To help us provide you with free impartial advice, we may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site. Learn more

Google Pixel 3 XL vs iPhone Xs Max: Battle of the big screens

Google's Pixel 3 XL is finally here. How does it compare to Apple's best-ever smartphone, the iPhone Xs Max?

Google launched a wealth of new products at its event on 9 October, including the Pixel 3 smartphone and its bigger brother, the Pixel 3 XL.The release of the latter comes hot on the heels of the iPhone Xs Max, Apple’s big-screen beast.

The two handsets are the most powerful ever created by the American tech giants, but how do they compare?

In this article, we’ll give you all the details you need to find out, including design, specifications, price and more.

READ NEXT: Everything unveiled by Google at its Made by Google event

Google Pixel 3 XL vs iPhone Xs Max: Release date

Google fans are in luck – the Pixel 3 XL is available for preorder right now. Shipping will begin on 1 November, so you’ll be able to get your hands on one early next month.

Preorder now from Carphone Warehouse

The iPhone Xs Max was unveiled way back on 12 September, so you can purchase one at your leisure!

Google Pixel 3 XL vs iPhone Xs Max: Design

The Pixel 3 XL doesn’t look too different from its predecessor, the Pixel 2 XL. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s not a good-looking phone. One significant difference is that the new handset features a sizeable notch on the front, rather than the bezels found on the Pixel 2 XL. This is to accommodate its larger display, but more about that later.

On the back, very little has changed. There’s a two-tone finish, with a fingerprint scanner in the middle and the camera in the top-left corner. The Pixel 3 XL is available in three colours: “Just Black”, “Clearly White” and “Not Pink” (or black, white and pink).

The iPhone Xs Max has a simpler aesthetic. There’s a notch, just like on the PIxel 3 XL, but it’s shallower and wider than on its Google counterpart. The rear of the handset features a monochrome finish and there’s no need for a fingerprint scanner – Apple has gone all in on its facial recognition technology.

The iPhone Xs Max also has three distinctive colour schemes: silver, “Space Grey” and gold.

As the old saying goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. In this author’s opinion, the simple yet sleek look of the iPhone Xs Max just gives it the edge over the Google Pixel 3 XL.

Google Pixel 3 XL vs iPhone Xs Max: Camera

In the century of the selfie, having a multitude of megapixels in your smartphone’s camera has never been more important.

Google has been the frontrunner in this respect for a while now. The Pixel 2 XL’s camera was the best ever seen on a smartphone when it first came out, so it’s quite a surprise that the Pixel 3 XL arrives with only a single rear camera setup. Most smartphone manufacturers opt for dual or triple-camera setups, so clearly Google has a lot of faith in its camera technology.

The rear camera is a dual-pixel 12.2-megapixel with f/1.8 aperture, featuring software that brightens shots without flash and a function that allows you to tap a moving target to ensure they remain in focus. On the front, two 8-megapixel snappers will give you 184% more field of view than on the Pixel 2 XL, allowing you to cram more people into your selfie.

The iPhone Xs Max features a dual 12-megapixel camera setup, with apertures of f/1.8 and f/2.4 on the main and telephoto cameras respectively. There’s optical image stabilisation (OIS) and phase-detect autofocus tools that help to make the camera’s performance predictably impressive. The front camera remains a 7-megapixel unit with f/2.2 aperture.

The iPhone Xs Max’s camera is probably the best all-rounder on the market so it edges out Google’s recycled Pixel 3 XL snapper, despite the improvements to the latter’s software.

Google Pixel 3 XL vs iPhone Xs Max: Display

Both of the displays on the handsets are absolutely stunning. The Pixel 3 XL features a 6.3in, 1,440 x 2,960 OLED display. That’s up half an inch on last year’s underwhelming Pixel 2 XL equivalent, and puts the 3 XL on a par with the OnePlus 6 in terms of size. Like most smartphones in 2018, it fills most of the front of the handset, barring the area occupied by the aforementioned notch.

The iPhone Xs sports a slightly larger 6.5in 1,242 x 2,688 AMOLED display. This is the second year in a row Apple has used OLED technology and it’s a winning formula. HDR10 and Dolby Vision support make for stunning resolution, and the colour accuracy is truly excellent.

It’s tough to choose between these two displays: both are market-leading in their specifications and it’s hard to see how either company could improve on their screen technology at the moment. Consequently, it has to be a draw.

Google Pixel 3 XL vs iPhone Xs Max: Specifications

As you would expect, both of the handsets are absolute powerhouses. The Pixel 3 XL predictably features Qualcomm’s octa-core Snapdragon 845 processor alongside 4GB of RAM. This is the fastest Android chip available right now, and can be found in such illustrious rivals as the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 and the OnePlus 6.

The iPhone Xs Max sports Apple’s brand-new hexa-core A12 Bionic processor (the first ever 7nm chip) with 6/8GB of RAM. This chipset features two performance cores and four efficiency cores, meaning it can handle five trillion operations per second. This is simply stupendous performance and the iPhone Xs Max quite easily outstrips the Google Pixel 3 XL in this department.

Here’s the full lowdown of the Pixel 3 XL and iPhone Xs Max’s key specs:

Pixel 3 XLiPhone Xs Max
ProcessorOcta-core 2.5GHz + 1/6GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 845Six-core Apple A12 Bionic
Display6.3in, 1,440 x 2,960 OLED6.5in, 1,242 x 2,688 AMOLED
Dimensions158 x 77 x 7.9mm158 x 77 x 7.7mm
Rear camera12.2-megapixelDual 12-megapixel
Front camera2 x 8-megapixel7-megapixel
Operating SystemAndroid 9 PieApple iOS 12

Google Pixel 3 XL vs iPhone Xs Max: Price

With high quality comes a predictably high price. The Pixel 3 XL starts at £869 SIM-free with 64GB, and it’s an extra £69 for the additional Pixel Stand to support wireless charging. That brings the total cost of the bundle to a rather daunting £938.

This is positively palatable, though, when compared with the price of the iPhone. A 64GB Xs Max will set you back a whopping £1,099, rising to £1,449 with 512GB. As Jon’s original review states, the Xs Max may be the best phone Apple has ever made, but it may not truly justify its stratospheric price tag.

As a result, despite the iPhone Xs Max edging out the Pixel 3 XL in most of our categories, there’s very little to choose between the two in terms of value.

READ NEXT: Google Pixel 3 XL hands on

Google Pixel 3 XL vs iPhone Xs Max: Early verdict

It’s still very early days for the Pixel 3 XL, but all the signs so far are pointing to it being outshone by its Apple equivalent.

Preorder the Google Pixel 3 XL from Carphone Warehouse

The Xs Max has a truly brilliant camera and a sleek design, not to mention its stupendous performance. The Pixel 3 XL, whilst a fantastic handset in its own right, could not be blamed for struggling to keep up.

As always, though, money talks. We’re not sure we’d be willing to fork out the extra cash to make up the difference in performance. With these smartphones, you really do get what you pay for.

Read more