Google Pixel 3 XL vs Apple iPhone XS Max – How Do They Compare?

There once was a time when, if you wanted a big-screen phone, Android was the only option. Things have changed in recent years, and now Apple is competing in the ‘phablet’ space with the iPhone XS Max, which has the largest screen of any phone the company has made, ever.

Google has its pocket-busting challenger for 2018 too, the Pixel 3 XL. If you’re looking for a phone that gives you as much screen as possible, then these are two solid options – but which is best?

Google Pixel 3 XL vs iPhone XS Max: Specs

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: 7 MP photos and 1080p HD video.
  • Rear camera: 12.2 MP, Optical + electronic image stabilization, 4K video
  • Battery: 3430 mAh
  • Colors: Just Black, Clearly White, Not Pink

Here are the specs for the iPhone XS Max:

  • Display: 6.5-inch OLED display with a 2688×1242-pixel resolution at 458ppi
  • Dimensions: 157.5mm x 77.4mm x 7.7mm
  • Weight: 208 grams
  • Storage: 64, 256, or 512GB
  • Processors: A12 Bionic
  • Front camera: 7 MP photos and 1080p HD video.
  • Rear camera: Dual-lens 12MP wide-angle and telephoto cameras, Dual optical image stabilisation, Optical zoom, 4K video
  • Battery: 3,174mAh, up to 13.5 hours battery life mixed usage.
  • Other: Face ID, NFC, Wireless charging, 3D Touch, IP68 waterproof
  • Color options: Silver, Space Gray, and Gold

As you can see, there are some similarities in the specs, but it’s hard to directly compare Android and iOS devices as Apple creates its own internal hardware – the A12 Bionic chip, in this case – whereas most Android phones rely on silicon made by Qualcomm. Comparatively speaking, both phones are powerful, though – certainly two of the most capable handsets money can buy right now.

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Google Pixel 3 XL vs iPhone XS Max: Specs

Let’s start with storage. Each phone comes in a 64GB model. Where they differ is the iPhone XS comes in 256GB or a whopping 512GB storage option as well. The Pixel 3 XL only offers an optional 128GB of storage. Is double and quadruple the storage better? From a spec point of view, yes. But will most people need 256GB or 512GB? Probably not.

Both phones come with 4GB of RAM-making them even in that department. The usual caveat here applies, however: more RAM does not necessarily equal a faster phone. There are many things that determine the speed of a phone. Speaking of speeds, when we look at the CPU’s in each phone there is simply no comparison. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 found in the Pixel 3 XL is a great processor–for an Android device. However, the A12 Bionic chip found in the iPhone XS Max absolutely SMOKES the Snapdragon 845. We’re talking speeds that are up to twice as fast.

  • iPhone XS Max –  the iPhone XS Max features an A12 chipset, which is about twice as fast as the Snapdragon 845.
  • Google Pixel 3 XL – the Google Pixel 3 XL features the Snapdragon 845. It’s a great chipset, but can’t match the speed of the A12.

Winner: iPhone XS Max – it’s A12 chip smokes the Snapdragon 845.


Google Pixel 3 XL vs iPhone XS Max: Display & Design

The iPhone XS Max’s massive display is a real plus point here; at 6.5-inches, it’s bigger than the one on the Pixel 3 XL, although it packs in less pixels. Both are OLED panels, so you’re getting bright colours, deep blacks and superb contrast. Last year’s iPhone X introduced the now-famous notch at the top of the screen, something Apple has carried over to its 2018 devices. So influential is this design choice that many other phone makers are copying it – including Google, which has used a notch on the Pixel 3 XL. Despite this, there’s a noticeable ‘chin’ at the bottom of the screen, which isn’t present on Apple’s phone. In that respect, you could argue that the iPhone XS Max is the better ‘full screen’ choice here.

In terms of design, both phones employ a metal frame with glass fronts and backs – these are required to enable wireless charging. This also makes them slippery in the hand and prone to cracking if accidentally dropped, so you’ll want to invest in a case no matter which phone you buy. We like both designs – and so do Google and Apple clearly, as they’re very similar to last year’s handsets – so on this score, we’d recommend you pick the one you personally like the most.

