As the architect of Android, it makes sense that you’d turn to Google for a truly transcendent Android phone. If you’re also looking for a big screen to meet your needs, then it’s the Pixel XL range you’ll need to look to. Google’s newest XL isn’t all that new at all, at this point: The company released the Pixel 4 XL in fall of 2019. But it brought with it a slew of upgrades, including a new design, an upgraded camera, and the latest Google Assistant innovations.

The Pixel 3 XL was discontinued as a result of the Pixel 4 XL’s launch, but plenty of people will still be using the older model. If you’re considering an upgrade, is the Pixel 4 XL worth your hard earned dough? We put the two phones head-to-head to answer these important questions.

Specs

Google Pixel 4 XL Google Pixel 3 XL
Size 160.4 × 75.1 × 8.2m×m (6.3 × 2.9 × 0.3 inches) 158 × 76.7 × 7.9mm (6.2 × 3 × 0.3 inches)
Weight 193 grams (6.81 ounces) 184 grams (6.49 ounces)
Screen size 6.3-inch OLED 6.3-inch P-OLED
Screen resolution 3,040 × 1,440 pixels (537 pixels per inch) 2,960 × 1,440 pixels (523 pixels per inch)
Operating system Android 10 Android 10
Storage space 64GB, 128GB 64GB, 128GB
MicroSD card slot No No
Tap-to-pay services Google Pay Google Pay
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
RAM 6GB 4GB
Camera Dual lens 12MP “Dual-Pixel” lens and 16MP telephoto lens rear, 8MP front Single lens 12MP rear, dual 8MP lenses front
Video 2160p at 60 frames per second, 1080p at 240 fps, 720p at 960 fps 2160p at 30 fps, 1080p at 120 fps, 720p at at 240 fps
Bluetooth version Bluetooth 5.0 Bluetooth 5.0
Ports USB-C USB-C
Fingerprint sensor No, facial recognition instead Yes, rear capacitive
Water resistance IP68 IP68
Battery 3,700mAh

USB Power Delivery 2.0

Qi wireless charging

3,430mAh

USB Power Delivery 2.0

Qi wireless charging

App marketplace Google Play Store Google Play Store
Network support T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint
Colors Just Black, Clearly White, Oh So Orange Just Black, Clearly White, Not Pink
Price $599
Buy from Google
Review score 4 out of 5 stars 4 out of 5 stars

Performance, battery life, and charging

Google Pixel 3
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Performance has always been a high point of the Pixel range, thanks in large part to Google tying the software experience to top flagship hardware. While the Pixel 3 XL’s Snapdragon 845 is clearly inferior to the Pixel 4 XL’s Snapdragon 855 — and both are a step down from the 865 in the newest flagships, such as the Galaxy S20 line — it’s not far off, and you’ll find both phones are fast and capable. Neither phone will have issues with the latest 3D games or intensive apps. That said, thanks to the 90Hz refresh rate, the Pixel 4 XL will undoubtedly feel the smoother of the two in real use. You’ll find the same storage options on both phones, but the Pixel 4 XL has more RAM, which may provide a small performance boost when jumping in and out of apps and games.

Unlike the Pixel 4, the Pixel 4 XL has a larger battery than its predecessor — which is extremely encouraging, given the Pixel 3 XL’s rather poor battery life. That said, the additional 270mAh didn’t make that much of a difference, and our review found battery life for the new phone to remain its Achilles Heel. Charging is equally great on both phones, and both come with Qi wireless charging.

While performance on the 3 XL was snappy at the time, the faster Snapdragon offers a clear performance boost. And beyond that, the 90Hz display will make the Pixel 4 XL’s performance feel much smoother. Add to that the larger (though still not large enough!) battery capacity and we have a clear winner here.

Winner: Google Pixel 4 XL

Design and durability

It’s very good news for notch-haters — the Pixel 3 XL’s deep notch has been dumped from the Pixel 4 XL. Instead, you’ll find a notch-less design with slim bezels along the sides and the bottom of the phone. The top of the phone has a larger bezel, but that’s easily forgiven, as it houses the earpiece, selfie camera, and the new Motion Sense technology. It’s cleaner than the Pixel 3 XL’s deep notch, and we prefer it. Flip the Pixel 4 XL over and you’ll find even more differences. The Pixel 4 XL’s extensive redesign means the two-tone design is gone, replaced by the “Pixel square” module housing the camera. Even the fingerprint sensor is gone, replaced by Face ID-like Face Unlock powered by the Motion Sense tech.

