04-21-2017 06:23 AM
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  1. Connert's Avatar
    I've had the moto Z Force for about 45 days and the Pixel XL for about 7 days. I'm one of the many Note 7 refugees looking for a new device after years of Samsung fanboy devotion. I had every Note other than the original and never thought I could live without the Spen. I went with the moto Z Force and I'm happy with its performance. I had the opportunity to pick up a Pixel XL for basically nothing, so I did. Now I must compare them and I'll be handing one down to my youngest daughter.

    Screen:
    Pixel is a bit better, but only noticeable to me when holding them side by side, both are very good.

    FPS:
    Personal preference, I like it on the front much better than the back. Edit: as I spend more time with the Pixel, I've come to dislike the sensor on the back quite a bit.

    Speed:
    If there is a difference, I can't tell. Both are very fast and smooth.

    Battery:
    Both seem about the same. I can get through a normal day without looking for a charge. I have been getting over 4 hours SOT from each in a 10 to 12-hour day.

    Photos:
    Pixel is very, very fast to take the photo. If you have small children running around you're attempting to photograph, the Pixel is your only choice between these two.

    As far as photo quality and lighting conditions go, I've taken a few photos in different lighting to compare.

    The moto Z Force and Pixel XL both take good photos for the most part. As expected, lighting plays a big factor in the outcome. I have added notes to a few of the photos to explain the color variations. In some cases, the difference is extreme. The Pixel tends to be closer to true color and a little flat or washed out at times while the moto seems to look a bit more vibrant but over saturated in some cases. So, personal taste, of course, is a big factor here.

    In the following photos, first shot is Moto Z Force followed by the Pixel XL.

    Comparison: Z Force and Pixel XL-1478219011710.jpg
    Comparison: Z Force and Pixel XL-1478219028219.jpg

    The moto adjust very well to the lighting. The Pixel XL is more accurate, but is that a good thing in this situation?

    Comparison: Z Force and Pixel XL-1478219047129.jpg
    Comparison: Z Force and Pixel XL-1478219060599.jpg

    Moto photo shows an awesome red in the side of this one, but there is no red on the car. Pixel is much more accurate.

    Comparison: Z Force and Pixel XL-1478219083659.jpg
    Comparison: Z Force and Pixel XL-1478219096466.jpg

    Both look great, but the car is orange.

    Comparison: Z Force and Pixel XL-1478219117706.jpg
    Comparison: Z Force and Pixel XL-1478219127579.jpg

    The reds seem better in the moto and the blacks in the Pixel XL.

    Comparison: Z Force and Pixel XL-1478219149112.jpg
    Comparison: Z Force and Pixel XL-1478219159199.jpg

    Both look good, hard to tell much difference to me.

    Comparison: Z Force and Pixel XL-1478219177992.jpg
    Comparison: Z Force and Pixel XL-1478219192126.jpg

    Both look good, I think the moto with its rich color looks better in this situation.

    Comparison: Z Force and Pixel XL-1478219209210.jpg
    Comparison: Z Force and Pixel XL-1478219220512.jpg

    In this situation the red is more accurate in the moto shot, the Pixel looks dull or flat to me.

    Feel in hand:
    Both are good to me. The Pixel seems a lot more like the Z with style shell. The Z Force is a bit thicker when you have a moto style shell installed. But if you're like most, you'll be putting a case on the Pixel XL, which makes it about the same as the Z Force. If you go naked, you'll probably like the Pixel better. I put a TPU case on both and can't tell much difference.

    Build Quality:
    Although I believe both are well built, I prefer the moto. I'm very partial to the Z Force having the ShatterShield and Style Shell. I have the leather and red nylon style shells. Not sure why anyone would want a glass or aluminum back, neither would be my first choice.

    The ShatterShield gives a piece of mind you just can't get otherwise. It's a big deal to me personally.

    Android Auto:
    The Z Force hooked up to my 2016 Chevrolet Silverado first try and every time after that without issue and has worked great with all the features.

    The Pixel XL has been glitchy each time I've tried to connect. It will connect one time and then not connect several times afterwards. Requires disconnecting the cable a few times and even a reboot once. Edit: Pixel has settled in and is now connecting with Android Auto like it should. Not sure why it wanted to fight with me to start with, but seems to have given up and is responding as you would expect.

    Bluetooth:
    Z Force has connected perfectly each time. Both to my truck and to my LG Tone Plus headset.
    Pixel XL connects to headset without any problems, but it has been difficult getting it to connect as easily and stay connected to my truck.

