Google Pixel 4 vs. iPhone 11 Pro: The best of Google and Apple go head-to-head

The Google Pixel 4 is sure to be one of the best Android phones of the year. Google’s Pixel range offers the slickest software experience you’ll find with an Android device, swift updates, and an excellent camera. It’s probably fair to say that the Pixel 4 is more like an iPhone than any other Android device, but how does it measure up against Apple’s current champion, the iPhone 11 Pro?

The two have a surprising amount in common, but there are some important differences. Let’s dig into the details.

Specs

Google Pixel 4 Apple iPhone 11 Pro
Size 147.1 × 68.8 × 8.2 mm (5.7 × 2.7 × 0.3 inches) 144 × 71.4 × 8.1 mm (5.67 × 2.81 × 0.32 inches)
Weight 162 grams (5.71 oz) 188 grams (6.63 ounces)
Screen size 5.7-inch AMOLED 5.8-inch Super Retina XDR OLED
Screen resolution 2280 × 1080 pixels (444 pixels per inch) 2436 × 1125 pixels (458 pixels per inch)
Operating system Android 10 iOS 13
Storage space 64GB, 128GB 64GB, 256GB, 512GB
MicroSD card slot No No
Tap-to-pay services Google Pay Apple Pay
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Apple A13 Bionic
RAM 6GB 4GB
Camera Dual 12-megapixel and 16-megapixel telephoto rear, 8MP front Triple-lens 12MP Wide, Ultra Wide, and Telephoto rear, 12MP TrueDepth front
Video 4K at 30 frames per second, 1080p at 120 fps, 720p at 240 fps 4K at up 60 frames per second, 1080p at 240 fps
Bluetooth version Bluetooth 5.0 Bluetooth 5.0
Ports USB-C Lightning connector
Fingerprint sensor No No
Water resistance IP68 IP68
Battery 2,800mAh

Fast charging (18W)

Qi wireless charging

3,046mAh

Fast charging (18W)

Qi wireless charging

App marketplace Google Play Store Apple App Store
Network support AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon
Colors Just Black, Clearly White, Oh So Orange Midnight Green, Space Grey, Silver, Gold
Price $799 $999
Buy from Google Best Buy
Review score Hands-on review  4.5 out of 5 stars

Performance, battery life, and charging

iPhone 11 Pro and Pixel 4 apps
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

While both of these phones will run the latest apps and games without complaint and navigation is smooth and stutter-free, Apple’s A13 Bionic is more capable than Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855. It’s significantly faster in most benchmark tests and, while it’s difficult to feel a difference in normal use today, that extra grunt may tell in the long term. The Pixel 4 has 6GB of RAM to the iPhone’s 4GB, but since Android and iOS handle memory management differently, that’s not really indicative of multitasking performance. Suffice to say, both run like a dream.

Apple is adept at squeezing good battery life from relatively low capacity, but Google has disappointed in the past — the Pixel 3 had poor stamina. For some reason, Google has put an even smaller battery in the Pixel 4, so it has a capacity of 2,800mAh to the iPhone’s 3,046mAh. Both offer fast wired charging at 18W and support Qi wireless charging. With more power and better battery life, the iPhone 11 Pro takes the win.

Winner: Apple iPhone 11 Pro

Design and durability

iPhone 11 Pro and Pixel 4 hero
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

It’s surprising how alike these flagships are in terms of design. Google’s design overhaul for the Pixel 4 is striking. The two-tone back is gone, the fingerprint sensor is gone, and there are no notches in sight. Instead we have a matte glass finish in orange or white, or a glossy black, with a rounded square camera module at the top left. The front is mostly screen, with a slim bezel at the bottom and a much larger one at the top. The rounded frame is aluminum and there’s a contrasting power button.

The iPhone 11 Pro has a similar rounded square camera module at the top left, and the glass comes in Apple’s classic space grey, silver, or gold, with a new, muted midnight green as the final option. The front of the iPhone is virtually bezel-free, but that distinctive notch remains at the top of the screen. The frame is rounded, but it’s stainless steel in the iPhone, which gives it a more durable feel. The iPhone is a little wider and shorter than the Pixel 4 and it’s significantly heavier.

There’s no real difference here in terms of durability, both phones have an IP68 rating, so they can survive submersion in water. They also have glass and front and back, so snagging a case is a smart move. The iPhone may be slightly tougher, thanks to the stainless steel frame.

