Google Pixel 4 and 4 XL vs. iPhone 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max
With Google having just announced its new phones – the Pixel 4 and 4 XL – all the major flagships for 2019 are now out there vying for your attention. But how well do these devices stack up against the industry-leading iPhones? New Atlas compares the specs and features of the Google Pixel 4 and 4 XL to the iPhone 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max.
At a glance, it’s a little difficult to see which Pixel lines up with which iPhone – after all, there are three iPhone 11 models out this year, and only two Pixel 4s. Generally speaking, the Pixel 4 XL and the iPhone 11 Pro Max are directly comparable as the premium models of each line. The others are harder to pin down – the Pixel 4 has some specs that line up with the iPhone 11, and others with the iPhone 11 Pro.
Size-wise, the iPhone 11 Pro is the smallest device on the list, followed by the Pixel 4. Next up is the iPhone 11, then there’s quite a gap before the 11 Pro Max and Pixel 4 XL come in close together at the top of the range. It’s interesting to note that the iPhones are generally shorter and wider than the Pixels.
Phones have started getting hefty again. The lightest of this bunch is the Pixel 4, coming in at a petite 162 grams. After that there’s quite a leap before the the iPhone 11 Pro, which tips the scales at 188 g. Next the Pixel 4 XL and iPhone 11 go head-to-head at 193 and 194 g, respectively. And finally, way up the top is the iPhone 11 Pro Max, which weighs in at a crazy 226 g.
There are quite a lot of options across the spectrum this time around, whether you’re looking for something simple, something elegant or something with a splash of color.
The two Pixel 4 models come in either a plain black or white variants, as well as a limited edition orange.
The iPhone 11 is where Apple lets its hair down a little, offering black, white, green, yellow, purple and red options.
The higher end iPhone 11s, meanwhile, are available in metallic colors that are striving to be classy but understated – gold, silver, space gray and a new color Apple calls Midnight Green.
All five of these phones are made with glass front and back, ringed in metal. For the Pixel 4 and 4 XL, as well as the iPhone 11, that metal is aluminum, while the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max are framed in stainless steel.
All five of these phones are given the official water resistance rating of IP68. Officially that means the devices are all completely dust-tight, and can be dunked in water down to a depth of 1 m (3.3 ft) for up to 30 minutes.
Apple goes a step beyond, though, claiming that the iPhone 11 can survive down to 2 m (6.6 ft) for 30 minutes, and the 11 Pro and Pro Max can double that depth.
In practice, this means that any of these phones should be able to recover if you spill a drink on them, use them out in the rain, or accidentally drop them in a pool or bath briefly.
This is one area where the Pixel 4 seems to be lining up with the iPhone 11 Pro – the former has a 5.7-in screen, while the latter measures 5.8 in.
Next up, the base model iPhone 11 sits by itself in the middle, at 6.1 in. Then the Pixel 4 XL and iPhone 11 Pro Max are close together, at 6.3 and 6.5 in.
The screen-to-body ratios of all five of these phones hover around the 80-percent mark. In all cases, the screen stretches almost all the way to the edge along the sides and the bottom, with a larger section along the top to house the various front-facing cameras and sensors (we’ll get into those soon).
In the case of the Pixels, there’s a larger black bar across the top. The iPhones, meanwhile, have opted for a “notch” cut into the top of the display. This design has proven divisive in recent years, but Apple is sticking with it.
Of this bunch, the Pixel 4 XL boasts the highest resolution and highest pixel density. Next up is the iPhone 11 Pro Max followed closely by the Pro – these two have the same density because the Pro Max has more pixels to fill out its slightly larger display.
Then there’s the Pixel 4, with a display that could roughly be said to have a 2K resolution. And finally, bringing up the rear is the iPhone 11, with a screen that doesn’t even reach the Full HD standard.
Apple was one of the last holdouts on IPS LCD screens, as most of the industry backed OLED technology. But in the last few generations it has made the switch, reserving IPS LCD only for its lower-end devices.
The differences between the two technologies are probably negligible for most users, unless you have a phone of each type sitting side-by-side. But generally, OLED displays have brighter colors, deeper blacks and better contrast, while IPS LCD may look a little sharper and show colors more naturally.
Google has followed Apple’s lead and ditched the fingerprint sensor, in favor of facial recognition. As such, all five of these phones can be unlocked with a quick scan of the user’s face, making use of depth sensors on the front cameras. This might have come down to a security issue – fingerprint sensors have been notoriously easy to crack.
The two new Pixel models are running on Qualcomm’s latest processors, the Snapdragon 855, which are powering many Android flagships this year. There are eight cores in there, including four running at 2.84 GHz and the others at 1.78 GHz.
The three iPhone 11 models are running on Apple’s latest chipset, the A13 Bionic. These are apparently 20 percent faster than the previous models, capable of performing over a trillion operations per second.
Industry-wide, 6 GB is fast becoming the new RAM standard for flagship phones. The Pixels have matched it, while the iPhones are still getting by on 4 GB.
The baseline storage option for all five of these phones – and most others from major competitors – is 64 GB, which is plenty for most people. If you’re worried you’ll fill that too fast, there’s an option to double that on both Pixels and the iPhone 11.
The iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max skip 128 GB and go straight to 256 GB, which is also available on the vanilla iPhone 11. For particularly heavy users, the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max go right up to a huge 512 GB of storage space. Honestly though, it’s hard to imagine anyone needing that much room, unless you’re shooting lots of 4K video, collecting a massive music library or downloading every game and app you come across.
Another consideration is that storage options are the main driver of price – choosing a phone with a higher storage capacity will cost you more.
Whatever you choose, choose wisely – none of these phones have MicroSD card slots, so you can’t expand your storage down the track.