While the design may have changed, the durability hasn’t. Both phones sport an IP68-rating for dust and water-resistance, while both have glass bodies that are similarly susceptible to shatters and cracks. Do yourself a favor and buy a protective case.

The Pixel 4 XL is far and away the more attractive of the two phones.

Winner: Google Pixel 4 XL

Display

Both phones have 6.3-inch AMOLED displays with QHD+ resolution, but that’s where the similarities end. The Pixel 3 XL’s display gives solid performance with vibrant colors and deep, inky black, but it’s trumped by the Pixel 4 XL’s display in one important way: Google has added a 90Hz refresh rate to the Pixel 4 XL, so scrolling feels smoother and actions feel more immediate. It seems like a comparatively small change — until you actually use it, and you see just how great it feels. There’s also no notch to break up the screen on the newer device. The Pixel 4 XL takes this.

Winner: Pixel 4 XL

Camera

Google Pixel 4 and 4 XL Hands on
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Make no mistake about it, Google makes some of the best camera phones around. Sure, the single 12-megapixel lens on the Pixel 3 XL lacks the versatility of multi-lens cameras like those on the Huawei Mate 30 Pro, but thanks to Google’s software, it’s an incredibly strong performer regardless. Google’s always improving the software too, adding Night Sight feature after launch, tweaking machine learning algorithms, and so on.

That said, Google makes some of the best camera phones around, and the Pixel 4 XL builds on the strengths of its predecessor. It keeps that great 12-megapixel main lens and all the accompanying software tricks, and adds a 16-megapixel telephoto lens to boost an already formidable camera. There are also new brightness and shadow sliders as part of the Dual Exposure feature, Live HDR+ to give you an accurate preview of your shot, and improvements to the existing portrait and night modes. Let’s be clear: You can take great photographs with the Pixel 4 XL.

The latest Pixel phone almost always take the top spot on our best camera phones article, but it is up against some strong competition in the new iPhone 11 Pro. Regardless, it beats the Pixel 3 XL hands down.

Winner: Google Pixel 4 XL

Software and updates

Google Pixel 3
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Of all the categories, this has to be the one with the least competition. As expected, both phones run the latest version of Android 10 and can be expected to get updates extremely close to release. For example, in a December “Pixel feature drop,” Google improved some of the Pixel 4 XL‘s best features, including the A.I.-powered Call Screen, background blur in photos, and Duo video calling. It’s nice to see these features continue to improve.

While the Pixel 4 XL will continue to get updates for longer than the Pixel 3 XL, it’s really not enough to break the tie in this case. You’ll get the same Pixel version of Android on both of these phones, and both will be among the first phones to get the newest version of Android. If you’re hungry for unofficial software, both phones will support the latest Developer Preview of Android 11, for example.

Winner: Tie

Special Features

google assistant 2.0 pixel 4
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The Pixel 3 XL and 4 XL share a lot of special features, including a close relationship with the Google Assistant, Active Edge, and Google’s other Pixel-exclusive features, like Now Playing. But the Pixel 4 XL has some new hardware features the older Pixel won’t be getting, like Motion Sense. Powered by the Project Soli chip, Motion Sense uses radar to sense movements, allowing you to control your phone with simple hand movements. Motion Sense also boosts the speed of the Pixel 4 XL’s facial recognition system by detecting your hand approaching the device, priming the camera and starting the unlock procedure before you’ve even picked up the phone. As a hardware addition, it’s not something the Pixel 3 XL can match.

Winner: Google Pixel 4 XL

Price and availability

The Google Pixel 4 XL started shipping on October 24, 2019, and is currently available wherever you buy your electronics stuff. While the 64GB model was initially priced at $899, subsequent price cuts and Pixel 4 XL deals. mean you can pick up it for $599 — a song, really. And it sort of goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway: The Pixel 4 XL works on every major U.S. network.

Overall Winner: Google Pixel 4 XL

It’s a tale as old as time itself: The new replaces the old, and the Pixel 4 XL is no exception to that rule. While the Pixel 3 XL continues to be an extremely strong Android phone with a lot to recommend it, the aging hardware and single camera lens just can’t match the Pixel 4 XL’s Snapdragon 855, dual rear camera suite, and shiny new design. If you’re able to spare the extra cash, the Pixel 4 XL is definitely worth upgrading to — especially considering the lower prices you can find online these days.

Editors’ Recommendations






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