Google Pixel 2 XL vs Google Pixel 3 XL – What’s The Difference?

Google has now confirmed that the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL have reached their end of life (meaning no more Android updates). From December 2020, the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL will no longer receive Android updates.

Launched in 2017, the Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL were Google’s second stab at making an honest-to-goodness iPhone competitor. The phones, now three years old, sold in reasonable numbers but should now be avoided.

Google promises three-years of Android updates for its Pixel phones, and the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL got just that. But now that it is 2020, the phones have reached their end of life, so if you must get a Pixel phone, make sure it is one of Google’s newer models – the Pixel 4a or Pixel 5.

Or, if you want to save some money, go with the Pixel 3 XL – read on to see how that phone compares to the Pixel 2 XL below…

Google Pixel 2 XL vs Google Pixel 3 XL – Main Differences…

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The Google Pixel 2 XL and the Google Pixel 2 XL were Google’s attempt at shaking up the top end of the phone market. Designed to compete with the likes of Apple’s iPhone X and Samsung’s Galaxy S10, the Pixel 2 XL and Pixel 3 XL are both fantastic phones. They have brilliant cameras, amazing software, and solid battery life.


The Google Pixel 3 XL – An Amazing Phone With A Stunning Camera & Beautiful 6.3in OLED Display (Click For Latest Deals) 

I used both phones – extensively – and, while the Pixel 3 XL is a superior phone, the Pixel 2 XL is still well worth a look in 2019 if you’re after value for money. Both handsets will run Android 10 and the next big update from Google (Android 11) and both have truly remarkable camera technology packed into them. But how are they different? Let’s review…

  • Display – Google got a lot of flack for the Pixel 2 XL’s OLED display, so it went to massive lengths to ensure that the OLED panel used inside the Pixel 3 XL was better. It worked. The Pixel 3 XL’s OLED panel, whichever way you slice it, is a dramatically better panel than the one inside its predecessor. It’s also larger at 6.3in versus 6in on the Pixel 2 XL. Key updates include better viewing angles, improved brightness, more colors, and enhanced detail.
  • Internal Specs – Internally, the Pixel 2 XL and Pixel 3 XL are remarkably similar. Both have 4GB of RAM, come with either 64 or 128GB of storage, are IP67 water-resistant. Where things change is with respect to the CPU; the Pixel 3 XL uses Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845, while the Pixel 2 XL uses the Snapdragon 835. The 845 is a more modern, powerful, and efficient chipset, so if you want the best performance, the Pixel 3 XL has the edge here.
  • Cameras – Google makes the best cameras in the business right now. The Pixel 2 XL and Pixel 3 XL use similar setups (8MP, f/1.8, autofocus, 75-degree lens) but the Pixel 3 XL manages to pull more performance from Google’s machine-learning Pixel Visual Core, resulting in better low-light performance, sharper overall images, and all-round better performance. It’s not night and day, but the Pixel 3 XL is the better of the two when it comes to imaging. Again, this is to be expected – Google is ALL about its camera technology.

Which To Get?

There are two, key factors at play here – price and performance. If you’d rather have value for money than a slight increase in performance and imaging capabilities, then the Pixel 2 XL is the one to go for. It is a solid phone that’s getting Android 10 and will handle and perform as good as any of its competitors inside the next couple of years. You can pick one up for less than $500 too, making it great for those that into SIM-only deals.

The Pixel 3 XL is more expensive (around $899) and is a better phone, but only just. It has updated internals and a slightly better camera. The Pixel 3 XL’s main difference, for me, is the display – it’s larger and much better than the Pixel 2 XL’s. The camera is also better too, as is the overall performance of the handset, thanks to Qualcomm’s newer Snapdragon 845 CPU.


The Google Pixel 2 XL – A Stunning Handset With A Brilliant Camera. If You Want Value For Money, This is The One To Go For (It Retails For $254!)

However, I don’t think three is a $400 difference at play here.

The Pixel 2 XL, in this respect, is impossible not to recommend. It’s cheaper, a great performer, and it will still be kicking ass well in 2021. If you want value for money, I’d go with the Pixel 2 XL. Need performance? Get the Pixel 3 XL or wait for the Google Pixel 4 range.

