Google Pixel 3 vs. Apple iPhone XS: Does Google’s A.I. take down Apple?

The Google Pixel and Google Pixel 2 were both extremely well-reviewed and loved phones but now there’s a new device to take over the mantle. The Pixel 3 boasts top-tier specs, an amazing camera, and all the artificial intelligence you would expect from a Google-made smartphone.

Of course, it’s not without its competition. Apple’s latest and greatest iPhone, iPhone XS, should appeal to any iOS lover out there. But how do the two new flagships compare? We put the Google Pixel 3 and Apple iPhone XS head to head to find out.

Specs

Google Pixel 3 Apple iPhone XS
Size 145.6 x 68.2 x 7.9 mm (5.73 x 2.69 x 0.31 inches) 143.6 x 70.9 x 7.7 mm (5.65 x 2.79 x 0.30 inches)
Weight 148 grams (5.22 oz) 177 grams (6.24 oz)
Screen Size 5.5-inch P-OLED 5.8-inch AMOLED
Screen Resolution 2,160 x 1,080 pixels (443ppi) 2,436 x 1,125 pixels (458ppi)
Operating System Android 9.0 Pie iOS 12
Storage Space 64GB, 128GB 64GB, 256GB, 512GB
MicroSD Card Slot No No
Tap To Pay Services Google Pay Apple Pay
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Apple A12 Bionic
RAM 4GB 4GB
Camera 12.2MP rear, dual 8MP + 8MP front Dual 12MP + 12MP telephoto rear, 7MP front
Video 4K at 30 frames per second, 1,080p at 120fps, 720p at 240fps 4K at 60 frames per second, 1,080p at 240fps
Bluetooth Version Bluetooth 5.0 Bluetooth 5.0
Ports USB-C Lightning
Fingerprint sensor Yes No
Water resistance IP68 IP68
Battery 2,915mAh 2,658mAh
App Marketplace Google Play Store Apple App Store
Network support T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint
Colors Just Black, Not Pink, Clearly White Silver, Space Gray, Gold
Price $799+ $999+
Buy From Google, Verizon Apple
Review Score 4.5 out of 5 stars 4.5 out of 5 stars

Performance, battery life, and charging

iPhone XS review
iPhone XS Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Both the Google Pixel 3 and the Apple iPhone XS are flagship phones, but they don’t perform the same. While the Google Pixel 3 features the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor coupled with 4GB of RAM, Apple uses its own chips for the iPhone. As such, you will find an Apple A12 Bionic inside the iPhone XS. It can be a little hard to compare Apple devices with Android phones sometimes, but we can go on benchmarks — and those benchmarks are pretty telling. The Google Pixel 3 XL, which will boast very similar performance to the Pixel 3, came in with a single-core score of 2,363 and a multi-core score of 7,712 on Geekbench. That’s not bad, but when compared to the iPhone XS’ single-core score of 4,794 and multi-core score of 11,195, it’s clear who the real winner is.

The Google Pixel 3’s battery comes in at 2,915mAh, which is a little more than the iPhone’s 2,658mAh battery — though that doesn’t necessarily mean that it will last longer on a charge considering the different battery optimizations in Android and iOS. We’ve been a bit disappointed with the Pixel 3’s battery life and we think the iPhone has a little more stamina. You get a fast charger and cable in the box with your Pixel 3, but if you want to fast charge your iPhone XS, you have to buy the kit separately. Both the Pixel 3 and the iPhone XS offer Qi wireless charging.

Because of the excellent performance, the iPhone is the clear winner here.

Winner: Apple iPhone XS

Design and durability

Google Pixel 3
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Google seems to have dropped the ball in the design department this year. While the Google Pixel 3 looks fine for a 2016 phone, in an era of edge-to-edge displays, the device’s forehead and chin simply look out of place. The back of the phone features a similar two-tone finish to previous Pixel phones, with a single-lens camera on the top right and fingerprint sensor around a quarter of the way down the back of the phone. The iPhone XS, on the other hand, is a beautiful phone. It features a slim notch on the top of the display, but apart from that, there is an almost completely edge-to-edge display.

The phones are very similar when it comes to durability. They’re both made almost entirely from glass, meaning that they will probably fare equally badly in the event of a drop, and they both have IP68 water-resistance.

