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Google Pixel 3 vs. Google Pixel 3 XL: Which should you buy?

Most phones come in just one size... but Google gives us two options with the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. We've used both to find the high and low points to help you decide which size is right for you.

Google Pixel 3

Compact yet powerful

$380 at Amazon

Pros

  • Easily usable in one hand
  • Excellent camera
  • Stereo speakers
  • Wireless charging

Cons

  • Weak battery life
  • No headphone jack

It's a relatively small phone, but the Pixel 3 has all of the same features and power of the larger 3 XL. The 5.5-inch 18:9 display looks excellent, and makes the phone compact enough for anyone to use with one hand. The only potential downside here is a smaller-than-average 2915mAh battery.

Google Pixel 3 XL

True flagship

$425 at Amazon

Pros

  • Big screen
  • Excellent camera
  • Stereo speakers
  • Wireless charging
  • Sizable battery

Cons

  • Huge display notch
  • No headphone jack

Google took the Pixel 2 XL's body and fit a much larger 6.3-inch 18.5:9 display — and it's not all about size, the screen is also dramatically better. The rest of the phone builds on all of Google's strengths: simple hardware, capable specs, smooth software, and an amazing camera front and back. It even has a sizable battery inside.

Google does a great job of offering a high-end smartphone experience in two different sizes with very few compromises. That philosophy carries into the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, which are identical aside from the changes necessitated by their size differences.

Google Pixel 3 vs. Pixel 3 XL Price and Availability

The Google Pixel 3 and 3 XL were released in October 2018 and were replaced by the Pixel 4 and 4 XL in 2019. They're still supported by Google and will continue to be until late 2021 thanks to Google's promise to keep its phones updated with new Android versions and security patches for at least three years. While they were released with Android 9 Pie, they will be updated to Android 12, which makes them great buys even today.

Since the Pixel 3 and 3 XL have been out for a while, it's pretty easy to find them at huge discounts — the Pixel 3 goes for under $400 at most retailers, whereas the Pixel 3 XL goes for a little over $400.

Google Pixel 3 vs. Pixel 3 XL What's the difference between them?

The best way to start this comparison is to talk about everything that's shared between these phones — and thankfully for potential Pixel 3 and 3 XL buyers, most of the experience is identical. Both have identical internal specs, anchored by a Snapdragon 845, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. The cameras, too, are shared, including the dual front-facing shooters. Both have stereo speakers, and both miss out on a headphone jack. The hardware is absolutely the same from top to bottom — without a reference for size, you can't tell the difference between the two in a photo. And they even come in the same three color choices: black, white and "not pink."

Category Pixel 3 Pixel 3 XL
Operating system Android 11 Android 11
Display 5.5-inch OLED
2160x1080 (18:9)
Gorilla Glass 5
6.3-inch OLED
2960x1440 (18.5:9)
Gorilla Glass 5
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
Pixel Visual Core
Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
Pixel Visual Core
RAM 4GB 4GB
Storage 64/128GB 64/128GB
Expandable No No
Rear camera 12.2MP, 1.4-micron, PDAF
f/1.8, OIS
12.2MP, 1.4-micron, PDAF
f/1.8, OIS
Front camera 1 8MP, auto focus
f/1.8, 75-degree lens
8MP, auto focus
f/1.8, 75-degree lens
Front camera 2 8MP, fixed focus
f/2.2, 97-degree lens
8MP, fixed focus
f/2.2, 97-degree lens
Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11ac 2x2 MIMO, Bluetooth 5.0 LE, NFC, GPS Wi-Fi 802.11ac 2x2 MIMO, Bluetooth 5.0 LE, NFC, GPS
Audio Stereo speakers
USB-C
Stereo speakers
USB-C
Battery 2915mAh
Non-removable
3430mAh
Non-removable
Charging 18W USB-C PD
Qi wireless
18W USB-C PD
Qi wireless
Water resistance IP68 IP68
Security Fingerprint sensor Fingerprint sensor
Dimensions 68.2 x 145.6 x 7.9 mm
148 g
76.7 x 158.0 x 7.9 mm
184 g
Colors Just Black, Very White, Not Pink Just Black, Very White, Not Pink

There are just two differences to evaluate: screen size and battery. I specifically say screen size because Google worked very hard to make sure this year's phones have identical-looking displays. Whether you get the 6.3-inch Pixel 3 XL or smaller 5.5-inch Pixel 3, the OLED panels have been selected and calibrated to look the same. The Pixel 3 XL also has a sizable display notch that's visually distracting for some people, and cuts into the usable space of that larger panel — even still, it has a little more room than the Pixel 2 XL, and much more than the Pixel 3.

It simply comes down to screen size and battery needs.

The other necessary difference is battery — 2915 vs. 3430mAh. With a 17% larger battery, the Pixel 3 XL has noticeably longer battery life. The Pixel 3 can get through a day without charging, but not if you have any intense usage throughout the day. Lots of time using streaming apps or games will have you looking for a charger. However, the Pixel 3 XL can take a bit more abuse and still make it to the end of the day just fine. Some are willing to take that battery trade-off to have a phone they can easily use one-handed, but it isn't always worth it for everyone.

The screen size differences obviously lead to changes in overall phone size. The Pixel 3 is a bit of a unicorn amongst modern-day flagship phones, with a very compact case that's marginally smaller than the Pixel 2. It's easily manageable in one hand, and easier to slip into a pocket even with a case on it. The Pixel 3 XL, on the other hand, follows the flagship trend of being really large. It's about 12% wider and 8% taller than the Pixel 3, which is considerable — but of course, you get the extra screen and battery as a benefit. You have to decide if it's worth it for your needs (and hands).

Google Pixel 3

Compact yet powerful

$380 at Amazon

A great phone without the massive size and weight.

A smaller screen doesn't lead to compromises in features or hardware. The Pixel 3 has everything the XL does, aside from battery life. You get fantastic software, performance, camera capabilities, and screen quality.

Google Pixel 3 XL

True flagship

$425 at Amazon

Google's best-ever phone, with a big screen and battery to match its capabilities.

A 6.3-inch OLED screen is dramatically improved from the Pixel 2 XL, and the rest of the experience builds on Google's strengths: excellent software, great performance, innovative camera features, and guaranteed updates.



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