    Nougat seems to be a bit less stable in both Bluetooth and Android Auto.

    Other:
    For some reason my Pixel will not install the Verizon "out of the box" update for a Wi-Fi issue it is supposed to have. I spoke with Google support and they connected me to Verizon support. Google support pretty much just passed me along to Verizon, which is fair, after all it is a Verizon update. I went through level one support with Verizon quick (I'd already done everything including a factory reset) and moved on to level two. Although both Verizon support agents were very friendly, I'm now waiting on further instructions.

    I'm not knocking the Pixel for this. It's more likely to be a Verizon issue and I've not experienced any Wi-Fi issues. The update is not available if the Verizon SIM is not installed.

    Other Considerations: (pros/cons)
    Z Force - ShatterShield, battery mod, style shell, front fps (after a few days, rear fps is almost a deal breaker for me)

    Pixel - direct updates, camera speed, slightly better display

    My summary:
    Both are smooth and fast. So it comes down to what is most important to you. I'll be keeping my Moto Z Force and handing the Pixel XL down to one of my daughters. Both are very good but the advantages of the Z Force are more important to me, making the moto my choice.
    11-03-2016 07:27 PM
  2. dpham00's Avatar
    Great review!
    11-03-2016 08:29 PM
  3. robinhelenehebert's Avatar
    Awesome review and I too had the Pixel. This is a much better phone imho.
    11-03-2016 08:35 PM
  4. Mike-Mike's Avatar
    Fantastic review. Those pics with the Moto look awesome, although it is weird they create colors that are not there.

    I agree about the FPS, the Z Force is way faster on the FPS than the S7 Edge and the V20. And i absolutely agree about the FPS on the rear. After one day with the V20, I knew I could not live with that.

    My S7 Edge was solid as a rock, and I never really feared breaking it, but I felt I had to baby the V20. After one day with the Moto Z Force Droid with the Shattershield and the Verizon flexible glass screen protector (thanks to your recommendation) I have a level of piece of mind that I have not had in a very long time. It really is a great feeling, and it will be hard to ever go to a breakable screen again
    Connert likes this.
    11-03-2016 08:58 PM
  5. PowrDroid's Avatar
    Thanks for the review. I'll look at the photos in detail tomorrow on my PC, but I've got to comment on the very first one, the truck in the driveway.

    It looks to me like the white balance is totally off in the Pixel shot. There is a definite yellow tint to the picture. The driveway looks yellow, the grass looks yellow, the truck looks orange. The truck is red, correct?
    Connert likes this.
    11-03-2016 09:21 PM
  6. doogald's Avatar
    Nice review.

    Regarding that first shot, look at the sky. The Z Force really missed it (also, it's less warm than the Pixel.) Also, the one with the white Mercedes on the black and white floor - I like the Pixel version more. Less contrast (or more exposed?), you can see more detail in the blacks, easier to see the signs in the back. I agree with you on the other photos.

    This is picking nits, though. Key thing though: both cameras are more than good enough.
    Connert likes this.
    11-03-2016 09:24 PM
  7. Ry's Avatar
    Good job!
    11-03-2016 09:25 PM
  8. Connert's Avatar
    Truck is red, lighting is from a street light behind me. The light does cast a yellowish color. It is fairly true to color, take a look at the sky, it has a better detail and color than the Z Force. However, the Z Force seems to do a much better job adjusting white balance to the subject in the foreground.
    11-03-2016 09:25 PM
  9. PowrDroid's Avatar
    I'm going to comment on the photos. (I have too much time on my hands, LOL.)

    In the picture of the truck on the driveway it's obvious the Z Force is cranking up the ISO to get a better exposure. As was mentioned, this blows out the sky detail and also obliterates the body seam of the front door running up the windshield pillar. The tree behind the telephone pole looks bluish in the Force photo. I know you said there was a yellow cast to the light, but the Pixel looks excessively yellow. Would you say the actual yellow hue was somewhere between the two photos, or was the Pixel accurate? Note you can read SILVERADO in the Force shot, not so easy to do in the Pixel shot.

    The photo of the two door coupe with flames looks better in the Z Force shot, colors are punchier all around (check out the green on the car in the background, for example.) But as you say, it's not exactly accurate. More eye pleasing, for sure (Samsung Galaxy cameras make a living in this space!)

    In the picture with the hot rod take a look at the air hose dispenser's base where it says "Drink Coca-Cola". The larger 21MP shooter of the Z Force allows you to read it clearly, not so much on the Pixel. But, as noted the color is inaccurate. (BTW, red is the hardest color for phones to reproduce accurately.)

