We're a virtual company made up of tech experts from across the globe. We live and breathe Android phones, and we happen to know a lot about iOS, too. It's our mission to set you up with the right phone.
If you want the best experience Google can offer, this is it. The camera is exceptional, especially in low light, and the speakers on this phone are incredible. And, of course, Google's software updates arrive here before anywhere anywhere else.
Apple took the impressive iPhone X and made it huge. The display is best in class, the speakers are surprisingly loud, and there's nothing else quite like Apple's face unlock system. This design isn't without trade-offs, but overall this is an excellent phone.
Though it may be a bit obvious, the Pixel 2 XL is meant to be the very best Android experience around, while the iPhone XS Max is as premium as an iPhone has ever been. Each phone stands strong with clean software and incredible performance, but your needs may justify one over the other.
When worlds collide
There are tons of great Android phones these days, but the Pixel represents Google's own vision of what the platform should be. Its clean and simple interface is home to a bevy of smart features, including the ever-powerful Google Assistant. In addition, thanks to Google's machine learning, the Pixel 2 XL remains one of the very best pocket cameras around, despite having a single rear-facing lens.
Then there's the iPhone XS Max. With an enormous 6.5-inch display, it's the largest iPhone ever made, and the True Tone Super Retina display is far better than the Pixel 2 XL's problematic pOLED panel — though some people still won't be a fan of the iPhone's infamous notch. It also boasts Apple's extremely powerful A12 Bionic chip which, on top of assuring smooth performance, augments AR and camera capabilities.
There's a trade-off at every turn with these phones; the iPhone XS Max relies on Face ID rather than a more traditional fingerprint sensor like the Pixel 2 XL, the latter of which many still prefer, but the Pixel lacks the iPhone's handy wireless charging. That's more important than people tend to think, especially on a water resistant phone — should you submerge your phone, wireless charging is the only way to top it off while you wait for the port to dry.
Google Pixel 2 XL
iPhone XS Max
Android 9 Pie
6-inch pOLED, 2880x1440 @ 441ppi
6.5-inch AMOLED, 2688 x 1238 @ 458ppi
Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
Rear camera 1
12.2MP, 1.4μm, f/1.8 OIS, dual LED flash
12MP, 1.4μm, f/1.8 OIS, True Tone flash
Rear camera 2
12MP, f/2.4, 2X Optical Zoom
8MP, 1.4μm, f/2.4
USB-C, wireless charging
Lightning, wireless charging
IP67 dust and water resistance
IP68 dust and water resistance
Each phone offers the very best experience its respective platform can offer.
The iPhone XS Max features a makeshift stereo speaker setup, combining the earpiece speaker with the bottom speaker grill, but the Pixel 2 XL offers a more genuine stereo effect with dual front-firing speakers. Neither phone features microSD expandability or a 3.5mm headphone jack, but each can at least achieve wired audio through an adapter — just keep in mind that Apple is no longer including a Lightning to auxiliary adapter in the box with its phones.
That lack of microSD expandability plays a pretty significant role in determining which phone to buy, since both start at 64GB with a $250 difference in price. The Pixel 2 XL maxes out at 128GB of storage for $949, while the iPhone XS Max reaches all the way up to 512GB — assuming you have $1449 to spare. Both Google and Apple offer financing options to ease the initial blow, but even so, these aren't insignificant numbers by any means.
Whether or not the iPhone XS Max is worth that much more than the Pixel 2 XL comes almost entirely down to your preference in platforms, along with your storage needs. Both phones have incredible cameras, smooth performance, and huge screens, and each serves as its respective manufacturer's poster child for what a phone can and should be. If you don't have any particular software preferences, though, you won't be missing out on much by saving a few hundred dollars and buying the Pixel 2 XL.