Google Pixel 3 XL vs iPhone XS Max: What’s the Difference

BY Rajesh Pandey

Published 9 Oct 2018

Google Pixel 3 XL vs iPhone XS Max

Google today unveiled the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, its flagship devices of the year. The Pixel lineup is known for its camera quality but other aspects of the devices are equally impressive. So how does the larger Pixel 3 XL compare to Apple’s flagship iPhone offering — the iPhone XS Max? Let’s find out.

The Pixel 3 XL represents the best of what Google has to offer in terms of hardware and software, while the iPhone XS Max is Apple’s best offering. It will be interesting to see how these two devices differ in some key aspects.

What’s the difference between iPhone XS Max and Google Pixel 3 XL?

Let’s dive in:

  1. Design
  2. Display
  3. Chip
  4. RAM and Storage
  5. Camera
  6. Biometric Authentication
  7. Battery
  8. Price

1. Design

This is an area where the iPhone XS Max wins hands down. Despite coming with a notched display, the Pixel 3 XL has notable bezels at the top and bottom. Google uses it to include front-facing stereo speakers but that’s not a good enough excuse in my opinion. The notch on the Pixel 3 XL is also twice the height of the iPhone XS Max and yet the device lacks any kind of dedicated hardware for face recognition. Instead, Google has used that space to include dual 8MP cameras.

iPhone Xs Max front

The iPhone XS Max, in comparison, looks absolutely stunning with its nearly bezel-less front. It is a shame that Google’s hardware design is so far behind that of Apple even after a year of the iPhone X being introduced.

While both devices are feature glass panels at the rear for wireless charging support, the Pixel 3 XL’s rear glass panel has a hybrid metallic coating. The iPhone XS Max features a stainless steel chassis which gives it a more premium feeling and a solid heft when compared to the aluminum chassis of the Pixel 3 XL.

The iPhone XS Max and the Pixel 3 XL both feature IP68 dust and water-resistance. While both devices come with stereo speakers, the Pixel 3 XL has front-facing ones which are up to 40 percent louder than the Pixel 2 XL.

2. Display

Pixel 3 front

After mocking Apple for using a notched display on the iPhone X last year, Google itself has used a notched display panel on the Pixel 3 XL. The device features a 19:9 aspect ratio 6.3-inch QHD+ P-OLED panel with 522ppi. In comparison, the iPhone XS Max features a 6.5-inch notched OLED display with 458ppi.

  • iPhone XS Max – 6.5-inch True Tone OLED, 2688 x 1242 pixels (458 ppi), 3D Touch, HDR10, Dolby Vision, 3D Touch, 84.4% screen-to-body ratio
  • Google Pixel 3 XL – 6.3-inch P-OLED, 1440 x 2960 pixels, HDR10, 83.12% screen-to-body ratio

The iPhone XS Max has the best smartphone display on the market right now, though it looks like Google has managed to one-up Apple this time around. As per Display Mate, the Pixel 3 XL has the best OLED display as it has managed to earn its A+ rating and Best Smartphone Display award.

Given how widely Google was criticized for the sub-par OLED panel on the Pixel 2 XL, this is a major win for the company.

3. Chip

  • iPhone XS Max – A12 Bionic, 7nm chip, 6-core CPU which is 15 percent faster, 50 percent faster 4-core GPU, 8-core Neural engine
  • Google Pixel 3 XL – Octa-core Exynos 9810/Snapdragon 845 chip running at 2.7/2.8GHz, 2nd gen 10nm chip,

The A12 Bionic chip inside the iPhone XS Max is an absolute monster and the Snapdragon 845 chip inside the Pixel 3 XL simply does not hold a candle against it. The former is based on the 7nm fabrication process, features a 4-core GPU and a 6-core CPU with a Neural engine for improved AI processing. The Snapdragon 845, on the other hand, is based on the 10nm fabrication process and features Qualcomm’s Adreno 630 GPU and a bunch of other dedicated chips for particular tasks.

