Google's latest Pixel smartphones come in the form of the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. These devices run pure Android Pie in a premium package. Apple's latest iPhones meanwhile, come in the form of the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max and they run iOS in a premium package.

This feature pits the top iPhones against the best that Google has to offer so let's see how these devices compare and what the differences are between them.

Pixel vs iPhone design

  • Pixel 3: 145.6 x 68.2 x 7.9mm, 148g
  • Pixel 3 XL: 158 x 76.7 x 7.9mm, 184g 
  • iPhone XS: 143.6 x 70.9 x 7.7mm, 177g
  • iPhone XS Max: 157.5 x 77.4 x 7.7mm, 208g

The Google Pixel 3 and 3 XL feature a glass and metal design, with a metal frame and a glass rear made up of two textures to differentiate the top section that houses the single-lens camera sensor and the lower section that features a circular fingerprint sensor and subtle "G" branding.

The Pixel 3 has an almost all screen front, but it features bezels at the top and bottom of the display with built-in front-facing speakers. The Pixel 3 XL meanwhile, ditches the top bezel for a notched display but it retains the bottom bezel and the front-facing speaker. There is a coloured power button on both the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL and both have squeezable sides.

The Apple iPhone XS and XS Max meanwhile, have a metal and glass combination design too. Both offer a fully glass rear, with no change in texture, and they both have a stainless steel frame for a weighty and premium finish. The two devices from Apple have a dual-camera setup in the top left-hand corner, along with an Apple logo in the middle of the rear.

The front is all screen on both the XS and XS Max, with a notch at the top for the front-facing camera and Face ID sensors, while stereo speakers are positioned either side of the Lightning port at the bottom of the device.

The Google Pixel devices and the Apple iPhone XS devices are all waterproof and all models are compatible with wireless charging. None of the Pixels or iPhones have a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Pixel vs iPhone display

  • Pixel 3: 5.5-inch, 2160 x 1080, 18:9, 443ppi
  • Pixel 3 XL: 6.3-inch, 2960 x 1440, 18.5:9, 523ppi
  • iPhone XS: 5.8-inch, 2436 x 1125, 19.5:9, 458ppi
  • iPhone XS Max: 6.5-inch, 2688 x 1242, 19.5:9, 458ppi

The Google Pixel 3 comes with a 5.5-inch OLED display with a 2160 x 1080 pixel resolution, resulting in a pixel density of 443ppi. It has an aspect ratio of 18:9 and like the Pixel 2 XL, it has rounded corners but no notch at the top.

The Pixel 3 XL comes with a 6.3-inch display, which is also OLED, offering a resolution of 2960 x 1440 for a pixel density of 523ppi. It ups the aspect ratio to 18.5:9 and adds a small notch at the top, whilst retaining the bottom bezel. Both the Pixel 3 and 3 XL have an Always On display, allowing you to see notifications and important information even when the main display is off.

The Apple iPhone XS has a 5.8-inch Super Retina HD OLED display with a resolution of 2436 x 1125 pixels, while the iPhone XS Max has a 6.5-inch display with a resolution of 2688 x 1242. Both deliver a pixel density of 458ppi, making them softer than the Pixel 3 XL, but sharper than the Pixel 3. They also have a taller aspect ratio of 19.5:9 because the iPhones don't offer any bezels on the front.

There is no Always On display option on the iPhones but they do have mobile HDR compatibility, something the Pixels also offer in this generation. The iPhone XS and XS Max also offer 3D Touch though which is Apple's version of a pressure sensitive display and they also come with Apple's True Tone technology, meaning the display adapts to its surroundings.

Pixel vs iPhone cameras

  • Pixel 3 / Pixel 3 XL: 12.2MP rear, dual 8MP front
  • iPhone XS / XS Max: Dual 12MP rear, 7MP front

The Google Pixel 3 and 3 XL come with a single rear camera sensor offering a 12.2-megapixel resolution. It is the same sensor as the Pixel 2 and 2 XL with 1.4µm pixels and an aperture of f/1.8 with dual pixel phase detection autofocus, laser detection autofocus, optical and electrical image stabilisation all on board.

They Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL offer software-induced portrait mode for bokeh images and they also add various features including depth of field control in Portrait Mode, as well as Night Sight for better low light images, Google Lens integrated into the camera and Motion Autofocus for keeping focus when an object moves. There is a dual 8-megapixel camera on the front with a super wide-angle lens allowing for "group selfies".

The Apple iPhone XS and XS Max have a dual-rear camera comprised of two 12-megapixel sensors, one telephoto with an f/2.4 aperture and one wide-angle with a f/1.8 aperture. They have dual optical stabilisation on board, along with hardware-induced Portrait Mode with Depth Control and a Portrait Lighting mode too.

The front camera on both is a 7-megapixel sensor with a f/2.2 aperture. It too offers Portrait Mode and Portrait Lighting Mode, along with a Retina Flash but it also offers body and face detection. This latter feature enables FaceID, allowing users to unlock their device and pay using Apple Pay with their face, replacing the need for a fingerprint sensor.

Pixel vs iPhone hardware

  • Pixel 3 / Pixel 3 XL: SD845, 4GB RAM, 84GB/128GB
  • iPhone XS / XS Max: A12 Bionic, 4GB RAM, 64GB/256GB/512GB
  • Fast charging and wireless charging on all models

The Google Pixel 3 and 3 XL run on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor, supported by 4GB of RAM. They are available in 64GB and 128GB storage options, neither of which offer microSD support for storage expansion.

The Pixel 3's battery is 2915mAh, while the Pixel 3 XL is 3430mAh. Both will be charged via USB Type-C with support for fast charging, delivering up to 7 hours in 15 minutes and they also support wireless charging.

The Apple iPhone XS and XS Max run on the A12 Bionic chip, which is a 7nm processor that allows for advanced Face ID, faster gaming and a greater dynamic range in images. Apple doesn't detail RAM itself, but it's believed the iPhone XS and XS Max offer 4GB, while storage options come in the form of 64GB, 256GB and 512GB, none of which have microSD support.

Apple claims the iPhone XS's battery will last up to 21 hours for talk time, while the iPhone XS Max is said to offer up to 25 hours. It is estimated the iPhone XS has around a 2650mAh capacity and the iPhone XS Max around a 3170mAh capacity. Both are charged via Lightning or wirelessly with a Qi wireless charger and they too are fast charge capable, offering up to 50 per cent in 30 minutes.

Pixel vs iPhone software

  • Pixel 3 / Pixel 3 XL: Android Pie
  • iPhone XS / XS Max: iOS 12
  • Both have personal assistants

The Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL run on Android Pie with no bloatware over the top. They are pure Android with all the latest features and functions Google has to offer from its software.

The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL also have Google Assistant, which is easily accessible by squeezing their frames and compatible with a whole range of services as Google has marched into smart home control.

The Apple iPhone XS XS Max meanwhile run on iOS 12, which includes all the latest features Apple has to offer. The iPhone XS and XS Max also offer a personal assistant, though in the form of Siri. It too is easily accessible, though not as conversational as Google's Assistant.

Pixel vs iPhone price

The Google Pixel 3 starts at £739 and the Pixel 3 XL starts at £869. Both are available to pre-order from the Google Store from 9 October.

The Apple iPhone XS starts at £999 and the XS Max starts at £1099. There is also the iPhone XR coming out in mid-October though, which offers many of the same features as the iPhone XS and XS Max but with a starting price of £749.

Pixel vs iPhone conclusion

The Google Pixel 3 devices and the Apple iPhone XS devices are all premium devices with powerful hardware under their hoods. The Pixel 3 XL has the sharpest display of the bunch, coupled with a higher resolution front camera and a more open software platform.

The Apple iPhone XS and XS Max have a pressure sensitive display, offering various features and functions based on the force with which you press, HDR, as well as a dual rear camera, the option of more storage, facial recognition and arguably a better design overall.

The Pixel 3 and 3 XL will deliver a pure Android experience while the iPhone XS and XS Max present the second generation of Apple's new iPhone design with the new UI. It's expensive though and ultimately this decision very much comes down to not just your budget but which software platform you prefer and which design is more appealing to you. Camera testing for all four devices will needed to determine which is the better option.