Pixel 3 vs iPhone XR

Google has updated its Pixel range, with new models for the Pixel 3 and its larger sibling the Pixel 3 XL. We see how the Pixel 3 compares to the similarly priced iPhone XR.

Price and availability

The Pixel 3 is available to order from Google, with the device released on 18 October in the US and 1 November in the UK and other regions.

There are two models to choose from, costing £739/$799 for the 64GB version and £839/$899 if you want 128GB.

Read our Best Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL deals guide to discover any cheaper offers currently available.

The iPhone XR is available to buy from Apple right now. There are three models in the line-up with the following capacities and prices:

  • 64GB - £749/$749
  • 128GB - £799/$799
  • 256GB - £899/$899

If you're looking for a great price, allow us to point you in the direction of our best iPhone XR deals roundup.

Design and build

The iPhone XR takes many of the ideas introduced in the iPhone X and puts them into a less expensive construction. This, of course, means cutting a few corners along the way.

A 6.1in display takes up the majority of the front, with no Home button or large bezels getting in the way. This is achieved by including Apple's Face ID technology, which resides in the now mandatory notch at the top of the screen.

pixel 3 vs iPhone xr

Whereas the iPhone X, XS and XS Max all use OLED screens, the iPhone XR uses a less expensive, and less impressive, LCD panel similar to those which have graced iPhones for years.

The chassis is aluminium, rather than the stainless steel used on the more premium models, and plays host to the Lightning port, speaker and usual complement of buttons. Apple has gone for colour with the XR - the device is available in Red, Blue, Coral, Yellow, Black, and White - making it more fun than the austere XS and XS Max.

pixel 3 vs iPhone xr

In the hand the XR is a bit of a stretch, being taller, wider and fatter than the iPhone 7 that users might be upgrading from, and the new Pixel 3. This makes it a two-handed phone, especially with all the swiping gestures now replacing the Home button.

Model iPhone XR Pixel 3 iPhone 7
Dimensions 150.9 x 75.7 x 8.3mm 145.6 x 68.2 x 7.9mm 138.3 x 67.1 x 7.1mm
Weight 194g 148g 138g

A single 12MPp, f/1.8 camera with OIS adorns the rear, and it's a good one. The glass back of the iPhone XR means that wireless charging is a feature, and the device comes with an IP67 rating for water and dust proofing. This means it should happily survive an accidental dip or spillage.

Google's Pixel 3 carries on the simple and unflashy design of last year's model. As with the iPhone XR, there's a glass front and back, held together by an aluminium chassis.

pixel 3 vs iPhone xr

The 5.5in display is smaller than that found on the XR, but its P-OLED panel means it should deliver a superior performance in terms of colours and tones. There's no Home button on the front, as it's positioned on the rear, and it avoids the notch trend by keeping slim bezels at the top and bottom of the screen.

While the rear is glass, Google has treated the majority of the surface to give it a matte finish that's more grippy than the soap-bar approach Apple adopts. The upper third retains the glossy finish that lends the device its distinctive look, and is also home to the single 12.2 Mp, f/1.8 camera with OIS. The glass allows wireless charging, which marks a welcome appearance for the feature that's standard on so many rival devices.

pixel 3 vs iPhone xr

Ports are at a minimum, with a USB-C charging aperture on the bottom rim being the only one on offer. As with last year's Pixel 2, the newer model doesn't have a headphone jack.

A water and dust proof rating of IP68 means it bests the iPhone XR in this department, being able to survive underwater for longer and at more depth.

Features and Specs

Apple has fitted its new A12 Bionic processor in the XR, just as it has in the XS and XS Max, which is a powerful chip. This is aided by what the company is calling its Neural Engine, which plays a significant role in beefing up camera performance.

