iPhone 11 Pro vs. Pixel 4 XL: Which should you buy?

iPhone 11 Pro and Google Pixel 4 XL
iPhone 11 Pro and Google Pixel 4 XL (Image credit: Joe Maring / Android Central)

Pixel 4 XL

Google Pixel 4 XL

Google didn't play it safe with the Pixel 4 XL. It used the phone to introduce a 90Hz display, a new face unlock system, dual rear cameras for the first time, and more. Save for lackluster battery life and storage options, this is one of Android's best phones.

Pixel 4 XL

Google's best

OLED display with 90Hz refresh rate
Industry-leading cameras
Motion Sense gestures
Android's best face unlock
Three years of software updates
Mediocre battery life
Disappointing 4K video recording

iPhone 11 Pro

iPhone 11 Pro in Midnight Green

The iPhone 11 Pro looks a lot like Apple's past two generations of handsets, but it makes upgrades in all the right places. It has excellent battery life, blazing-fast performance, and one of the best camera packages available on any smartphone in 2019.

iPhone 11 Pro

Apple's best

Stunning matte glass design
OLED display looks fantastic
Three rear cameras
Legendary battery life
iMessage and AirDrop
iOS isn't very customizable
Lightning port

The iPhone 11 Pro and Google Pixel 4 XL are just as alike as they are different. Both phones have glass designs with a matte finish, jaw-dropping cameras, great performance, and the best software experience their respective ecosystems have to offer. As with any iOS vs. Android comparison, the ultimate decision comes down to which platform works best for you.

More similar than you might think

You might think that the iPhone 11 Pro and Pixel 4 XL would be drastically different devices, but in reality, these two handsets offer very similar experiences.

Starting first with the design/hardware, both Apple and Google have opted for a glass back with a matte finish. The iPhone 11 Pro has more of a frosted aesthetic that still feels like glass, whereas the Pixel 4 XL's back almost feels like a premium plastic. No matter which one you prefer, both look and feel great in day-to-day use.

Also shared between these phones is the use of an OLED display. Both panels are razor-sharp, have vibrant colors, and wonderfully deep blacks. Where the Pixel 4 XL pulls ahead, however, is with its 90Hz refresh rate. This makes everything on the Pixel's display move with much more fluidity compared to the traditional 60Hz screen on the iPhone 11 Pro, and it's a feature that's hard to live without once you experience it in person for yourself.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 iPhone 11 ProPixel 4 XL
Operating SystemiOS 13Android 10
Display5.6-inchOLED2436 x 1125HDR60Hz6.3-inchOLED3040 x 1440HDR90Hz
ProcessorApple A13 BionicQualcomm Snapdragon 855
Rear Camera 112MP widef/1.8 aperture12MP widef/1.4 aperture
Rear Camera 212MP telephotof/2.0 aperture2x zoom16MP telephotof/2.4 aperture2x zoom
Rear Camera 312MP ultra-widef/2.4 aperture120° field-of-view
Front Camera12MP selfie cameraf/2.2 aperture8MP selfie cameraf/2.4 aperture
Video Recording4K @ 24fps, 30fps, and 60fps1080p HD @ 30fps and 60fps4K @ 30fps1080p HD @ 30fps, 60fps, and 120fps
AudioStereo speakersLightning portStereo speakersUSB-C port
BatteryUp to 18 hours of video playback3,700 mAh
SecurityFace IDFace unlock
Water ResistanceIP68 (4 meters up to 30 minutes)IP68 (1 meter up to 30 minutes)
Dimensions144 x 71.4 x 8.1mm160.4 x 75.1 x 8.2mm

Flipping the phones over, you'll be met with the star of the show for each one — the cameras.

On the iPhone 11 Pro, you get a triple-camera setup consisting of 12-megapixel wide, telephoto, and ultra-wide lenses. Comparatively, the Pixel 4 XL is equipped with a 12-megapixel wide camera and 16-megapixel telephoto camera. Looking at camera-count alone, the iPhone 11 Pro offers more possibilities with the types of photos you can take thanks to its inclusion of an ultra-wide camera. Whether you're trying to take a picture of a tall building or a looming mountain, the 120-degree field of view on the iPhone's ultra-wide sensor allows you to capture images that simply aren't possible on the Pixel.