As AnandTech mentioned in their iPhone XS Max review, the A12 Bionic chip is at least 2-3x times faster than any other flagship Android chipset on the market right now.

4. RAM and Storage

  • iPhone XS Max – 4GB RAM, and 64GB, 256GB, 512GB storage options
  • Google Pixel 3 XL – 4GB RAM, and 64GB, 128GB storage options

Both devices come with 4GB RAM and a base storage of 64GB. However, while the Pixel 3 XL tops out at 128GB, Apple offers the iPhone XS Max with up to 512GB storage.

The 512GB variant of the iPhone XS Max is priced at $1,449 but at least Apple is providing users with the option. Pixel 3 users will have to make do with 128GB storage. Given the steep price of both devices, it would have been great to see Google and Apple bump the base storage on them to 128GB.

5. Camera

Pixel 3 front camera

This is one area where despite the Pixel 3 XL actually being at a disadvantage on paper, it pulls ahead thanks to its superior software. The iPhone XS Max features a dual-12MP camera setup at the rear, while the Pixel 3 XL has a single 12.2MP rear shooter. The primary shooter on both devices is pretty much the same: a 12MP f/1.8 shooter with 1.4um large pixels and OIS. While Apple uses Smart HDR to further improve its photos, Google uses machine learning and Auto HDR+. We have already seen how good Google’s machine learning prowess is with the Pixel 2 XL, and with the Pixel 3 XL, it is taking things up a notch.

The new Pixel comes with a number of AI features like Top Shot, Super Zoom, and Night Sight which further improve the overall image taking experience. At the front, the iPhone XS Max packs a 7MP TrueDepth camera sensor, while the Pixel 3 XL features dual 8MP selfie shooters. One of them features a f/1.8 aperture lens while the secondary sensor features a f/2.2 aperture and is meant for group selfies. Google says the wider selfie camera can capture 184 percent more selfie when compared to the iPhone XS Max.

Pixel 3 vs iPhone XS Night Sight

The Pixel 3 XL is the clear winner in the camera department despite lacking some other camera features which are a standard on other flagship devices.

Google also offers unlimited storage for all your original quality photos and 4K videos with the Pixel, which makes it very convenient.

6. Biometric Authentication

  • iPhone XS Max – Face ID
  • Google Pixel 3 XL – Fingerprint scanner

Surprisingly, the Pixel 3 XL does not come with face unlock and relies completely on the fingerprint scanner at the rear.

However, this comes to preference as many users still seem to prefer the fingerprint scanner over the convenience of Face ID.

7. Battery

  • iPhone XS Max – 3,174mAh, USB-C fast charging, fast wired charging
  • Google Pixel 3 XL – 3,450mAh battery, 10W Fast wireless charging, 18W wired charging

The Pixel 3 XL comes with a 3,450mAh battery, while the iPhone XS Max comes with a 3,174mAh battery. The Pixel 3 XL features Adaptive Battery which should help the device longer than other flagship Android devices. Overall, both devices will largely offer the same kind of battery life.

The Pixel 3 XL and iPhone XS Max also come with fast charging and wireless charging, though the Pixel 3 XL comes with faster 10W wireless charging. Google also bundles an 18W USB-C charger with the Pixel which means users would be able to enjoy fast charging right out of the box. The iPhone XS Max, on the other hand, comes with a 5W adapter which means it will take over 3 hours for a full charge.

8. Price

This is an area where the Pixel 3 XL again wins, though it loses out in terms of availability to the iPhone XS Max. The Pixel 3 XL starts from $899 for the 64GB variant and goes up to $999 for the 128GB variant. On the other hand, the iPhone XS Max starts from $1,099 and goes all the way up to $1,449 for the 512GB variant.

What do you think about the Pixel 3 XL when compared to the iPhone XS Max? Do you prefer the Pixel for its superior camera?