  • iPhone XS Max – The iPhone XS Max features Apple’s biometric authentication system called Face ID. Its industrial design features a glass and aluminum body and comes in a wide range of six color options, including a blue model. The iPhone XS Max features an edge-to-edge LCD display that is 6.5in and has a 2688×1242-pixel resolution at 458ppi.
  • Google Pixel 3 XL – The Google Pixel 3 XL has a smaller display, at 6.3in. It also has a lower resolution. However, the deciding design factor may be dependent on if you like facial recognition unlocking or fingerprint unlocking, the latter of which the Pixel 3 XL offers.

Winner: iPhone XS Max – It’s got the better display and the future-proof Face ID biometric authentication system.

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Google Pixel 3 XL vs iPhone XS Max: Battery

The Pixel 3 XL has a 3430 mAh battery, which is actually a drop-down on the Pixel 2 XL’s 3520 mAh power cell. The difference isn’t really noticeable though, especially when you consider the various hardware and software optimisations that have been made in the phone. The iPhone XS Max, on the other hand, has a 3,174mAh battery. The gulf in battery size between the two phones isn’t a new thing; Android devices tend to have bigger batteries, but Apple’s deep degree of optimisation helps its phones overcome this issue, to a certain degree. Apple quotes over 13 hours of stamina on a single charge.

  • iPhone XS Max – The iPhone XS Max’s battery will get you about 13.5 hours of battery life with mixed usage. It also features wireless charging.
  • Google Pixel 3 XL – The Google Pixel 3 XL’s battery will get you about 13.5 hours of battery life with mixed usage, too.

Winner: Draw – Both phones will get you the same amount of battery life on average.


Google Pixel 3 XL vs iPhone XS Max: Cameras

The Pixel line of phones is famed for its photographic capabilities, so it’s hardly a shock to find that Google has left the rear camera pretty much the same as it was on the Pixel 2 XL. There’s a single 12.2 MP lens (no dual camera shenanigans here) with optical and electronic image stabilization which is capable of shooting smooth 4K video. As before, Google has used a special chip in the phone – known as the ‘Visual Core’ – to apply AI smarts to photos. As a result, this is the smartest smartphone camera money can buy; low-light shooting is amazing and Google’s new ‘Top Shot’ system takes images before you’ve even pressed the shutter, allowing you to capture the perfect snap. On the front, there are two 8-megapixel selfie camera, one with a super-wide field of view so you can fit more people into the shot.

Not to be outdone, the camera setup on the iPhone XS Max is equally impressive, offering a two-camera setup on the rear which takes fantastic ‘bokeh’ effect photos – and now, you can even adjust the level of background blur post-snap.

  • iPhone XS Max – The iPhone XS Max features a 7MP front-facing camera. On the rear camera, you get a dual-lens 12MP camera complete with a wide-angle and telephoto lens.
  • Google Pixel 3 XL – The Google Pixel 3 XL features an 8MP front-facing camera. On the rear camera, you get a single-lens 12MP camera complete with a wide-angle lens.

Winner: iPhone XS Max – That sweet dual-lens rear camera setup can’t be beat.

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Google Pixel 3 XL vs iPhone XS Max: Verdict & Cost

Unlocked the Google Pixel 3 XL originally cost $899(64GB). The iPhone XS originally cost $1099 (64GB). However, the great news is you can get the best deal on the iPhone XS Max and other iPhones by checking out our deals page HERE!

But which should YOU buy? The Pixel 3 XL or the iPhone XS Max? If you’re a fan of iOS or Android OS, the choice is a no-brainer. However, if you can go with either OS and just want the best hardware possible, the iPhone XS Max blows the Pixel 3 XL out of the water. It’s got the larger, better display, the faster processor, and the far superior rear camera setups with dual lenses.

Damien McFerran

Damien McFerran has been covering phones and mobile technology for well over a decade. An Android specialist, as well as an expert reviewer of phones, Damien is one of the best technology journalists working today. He is also editorial director over at the excellent Nintendo Life.

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