Apple introduced its successor to the iPhone X in 2018–the iPhone XS. But the real star of the show was the other new iPhone Apple introduced that year–the iPhone XR. The XR is Apple’s fullscreen display iPhone aimed at the masses. It was significantly cheaper than the iPhone XR yet still has many of the same benefits, like the beautiful display, Face ID, and the insanely powerful A12 Bionic chip.
Google, in turn, also introduced new its new flagships, the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL in 2018. Both are improvements over the previous generation Pixel and both feature new screen sizes. But just how does Apple’s iPhone XR compare against the Pixel 3? Let’s find out.
iPhone XR vs Google Pixel 3 – How They Compare
Here are the specs for the iPhone XR:
- Display: 6.1in LCD Liquid Retina display with a 2436×1125-pixel resolution at 458ppi
- Dimensions: 150.9mm x 75.7mm x 8.3mm
- Storage: 64, 128, or 256GB
- Memory: 3GB LPDDR4x RAM
- Processors: A12 Bionic
- Front camera: 7 MP photos and 1080p HD video.
- Rear camera: Single-lens 12MP wide-angle camera, optical image stabilization. 4K video.
- Battery: 2942 mAh
- Other: Face ID, NFC, Wireless charging, IP67 waterproof
And here are the specs for the Google Pixel 3 XL:
- Display: 5.5in FHD+ flexible OLED display with a 2160×1080-pixel resolution at 443ppi
- Dimensions: 145.6mm x 68.2 mm x 7.9 mm
- Storage: 64GB or 128GB
- Memory: 4GB LPDDR4x RAM
- Processors: Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
- Front camera: 8 MP camera, 1080p video
- Rear camera: 12.2 MP, Optical + electronic image stabilization, 4K video
- Battery: 2915 mAh
- Other: Fingerprint reader, NFC, Wireless charging, IP68 waterproof
iPhone XR vs Google Pixel 3: Specs
Let’s start with storage. Each phone comes in a 64GB and 128GB model, but the iPhone XR also comes in a 256GB storage option as well. As for RAM, the Pixel 3 comes with 25% more at 4GB versus the iPhone XR’s 3GB. However, the usual caveat here applies: more RAM does not necessarily equal a faster phone. There are many things that determine the speed of a phone. Including how well the OS is optimized to run more efficiently and speedily on less hardware. Apple is a master at this.
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 is a great processor–for an Android device. However, the A12 Bionic chip found in the iPhone XR absolutely SMOKES the Snapdragon 845. We’re talking speeds that are up to twice as fast. What this means is games will load faster and play more smoothly, AR experiences will be more fluid, and overall the XR will just be speedier.
- iPhone XR – the iPhone XR features an A12 chipset, which is about twice as fast as the Snapdragon 845.
- Google Pixel 3 – the Google Pixel 3 features the Snapdragon 845. It’s a great chipset, but can’t match the speed of the A12.
Winner: iPhone XR – it’s A12 chip smokes the Snapdragon 845.
iPhone XR vs Google Pixel 3: Display & Design
Only the iPhone XR features true edge-to-edge displays. The Pixel 3 has shrunk its bezels from the previous generation, but it’s still got more of a forehead and chin than the XR. The Pixel 3’s display is also smaller by 0.6in at 5.5in and it also has a lower resolution at 2160×1080 at 443ppi. Compare that to the iPhone XR’s massive 6.1in display with a 2436×1125 resolution at 458ppi.
The iPhone XR’s display also features a true tone panel, which means it adjusts to match the warmth of the color temperature in the room, making it easier on the eyes. That’s something the Pixel 3’s display does not do. However, the iPhone XR does have that notch cutout at the top, while the Pixel 3 does not. If notches bother you, then you know who the winner is in the design department.
Speaking of that notch, it’s there to incorporate the Face ID components of the iPhone XR. Yes, that’s another huge difference between the two phones. The iPhone XR does away with the Touch ID fingerprint scanner in favor of a facial recognition security system. The Pixel 3, on the other hand, still uses the trust fingerprint sensor (though it is placed awkwardly on the rear of the device).
- iPhone XR – The iPhone XR 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 XR features an edge-to-edge LCD display that is 6.1in and has a 1792 x 828-pixel resolution at 326ppi.
- Google Pixel 3 – The Google Pixel 3 has a smaller display, at 5.5in. 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 offers.
Winner: iPhone XR – It’s got the better display and the future-proof Face ID biometric authentication system.
iPhone XR vs Google Pixel 3: Battery
The iPhone XR has an ever so slightly larger battery (2942 mAh) than the Google Pixel 3 (2915 mAh). Will you see any difference because of it? Eh, probably not. Both phones should give you about 12-14 hours’ worth of life under mixed usage. Both phones also feature wireless charging–a nice touch.
- iPhone XR – The iPhone XR’s battery will get you about 14 hours of battery life with mixed usage. It also features wireless charging.
- Google Pixel 3 – The Google Pixel 3’s battery will get you about 14 hours of battery life with mixed usage, too.
Winner: Draw – Both phones will get you the same amount of battery life on average.
iPhone XR vs Google Pixel 3: Camera
Where cameras are concerned, the rear lens system is also almost identical on each phone. Both feature a single-lens 12MP wide-angle camera. Both also feature optical image stabilisation and 4K video recording. They also both feature some extra software tools, however, like Portrait mode with advanced bokeh and Depth Control and Portrait Lighting, adding to their abilities.
It should be said, of course, that the Pixel 3 does have the superior front sensor-an 8MP camera. That’s one MP larger than the 7MP single-lens front sensor found in the iPhone XR. Both front cameras also record 1080p video.
- iPhone XR – The iPhone XR features a 7MP front-facing camera. On the rear camera, you get a single-lens 12MP camera complete with a wide-angle lens.
- Google Pixel 3 – The Google Pixel 3 features an 8MP front-facing camera. On the rear camera, you get a single-lens 12MP camera complete with a wide-angle lens.
Winner: Google Pixel 3 – It has a technically superior front-facing camera.
iPhone XR vs Google Pixel 3: Cost & Verdict
Unlocked the Google Pixel 3 originally cost $799 (64GB). The 6.1in iPhone XR costs $599 (64GB) and $649 (128GB).
Which should you get? We think the iPhone XR is the clear winner. There are several reasons for that. Not only does it have the better, larger display, but it has a far superior processor thanks to the A12. Yet longevity of the device is a big factor here, too. The iPhone XR was originally introduced in 2018. Because it’s an Apple device, you can expect it to be supported with the latest operating system updates for years to come – probably at least until 2024. Maybe beyond. That’s a major added value to this already-stunning iPhone.
Apple expert and novelist, Michael Grothaus has been covering tech on KnowYourMobile for the best part of 10 years. Prior to this, he worked at Apple. And before that, he was a film journalist. Michael is a published author; his book Epiphany Jones was voted as one of the best novels about Hollywood by Entertainment Weekly. Michael is also a writer at other publications including VICE and Fast Company.