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Google Pixel 3 vs Apple iPhone Xs: Battle of the flagships

We pitch Google’s new Pixel 3 smartphone against its main competitor, the Apple iPhone Xs

Barely a few weeks have passed since Apple revealed its iPhone Xs and Xs Max to the world, but Google has already returned fire. The company has revealed its Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL smartphones, both of which should be reaching our shores before the end of the year.

But if you’re in the market for a new phone and wondering what to get, are you better off springing for the iPhone Xs or getting your pre-order in for the Pixel 3? We’ve taken a thorough look at the premium pair to help you decide.

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Google Pixel 3 vs iPhone Xs release date and price: When and how much?

There’s no definite release date for the Pixel 3. Take a quick visit to the Google Store, though, and adding a Pixel 3 to your basket provides an estimated delivery time of 3-4 weeks. We’re anticipating an early November launch. If the money is already burning a hole in your chinos, then the iPhone Xs is already on sale.

We wouldn’t rush out and order that iPhone just yet, though. At £739, the 64GB Pixel 3 is over £200 cheaper than the 64GB iPhone Xs. In fact, even the 128GB Pixel 3 is £160 cheaper, coming in at a comparatively reasonable £839.

If 128GB of storage just isn’t enough, and you don’t mind paying the premium, then you’re definitely better off with Apple: the 256GB and 512GB iPhone Xs models will set you back £1,149 and £1,349 respectively.

Given that neither phone features a microSD slot for expandable storage, you’ll have to be sure of your storage choices before committing to buy either one.

Google Pixel 3 vs iPhone Xs features: Processor and storage

Both phones feature the newest chipsets on the market, with the Pixel 3 coming with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 processor, and the Xs boasting Apple’s brand-new A12 Bionic chip. Both come with 4GB of RAM.

As for storage, both phones include a 64GB option, and neither offers microSD expansion. If you want more storage, then you get what you pay for, as the premier Xs models include 256GB and a whopping 512GB. Meanwhile, the largest capacity offered by the Pixel 3 is 128GB.

Google Pixel 3 vs iPhone Xs features: Display and camera

The Xs narrowly has the edge in the display stakes, with a 1,125 x 2,436 resolution 5.8in Super AMOLED screen to the Pixel 3’s 1,080 x 2,160 5.5in P-OLED display. In terms of pixel density, the Xs enjoys 458ppi, a fraction more than the Pixel 3 and its 443ppi.

The Pixel 3’s camera is going to have to do something pretty special to beat the iPhone’s snapper. The raw numbers on Google’s latest offering detail a 12.2-megapixel dual-pixel lens at the rear, with a Dual-LED flash and Auto-HDR. At the front, there’s a double 8-megapixel lens – one wide f/1.8 lens and a f/2.2 ultrawide one.

The Xs features dual rear-facing lenses, one f/1.8 wide-angle and a 52mm f/2.4 telephoto lens, along with Smart HDR and Quad-LED dual-tone flash. In the iPhone X, Apple already had one of the best cameras around, and it’s only been improved here. At the front, there’s a single 7-megapixel f/2.2 lens.

Google Pixel 3 vs iPhone Xs features: Battery life and connectivity

Google claims that the Pixel 3’s 2,915mAh battery is good for 11 hours. We’ll just have to wait and see exactly how accurate that is when we get our hands on one. In our video-rundown test, the iPhone Xs’s 2,658mAh battery lasted a lengthy 12hrs 45mins, thanks in no small part to the efficiency of the new 7nm A12 chip.

Both phones feature wireless charging, with the Pixel 3 being Google’s first phone to use the technology since 2014’s Nexus 6. The iPhone Xs adopts the Qi wireless charging standard, and this charges the battery to 50% in 30 minutes.

As for connectivity, the Pixel 3 has a USB-C port and comes bundled with a USB-C to 3.5mm jack adapter. The Xs features Apple’s proprietary Lightning connector, but you’ll need to pay for the optional 3.5mm adapter.

Google Pixel 3 vs iPhone Xs design: What do they look like?

To notch or not to notch, that is the question. The iPhone Xs has one while the Pixel 3 – unlike it’s bigger brother, the Pixel XL – does not. Whether this is a deal-breaker depends on your personal tastes.

Visually, the Pixel 3 is the less exciting of the two phones. There’s very little to differentiate it from its predecessor, the Pixel 2. We’d be impressed if you could tell them apart with the two phones side by side. The relationship between the Xs and the previous-generation X is similar – neither company have gone for a great design overhaul here.

In terms of size, there’s only a few millimetres between the two phones. The Pixel 3 measures 145.6 x 68.2 x 7.9mm, while the Xs is a touch shorter and wider at 143.6 x 70.9 x 7.7mm. The iPhone does weigh a bit more, coming in at 177g versus 148g for the Pixel 3, but the extra 29g is unlikely to prove noticeable in everyday use.

Both phones come in three colour options, with Google offering ‘Just Black’, ‘Clearly White’ and ‘Not Pink’, which is a very light pastel pink. The iPhone Xs comes in ‘Space Grey’ as well as silver and gold.

Google Pixel 3 vs iPhone Xs: Verdict

We’re still waiting on Google to send us a Pixel 3 for long-term review, so it’s impossible to give a definitive verdict at this point. On paper, though, while it looks like the iPhone Xs has the edge with its class-leading camera and wider array of storage options, we would expect nothing less than perfection on a phone with a starting price of £999.

That price difference puts the Pixel 3 in a very strong position. For £200 less than its Apple rival, we’d be willing to cut the Pixel 3 a little slack – and frankly, given what we’ve seen so far, it looks like we might not need to. Our advice? Wait for our full Pixel 3 review before taking the plunge.

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