Big and bold

Google Pixel 3 XL

Best iPhone ever

Apple iPhone XS Max

Google took the Pixel 2 XL's large body and squeezed a larger and much better 6.3-inch 18.5:9 display into it. The rest of the phone offers all of Google's strengths: simple hardware, flagship specs, lightning fast software and an amazing AI-assisted camera on the front and back. It even sports a 3430mAh battery to keep your powered through the day.

$899 at Google Store

Pros

  • Google Assistant is fantastic.
  • Huge display.
  • Stereo speakers.
  • Sizeable battery.
  • Wireless charging.

Cons

  • No headphone jack.
  • Very large display notch.

The iPhone XS Max is Apple's biggest and best iPhone yet, with the incredibly powerful A12 Bionic chip. It has a large, vibrant 6.5-inch display and excellent stereo speakers. FaceID replaces a fingerprint sensor, and the cameras have some powerful new features. Guaranteed updates every year for several years are the icing on the cake.

$1,099 at Apple

Pros

  • Large beautiful display.
  • Incredibly powerful A12 Bionic chip.
  • 120Hz touch sensing display.
  • Improved FaceID.
  • Wireless Charging.

Cons

  • Siri is still behind Google Assistant.
  • No fingerprint sensor.

The Pixel 3 XL and iPhone XS Max set the standard for smartphones running Android and iOS respectively. Software preferences aside, the Pixel 3 XL and iPhone XS Max are actually pretty similar smartphones. Both have glass and metal industrial designs with high screen-to-body ratios, along with IP68 resistance, wireless charging, stereo speakers, and more. While other Android companies can create their own competitors to Google's Pixel 3 XL, the iPhone XS Max is the best iPhone you can buy right now.

What are the differences?

A large deciding factor in which phone you should buy is, of course, the operating system behind it. By now, you probably have a good idea where you stand on Android versus iOS, but the latest versions of both operating systems share several similar features, including a focus on digital wellbeing and helping prevent you from using your smartphone too much. In short, Android 9 Pie brings a fast, fluid experience with no unnecessary additions, while iOS 12 is simpler to use but lacking in customization options. This has been the standard for years though.

It's hard to find major flaws in either phone's hardware, and they both support the "notch," although the deep notch on the Pixel 3 XL is unsightly, compared to the streamlined notch on the iPhone XS Max. The notch on the Pixel 3 XL houses the dual selfie cameras and one of the dual stereo-speakers, which Google says necessitated its larger-than-life size. The notch on the iPhone XS Max, meanwhile, houses the Face ID camera array which is the only way to secure the iPhone XS Max as there's no fingerprint sensor.

Category Pixel 3 XL iPhone XS Max
Operating system Android 9 Pie iOS 12
Display 6.3-inch OLED
2960x1440 (18.5:9)
Gorilla Glass 5
6.5-inch Super AMOLED
1242x2688 (19.5:9)
Scratch-resistant glass
Dolby Vision / HDR10 compliant
120 Hz touch-sensing
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
Pixel Visual Core
Apple A12 Bionic
Apple GPU (4-core)
RAM 4GB 4GB
Storage 64/128GB 64/256/512GB
Expandable No No
Rear camera 1 12.2MP, 1.4-micron, PDAF
f/1.8, OIS
12MP, 1.4-micron, PDAF
f/1.8, OIS
Rear camera 2 None 12MP, 1-micron, PDAF
2x Optical Zoom, f/2.4, OIS
Front camera 1 8MP, auto focus
f/1.8, 75-degree lens
7MP, auto focus
f/2.2, 32mm focal length
Front camera 2 8MP, fixed focus
f/2.2, 97-degree lens
None
Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11ac 2x2 MIMO, Bluetooth 5.0 LE, NFC, GPS Wi-Fi 802.11ac 2x2, Bluetooth 5.0 LE, NFC, GPS
Audio Stereo speakers
USB-C
Stereo speakers
Lightning port
Battery 3430mAh
Non-removable
3174mAh
Non-removable
Charging 18W USB-C PD
Qi wireless
Fast charging (available separately)
Qi wireless
Water resistance IP68 IP68
Security Fingerprint sensor Face ID
Dimensions 76.7 x 158.0 x 7.9 mm
184 g
157.5 x 77.4 x 7.7 mm
208 g
Colors Just Black, Very White, Not Pink Space Gray, Silver, Gold

One of the big differences between the two devices is their approach to photography. The Pixel 2 XL last year was outstanding and used AI to capture photos that were better than the dual-camera competition despite having a single camera. The Pixel 3 XL sticks with a single camera on the rear, but adds a secondary wide angle camera on the front to help you take group selfies. The iPhone XS Max uses dual cameras on both front and back, with Apple preferring to use hardware rather than artificial intelligence to achieve the same effects.

Both phones offer many of the same features so the choice is whether you prefer Android or iOS.

Apple made a big deal during the iPhone XS announcement over some of the improved camera features, including the adjustable bokeh effect in post and stereo audio during video capture. Google also made a big deal about its new camera features during the Pixel 3 announcement, including Night Sight for improved low light photography and the ability to adjust bokeh after capture.

Both phones are up there in the price department, with the Pixel 3 XL starting at $899, and the iPhone XS Max breaking the four-figure club with a starting price of $1,099. You're get a similar experience in terms of performance, cameras, and display, but if you want iOS, the iPhone XS Max is the best phone you can buy. If you prefer Android, your choices are vast, and while the Pixel 3 XL is an excellent choice, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is also worth looking at.

Flagship Android Phone

Pixel 3 XL

The flagship Android experience as Google imagines in.

The Pixel 3 XL sets the standard for the flagship Android experience as defined by Google, and uses AI to accomplish what most other companies use hardware to achieve.

The best iPhone

iPhone XS Max

The biggest and best iPhone that Apple has ever made.

The iPhone XS Max is the biggest and best iPhone that Apple has ever made, and if you need a large iPhone screen, you should look no further than the iPhone XS Max.

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