When you’re choosing a phone, one of the biggest decisions you’ll make is whether you’re going to go with iOS or Android. To help you out, we compared two of the “cheapest” options from top phone-makers: the Apple iPhoneXR and the Google Pixel 3.
The two phones have a lot in common. They both come in fun colors, have standout cameras, pack a ton of impressive features in a somewhat affordable package.
With its thin bezels, notch and elegant glass and metal encasing, the iPhone XR flaunts a premium, iPhone XS-like aesthetic. Unlike other iPhones, however, the iPhone XR comes in six colors: black, white, yellow, coral, blue, and red.
The iPhone XR also has a big, 6.1-inch LCD screen with a 1,792×828-pixel resolution display. It’s coated in what Apple calls the “most durable glass ever” on a smartphone, although we don’t know for sure if that means Corning’s latest edition of Gorilla Glass or not. If you lay the iPhone XR down, it doesn’t sit entirely flat on its back as the rear camera lens sticks out.
The Pixel 3 doesn’t feel as high-end, but it’s still a solidly built phone and its smaller size makes it more comfortable to hold. It looks similar to last year’s Pixel 2, but subtle design tweaks like thinner bezels and a glossy lining around the phone add more polish this time around. Colors look slightly punchier, too, than the iPhone, on the sharper OLED screen (5.5-inch with a 1,080p resolution). Like the iPhone, the Pixel also doesn’t have a home button.
The Pixel 3 comes in three colors, which Google has given quirky names: Just Black, Clearly White, and Not Pink.
Both the Pixel 3 and the iPhone XR are water-resistant and support wireless charging. Neither phone has a headphone jack.
The iPhone XR is rated IP67 which means it can survive a 30 minute dunk in 1 meter of water, while the Pixel 3 is rated IP68, so it ups the ante to reach 1.5 meters for the same duration.
The Pixel 3 is slightly smaller than the iPhone XR, and it weighs significantly less.
But the iPhone XR has a larger display than the Pixel 3.
The iPhone XR has a 6.1-inch “liquid retina” display, while the Pixel 3 has a 5.5-inch OLED display.
One perk of the Pixel 3: thanks to its OLED display, it has the ability to switch on an “always on” display, which shows the time even when the display is turned off.
The Pixel 3 has a fingerprint sensor, while the iPhone XR relies on Face ID to unlock your phone.
Like the Pixel and Pixel 2 before it, the Pixel 3 has a fingerprint sensor on the back of the device.
Apple abandoned the fingerprint sensor on the iPhone X, and that has carried over to the new iPhone XS and iPhone XR. Instead, the phones rely on Face ID, Apple’s facial recognition software, to secure your device.
Users have varying viewpoints on Face ID versus the fingerprint sensor, but for me, a fingerprint sensor is a major bonus. It’s quicker and more reliable than Face ID, and having the sensor on the back of the phone is convenient and easy to use.
The iPhone XR and Pixel 3 both have a single 12-megapixel camera at f/1.8 aperture, but each phone takes advantage of its hardwarein useful ways, depending on what kind of photos you usually take.
For example, the Pixel’s low-light camera mode, Night Sight, is incredibly impressive. It works so well to brighten up dim settings, you’d almost think it’s magic and you’d be tempted to never use your flash again. The Pixel’s zoom, known as Super Res Zoom, is also excellent. Even though it just uses software to get closer to the subject, objects still look clear from far distances.
As for the front-facing camera, the Pixel has a second wide-angle lens. It helps a lot with “groupies,” and fitting more people and content in the frame.
Each phone has only one rear camera, and both of them are great.
The iPhone XR is the first iPhone that takes portrait mode photos with a single-lens camera, rather than the dual-lens setup on phones such as the iPhone XS. Like the Pixel 3, it uses software to generate the bokeh (or background blur) on your subjects. The catch? Portrait mode on the iPhone XR only works on humans. The Pixel 3 lets you take portraits of anything from your pets, to your favorite flowers, to your lunch.
Each phone can take HDR (high dynamic range) photos, and the Pixel 3 gives you the added option of capturing images in raw from the default camera app. You can also shoot raw on the iPhone XR but you do need to use a third-party app such as Halide or VSCO.
When it comes to video capture, the iPhone XR definitely has the edge, especially in low light. The image quality is a lot cleaner and audio is clearer than the Pixel 3.
The iPhone XR comes in more storage options than the Pixel 3.
You can get an iPhone XR in three storage sizes: 64 GB, 128 GB, and 256 GB.
The Pixel 3 comes in similar sizes, but there are only two to choose from — 64 GB and 128 GB.
The iPhone XR and Pixel 3 are equipped with an A12 Bionic and Snapdragon 845 processor, respectively. Even though they have different chipsets, you don’t really notice any differences in speed with daily tasks. But if we were to split hairs, the iPhone XR does have the edge over the Pixel 3 on benchmark tests.
However, there were times when the Pixel 3 would carry out certain camera functions a beat slower than preferred. At times, it took awhile to render HDR+ Enhanced photos, but rendering portrait mode pictures and firing the “screen flash” from the front-facing camera also took a while to execute. In contrast, the iPhone XR was responsive and quick to launch the camera, focus and fire the shutter.
As for battery life, both phones lasted over 16 hours for continuous video playback on Airplane Mode, which is excellent. The Pixel 3 has a 2,915mAh battery and clocked in 15 hours. But the iPhone XR lasted longer at 19 hours and 53 minutes, despite having a smaller 2,942mAh battery.
Both phones run the latest version of their company’s smartphone operating system.
The Pixel 3 runs a stock version of Android 9 Pie straight out of the box. That means it has Google’s latest smartphone operating system — minus the unnecessary layers, or skins, that so many other phone makers put on top of Android in their own devices.
The iPhone XR runs the latest Apple iOS 12.
The iPhone XR is slightly cheaper than the Pixel 3: it starts at $749, while the Pixel 3 starts at $799.
If you want one of the best and cleanest Android experiences, then the Pixel 3 is unbeatable. And the XR is Apple’s most affordable new iPhone with very few compromises. Either way, you’ll be getting one of the best-in-class phones on the market.