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Google Pixel 3 XL vs. Google Pixel XL: Should you upgrade?

Google Pixel 3 XL

Pixel 3 XL

The Pixel 3 XL is Google's best phone to date. With a huge 6.3-inch screen backed by stereo speakers, the phone offers considerable upgrades from the first-gen Pixel. But where the Pixel 3 XL truly shines is in the camera department — simply put, it has the best cameras you'll find on a phone today.

Google Pixel 3 XL

Latest and greatest

Stunning cameras.
Fantastic OLED display.
Wireless charging.
Stereo speakers.
Sizeable notch.
No headphone jack.

Google Pixel XL

Google Pixel XL

The Pixel XL is now starting to show its age, particularly when it comes to the design side of things. The 16:9 display looks ancient in 2018, and although the Pixel 3 XL sports a notch, it offers a significantly larger screen in a chassis that isn't all that bigger than the Pixel XL.

Google Pixel XL

Outdated by comparison

Great camera.
3.5mm jack.
Huge bezels.
No waterproofing.
No wireless charging.

The Pixel line always stood out for its great cameras, and with the Pixel 3 XL, Google is introducing a slate of new features that allow the phone to stand out. Chief among them is the upgrades to the camera, and the switch to the 19:9 form factor means you get a larger screen in roughly the same size.

Reasons to upgrade to the Pixel 3 XL

The Pixel 3 XL is Google's best showing yet in the smartphone segment. The phone has Gorilla Glass 5-backed glass at the front and back, but the back has an etched texture that's designed to mimic a matte metallic finish.

It feels like the phone is made out of polycarbonate when you first pick it up, and the unique texture allows the Pixel 3 XL to stand out in a sea of glass-backed devices. The metallic chassis of the Pixel XL is much more durable, but the Pixel 3 XL definitely looks more premium.

CategoryPixel 3 XLPixel XL
Operating systemAndroid 9 PieAndroid 9 Pie
Display6.3-inch OLED
2960x1440 (18.5:9)
Gorilla Glass 5
5.5-inch AMOLED
2560x1440 (16:9)
Gorilla Glass 4
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 845
Pixel Visual Core
Qualcomm Snapdragon 821
RAM4GB4GB
Storage64/128GB32/128GB
ExpandableNoNo
Rear camera12.2MP, 1.4-micron, PDAF
f/1.8, OIS
12.3MP, 1.55-micron, PDAF
f/2.0, EIS
Front camera 18MP, auto focus
f/1.8, 75-degree lens
8MP, f/2.4, 1.4-micron
Front camera 28MP, fixed focus
f/2.2, 97-degree lens
NA
ConnectivityWi-Fi 802.11ac 2x2 MIMO, Bluetooth 5.0 LE, NFC, GPSWi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC, GPS
AudioStereo speakers
USB-C
Mono speaker
3.5mm jack
Battery3430mAh
Non-removable
3430mAh
Non-removable
Charging18W USB-C PD
Qi wireless
18W USB-C
Water resistanceIP68No
SecurityFingerprint sensorFingerprint sensor
Dimensions158.0 x 76.7 x 7.9mm
184g
154.7 x 75.7 x 8.5mm
168g
ColorsJust Black, Very White, Not PinkQuite Black, Very Silver, Really Blue

With Google switching to an 18.5:9 form factor, the Pixel 3 XL offers a 6.3-inch display in a chassis that's not noticeably larger than that of the Pixel XL. The downside is that the phone has an ungainly notch; even by Android standards, the display cutout on the Pixel 3 XL is hideous. That's the tradeoff for the dual front cameras and stereo sound.

If you're rocking the Pixel XL, it's time for an upgrade.

The Pixel 3 XL is leagues ahead of the first-gen Pixel when it comes to the camera side of things. Google crammed a ton of camera features on the phone, including a Night Sight feature that lets you capture drastically better photos in low-light conditions, and you can interact with more AR-themed effects.

Some of the new camera features will be making their way to the Pixel XL, but the 3 XL has an upper hand thanks to the dedicated Pixel Visual Core chip. And while there isn't a headphone jack, Google is including a pair of USB-C earbuds in the box with every Pixel 3 XL.

Harish Jonnalagadda
Harish Jonnalagadda

Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor covering Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone manufacturers, and writes about the semiconductor industry, storage servers, and audio products. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.