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Google Pixel 4 vs. Pixel 4 XL: Which should you buy?

Google Pixel 4 XL

Google Pixel 4 XL

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Even though it's the more expensive model, the Pixel 4 XL is the Pixel to get. Both phones do all of the same things, but the 4 XL has a bigger display and battery. It's no larger than any other flagship, and it isn't as hamstrung by a weak battery like the small 4 is.

Google Pixel 4 XL

The one to get

Bigger screen for work and play
Longer battery life
Larger and heavier
More expensive for just better battery life

Google Pixel 4

Google Pixel 4

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The Pixel 4 is a good phone, but it's good for all of the same reasons as the 4 XL. In this comparison, its only redeeming quality is its compact size for people who don't like big phones. But in order to get it, you have to take on very weak battery life, even by the already not-great standards of the 4 XL.

What's the difference between the Pixel 4 and 4 XL?

What the Pixel 4 and 4 XL are capable of is widely detailed, so I won't rehash all of their features here. It's a solid assumption that if you're choosing between the Pixel models, you're already interested in their core features — and everything Google has advertised regarding the Pixel 4 is applicable to both phones.

Unlike the Pixel 3 generation, there really are no discernable differences in the Pixel 4 and 4 XL experience outside of the physical size, screen size, and battery size. This really is the best example of "same phone, two sizes" — and that's a good thing because it reduces the number of compromises and choices involved with buying a phone.

Pixel 4Pixel 4 XL
Operating systemAndroid 10Android 10
Display5.7-inch OLED
2280x1080 (19:9)
90Hz
6.3-inch OLED
3040x1440 (19:9)
90Hz
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 855
Pixel Neural Core
Qualcomm Snapdragon 855
Pixel Neural Core
RAM6GB6GB
Storage64/128GB64/128GB
ExpandableNoNo
Rear camera 112.2MP, 1.4µm, f/1.7, OIS, PDAF12.2MP, 1.4µm, f/1.7, OIS, PDAF
Rear camera 216MP telephoto, 1,0µm, f/2.416MP telephoto, 1.0µm f/2.4
Front camera8MP, f/2.0
90-degree lens
8MP, f/2.0
90-degree lens
ConnectivityWi-Fi 802.11ac 2x2 MIMO, Bluetooth 5.0 LE, NFC, GPSWi-Fi 802.11ac 2x2 MIMO, Bluetooth 5.0 LE, NFC, GPS
AudioStereo speakers
USB-C
Stereo speakers
USB-C
Battery2800mAh
Non-removable
3700mAh
Non-removable
Charging18W USB-C PD
Qi wireless
18W USB-C PD
Qi wireless
Water resistanceIP68IP68
SecurityFace UnlockFace Unlock
Dimensions147.1 x 68.8 x 8.2 mm
162 g
160.4 x 75.1 x 8.2 mm
193 g

The most important differentiation is battery life. The Pixel 4 XL's battery shortcomings are well documented; it can make it through a day, if just barely, and really benefits from a midday top-up if you're going to use it hard or have late-day plans. That's mangeable, but the Pixel 4's battery is nearly 25% smaller, and its battery life is subsequently terrible. You will need to do some serious optimization to get the Pixel 4 through a normal day on a charge, and frankly that just isn't worth it for most people.

The only reason to consider putting up with this battery life is if you just can't deal with a big phone.

The only reason to even consider putting up with that battery life is if you really can't deal with a bigger phone. It's true there aren't many "small" phones out there nowadays, and there are even fewer high-end small phones, so the Pixel 4 will be the phone many people gravitate toward because it's so compact. It's refreshing to use a phone that's extremely capable and has an incredible camera, but slips in a pocket effortlessly and can be used in one hand without issue. However, the Pixel 4 XL is no larger than any other modern flagship phone, and you may be surprised by how easy it is to use.

Which should you buy?

We'll take it as a given that if you're looking at a Pixel 4 or 4 XL, you see value in the phones at their respective prices and have already narrowed it down to one or the other. That makes this decision pretty simple.

Frankly, there's only one reason to buy the Pixel 4: you just love small phones. You love small phones so much you're willing to be hamstrung by charging it midday on most days. Yes, you also save $100, but that's of little consequence here. The size difference, and more importantly battery life difference, are considerable enough to be far more important than the money savings.

Strongly consider getting the Pixel 4 XL instead. You may prefer small phones, but the battery life difference really will impact your daily use of the phone.

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.