The two Pixel 4 models bookend the battery capacity specs, with the Pixel 4 having the lowest and the 4 XL boasting the highest. Apple’s devices lie in between, with the iPhone 11 and Pro very close together, and the Pro Max a bigger leap forward.
In practice, these numbers don’t necessarily translate directly to longer times between charges. After all, more powerful phones chew up more energy, and it depends on what individual users are actually doing with their phones on a daily basis. Rest assured though, you should be able to expect at least a day out of each phone, under normal use.
All five of these phones can be fast charged. The only catch is with the iPhone 11, which requires the separate purchase of an 18-W charger. All the others pack one into the box.
Again, all of these devices can be charged wirelessly – albeit not out of the box. In all cases you need to buy a separate wireless charger. The good news at least is that they all work with the Qi standard, so you aren’t locked into any specific brand. If you already have one from an older phone, it should work with your new one.
It seems that the days of the 3.5 mm audio jack are gone – there’s only one port on the bottom of these phones. For the Pixels, that’s the widely-used USB-C, while the iPhones stick with Apple’s proprietary Lightning port. These ports are used both to charge the devices and to connect the included earbuds.
Strangely enough though, in the US the Pixel 4s don’t come with any earbuds at all. It seems that Google assumes you already have a pair, or have switched to Bluetooth.
The selfie cameras on the Pixel 4 and 4 XL have a decent-enough 8 megapixels (MP), while the iPhones crank up the resolution to 12 MP. The Pixels, on the other hand, have a slightly wider maximum aperture of f/2.0, which should work better in low light and make for more pronounced bokeh (background blurring) effects.
Both companies are also using depth-sensing cameras now, too, which is what allows the phones to be unlocked via facial recognition. In the case of the Pixel 4s though, the tech is being used for a new trick we haven’t seen in any other phone yet: motion sensing. This lets you do things like skip songs, snooze alarms and silence phone calls by waving your hand above the screen without needing to touch it.
Gone are the days of single rear cameras – the arms race between manufacturers seems to be focused on how many lenses can be crammed into their devices. For the Pixel 4, 4 XL, and iPhone 11, that’s two, while the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max squeeze a third on there.
The Pixels have a main camera with a beefy 16-MP resolution, bolstered by a supporting 12.2-MP camera. With its wider aperture of f/1.7, the latter is there to help improve the bokeh effect, making the subject pop a bit better from the background, and capture more detail in the dark.
The iPhone 11 packs two 12-MP cameras, one being a wide-angle lens with a decent aperture of f/1.8, and the second stretching ultra-wide.
The iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max add to this duo with a third camera, also with 12 MP and a telephoto lens.
Both sets of phones can handle many of the same kinds of photo and video modes, but there are a couple of differences.
All can snap photos with High Dynamic Range (HDR), allowing for better contrast between bright and dark areas of a scene. The Pixel 4 phones have a special feature called dual exposure control that allows the user to adjust the exposure of different parts before shooting.
All five phones can shoot video in Full HD or 4K resolutions, with optical image stabilization (OIS). The difference here is that the three iPhones can reach frame rates of 60 frames per second (fps) in 4K, while the Pixels can only get to 60 fps in Full HD. At 4K it hits 30 fps max.
Slow-motion video tells a similar story. Both sets of phones can shoot slow-mo in either 120 fps or 240 fps, but while the iPhones can manage Full HD resolution at both speeds, the Pixels drop to 720p HD at 240 fps.
The iPhones and Pixels also both have good bokeh effects in photos, allowing the subject to stand out from the background. Last year Google introduced Night Sight, a mode that takes longer exposures to brighten up shots in the dark, with impressive results. Apple now has its own version.
Strangely enough, the Pixel 4 and 4 XL seem to be lacking some relatively common modes like panorama photos and time lapse videos, but there are third-party apps on the Play Store that can do the same thing.
And finally, there’s augmented reality (AR). The AR arms race between Google’s ARCore and Apple’s ARKit is really heating up – and users are the winners, with some amazing capabilities opening up on both platforms. That includes mucking around with emojis captured from your own face, to playing games like the upcoming Minecraft Earth, which look set to offer deep gameplay while straddling the line between the virtual and real world.
The Pixel 4 and 4 XL are among the first devices to get Android 10. This latest version of Google’s operating system has dropped Android’s long-running sweet naming convention – after all, it’s hard to think of a dessert that starts with the letter Q.
The iPhones are all running iOS 13, which adds a dark mode, new editing tools for photos and video, and some other tweaks.
Siri is of course present and accounted for on the three iPhone 11 models. The two Pixel 4s are running the latest version of the Google Assistant, which can now run over the top of other apps and is supposed to be smarter and faster. For instance, new voice commands let users sort through photos by what’s in them or where they were taken.
The iPhone 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max all launched in September 2019. The Pixel 4 and 4 XL are due for release on October 24.
The cheapest phone in this bunch is the iPhone 11 with 64 GB storage, at US$699. For an extra 50 bucks, you can double that storage capacity.
Next up is the 64 GB Pixel 4, at $799. Another $50 step up gets a 256 GB iPhone 11. Then, at $899 you’d have your choice of a 128 GB Pixel 4, or a 64 GB Pixel 4 XL.
The most expensive of Google’s machines – the 128 GB Pixel 4 XL – has the same price tag as the cheapest of Apple’s higher end line – the 64 GB iPhone 11 Pro, at just shy of a thousand dollars.
From there, the iPhone 11 Pro Max starts at $1,099, followed by the 256 GB model iPhone 11 Pro. After that, you’re looking at $100 increments for each successive step up, culminating in the eye-watering price tag of almost $1.5K for the 512 GB iPhone 11 Pro Max.