    Similarly, look at the photo of the 1960(?) Chevrolet Impala. You can clearly read the C H E V R O L E T across the front of the hood, the edges of the tread on the sidewall of the Lexus next to it, the Dodge Hwy. sign on the wall behind the Impala, as well as the Welcome to Truckville sign further down the wall. But the white in the Crystal Automotive sign on the wall and the white on the white storage totes are blown out in the Z Force photo.

    The photo of the Harley is a clear winner for the Pixel. It has better contrast and "shine". Again, though, you can see more detail in the Z Force photo (look at Chopper Blvd. sign on the wall.)

    The picture of the white Mercedes is better with the Z Force. It lacks the "shine" of the Pixel, but it's in better focus. I can tell the Camaro has a 350 engine in it by looking at the front fender, can't see that in the Pixel shot. Look at the clarity of the headlamp and the blinker on the Cobra in the Z Force shot vs. the Pixel. Also, check out the round, hanging, overhead lights, especially the one in the far left of the picture. In the Pixel shot they are quite blurry, not so in the Z Force shot. Could be slight hand movement by Connert on this photo, but I thought OIS was supposed to correct that?

    The shot of the truck by the fence, it looks like the usual properties are reversed--the Z Force shot looks brighter, has more contrast and "shine", whereas the Pixel shot is a bit duller and darker. Again, I can clearly read SILVERADO on the side of the door in the Force picture, not so easy in the Pixel shot.

    Thanks so much for posting these photos. Tough to decide which is better. For point and shoot in a hurry I guess the Pixel would win out. I suspect the Pixel would win at low light shots, too. But I do like higher detail and the ability to zoom in on areas of the photo by cropping which brings me to the Z Force. I can fix color inaccuracies in photo-editing software. I can't fix loss of detail.
    Connert likes this.
    11-04-2016 11:38 AM
  10. doogald's Avatar
    The shot of the truck by the fence, it looks like the usual properties are reversed--the Z Force shot looks brighter, has more contrast and "shine", whereas the Pixel shot is a bit duller and darker. Again, I can clearly read SILVERADO on the side of the door in the Force picture, not so easy in the Pixel shot.
    Look at the trees in the background, though. HDR+ on the Pixel must be helping with that, maybe at the cost of detail. I guess it depends on what you like? (Obviously, I look at backgrounds a lot. Also, as I said, I like them both, actually.)

    One other comparison that would be useful is burst photos. How many can each take in a couple of seconds? Is the 21 MP camera slowing down the ability to write to disk on the Z Force compared with the Pixel? (Or not...) Is the HDR+ taking so long that it affects how many can be burst on the Pixel? (Or not...)
    11-04-2016 12:02 PM
  11. QBert's Avatar
    This is a great review - thank you for putting this together!
    11-04-2016 01:28 PM
  12. Connert's Avatar
    This is a great review - thank you for putting this together!
    You're welcome, I really enjoyed doing this.

    I hope it helps people that may find themselves on the fence make a more informed decision.

    The bottom line for me is that both are really good devices and do most everything without issue.

    When looking at the photos individually, I think they all look good. This is a highly subjective subject and I don't think any answer is wrong. You like what you like. For me the quality from either of these devices is sufficient for my use. Photos this good from either means I can make my decision based on other differences, like location and convenience of the FPS or build quality.
    xweb10 likes this.
    11-04-2016 03:55 PM
  13. Connert's Avatar
    Look at the trees in the background, though. HDR+ on the Pixel must be helping with that, maybe at the cost of detail. I guess it depends on what you like? (Obviously, I look at backgrounds a lot. Also, as I said, I like them both, actually.)

    One other comparison that would be useful is burst photos. How many can each take in a couple of seconds? Is the 21 MP camera slowing down the ability to write to disk on the Z Force compared with the Pixel? (Or not...) Is the HDR+ taking so long that it affects how many can be burst on the Pixel? (Or not...)
    I may take a few burst if I have time this weekend and provide an answer to this question.

    Also, when I took the photos, all I did was open the camera and shoot. No changes to the settings. I did notice the Z Force HDR was set to auto. Not sure what the Pixel XL was set to. I may play around with these settings and see how it changes the photos. Might have to wait until I get back to the office next week to shoot some of the same vehicles again for a comparison.
    11-04-2016 04:00 PM
  14. Connert's Avatar
    I'm going to comment on the photos. (I have too much time on my hands, LOL.)

