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Smartphone Rivalry: Google Pixel vs. Apple iPhone 7

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The Apple iPhone 7 has some competition when it comes to Google’s Pixel smartphone.

The first-edition Pixel sets the bar high, with lightning-quick software, integrated features and an advanced voice assistant. In comparison with older iPhone models, the iPhone 7 is refined, more powerful and improves upon what it already does best.

In case you’re stuck between the two, we took a side-by-side look at the Google Pixel and iPhone 7 to see which one stands out.

The phones: at a glance

 Google PixelApple iPhone 7
PriceStarts at $649 via GoogleStarts at $649 via Apple
Weight5 ounces4.87 ounces
Screen display5 inches4.7 inches
ColorsVery Black, Quite Silver, Really BlueGold, rose gold, silver, black, jet black
Battery life 26 hours talk time on 3G14 hours talk time on 3G
Memory32GB, 128GB32GB, 128GB, 256GB
Camera12.3-megapixel (rear)12-megapixel (rear)
Water-resistantNoYes
CarrierVerizonVerizon, Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile
Buy on Amazon
Buy
Buy

» MORE: Apple iPhone 7 vs. iPhone 7 Plus

The phones: up close and personal

Design Apple iPhone 7

The Google Pixel looks similar to its rival, the iPhone 7. The aluminum body and glass panels give the phone a clean, polished aesthetic, but a few design tweaks — the back-plate fingerprint sensor and traditional headphone jack — set it apart from the Apple phone. The larger Google Pixel XL sports a bigger, 5.5-inch screen.

Apple kept the same general look for the iPhone 7 but updated some minor details. Most notably, removing the headphone jack to make room for a bigger battery. The iPhone 7 is also dust-and-water resistant, though the new jet black color is not fingerprint-resistant due to its glossy finish. The iPhone 7 Plus has a 5.5-inch display in addition to a dual-camera system.

Camera

Whether you’re an Instagram expert or not, an updated camera can be persuasive enough to consider a smartphone upgrade. And the camera hardware and features are top of the line on both phones.

The Pixel’s camera excels at capturing warm colors and sharp details in both image and video. That level of clarity gives photos an enhanced depth-of-field background that rivals the quality of a higher-end, stand-alone digital camera, even in low-light settings.

The iPhone 7’s rear and front-facing cameras get a wider lens opening and better image optimization to snap brighter, more accurate colors than the iPhone 6/6S model. Close-ups are clear and precise, plus an anticipated portrait feature allows users to capture their subject in focus but blurs the background for a dynamic effect.

» MORE: GoPro Hero5 Black vs. GoPro Hero5 Session

Performance

The Pixel runs a Google-exclusive version of Android. Apps, menus, widgets, notifications and 3D Touch shortcuts are interactive with one another for faster navigation. Plus, the Google Assistant voice service is smart enough to handle most task requests (and crack a few jokes at the same time).

As with most Apple upgrades, the iPhone 7 received an updated performance chip to make the phone faster and more powerful throughout the apps and features. Images and graphics also got a boost, and with the new forward-facing speakers, video streaming is improved. Apple also updated Siri to handle and recognize more commands such as ordering takeout and identifying songs.

Price and connectivityGoogle Pixel

The Google Pixel and iPhone 7 come with a standard 32GB of memory, starting at $649. Larger 128GB versions are available for both, while the iPhone 7 also has an additional 256GB option. Shoppers can find the iPhone 7 on all the major mobile carriers (T-Mobile, AT&T, Sprint and Verizon Wireless). The Pixel is currently available only through Verizon.

Pick up the phone

The Google Pixel and iPhone 7 are priced the same, so choosing one is really a matter of user preference.

Apple fans might be better off sticking with the iPhone 7. Upgraded performance, graphics and a new camera are enough to warrant an upgrade, plus the water-resistant body is also a nice touch. If you’re worried about losing the audio jack, the iPhone 7 comes with an adaptor so you can still connect your headphones.

For users looking for the latest technology, the Google Pixel is worth a spin. On design, performance and camera alone the Pixel is about equal with the iPhone 7. What sets it apart is a new, advanced Android operating system that is speedy and light, plus the Google Assistant’s artificial intelligence is easy and fun to use.

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Nina Tabios is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: ntabios@nerdwallet.com.