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Should you replace your aging Google Pixel XL with a new Pixel 3 XL?

Is it time to replace your two-year-old Google Pixel smartphone for the newly released Google Pixel 3 XL? We give you our answer.

Published onNovember 10, 2018

google pixel 3 xl

A couple of weeks ago, we answered the question of whether owners of the original Google Pixel smartphone should switch over to the new Pixel 3? (Spoiler alert: Yes!). However, does that also mean owners of the larger original Google Pixel XL phone make the move to upgrade to the new Google Pixel 3 XL? Let’s take a look.

Specs: Google Pixel 3 XL vs Pixel XL

google pixel xl

It’s been two years since the release of the original Google Pixel XL, so obviously the Pixel 3 XL offers a massive spec upgrade. Here’s a quick look at the hardware and software specs for the new Google Pixel 3 compared to the original Pixel:

Google Pixel 3 XLGoogle Pixel XL
Google Pixel 3 XL
6.3-inch flexible OLED
1,440 x 2,960 resolution
18.5:9 screen ratio
Gorilla Glass 5
Google Pixel XL
5.5-inch AMOLED
2560 x 1440
Gorilla Glass 4
Google Pixel 3 XL
Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
Pixel Visual Core
Google Pixel XL
Qualcomm Snapdragon 821
Google Pixel 3 XL
Google Pixel XL
Google Pixel 3 XL
64GB, 128GB
Google Pixel XL
32GB, 128GB
Google Pixel 3 XL
Rear: 12.2MP, f/1.8 aperture, 1.4 micron pixels, OIS and EIS, spectral and flicker sensor

Main: 8MP standard angle (75-degree FOV), f/1.8 aperture, auto-focus
Secondary: 8MP wide-angle (97-degree FOV), f/2.2 aperture, fixed-focus
Google Pixel XL
Rear: 12.3 MP sensor, 1.55 μm pixel size, and f/2.0 aperture, laser + phase detection autofocus

Front: 8 MP sensor, 1.4 μm pixel size, and f/2.4 aperture
Google Pixel 3 XL
No headphone jack
Audio over USB Type-C
Google Pixel XL
3.5mm headphone jack
Google Pixel 3 XL
Google Pixel XL
IP rating
Google Pixel 3 XL
Google Pixel XL
Google Pixel 3 XL
Android 9 Pie
Google Pixel XL
Android 7.1 Nougat, update to 9.0 Pie
Google Pixel 3 XL
Dual front-facing speakers
Active Edge
Wireless charging
Pixel USB Type-C earbuds included
Google Pixel XL
Single bottom-facing speaker
Google Pixel 3 XL
Just Black, Clearly White, Not Pink
Google Pixel XL
Very Silver, Quite Black, Really Blue (Limited Edition)
Dimensions and weight
Google Pixel 3 XL
158.0 x 76.7 x 7.9mm
Google Pixel XL
154.7 x 75.7 x 8.6mm

Reasons to upgrade from Pixel XL to Pixel 3 XL

Google Pixel 3 on Pixel Stand

Much bigger screen, only slightly bigger phone 

The Pixel 3 XL is only a bit bigger in height and length compared to the original Pixel 3, and the new phone is actually a little thinner. However, the Pixel 3 XL has a much larger 6.3-inch display, with a 1,440 x 2,960 resolution and an 18.5:9 screen ratio. The original Pixel XL had a 5.5-inch display with a 2,560 x 1,440 resolution and a 16:9 screen ratio. Ironically, the screen in the “extra large” original Pixel XL is now the same size as the standard Pixel 3, showing how drastically “large screen” phones have changed in just two years.

In addition, the Pixel 3 XL ‘s screen also uses the more advanced OLED display compared to the older AMOLED display found on the first Pixel XL

Faster processor and the Pixel Visual Core

The Google Pixel XL released in 2016 with the best mobile processor made for Android phones at that time; the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821. Not only does the new Pixel 3 XL have the current champion of the Android processors on board in the Snapdragon 845, but it also has an extra bit of hardware; the Pixel Visual Core, a chip designed by Google designed specifically to offer better images for the Pixel 3 XL’s cameras.

Better cameras

Speaking of which, both the original Pixel XL and the new Pixel 3 XL still have a single rear 12MP camera on board. However, the rear camera sensor on the Pixel 3 XL is more advanced bit of hardware compared to the one found on the original Pixel XL. The Pixel 3 XL also makes a big change from the first Pixel XL by offering dual front-facing 8MP sensors. You have a standard camera for the first sensor, plus a second wide-angle sensor, which means Pixel 3 XL owners can take selfies with more people in the picture — called a “Group Selfie” in Google’s marketing.

Wireless charging 

While the battery size hasn’t changed much, the Pixel 3 XL adds wireless charging support. It’s much easier to charge a phone without having to connect to a wired charger (although you can still do that as well). The Pixel 3 XL will work with any Qi-based wireless charging pad or stand, including the new Pixel Stand Google is also selling as an optional accessory.

Water and dust resistance 

The original Pixel XL was IP53 rated, which basically meant it could handle some raindrops or a quick spill. It certainly couldn’t survive a fall into a pool for more than a few seconds. The Pixel 3 XL has a much higher IP68 water and dust resistance rating, so it should still work even when it falls into a pool of water and stays there for up to 30 minutes at up to 1.5 meters in water depth. If you are at the pool this summer, the Pixel 3 XL should survive if you accidentally drop it in the water.

Dual front-facing speakers 

While the first Pixel XL had just one single bottom-facing speaker, the Pixel 3 XL rocks dual front-facing speakers. This should naturally result in a much better audio experience for those times when you aren’t using headphones or earbuds.

Obviously, there are other reasons why the Pixel 3 XL is a very real upgrade, including a more modern design, but you get the picture. Unfortunately, as good as the Pixel 3 XL is, it’s not without sacrifice. 

Downsides to upgrading from Pixel XL to Pixel 3 XL

pixel xl on table back side

No headphone jack 

The Pixel 3 XL ditches the headphone jack for the first time in the history of the brand. While the phone comes with a pair of USB Type-C earbuds, and we have already mentioned its dual speakers, many people still love the 3.5mm headphone jack. If you are one of them, and you own the original Pixel XL, you may not be happy losing it with this Pixel 3 XL upgrade.

pixel 3xl notch

The Pixel 3 XL’s display notch

There’s no getting around this point: the 6.3-inch display on the Pixel 3 XL has a notch on top to cut down on the phone’s bezels, a trend that started in late 2017. Because the phone has dual front-facing cameras this time, that also means the Pixel 3 XL has a rather large cutout as well. If you’re one of the many smartphone consumers who hate notches on phone displays, you might want to bypass getting the new larger Pixel 3 XL.

Google lets owners of the Pixel 3 XL to hide the notch, but it’s harder for the casual smartphone owner to get it working. Thankfully, we have written out a guide to hiding the Pixel 3 XL notch without having to download a special app or custom ROM.

Losing the Really Blue color version 

This may be a minor point, but we wish the Pixel 3 XL still came in the cool looking really blue edition the original Pixel XL and smaller Pixel had as a limited option. 

So should you upgrade from the Pixel XL to the Pixel 3 XL

The Pixel 3 XL is a huge improvement compared to the original Pixel XL in nearly every way. You get a bigger screen without a much bigger phone (even with the notch on top), along with wireless charging, dual front-facing cameras, full waterproofing, and much more. If you own and love the Pixel XL, trading it in for the Pixel 3 XL is pretty much a no-brainer.

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