New modes like Smart HDR, that boosts colours and exposures for better low- and high-light conditions, plus the improved bokeh effects in the portrait mode means the iPhone XR will be a versatile and enjoyable snapper.

pixel 3 vs iPhone xr

You'll be able to store those images, alongside the 4K video @ 60fps, on the 64GB of storage that comes on the entry-level model. Those who want more room can pay the £50/$50 extra to move up to 128GB.

If you use 3D Touch, then you may lament its passing on the XR, but holding down on the screen will cause a software solution to bring up menus instead, just like on Android.

The Pixel 3 also comes with the latest processors, bearing a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 under its hood, aided by 4GB of RAM. Admittedly, the latter feels a little low for an Android flagship in 2018, but with Google optimising both the hardware and software we're hoping that it won't be an issue further down the line.

Storage options are twofold, with 64GB and 128GB models on offer, but like the iPhone there's no way to expand this so you'll need to decide what you need before purchasing the device. Google does give Pixel owners unlimited storage for their photos and 4K videos, so there's no need to keep everything locally on the phone. At the moment there's also a free six-month trial of YouTube Music Premium that comes with every purchase.

The cameras have become one of the real selling points of the Pixel range, with the previous generation widely regarded as having one of the best around. That looks to continue with the Pixel 3 as it blends Google's advanced software processing with what appears like the same optics as the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL.

pixel 3 vs iPhone xr

New modes include Top Shot, which recommends the best images and warns you if anyone is blinking or out of focus, and Night Sight, which captures great pictures in low-light conditions.

Dual-cameras are found on the front of the Pixel 3, with one being a wide-angle so you can capture a group of your friends in selfies.

Here's a detailed breakdown of the technical specifications for both devices.

Specifications Pixel 3 iPhone XR
iOS Android 9 Pie iOS 12
Colours Just Black, Clearly White, Not Pink White, Black, Coral, Yellow, Blue, (Product) Red
Display 5.5in OLED, Full HD+ (2160x1080, 443ppi) 18:9 6.1in LCD, 1792x828, 326ppi
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 A12 Bionic
Storage 64GB/128GB 64GB/128GB/256GB
Rear camera 12.2MP dual-pixel, f/1.8, OIS 12MP , f/1.8, OIS
Front camera Dual 8MP, wide-angle f/2.2, telephoto f/1.8 7Mp FaceTime HD, f/2.2
Video recording 4K @ 30fps, 1080p @30/60/120fps 2160p at 24/30/60fps
Biometric security Fingerprint sensor Face ID
Wireless charging Yes Yes
Waterproofing IP68 IP67
Dimensions 145.6mm x 68.2mm x 7.9mm 150.9mm x 75.7mm x 8.3mm
Weight 148g 194g
Price £739/£839 £749/£799/£899

Software

As these are new models from the respective creators of their operating systems, both come with the latest version of iOS (iPhone XR) and Android (Pixel 3).

At this point, there's little to recommend one over the other, as they are both stable, refined, and feature-packed. If you're already immersed in the Apple ecosystem, or have other Apple products, then the seamless way they interact will make the iPhone XR much more useful.

Conversely, if you keep your options open in terms of the services you use and the hardware you buy, then Android is the way to go.

Basically, they're both great. So it will really come down to the one you prefer using.

For an in-depth look at which each can do, read our iOS 12 review and Android 9 Pie review.

OUR VERDICT

The iPhone XR might be the 'cheapest' new iPhone for this year, but it's still a relatively expensive device. Its edge-to-edge display is a welcome addition, but the LCD panel is a step down from the OLED ones in the XS, XS Max, and Pixel 3.

If you want a new iPhone, then the XR should deliver solid performance and look good doing so. But the truth is for many people it might just be a bit too big.

Google's Pixel 3 doesn't suffer that drawback, with a compact design that's easy to hold, especially thanks to the grippier back surface. It doesn't have the aesthetic charms of the iPhone XR, but has a great camera, unlimited cloud storage, and runs a 'pure' version of Android.

iPhone enthusiasts will most likely love the XR, but if you're looking for something new, the Pixel 3 has a lot to offer.

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