Google Pixel 3 XL vs Google Pixel 2 XL

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Alongside the standard Google Pixel 3, the Google Pixel 3 XL has also just been announced, and it’s this phone that’s Google’s real flagship for the year, just as the Google Pixel 2 XL was for 2017.

But just how different is the new XL from the old one? On the surface the new phone’s notch is the only really obvious change, but there’s plenty more going on beneath the surface.

That’s why we’ve put the two phones head-to-head, comparing their design, display, specs, camera, battery and price, so you can see exactly what a difference a year makes.

Spotting the difference from the back is tricky

Spotting the difference from the back is tricky

Google Pixel 3 XL vs Google Pixel 2 XL design

From the back you won’t notice too much difference between the Google Pixel 3 XL and the Google Pixel 2 XL, as both have a two-tone rear, but while the Pixel 2 XL is mostly made out of metal with a glass panel at the top, the Pixel 3 XL is all glass.

In the case of both phones, there’s a single-lens rear camera near the top, while the fingerprint scanner sits lower down. Both phones are also water resistant, though the Pixel 3 XL should be slightly more so, thanks to its IPX8 rating, compared to the Pixel 2 XL's IP67 one.

Flip the phone over and the differences become more obvious, because while the Google Pixel 2 XL has bezels above and below the screen, the Google Pixel 3 XL swaps out the top bezel for a notch. Both phones still have front-facing speakers, but the Pixel 3 XL's are supposedly 40% louder and richer.

From the back the Pixel 2 XL looks a lot like the Pixel 3 XL

From the back the Pixel 2 XL looks a lot like the Pixel 3 XL

Dimensions and weights also differ, though only slightly, with the Pixel 3 XL coming in at 158 x 76.7 x 7.9mm and 184g, while the Pixel 2 XL is 157.9 x 76.7 x 7.9mm and 175g.

And the colors you can get the two phones in aren’t identical either. The Google Pixel 2 XL is available in a black and white shade or just black, while the Google Pixel 3 XL is available in black, white or a sand shade (called 'Not Pink').

Google Pixel 3 XL vs Google Pixel 2 XL display

The Google Pixel 3 XL has a 6.3-inch FHD+ OLED screen that comes in at 523 pixels per inch, while the Google Pixel 2 XL has a 6.0-inch 1,440 x 2,880 OLED screen that's 538 pixels per inch.

So the Pixel 3 XL’s screen is a little bigger and similar resolution. It also has a marginally different aspect ratio, coming in at 18.5:9 to the Pixel 2 XL's 18:9.

As noted above, the Google Pixel 3 XL also has a notch, which is how this larger screen is able to fit into a body of roughly the same size as the Pixel 2 XL’s.

The notch is a big change for the Google Pixel 3 XL's screen

The notch is a big change for the Google Pixel 3 XL's screen

Whether the Pixel 3 XL’s display is better or not is a question for our full review – so keep an eye out for that.

The Google Pixel 2 XL for its part though has a screen which in our review we generally praised, but noted that viewing angles could be better, so it will be interesting to see whether they’ve been improved for the new model.

Google Pixel 3 XL vs Google Pixel 2 XL OS and power

There’s an octa-core Snapdragon 845 chipset in the Google Pixel 3 XL, paired with 4GB of RAM. That’s unsurprisingly an upgrade on the octa-core Snapdragon 835 chipset in the Google Pixel 2 XL – though that phone also has 4GB of RAM. Storage also tops out at the same amount, namely 128GB.

So it’s only really the chipset that’s different here and it means that the Pixel 3 XL has power comparable with other 2018 flagships, while the Pixel 2 XL is in line with 2017’s flagships, as you’d expect.

The Google Pixel 2 XL is a bit less powerful than the Google Pixel 3 XL

The Google Pixel 2 XL is a bit less powerful than the Google Pixel 3 XL

For software, you get Android 9 Pie on both and both phones should get day one updates to new versions, though support for the Pixel 2 XL will be cut off before the Pixel 3 XL.

The version of Android they run is as Google intended, since these are Google phones, but they also both have some features you won’t find on other handsets, such as Active Edge, which lets you squeeze the sides to launch Google Assistant.

However, there are a few new features for the Google Pixel 3 XL, such as a Titan security module, which helps keep your data secure.

Google Pixel 3 XL vs Google Pixel 2 XL camera and battery

These two phones both have a single-lens 12.2MP f/1.8 rear camera, and it’s one that we were impressed by in our Google Pixel 2 XL review, but it’s got some new features for the Google Pixel 3 XL.

These mostly take the form of new modes, with the highlight perhaps being ‘Top Shot’, a feature which takes a quick burst of photos before and after the moment you’re trying to capture and then uses machine learning to select the best one.

The Pixel 3 XL and Pixel 2 XL both have a single-lens rear camera

The Pixel 3 XL and Pixel 2 XL both have a single-lens rear camera

The front-facing camera has had more of an upgrade though, as while the Google Pixel 2 XL has a single-lens 8MP f/2.4 one, the Google Pixel 3 XL has a dual-lens one. Both lenses are 8MP, but there's an f/2.2 wide-angle one and an f/1.8 telephoto, making it more versatile and helping you fit more in shots.

The battery in the Google Pixel 3 XL meanwhile is a 3,430mAh one, down from 3,520mAh in the Google Pixel 2 XL.

That phone had a battery of decent size and performance, so we’ll let you know in our full review how this new unit compares. If nothing else though, the Pixel 3 XL supports wireless charging, which the Pixel 2 XL doesn't.

Google Pixel 3 XL vs Google Pixel 2 XL price and availability

You’ll have to pay $899/£869 to get your hands on a 64GB Google Pixel 3 XL, with prices rising to $999/£969 for the 128GB version, but the good news is you can pre-order it already, with the phone hitting US stores on October 18, and arriving in the UK and Australia on November 1.

The Google Pixel 2 XL launched for $849 (£799, AU$1,399) if you wanted 64GB of storage or $949 (£899, AU$1,549) for 128GB, but you can now find it for over $100/£100 less in some stores and we’d expect prices to fall further now that the Google Pixel 3 range is out.

Takeaway

The Google Pixel 3 XL might look like a Google Pixel 2 XL with a notch but it’s a lot more than that. The screen is bigger, there’s an extra lens on the front-facing camera, the rear camera has learned some new tricks, there’s more power and a new color scheme, among various other changes.

It’s not a complete overhaul of what came before, but it does look to be a substantial upgrade, though you might want to wait for our full review before dropping all that cash on it.