    In the picture of the truck on the driveway it's obvious the Z Force is cranking up the ISO to get a better exposure. As was mentioned, this blows out the sky detail and also obliterates the body seam of the front door running up the windshield pillar. The tree behind the telephone pole looks bluish in the Force photo. I know you said there was a yellow cast to the light, but the Pixel looks excessively yellow. Would you say the actual yellow hue was somewhere between the two photos, or was the Pixel accurate? Note you can read SILVERADO in the Force shot, not so easy to do in the Pixel shot.

    The photo of the two door coupe with flames looks better in the Z Force shot, colors are punchier all around (check out the green on the car in the background, for example.) But as you say, it's not exactly accurate. More eye pleasing, for sure (Samsung Galaxy cameras make a living in this space!)

    In the picture with the hot rod take a look at the air hose dispenser's base where it says "Drink Coca-Cola". The larger 21MP shooter of the Z Force allows you to read it clearly, not so much on the Pixel. But, as noted the color is inaccurate. (BTW, red is the hardest color for phones to reproduce accurately.)

    Similarly, look at the photo of the 1960(?) Chevrolet Impala. You can clearly read the C H E V R O L E T across the front of the hood, the edges of the tread on the sidewall of the Lexus next to it, the Dodge Hwy. sign on the wall behind the Impala, as well as the Welcome to Truckville sign further down the wall. But the white in the Crystal Automotive sign on the wall and the white on the white storage totes are blown out in the Z Force photo.

    The photo of the Harley is a clear winner for the Pixel. It has better contrast and "shine". Again, though, you can see more detail in the Z Force photo (look at Chopper Blvd. sign on the wall.)

    The picture of the white Mercedes is better with the Z Force. It lacks the "shine" of the Pixel, but it's in better focus. I can tell the Camaro has a 350 engine in it by looking at the front fender, can't see that in the Pixel shot. Look at the clarity of the headlamp and the blinker on the Cobra in the Z Force shot vs. the Pixel. Also, check out the round, hanging, overhead lights, especially the one in the far left of the picture. In the Pixel shot they are quite blurry, not so in the Z Force shot. Could be slight hand movement by Connert on this photo, but I thought OIS was supposed to correct that?

    The shot of the truck by the fence, it looks like the usual properties are reversed--the Z Force shot looks brighter, has more contrast and "shine", whereas the Pixel shot is a bit duller and darker. Again, I can clearly read SILVERADO on the side of the door in the Force picture, not so easy in the Pixel shot.

    Thanks so much for posting these photos. Tough to decide which is better. For point and shoot in a hurry I guess the Pixel would win out. I suspect the Pixel would win at low light shots, too. But I do like higher detail and the ability to zoom in on areas of the photo by cropping which brings me to the Z Force. I can fix color inaccuracies in photo-editing software. I can't fix loss of detail.
    Wow, great review of all these photos.

    The early morning shot of my very Red Silverado was definitely a challenging shot for both devices. It color from the Pixel XL is a lot more accurate. Maybe a little bit yellowish, but much closer to true color than the Z Force. I'm not sure if that is a good thing or not. I was taking a picture of the truck, so you could say having the white balance set for the foreground to give a better representation of its true color would make more sense. But if your purpose is more creative, maybe the more accurate and true color would be better. In either case, both devices are very capable of meeting my point and shoot camera requirements.

    Thanks for all your input on these photos. I really enjoy the feedback and discussion.
    11-04-2016 04:07 PM
  15. Connert's Avatar
    Fantastic review. Those pics with the Moto look awesome, although it is weird they create colors that are not there.

    I agree about the FPS, the Z Force is way faster on the FPS than the S7 Edge and the V20. And i absolutely agree about the FPS on the rear. After one day with the V20, I knew I could not live with that.

    My S7 Edge was solid as a rock, and I never really feared breaking it, but I felt I had to baby the V20. After one day with the Moto Z Force Droid with the Shattershield and the Verizon flexible glass screen protector (thanks to your recommendation) I have a level of piece of mind that I have not had in a very long time. It really is a great feeling, and it will be hard to ever go to a breakable screen again
    Thanks for the feedback Mike. I agree, if I was going to pick my favorite photo from each, my taste lean to the rich color from the Z Force.

    Also happy to see it's not just me that can't live e with the FPS on the back. It was the biggest reason I couldn't wait to get back to my Z Force.
    11-04-2016 04:11 PM
  16. PowrDroid's Avatar
    Might have to wait until I get back to the office next week to shoot some of the same vehicles again for a comparison.
    That's your workplace? <jaw drops>

    Must be fun going into work!
    11-04-2016 05:32 PM
  17. Connert's Avatar
    That's your workplace?

