7T is going to hold the edge here. While Google uses a Snapdragon 855 processor in its latest phones, OnePlus opted for the next step up, the Snapdragon 855 Plus.

The differences are slight but still noteworthy between these two Qualcomm chipsets. The Snapdragon 855 Plus has a faster prime core than the standard 855, which offers a 4.2% uplift in single-thread applications based on Qualcomm's numbers. The GPU gets a bigger boost, with a 15% jump in rendering speed. These improvements mean a phone with a Snapdragon 855 Plus processor is better equipped to handle graphics and processor-intensive apps.

We've seen that when we benchmarked the OnePlus 7T. On Geekbench 5, which measures overall performance, the OnePlus 7T turned in a 2,759, which topped Snapdragon 855-powered phones like the Galaxy Note 10 (2,640). We expect the OnePlus 7T to also outperform the Pixel 4, especially since OnePlus packed 8GB of RAM into its phone, while the Pixel 4 gets by with 6GB.

Pixel 4 vs. OnePlus 7T software and special features

Normally, this is an area where Google's phones would have an edge over any other Android handset. The Pixel always ships with the latest version of Android, and it's first in line for updates. 

That last part remains true, but the Pixel 4 won't be the only device shipping with Android 10 during October. The OnePlus 7T is running a new version of OxygenOS based on Android 10. And we think OnePlus' approach to both gesture-based navigation is a little more intuitive than what Android 10 offers. What's more, OnePlus extends Smart Replies in notification beyond just Google's chat app to include all messaging apps.

The OnePlus 7T also boasts a very fast in-display fingerprint sensor that performed well in our testing. Still, it's hard to top the ability to unlock your phone with your face, and that's what the Pixel 4 offers. In fact, Google claims its Motion Sense-powered face unlock feature is faster than Apple's Face ID.

Motion Sense in action

(Image credit: Google)

Motion Sense doesn't just let you unlock your phone quickly. It also lets you control music playback, turn off alarms and dismiss phones all without touching the Pixel 4; instead, you use gestures to control the phone. Motion Sense worked well in our hands-on time with the phone, though it's fairly limited at this point.

The Pixel 4's built-in smarts are what ultimately tip the scales toward Google's phone. Google says its voice-powered assistant is more tightly intertwined with the Pixel 4 so it's easier to rattle off a string of commands at the Google Assistant. A new built-in Recorder app is even more impressive with its ability to transcribe your recordings in real time. And all this takes place on the Pixel itself, with none of your recordings or requests finding their way to Google's servers.

Pixel 4 vs. OnePlus 7T: Battery life and charging

Battery life could be one area where neither the Pixel 4 nor the OnePlus 7T stand out. Last year's Pixel 3 lasted less than 8.5 hours on our battery test, which involves continuous web surfing over T-Mobile's LTE network until the phone runs out of juice. For the Pixel 4, Google actually shrank the phone's battery down to 2,800 mAh (the Pixel 3 had a 2,915 mAh battery), so we're skeptical that we'll see much of an improvement, unless the new Pixel has gotten much more efficient. (The Pixel 4 XL, at least, has a larger battery than its predecessor, so we're hoping to see it improve on the Pixel 3 XL's below average battery test result of 9 hours, 30 minutes.)

OnePlus 7T

(Image credit: Future)

Then again, the OnePlus 7T doesn't give the Pixel 4 a big bar to clear when it comes to longevity. OnePlus' new phone lasted just 8 hours and 47 minutes on our battery test despite its 3,800 mAh battery.

The OnePlus 7T can re-charge  quickly, thanks to OnePlus' Warp Charge 30T protocol, which uses software enhancements to speed up the phone maker's already speedy fast-charging feature. Our 7T got up to a 61% charge after 30 minutes when we plugged the drained phone into the stock adapter. The Pixel 4 supports fast-charging, but it's 18-watt fast charging versus 30 watts for the 7T. You can wirelessly charge Google's phone, though — something that isn't supported by any OnePlus handset.

Pixel 4 vs. OnePlus 7T: Price and availability

The OnePlus 7T definitely has the Pixel 4 beat on price, costing $599 to the Pixel 4's starting price of $799. And you get 128GB with the OnePlus 7T, versus 64GB on the entry-level Pixel 4. To match the 7T's capacity, you'd have to pay an extra $100 for the 128GB Pixel 4, bringing your cost to $899. Check out our pages for Pixel 4 offers and OnePlus 7T deals.

Google Pixel 4

(Image credit: Google)

The Pixel 4 is more widely available, though, as you can get it from every major U.S. carrier as well as from discount carriers like Visible, regional carriers like U.S. Cellular and cable company-backed wireless services like Xfinity Mobile and Spectrum Mobile. OnePlus has lined up a single carrier partner, T-Mobile.

More significantly, you can use the Pixel 4 on any cellular network, be it GSM- or CDMA-based. An unlocked OnePlus 7T will work just fine on GSM networks like the ones T-Mobile and AT&T operate, but if you want to use it on Verizon, you need to contact the carrier to set up the phone to use only Verizon's LTE network.

Outlook

How the Pixel 4's camera performs will tell us a lot about where it ranks in the landscape of Android phones. But an early look at Google's new phone suggests that features such as Motion Sense, a faster refresh rate and an improved Google Assistant make it a tough phone to beat.

Still, the OnePlus 7T has plenty going for it as well, and not just because it costs $200 less. It matches the Pixel 4's faster refresh rate and offers the latest version of Android to boot. Its camera is also much improved, though likely not in the same class as what the Pixel 4's camera has to offer.

At this stage, the Pixel 4 looks like the better option if you value mobile photography. But the OnePlus 7T is a good buy for anyone who balks at paying top dollar for premium features.

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