It’s hard to deny how much better the iPhone looks here. It’s the winner.

Winner: Apple iPhone XS

Display

iPhone XS review
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Smartphone manufacturers are moving to OLED for their displays, and that is good news for everyone. OLED displays offer more vivid colors, deeper blacks, and better contrast. Both the iPhone XS and the Google Pixel 3 have OLED displays, so they should offer similar performance in that department.

Display size and resolution are very slightly different. While the Google Pixel 3’s display comes in at 5.5 inches with a resolution of 2,160 x 1,080 pixels, giving it a pixel density of 443 pixels-per-inch (ppi), the 5.8-inch display on the iPhone XS has a 2,436 x 1,125-pixel resolution which translates to 458 ppi. They’re both great, but the iPhone has the edge.

Winner: Apple iPhone XS

Camera

Google Pixel 3
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Apple has been beating Google so far, but the camera is where Google can claw back some points. The iPhone XS features a dual 12-megapixel camera with one standard lens and one telephoto lens, and thanks to the dual-sensor setup the phone is able to do things like creating portrait mode shots, where the background blurs in a way that looks like a DSLR took the photo.

On paper, the Google Pixel 3 should perform worse than the iPhone XS. But, as we know from previous Pixel cameras, that’s not the case. The single-lens 12.2-megapixel camera on the Google Pixel 3 is already outperforming all of the competition in early reviews, thanks to the bright, vivid colors, sharp details, and other awesome features. The device also has optical image stabilization, dual pixel phase detection, and HDR support. On top of that, you will find machine learning smarts that analyze a burst of shots and find the best photos.

On the front of the iPhone XS, you will find a 7-megapixel camera, while the Pixel 3 boasts a dual-lens 8-megapixel camera. Thanks to the second sensor on the Pixel, you get features like wide-angle selfies, which is perfect for groups.

The iPhone has a great camera. The Pixel’s camera is even better. It’s the winner here.

Winner: Google Pixel 3

Software and updates

iPhone XS Max
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The software on these two phones couldn’t be any more different. While the Apple iPhone XS features Apple’s iOS 12, the Google Pixel 3 is Google’s showcase for all the best features Android 9.0 Pie has to offer. We’re not going to really weigh in on the Android versus iOS debate here — but we will say that Android can generally do more, which is great for the tinkerers and those that like a lot of customization, while iOS is generally easier to use. The software also includes Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri, the two companies’ respective digital assistants.

Both of the two phones should get updates in a timely manner, largely because they’re built by the company that makes the software. This one’s a tie.

Winner: Tie

Special features

Google Pixel 3
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Both the Pixel 3 and the iPhone XS have a few special features to mention — though Google’s artificial intelligence prowess helps it inch ahead. The iPhone XS offers Face ID, which allows you to unlock your phone with your face, as well as make use of Apple’s Animoji.

The Google Pixel 3, on the other hand, offers a number of smart features. For starters, the device has the “Active Edge,” which allows you to do things like activate Google Assistant by squeezing the phone. The device also has Google’s new Screen Calls feature, enabling you to tell Google Assistant to take calls that might be spam. The phone is also getting Google Duplex features, meaning it will be able to call restaurants and book tables for you. Then there’s Now Playing, which can identify any music playing in your vicinity and display the track and artist on your lock screen.

The iPhone has some cool features, but Google’s artificial intelligence is getting better and better.

Winner: Google Pixel 3

Price

This is perhaps one of the biggest points of difference between the Google Pixel 3 and the Apple iPhone XS. While the Google Pixel 3 starts at $800, the Apple iPhone XS steps things up to $1,000. That’s no small price to pay for a phone. If you want to opt for the 128GB version of the Google Pixel 3, you’ll pay $900, while the 256GB version of the iPhone comes in at $1,150 and the 512GB version at $1,350.

Overall winner: Apple iPhone XS

The Google Pixel 3 is arguably the best Android phone currently available, but there are things that make the iPhone a better overall device. It’s more powerful, has a slightly bigger display, and it looks a whole lot better. That’s not to say that the Pixel isn’t worth looking into — it has a better camera, plus Google’s awesome artificial intelligence. If you’re used to Android, the Pixel 3 is probably going to be a better choice for you, but all things being equal, the iPhone XS is the superior phone.

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