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Google Pixel 3 XL review: Everything we love about the Pixel 3 on a bigger screen

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So far, I haven't noticed any of the same burn-in issues with the onscreen home key, which appeared on the Pixel 2.

Sarah Tew/CNET

One other thing I noticed is that while both Pixels have an OLED screen, colors on the Pixel 3 XL's display appear to be just a tad "cooler" than the Pixel 3. When holding it up to the Pixel 3 side-by-side, the Pixel 3 has punchier reds and purer whites compared to the 3 XL. I'd never notice this on its own, and in and of itself, the 3 XL still has a bright and vibrant display.

As for the notch, I ended up not minding it as much as I thought I would. It's undoubtedly the thickest notch I've seen, but seeing how wide the iPhone X's notch is, the black tabs look to be about equal in size. Plus, a deeper notch (rather than a wider one) allows for more room on either side for notification icons. If you absolutely hate it though, Google is working on an update to allow you to blacken the sides of the screen and "hide" the notch, similar to how you can do it on the LG G7 ThinQ and Huawei P20.

The phone also has squeezable edges that launch Google Assistant, a water resistant body and, for the first time ever, it comes bundled with wired earbuds. For more on these design elements, head over to my Pixel 3 review.

Processor performance and battery life

The Pixel 3 XL performs equally well with other top Androids that are also equipped with the Snapdragon 845 chipset, including the Galaxy Note 9, OnePlus 6T and LG V40 ($950 at Amazon). And while it's notable that the iPhone XS Max's A12 Bionic processor surpassed these other devices by a comfortable margin, all the phones felt equally fast when it came to day-to-day tasks like launching apps and firing the shutter.

3DMark Slingshot Unlimited

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

Geekbench v.4.0 single-core

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

Geekbench v.4.0 multicore

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

Lab results for continuous video playback on airplane mode yielded an average of 16 hours, 49 minutes. Though that's notably shorter than the Note 9's exceptional 19-hour result, it's still a good time. It's on par with the OnePlus 6T and better than the V40, which clocked in at 14 hours, 24 minutes. It's also longer than the standard Pixel 3's 14-hour run time, and another reason beyond screen size to pay up for the XL. (We're still finishing up battery results for the iPhone XS Max, but early tests show that phone hovering around 17 hours.)

How does the Pixel 3 XL compare to other phones?

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From left to right: The Note 9, Pixel 3 XL and iPhone XS Max.

Sarah Tew/CNET
  • Pixel 3 XL vs. Pixel 2 XL: If you're holding on to last year's Pixel, know that you still have a great phone and a powerful camera in your pocket. The Pixel 2 XL will also be in line to get some of the updates that the Pixel 3 XL has, like Call Screen. And while I consider the Pixel 3 XL more than an "incremental" update, plus it hasn't been exhibiting the same burn-in issues that I noticed last year, it's safe to hold onto your Pixel 2 and wait out for the next update.  
  • Pixel 3 XL vs. Galaxy Note 9: Though I like the Pixel 3's camera over the Galaxy Note 9 at times, Samsung's phone has a lot of things going for it. It has monster battery life, a headphone jack and expandable memory. On top of that, it comes with an embedded S Pen stylus, adding more productivity and software goodies than the Pixel 3 XL. 
  • Pixel 3 XL vs. OnePlus 6T: If you can afford the Pixel 3 XL, you'll get a superior camera and prompt updates as they roll out from Google. But the 6T is a superb, more affordable, alternative given that both phones come with the same processor and a barely skinned version of Android Pie out of the box.
  • Pixel 3 XL vs. iPhone XS Max: The iPhone XS Max doesn't have expandable storage or a headphone jack like the Pixel 3 XL. But it does offer FaceID for unlocking the screen and digital payments. Plus, the 256GB model of the iPhone XS Max costs $1,249 (£1,249, AU$2,049), and gives you more for your money than the Pixel 3 XL in terms of storage. However, it's not that closely integrated with Google's ecosystem and I prefer the Pixel 3 XL's camera and the way it punches up colors. (For a deeper dive, check out CNET's Pixel 3 vs. iPhone XS camera comparison.)  
  • Pixel 3 XL vs. LG V40: The V40 is a solid choice if you want a built-in headphone port and external memory for about the same price as the Pixel 3 XL. Plus, it has the same wide-angle camera features on the front as Google's phone, but with an additional wide-angle camera on the back. But the Pixel 3's battery lasts longer, and I do prefer its camera over the V40, despite the latter phone's versatility.

