The iPhone XR has high-end specs without the high-end price. Overall, it’s a strong option thanks to its excellent design, great camera, and powerful software. If you’re looking to start your journey with iOS, the iPhone XR is your best bet.

$749 at Apple

Pros

  • High-end design
  • Flagship specs
  • Excellent battery life

Cons

  • Limited Portrait Mode
  • Too large for some
  • More expensive

Google’s new Pixel 3a takes some of the best features from the Pixel 3, including its class-leading camera, and puts it in a more affordable package. If you primarily care about taking pictures with your phone, the Pixel 3a is a great option. It’s also a very affordable entry into Google’s vast mobile ecosystem

$399 at Google

Pros

  • Fantastic camera
  • Affordable price
  • Powerful software

Cons

  • Plastic build
  • Large bezels

The Pixel 3a and iPhone XR are two of the best mid-range smartphones you can buy right now, but there are some key differences outside of the software, like build quality, features, and most importantly, price. If you don’t have a preference for Android or iOS, choosing the right phone can be a tough decision.

Let’s break it down

When you look at the iPhone XR and Pixel 3a side-by-side, it becomes clear that these devices are aimed at entirely different crowds. While the Pixel 3a excels in the camera department, the iPhone XR is a more well-rounded option, and it features flagship-level specs, too. There’s also a major difference in price, despite the two devices being positioned in the mid-range market.

Pixel 3a iPhone XR
Display 5.6-inch 6.1-inch
Camera 12.2 MP
f/1.8
12MP
f/1.8
Battery 3000mAh 2942mAh
Processor Snapdragon 670 A12 Bionic
Wireless charging No Yes
Memory 4GB 3GB
Storage 64GB 64GB
128GB
256GB
IPXX rating NA IP67
Software Android 9.0 Pie iOS 12
Misc. Rear fingerprint sensor Face ID
Price $399 $749

The better overall choice

The iPhone XR is incredibly powerful, thanks to its A12 Bionic chip (the same chip found in the iPhone XS), giving the device flagship-level performance on a par with the more expensive iPhone XS. Coupled with software updates from Apple, the A12 Bionic chip means the iPhone XR should still perform well for years to come.

By comparison, the Pixel 3a features a Snapdragon 670 processor, which is not nearly as fast as the Snapdragon 845 found in last year’s Pixel 3. To provide some context, the Snapdragon 845 doesn’t perform as well as the A12 Bionic chip, which is to say the Pixel 3a simply won’t perform as well as the iPhone XR.

The iPhone XR is more pleasant to use thanks to its software, design, and battery life.

Speaking of performance, the iPhone XR is a joy to use thanks to its specs and software. It’s this combination that allows Apple’s device to go long hours without needing a charge. When you do need to top off your battery, you can place the iPhone XR on a wireless charger — a feature the Pixel 3a doesn’t support.

Although the Pixel 3a doesn’t support wireless charging, its 3000mAh battery is slightly larger than the 2942mAh battery found in the iPhone XR. Both phones should last you all day depending on your usage.

In terms of design, the iPhone XR is far more appealing, thanks to its combination of glass and aluminum. The Pixel 3a is made of polycarbonate. While polycarbonate feels sturdy, it’s not nearly as premium as the iPhone XR. Apple’s device also comes in a variety of colors, too, giving consumers more options compared to the Pixel 3a.

Overall, the iPhone XR is more pleasant to use thanks to its software, design, and battery life, and should outlast the Pixel 3a when it comes to performance.

If camera quality is all you care about

There’s one area where Google’s new device outpaces the iPhone XR: camera quality. Google has ported over the Pixel 3’s excellent camera to the Pixel 3a, instantly making the device the most intriguing mid-range smartphone on the market.

Based on Pixel 3a’s specs, Google’s new device was never meant to compete in the high-end market (unlike the iPhone XR). Instead, the Pixel 3a is focused entirely on our obsession with taking pictures.

For $399, the Pixel 3a is an incredibly attractive option based on its camera alone.

That’s not to say the Pixel 3a isn’t a nice smartphone. It comes with a lot of the same features available in the Pixel 3, including always on display, Call Screen, and dual stereo speakers. Google’s handset also features a brand new time lapse feature.

But it’s clear the standout here is the 12.2-megapixel (MP) camera in the Pixel 3a. You get features like Top Shot, Super Res Zoom, and Night Sight, the latter of which produces terrific photos in low light situations. It’s one of those features you can’t live without after you use it.

While the iPhone XR features an excellent camera — complete with a snazzy portrait mode — it simply can’t compete with the Pixel 3a’s low light capabilities. The Pixel 3a’s Night Sight mode is a game-changer for low light photography, and it blows the iPhone XR out of the water.

For $399, the Pixel 3a is an incredibly attractive option based on its camera alone.

Which one should you buy?

For an all-around performer, we’d recommend the iPhone XR. It features a high-end design, powerful specs, and great software. Its camera is no slouch either, with a nice wide-angle lens that takes great portrait photos.

If a good camera is your one and only focus, the Pixel 3a is the clear winner. Google’s new device features the same 12.2 MP camera found in the much more expensive Pixel 3, so you can enjoy Night Sight for just $399.

Our pick


iPhone XR

A fantastic all-around smartphone

The iPhone XR has high-end specs without the high-end price. Overall, it’s a strong option thanks to its excellent design, great camera, and powerful software. If you’re looking to start your journey with iOS, the iPhone XR is your best bet.

For the best camera


Google Pixel 3a

Take the best pictures of your life

Google’s new Pixel 3a takes some of the best features from the Pixel 3, including its class-leading camera, and puts it in a more affordable package. If you primarily care about taking pictures with your phone, the Pixel 3a is a great option. It’s also a very affordable entry into Google’s vast mobile ecosystem





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