    Must be fun going into work!
    Lol, yes. And yes, getting to be around all these everyday can be a lot of fun. Some of the vehicles that come in are already nearly a finished product. Others are major projects that can take months to just over a year.

    I'm definitely not on here to sell anything, matter of fact, I'm definitely not a salesperson. I'll post a link to our site so you can see other items.

    www.crystalmotorsports.com
    anon(9227267) likes this.
    11-04-2016 05:41 PM
  18. anon(9227267)'s Avatar
    Excellent review - thank you for your efforts. I have a Z Force and a Pixel - The Pixel is a little more comfortable for me to carry, so I do. ( until my grandson sees it - ) - Thanks again
    11-04-2016 05:50 PM
  19. robinhelenehebert's Avatar
    Excellent review - thank you for your efforts. I have a Z Force and a Pixel - The Pixel is a little more comfortable for me to carry, so I do. ( until my grandson sees it - ) - Thanks again
    What's funny is the Moto is a lot like the Pixel in so many ways.
    anon(9227267) likes this.
    11-04-2016 05:58 PM
  20. osubeavs728's Avatar
    Thanks for the feedback Mike. I agree, if I was going to pick my favorite photo from each, my taste lean to the rich color from the Z Force.

    Also happy to see it's not just me that can't live e with the FPS on the back. It was the biggest reason I couldn't wait to get back to my Z Force.
    Would you call the colors rich if they're changing the actual colors of the subject? I wouldn't like that, but that's just me.

    I'm on the opposite side with the FPS, I prefer it 100x more than on the front. I always felt that tapping the front sensor required awkward hand and thumb angles.

    I have both, and have much preferred the camera, in hand feel, styling, and fps on the XL. But that won't stop me from switching back and forth every now and again.

    Overall though, good on ya for putting this together.
    11-05-2016 05:57 PM
  21. Connert's Avatar
    Would you call the colors rich if they're changing the actual colors of the subject? I wouldn't like that, but that's just me.

    I'm on the opposite side with the FPS, I prefer it 100x more than on the front. I always felt that tapping the front sensor required awkward hand and thumb angles.

    I have both, and have much preferred the camera, in hand feel, styling, and fps on the XL. But that won't stop me from switching back and forth every now and again.

    Overall though, good on ya for putting this together.
    I think it's all personal preference and taste. For me both devices handle the day to day task so well, it becomes a matter of which device you just happen to like the most. For example your preference of a back mount FPS is completely the opposite of my preference. Isn't it great to have such awesome devices to choose from, all within the same OS?
    11-06-2016 06:34 AM
  22. AustinAggie's Avatar
    Connert - Thanks a ton for this post - very helpful. I'm trying to make this same decision right now without actually being able to use either phone other than in-store demos.

    What were your thoughts on the quality of the radios - cellular? wifi? Call quality? My experience with motorola phones in the past is this has been a strength, and I would guess it is better than the Pixel XL, but what did you think?
    11-18-2016 07:58 AM
  23. benjamminh's Avatar
    Anandtech just posted their Pixel review and it was a big pile of meh. Meh screen, meh performance, very good camera. I was shocked how pedestrian the Pixels were in benchmarks. I know they don't always correspond to actual use, but the Z Force blows it out of the water.
    11-18-2016 09:12 AM
  24. AustinAggie's Avatar
    Anandtech just posted their Pixel review and it was a big pile of meh. Meh screen, meh performance, very good camera. I was shocked how pedestrian the Pixels were in benchmarks. I know they don't always correspond to actual use, but the Z Force blows it out of the water.
    Almost every single other reviewer has commented on how snappy the Pixels are - noticeably more performant in every day use. I put more stock in that type of input than I do benchmarks. They don't capture stutter/lag in every day use well, which, for me, has a much bigger impact on how I use the phone.
    11-18-2016 10:17 AM
  25. beeare's Avatar
    Almost every single other reviewer has commented on how snappy the Pixels are - noticeably more performant in every day use. I put more stock in that type of input than I do benchmarks. They don't capture stutter/lag in every day use well, which, for me, has a much bigger impact on how I use the phone.
    Maybe over most phones but the z-force is ridiculously snappy. I played with a pixel at the store and didn't notice it being at all snappier than the force. The force has no lag at all. It's easily the best performing phone I've ever owned.
    benjamminh and Mattsg430 like this.
    11-18-2016 09:52 PM
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