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Pixel 3 vs. iPhone XS vs. Galaxy S9

Google's camera pro throws down against the competition.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Pixel 3 -- sleek and slick in the hand, a refinement over past Pixels -- has the specs to take on the iPhone XS and Galaxy S9, and win. There's no one killer feature, but its camera is fantastic and it will be the first in line for Android software and security updates. That's a real bonus that avoids the anguish experienced by other Android users who might wait months for Android updates. 

New to the Pixel 3 is a pair of 8-megapixel front-facing cameras, and support for wireless charging. Google will even sell you its own tricked-out wireless charging stand, the Pixel Stand, for $79.

More importantly, the third-generation Pixel also has the weight of Android Pie software and the deep well of Google's services behind it. Retooled camera processing in the Night Sight feature (not officially out yet, but we've experimented with it) makes low light photography extremely vivid, and another in-development feature will select your best photo. The Pixel 3 also uses AI software, called Google Duplex, to field robocalls on your behalf.

The Pixel 3 is an excellent phone through and through, and one of our favorites for 2018. Then again, so's its fiercest competition. While our long-term photography tests play out, here's how the specs compare with the iPhone XS and Galaxy S9.

Read alsoiPhone XR vs. Pixel 3: Which phone has the best camera?

Update, Nov. 1: This story originally was published Oct. 10, 2018, and was updated on Nov. 1 with more details.

Pixel 3 vs. iPhone XS vs. Galaxy S9

Google Pixel 3 Apple iPhone XS Samsung Galaxy S9
Display size, resolution 5.5-inch "flexible" OLED; 2,280x1,080 pixels 5.8-inch Super Retina OLED; 2,436x1,125 pixels 5.8-inch AMOLED; 2,960x1,440 pixels
Pixel density 443ppi 458 ppi 570 ppi
Dimensions (Inches) 5.7x2.7x0.3 in 5.7x2.8x0.3 in 5.81x2.70x0.33 in
Dimensions (Millimeters) 145.6x68.2x7.9 mm 143.6x70.9x7.7 mm 147.7x68.7x8.5 mm
Weight (Ounces, Grams) 5.2oz; 148g 6.2 oz; 177g 5.75 oz; 163g
Mobile software Android 9 Pie iOS 12 Android 8.0 Oreo
Camera 12.2-megapixel 12-megapixel (standard), 12-megapixel (telephoto) 12-megapixel
Front-facing camera Dual 8-megapixel 7-megapixel 8-megapixel
Video capture 4K 4K 4K
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (2.5GHz octa-core) Apple A12 Bionic Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor (2.8GHz + 1.7GHz), or Octa-core Samsung Exynos 9810 (2.7 GHz + 1.7 GHz)
Storage 64GB, 128GB 64GB, 256GB, 512GB 64GB, 128GB, 256GB
Expandable storage None None 400GB
Battery 2,915 mAh TBD 3,000mAh
Fingerprint sensor Back cover None (Face ID) Back cover
Connector USB-C Lightning USB-C
Headphone jack No No Yes
Special features IP68, wireless charging support, Pixel Buds USB-C headphones in the box Water resistant (IP68); dual-SIM (nano-SIM and e-SIM); wireless charging; Face ID; Animoji Water resistant (IP68); dual-aperture camera; super slo-mo video; wireless charging; iris scanning
Price off-contract (USD) $799 (64GB); $899 (128GB) $999 (64GB), $1,149 (256GB), $1,349 (512GB) Varies: $720-$800 (64GB)
Price (GBP) £739 (64GB); £839 (128GB) £999 (64GB), £1,149 (256GB), £1,349 (512GB) £739
Price (AUD) TBA AU$1,629 (64GB), AU$1,879 (256GB), AU$2,199 (512GB) AU$1,199 (64GB), AU$1,349 (256GB)

Read nowGoogle Pixel 3 review

Read next: Best phones of 2018