How do you possibly know whether a Google Pixel 2 is really a better smartphone over the recently released  Apple iPhone 8? As Google reps have noted recently, it's not about the specs anymore. Phones are fast and reliable; the cameras on our smartphones are incredibly powerful, snapping crisp and colorful photos. Most of the apps you might want to use are available on Android and on the iPhone. The two phones even look similar.

After using both for a week, switching between them with my own SIM card so that I was relying on the "phone of the moment" for all calls and texts, I found there is one difference that might be important to know about, one that is an actual differentiator.

It wasn't clear at first. I compared the apps, the cameras, a few movies...there's no major difference that's obvious at first or that makes it seem like one is an easy pick over another. Both fans have fantastic screens, and the iPhone 8 offers wireless charging so you don't have to bother with cables. But then it hit me like a ton of bricks what's so different.

First, a little background.

I've been testing phones since they first debuted over ten years ago. I've fumbled around with cables for years and years, so when the iPhone 8 finally switched to wireless charging, it was a welcome surprise. No more cables! It's quite a big change, and it means there might be charge pads everywhere someday, especially at the airport and on the plane itself, at coffee-shops, and at your place of work.

The Pixel 2 (and the Pixel 2 XL, which I also used for a week) can charge up very quickly. In my tests, the Pixel 2 would charge up to almost half in about 15 minutes (about seven hours of battery), extending the battery life for a day of work right before your commute. Because the Pixel 2 uses this fast charging (something you can do with many Samsung Galaxy phones as well), it makes the wireless charging on the iPhone 8 less compelling.

Wireless charging is handy--it means you don't have to deal with cables. Yet, it's also important to know that it is a slow charge. The convenience of charging your phone by placing it on a charge pad comes with a trade-off in speed. in my case, it can take an hour or more. And, since the iPhone 8 and Pixel 2 are so similar in many ways, that charging decision is the one you really need to know about.

So how do you decide if that's a benefit to you?

For starters, look around. If you don't have access to a wall outlet all day, or you happen to own a car with a wireless charge pad (like the Toyota Camry), or you tend to sit at a desk all day, wireless charging is helpful. You're constantly "topping off" the phone, and it will be ready when you need it.

But if you need to use a phone all day, being able to charge up quickly and then use your phone in places where there are no outlets (such as a construction site, walking around an urban area, on campus, or in places where outlets are always in use), then the Pixel 2 is for you. Google intentionally decided not to offer wireless charging. It's not the first smartphone to offer it; it is the best phone in comparison to the iPhone 8 that does.

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Published on: Oct 17, 2017