Winner: Apple iPhone 11 Pro

Display

iPhone 11 Pro and Pixel 4 screen
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Apple has managed to pack a slightly bigger screen into the iPhone 11 Pro at 5.8 inches to the Pixel 4’s 5.7 inches. Both displays are OLED, so the contrast is excellent and there are deep inky blacks with no backlight to distract you in the dark. They also offer great color accuracy and go bright enough to stay legible in sunlight.

The iPhone 11 Pro has a slightly higher resolution, which makes it a hair sharper, but you’ll be hard-pressed to see a difference. What does make a difference is the higher, 90Hz refresh rate of the Pixel 4’s screen. For fast-paced action in games and slick navigation and scrolling, the higher refresh rate makes a tangible difference and it wins the Pixel 4 this round.

Winner: Google Pixel 4

Camera

iPhone 11 Pro and Pixel 4 rear
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Google’s Pixel phones have dominated our best camera phones list for the last couple of years, but Apple took the title with the iPhone 11 Pro. It has a triple-lens main camera, all rated at 12 megapixels. The standard wide-angle lens has an f/1.8 aperture, there’s a telephoto lens with an f/2.0 aperture, and there’s a new ultra-wide-angle lens with an f/2.4 aperture. It’s a versatile combination and Apple has built on it with improved image processing, a new night mode, and a wonderful portrait mode.

On paper, the Pixel 4 doesn’t look as capable, with a dual-lens main camera that combines a 12.2-megapixel lens with an f/1.7 aperture and a 16-megapixel telephoto lens with an f/2.4 aperture. But in the past, it has been Google’s superior image processing that has enabled it to get better results from inferior hardware and that may prove to be the case again. The Pixel also has amazing low-light capability and a really pleasing portrait mode. The iPhone has a 12-megapixel front-facing camera, while the Pixel makes do with an 8-megapixel lens, though it does have a larger aperture to let in more light.

Testing is underway to see exactly how these cameras match up, but it’s important to note that they’re both incredibly good and the title is a matter of debate for talented photographers, so you’re very unlikely to be disappointed with either. One area where we can say the iPhone is better is in video recording. It can record at a higher frame rate and it’s smoother.

Winner: Tie

Software and updates

With Pixel 4, you’ll get Android 10 with Google’s latest apps and services fully integrated. It’s the most accessible and slick version of Android you can use. With the iPhone 11 Pro, you get iOS 13, which offers a similarly easy and enjoyable experience. Whether you prefer Android or iOS is likely based on which one you’re used to. With gesture navigation and a world of great games and apps, the two platforms have never been closer than they are in these two phones.

They can’t be separated on updates either because Google and Apple roll out security patches and version updates swiftly. Pixel phones are the only Android phones that match Apple’s iPhones on this score.

Winner: Tie

Special features

iPhone 11 Pro and Pixel 4 assistant
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Face unlock is new for the Pixel 4, but it brings Google’s phone into line with Face ID on the iPhone. Apple’s device doesn’t have too many other standout special features, since Apple tends to focus on the core experience, but you might point to the U1 chip, which is just used to improve AirDrop right now, but may grow more useful in the near future.

By contrast, the Pixel 4 bears the fruits of Project Soli’s labor, with built-in radar capable of picking up on hand gestures to wake the phone quickly, turn off the screen when you move away, and skip music tracks or dismiss alarms. There are also some stunning improvements to Google Assistant, partially enabled by on-device language processing, so you get quick responses to commands or questions and can string them together in a natural way without having to say “Hey, Google” in between. Throw in existing features like Call Screen and Now Playing and the Pixel 4 wins this round.

Winner: Google Pixel 4

Price and availability

The Google Pixel 4 starts at $799 and you can buy it from Google or at any of the major carriers. The Apple iPhone 11 Pro starts at $999 and can be bought from Apple or at any major carrier.

Overall winner: Apple iPhone 11 Pro

This is one of the closest competitions we’ve ever had and that’s a testament to the quality of flagship phones today. Apple’s iPhone 11 Pro is an exceptional device that offers more power and stamina, and superior video capture capability. Google’s Pixel 4 matches the iPhone in most areas, or comes very close, possibly surpassing it for still photography, but we love the high refresh rate in the screen and it also offers unique features like air gestures, and the best voice assistant experience you can get right now, all while coming in $200 cheaper.

The thing is, this decision will be easy for many people: If you’ve been using an iPhone, you’ll want an 11 Pro, if you’ve been using a Pixel, you’ll want the Pixel 4. If you’re not wedded to either, you might want to go for the iPhone since it has a significantly better battery life.

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