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Google Pixel 3 vs. 3 XL: They've been deeply discounted, so which should you buy?

Battery life, screen size and price are the main differences between Google's 2018 flagship phones, which are both great budget alternatives to the newer Pixel 4 and 4XL.

Lynn_La2.jpg
Lynn_La2.jpg
Lynn La Senior Editor / Reviews - Phones
Lynn La covers mobile reviews and news. She previously wrote for The Sacramento Bee, Macworld and The Global Post.
Lynn La
2 min read
$110 at Amazon
107-google-pixel-3
8.9
Google Pixel 3

Like

  • The Pixel 3 takes brilliant photos, even in super low-light, with its single rear lens and it can capture wider selfie photos
  • It's water resistant, has wireless charging and it can screen unwanted calls.

Don't like

  • The phone doesn't have expandable memory or a headphone jack
  • The shot-to-shot camera delay can be sluggish in certain modes.
$115 at Amazon
07-google-pixel-3-xl
8.9
Google Pixel 3 XL

Like

  • The Pixel 3 XL has a top-of-the-line camera that includes an enhanced low-light feature and it can now take wider selfie shots
  • It's water resistant, has wireless charging and its Google Assistant has convenient new skills such as call screening.

Don't like

  • The phone's onscreen notch is taller than other phones'
  • It doesn't have expandable memory or a headphone jack.

Other than price and size, Google's flagship phones of 2018, the Pixel 3 and 3 XL, are essentially the same device. Currently priced at $397 and $499, respectively, the phones are much cheaper now that the Google Pixel 4 and 4 XL are available. But even though they're two years old, they still have excellent cameras, receive prompt software updates from Google and are equipped with reliable Snapdragon 845 chipsets. So if you're deciding between the two, read on to see which one is best for you.

107-google-pixel-3
Sarah Tew/CNET

Starting at $397, the Pixel 3 is the best route to go if you want to save the most money. Its 5.5-inch display also make it the more pocketable and comfortable phone to hold in your hand. Lastly, it doesn't have an on-screen notch running at the top of the display, so you can view content on your screen without a distracting tab taking away your attention.

Read our Google Pixel 3 review.

07-google-pixel-3-xl
Sarah Tew/CNET

At about $100 more, the Pixel 3 XL offers a bigger screen and a longer battery life. This is great if you see yourself watching a lot of videos or playing games, but keep in mind, the phone also has a big notch at the top. We don't think it's worth the extra $100 (for that money you can get multiple phone cases, a Google Home Mini or wireless earbuds), but if you have room in your budget, then go for it.

Read our Google Pixel 3 XL review.

How we tested

6m-pixel3
Watch this: Pixel 3: 6 months in

Pixel 3 vs. Pixel 3 XL: What's different

Dimensions and weight: The Pixel 3 XL is bigger and heavier than the Pixel 3, measuring 6.2 by 3 inches to the Pixel 3's 5.7 by 2.7-inch body. The two phones have the same 0.3-inch (8.2mm) depth. Because of the Pixel 3 XL's larger size, it's heavier at 6.5 ounces (184 grams). The Pixel 3 weighs 5.2 ounces (148 grams).

Display: The Pixel 3 features an OLED display with 443 pixels-per-inch density, while the Pixel 3 XL is higher definition, with a pixel density of 522 ppi. Unlike the new Pixel 4 phones, they do not have a 90Hz display.

Battery: The last big difference between the two phones is the battery. The Pixel 3 uses a 2,915-mAh battery, while the Pixel 3 XL has a 3,430-mAh battery. Lab results for continuous video playback on airplane mode yielded an average of 15 hours for the Pixel 3 and 16 hours, 49 minutes for the Pixel 3 XL.

Pixel 3 vs. Pixel 3 XL specs


Google Pixel 3Google Pixel 3 XL
Display size, resolution 5.5-inch "flexible" OLED; 2,280x1,080 pixels6.3-inch "flexible" OLED; 2,960x1,440 pixels
Pixel density 443ppi522 ppi
Dimensions (inches) 5.7x2.7x0.3 in.6.2x3x0.03 in.
Dimensions (millimeters) 145.6x68.2x7.9 mm158x76.7x7.9 mm
Weight (ounces, grams) 5.2oz.; 148g6.5 oz.; 184g
Mobile software Android 9 Pie (upgradeable to Android 10)Android 9 Pie (upgradeable to Android 10)
Camera 12.2-megapixel12.2-megapixel
Front-facing camera Dual 8-megapixelDual 8-megapixel
Video capture 4K4K
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (2.5GHz + 1.6GHz octa-core)Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (2.5GHz octa-core)
Storage 64GB, 128GB64GB, 128GB
RAM 4GB4GB
Expandable storage NoneNone
Battery 2,915 mAh3,430 mAh
Fingerprint sensor Back coverBack cover
Connector USB-CUSB-C
Headphone jack NoNo
Special features Water resistant (IPX8), wireless charging support, Pixel Buds USB-C headphones in the boxWater resistant (IPX8), wireless charging support, Pixel Buds USB-C headphones in the box

Pixel 3 struts a polished and compact design

See all photos

CNET editor Patrick Holland contributed to this report.