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Tech Gadgets Reviews

Apple iPhone XS vs Google Pixel 3 XL

Big phones, big hype, and big money – which tech giant comes out on top?

You’re looking at two of autumn’s biggest smartphone debuts… and two of the biggest phones you can buy, period. Seriously, they’re huge.

Apple’s iPhone XS Max packs in a massive 6.5in display into a frame about the size of the iPhone 8 Plus, thanks to all of that missing bezel, while the Google Pixel 3 XL stretches a 6.3in panel onto a newly-notched design.

They’re two of the most alluring handsets you can choose from right about now, but if you’re ready to drop several hundred to more than a thousand quid, which should you choose? Here’s what we think now that we’ve finalised our Pixel 3 XL review.


This is a pretty one-sided battle. Both phones have a notch on the front, but there are some seriously key differences here. The Pixel 3 XL notch isn’t quite as wide, but it sure is deep. It looks like a proper half-pipe up there, and it’s much more noticeable in daily usage.

And then while the iPhone XS Max keeps the edge-to-edge design elsewhere on the front, the Pixel 3 XL has a huge chin at the bottom. Look, the Pixel 2 XL was the same way: it felt like Google didn’t go quite far enough on refinement, and it’s glaringly obvious here too.

There’s even a slight band of plastic between the metal and glass, which feels like a mid-range move… not something you’d ever expect to see on a near-£900 flagship in 2018.

On the back, we actually like the Pixel a little more – it’s glass this time around, but the two-tone approach remains intact… although it’s very, very subtle. It’s still more compelling than the plain glass backing of the iPhone XS Max, though.


Both sport OLED displays, but the Pixel 3 XL has the edge on resolution: the 1440p display beats the 1242p Max screen on that front, meaning it’s a bit crisper. At those resolution marks on a ~6in screen, though, you’re not likely to tell any real difference.

Last year’s Pixel 2 XL displays earned mixed reactions, with some buyers complaining about dulled colours and awkward viewing angles, but the Pixel 3 XL has those issues sorted. It looks great, even if this P-OLED isn’t overwhelmingly vivid.

And the iPhone XS Max’s screen is brilliant, as well. It’s a stunner, with significantly more dynamic range than last year’s already-excellent iPhone X screen. The notch here, while wider, isn’t quite as obvious in use as the Pixel 3 XL’s.

All things considered, they’re very close in quality. We’re calling it even.



Updated: October 16, 2018 — 10:42 am

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