Google Pixel 3 XL spec comparison


 Pixel 3 XL Galaxy Note 9 OnePlus 6T iPhone XS Max LG V40 ThinQ
Display size, resolution 6.3-inch OLED; 2,960x1,440 pixels 6.4-inch Super AMOLED; 2,960x1,440 pixels 6.41-inch AMOLED; 2,340x1,080 pixels 6.5-inch Super Retina OLED; 2,688x1,242 pixels 6.4-inch OLED; 3,120x1,440 pixels
Pixel density 522 ppi 516 ppi 402 ppi 458 ppi 537 ppi
Dimensions (Inches) 6.2x3x.03 in 6.37x3.01x0.35 in 6.20x2.94x0.32 in 6.2x3.0x.3 in 6.25x2.97x 0.3 in
Dimensions (Millimeters) 158x76.7x7.9 mm 161.9x76.4x8.8 mm 157.5x74.8x8.2 mm 157.5x77.4x7.7 mm 158.8x75.4x7.6 mm
Weight (Ounces, Grams) 6.5 oz; 184g 7.09 oz; 201g 6.53 oz; 185g 7.3oz; 208g 5.96 oz; 169g
Mobile software Android 9 Pie Android 8.1 Oreo Android 9 Pie iOS 12 Android 8.1 Oreo
Camera 12.2-megapixel 12-megapixel wide-angle, 12-megapixel telephoto 16-megapixel standard, 20-megapixel telephoto 12-megapixel standard, 12-megapixel telephoto 12-megapixel standard, 16-megapixel wide-angle and 12-megapixel telephoto
Front-facing camera 8-megapixel standard, 8-megapixel wide-angle 8-megapixel 16-megapixel 7-megapixel 8-megapixel standard, 5-megapixel wide-angle
Video capture 4K 4K 4K 4K 4K
Processor 2.5GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor (2.8GHz + 1.7GHz), or Octa-core Samsung Exynos 9810 (2.7 GHz + 1.7 GHz) 2.8GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Apple A12 Bionic Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
Storage 64GB, 128GB 128GB, 512GB 128GB, 256GB 64GB, 256GB, 512GB 64GB
RAM 4GB 6GB, 8GB 6GB, 8GB Not disclosed 6GB
Expandable storage None 512GB None None Up to 2TB
Battery 3,430 mAh 4,000 mAh 3,700 mAh Not disclosed 3,300 mAh
Fingerprint sensor Back cover Back of phone Underneath display None (Face ID) Back
Connector USB-C USB-C USB-C Lightning USB-C
Headphone jack No Yes None No Yes
Special features Water resistant (IPX8); wireless charging; Pixel Buds USB-C headphones included Water resistant (IP68); wireless charging, S-Pen with Bluetooth connectivity; Iris and facial scanning In-display fingerprint sensor; dual-SIM, Dash Charging; notifications toggle Water resistant (IP68); dual-SIM capabilities (nano-SIM and e-SIM); wireless charging; Face ID; Memoji Water resistant (IP68), wireless charging, DTS:X 3D Surround, Quad DAC, AI-enhanced camera, Cine Shot
Price off-contract (USD) $899 (64GB), $999 (128GB) $1,000 (128GB), $1,250 (512GB) $549 (6GB RAM/128GB), $579 (8GB RAM/128GB), $629 (8GB RAM/256GB) $1,099 (64GB), $1,249 (256GB), $1,449 (512GB) $950.00
Price (GBP) £869 (64GB), £969 (128GB) £899 (128GB), £1,099 (512GB) £499 (6GB RAM/128GB), £529 (8GB RAM/128GB), £579 (8GB RAM/256GB) £1,099 (64GB), £1,249 (256GB), £1,449 (512GB) Converts to £724
Price (AUD) AU$1,349 (64GB), AU$1,499 (128GB) AU$1,499 (128GB), AU$1,799 (512GB) Converted: AU$774 (6GB RAM/128GB), AU$817 (8GB RAM/128GB), AU$887 (8GB RAM/256GB) AU$1,799 (64GB), AU$2,049 (256GB), AU$2,369 (512GB) Converts to AU$1,306

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