Google Pixel 2 XL vs Google Pixel 3 XL: Specs

Here are the specs for the Google Pixel 2 XL:

  • Display: Fullscreen 6in display, QHD+ pOLED at 538ppi
  • Dimensions: 157.9mm x 76.7 mm x 7.9 mm
  • Storage: 64GB or 128GB
  • Memory: 4GB LPDDR4x RAM
  • Processors: Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
  • Front camera: 8 MP, 1080p video
  • Rear camera: 12.2 MP, Optical + electronic image stabilization, 4K video
  • Battery: 3520 mAh
  • Colors: Just Black, Black & White

And here are the specs for the Google Pixel 3 XL:

  • Display: Fullscreen 6.3in display, QHD+ flexible OLED at 523ppi
  • Dimensions: 158mm x 76.7 mm x 7.9 mm
  • Storage: 64GB or 128GB
  • Memory: 4GB LPDDR4x RAM
  • Processors: Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
  • Front camera: Dual-lens 8 MP, 1080p video
  • Rear camera: 12.2 MP, Optical + electronic image stabilization, 4K video
  • Battery: 3430 mAh
  • Colors: Just Black, Clearly White, Not Pink

As with their smaller siblings, from an internal spec perspective, the phones are pretty identical. Google didn’t boost the type or amount of RAM between generations. Both have 4GB LPDDR4x RAM. The storage options also stayed the same at 64GB or 128GB.

What did change is that Google upped the processor from a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 to a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845. What’s that mean for you? The Pixel 3 XL should see about a 15-30% speed boost depending on your usage. It’s an improvement, but nothing to write home about.

Google Pixel 2 XL vs Google Pixel 3 XL: Display & Design

There is a very noticeable change in the design of Google’s latest XL, however. The Pixel 3 XL now features an iPhone X-like notch design. This means the screen Google can cram into the body, which is almost identical in size to the Pixel XL 2 is now 6.3in, versus the 6in Pixel 2 XL display. Annoyingly, however, is the fact that despite the display being larger in the Pixel 3 XL, it’s got a slightly less pixel density at 523ppi versus the Pixel 2 XL’s 538ppi.

Google Pixel 2 XL vs Google Pixel 3 XL: Battery

The Pixel 3 XL also has an inferior battery. It’s smaller at 3430 mAh than the Pixel 2 XL’s 3520 mAh. But keep in mind, it’s not smaller by much and you should expect the same amount of battery life from both phones thanks to software and hardware optimizations in the Pixel 3 XL.

One place where the Pixel 3 XL clearly wins over the 2 XL is in wireless charging–the 3 XL features it, a first for a Google Pixel phone, whereas the 2 XL does not. In other words, if you want to be future-proof in the power department, you’ll want to upgrade to the Pixel 3 XL.

Google Pixel 2 XL vs Google Pixel 3 XL: Cameras

For all intents and purposes, Google left the rear camera pretty much the same in the Pixel 3 XL as in the Pixel 2 XL. The hardware is almost exactly the same: a 12.2 MP lens with optical + electronic image stabilization, that shoots 4K video. The Pixel 3 XL does feature some software improvements in the camera, but that doesn’t change the hardware specs.

What has changed with the Pixel 3 XL is the front camera, which is now hidden in the notch. It now features two lenses instead of the one found in the Pixel 2 XL. While both the Pixel 2 XL and Pixel 3 XL features an 8 MP front camera that shoots 1080p video, the Pixel 3 XL adds another lens in the form of an 8MP wide-angle lens with a 97º field-of-view, compared to the 75º field of view for the normal portrait camera. This means you can squeeze more people into your selfies.

Google Pixel 2 XL vs Google Pixel 3 XL: Verdict & Cost

So should you upgrade to the Pixel 3 XL if you have a Pixel 2 XL already? My recommendation would be to only do it if you want the slightly bigger screen and wireless charging. Besides those features, there aren’t that many differences between the two models. And the Pixel 2 XL is massively cheaper…

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Michael Grothaus

Michael Grothaus is an American author and journalist with a flair for exploring the intersection of technology, creativity, and digital culture. With a background in film, journalism, and creative writing, he brings a unique perspective to the world of mobile technology. His work has been featured in renowned publications like Fast Company, The Guardian, and Engadget. At KnowYourMobile, Michael leverages his extensive knowledge to guide readers through the complexities of mobile devices, helping them make informed choices in the fast-paced tech landscape.

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