The iPhone 11 Pro and Pixel 4 XL both have great hardware and exceptional cameras.

Ultra-wide sensor aside, the iPhone 11 Pro and Pixel 4 XL take gorgeous photos. Whether you're shooting in broad daylight or in a dim restaurant, each phone pulls through to kick out a picture that looks stunning.

There are little discrepancies with how each camera works, such as the Pixel's mind-boggling astrophotography mode and the iPhone's smooth transitions between all three sensors. At the end of the day, you're getting one of the best camera packages available no matter which phone you ultimately buy.

Rounding out the similarities, the iPhone 11 Pro and Pixel 4 XL are equipped with loud stereo speakers, powerful face unlock systems, great haptic feedback, and wonderfully clicky buttons. They also come with guarantees of long-term software update support, ensuring you can buy either phone today and know it'll keep getting the latest features and security patches for years to come.

Where things start to differ

iPhone 11 Pro and Google Pixel 4 XL

Source: Joe Maring / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Joe Maring / Android Central)

With all of that said, it's now time to dive into the things that really set these two phones apart. The iPhone 11 Pro and Pixel 4 XL do share a lot in common, but there are a few big differences you should also be aware of.

Perhaps the biggest thing worth mentioning is battery life. The Pixel 4 XL has a decently-sized 3,700 mAh battery, but in our testing, it results in pretty lackluster performance. Most people should be able to get through a full day of use before needing to throw the Pixel 4 XL on the charger, but just barely so. Should you find yourself doing a lot of video streaming, navigation, or other intensive tasks, expect to be looking for a power source at some point during the afternoon.

Battery life on the iPhone 11 Pro puts the Pixel 4 XL to shame.

Comparatively, the iPhone 11 Pro has insanely good battery life. Apple doesn't disclose the exact capacity of the phone's battery, simply stating that it gets "up to 18 hours of video playback." In reality, this is a phone that can easily get through more than a day before you need to seek out a charger. Use the phone sparingly, and we wouldn't be surprised if you manage to pull out two full days of use on a single charge.

Another big win for the iPhone 11 Pro is its video-recording capabilities. On the iPhone, you have a wide array of 4K shooting options, including 4K video at 24, 30, and 60 frames per second (FPS). On the Pixel, you're limited to 4K at 30 FPS — that's it. If you plan on recording a lot of video with your phone, the iPhone is the undeniable winner.

As for smaller differences, the iPhone 11 Pro is still using Apple's aging Lightning port, whereas the Pixel 4 XL has a trusty USB-C one. The iPhone also has better water resistance, with it rated for up to four meters of water up to 30 minutes while the Pixel is limited to just one meter.

Then, of course, there's the difference in operating systems. The iPhone 11 Pro runs iOS 13, whereas the Pixel 4 XL runs Android 10. By now, you know which of these you prefer. Android is much more customizable, but it doesn't benefit from things like iMessage and AirDrop on iOS. Each platform comes with its own set of strengths and weaknesses, with one not necessarily being better than the other.

Two great phones, two different ecosystems

iPhone 11 Pro and Google Pixel 4 XL

Source: Joe Maring / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Joe Maring / Android Central)

Comparing an iPhone against an Android phone is always an interesting task. Apple's iPhones are among the most popular on the planet, and as such, it can be a lot of fun to pit them against competing Android options. However, chances are you already know which phone's respective ecosystem you prefer — iOS or Android.

And you know what? That's totally fine. If you're drawn to Camp iOS and like what it has to offer, the iPhone 11 Pro is a phenomenal phone that you're bound to love. If Android is more your cup of tea, the Pixel 4 XL is a damn enticing package.

Neither phone goes out of its way to sway folks from one operating system to the other. Instead, they both focus on providing the best experience possible for customers that prefer the software they run. No matter which one you end up choosing, you'll be in for something special.

Joe Maring

Joe Maring was a Senior Editor for Android Central between 2017 and 2021. You can reach him on Twitter at @JoeMaring1.