Tech Showdown: Which Google Fi Smartphone Is Right For You?

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In a world where mobile networks battle ferociously for consumers, Project Fi sits quietly at the sideline. Don’t underestimate it, though. For many people, its pricing is the most affordable of any network, and usually by a substantial margin. The catch? It only supports a few phones, each of which have been specifically approved by Google.

With a small cast of options to choose from, which certainly don’t include Apple products like the new iPhone XS, you’d think it’d be easy to pick a smartphone from the list. Wrong. Google put a lot of thought into what phones it supports, leading to several choices having similarly strong offerings.

We’ve analyzed the entire lineup that Project Fi offers, including the Pixel 3, Pixel 2 XL, LG G7 ThinQ, LG V35 ThinQ, Moto G6, and Android One Moto X4 to help you pick a phone.

Display

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Pixel 3 & Pixel 3 XL

Equipped with a 5.5″ (or 6.3″ if you get the XL) OLED, the Pixel 3 has one of the best screens of any smartphone. Its 1080 x 2280 pixel resolution manages to balance image quality with power consumption, allowing the phone’s battery to achieve a desirable talk time and standby time.

Pixel 2 XL

The Pixel 2 XL’s 6.0″ OLED display still stands as one of the best on the market even a year after release. But when you place it side-by-side with the Pixel 3, its age begins to show. The Pixel 3 has a better range of color, which is particularly meaningful when looking at images.

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LG G7 ThinQ

Given that LG is also an HDTV manufacturer, it isn’t much of a surprise that the 6.1″ display on the LG G7 ThinQ is brilliant. With a 563 PPI pixel density, it outperforms the Pixel 3 by quite a margin thanks to its 1440 x 3120 resolution, to a point where some of that margin isn’t even noticeable up-close. This is the best screen among this list of smartphones, and it has the awards to prove it.

LG V35 ThinQ

The 6.0″ screen of the LG V35 is surprisingly different from the LG G7 ThinQ from a technical perspective since it opts for pOLED, allowing for the screen to be curved. Outside of this difference in build materials, they both perform similarly, meaning its screen is remarkable.

Moto G6

As a budget phone, the Moto G6’s 5.7″ display doesn’t compare particularly well to the competition. While it has a better design and larger size than the Android One Moto X4, you can tell it’s been built with low cost in mind; aliasing and boring color representation makes this more of a case of function than form.

Android One Moto X4

Similar to the Moto G6, the Android One Moto X4 is a budget phone. Consequently, its display doesn’t measure up to the other giants on this list, but even then its 5.2″ LTPS IPS is good at the price point. It’s definitely the least attractive display on this list, though.

Winner: LG G7 ThinQ

Camera

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Pixel 3 & Pixel 3 XL

There’s no beating around the bush here. The Pixel 3’s 12.2 MP rear camera can go toe-to-toe with the best in the business. Some people have even said it has the best camera of any smartphone, and that’s really saying something.

Pixel 2 XL

The Pixel 2 XL’s camera was beloved in 2017, and in 2018 it’s still extremely capable, falling only slightly behind the Pixel 3’s incremental software and hardware improvements.

LG G7 ThinQ

Equipped with dual 16 MP cameras on the rear, LG’s phones offer the highest pixel density of any smartphone on this list. However, the software isn’t quite as capable as Google’s offerings with the Pixel 3. It’s great, but second best in this comparison.

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LG V35 ThinQ

The cameras on the V35 ThinQ are largely the same as what comes with the G7 ThinQ. In other words, fantastic and just slightly behind the Pixel 3.

Moto G6

Despite being affordable, the G6 comes with quite a great camera. In fact, it has two of them on the rear, a dual 12 MP + 5 MP camera setup that blows away anything you’d see on a phone five years ago. But this is 2018, and unfortunately, the competition is harsh; the G6 has the worst camera of any smartphone on this list.

Android One Moto X4

The One Moto X4 takes a win here over the Moto G6 due to its second camera being capable of delivering wide-angle photography, a notable boost beyond the second camera on the G6 that is specifically tailored to measure depth.

Winner: Pixel 3 & Pixel 3 XL

Specs

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Pixel 3 & Pixel 3 XL

Under the hood of the Pixel 3 is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, one of the newest chips to arrive on the smartphone market. The octa-core CPU clocked at 2.8 GHz, coupled with a Qualcomm Adreno 630 GPU, results in the Pixel 3 being the top performer on this list. In fact, it’s one of the best performers in the market, period.

Pixel 2 XL

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 that the Pixel 2 XL comes with is already a generation behind. Its 2.45 GHz CPU and Qualcomm Adreno 540 GPU fall a few percentage points behind what comes with the Pixel 3. This means a few hundred milliseconds of difference when loading apps.

LG G7 ThinQ

The LG G7 ThinQ matches the Pixel 3 by similarly coming with the brand new Qualcomm Snapdragon 845. Such a beast of a CPU is necessary for its massive resolution, including the power efficiency required to ensure the battery doesn’t drain too fast to be useful.

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LG V35 ThinQ

The LG V35 ThinQ comes with the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 as the G7 and Pixel 3. Performance is largely the same as a result.

Moto G6

The Qualcomm SDM450 Snapdragon 450 included with the Moto G6 is a more affordable solution that allows the phone to run all modern apps, albeit with some additional latency that the higher cost phones in this list are able to avoid.

Android One Moto X4

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 630 manages to find itself still being used in 2018 thanks to the Android One Moto X4. It’s not a particularly fancy chip, but it does the job.

Tie: Pixel 3 & Pixel 3 XL, LG G7 ThinQ, LG V35 ThinQ

Price

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Pixel 3 & Pixel 3 XL

You didn’t honestly think you’d get an elite-class smartphone for cheap, did you? The Pixel 3’s pricing is right around where you’d expect: a whopping $799 starting point.

Pixel 2 XL

The Pixel 2 XL, as good as it is, is priced beyond its capabilities at this point. The Pixel 3 is, simply put, newer and better,  yet is only $50 more. This fact alone makes the Pixel 2 XL hard to recommend among this lineup.

LG G7 ThinQ

Considering everything above, it’s hard to imagine how the LG G7 ThinQ gets away with being priced at $549. This is a top 10 phone on the market that has won accolades in several categories, yet is priced similar to a budget iPhone.

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LG V35 ThinQ

The LG V35 ThinQ is ever-so-slightly worse than the LG G7 ThinQ, yet is $150 more at its current $699 price point. In other words, this phone makes no sense.

Moto G6

At $199, the Moto G6 is the most affordable phone on this list. It’s also the least performant phone on this list, which is hard to say given that it does so much for so little. But facts are facts, and the Android One Moto X4 is a better phone within the same price range.

Android One Moto X4

For anyone interested in spending the least amount of money on the best phone possible, the Android One Moto X4 makes a strong case. At $249 it can reasonably be fit into the budget of just about anyone, making a fully capable smartphone experience within reach of everyone.

Winner: LG G7 ThinQ for high-end, Android One Moto X4 for budget

Conclusion

Project Fi’s current smartphone line-up is a great expression of how much you get on today’s market for a reasonable cost. The LG G7 ThinQ comes at the top of its class in virtually every regard, while still maintaining affordability. The Pixel 3 is a better phone overall, but costs too much to recommend to anyone but those who demand the absolute best.

Don’t count the Android One Moto X4 out, though. Anyone who just wants a phone without all the next-generation nonsense, it stands with one of the highest price-performance ratios of any phone in recent years.