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Google Pixel 3 vs Apple iPhone XS: Should You Go iOS Or Android?

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Google Pixel 3, Apple iPhone XS

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Luis Silva (April 2020, updated: February 2021)


In September of 2018, Apple started selling its iPhone XS, while Google's Pixel 3 hit the stores in November of 2018.

Here you can look at the Pixel 3 and the iPhone XS, compare each other's features, and decide which one is best for you. Let us delve into the finer details.

If you have the time, click here to skip the spoilers and continue to the full comparison.

Bottom Line

Which is better, the iPhone XS or the Pixel 3?

The iPhone XS is more expensive than the Pixel 3, but it also has better specs.

You'll get better performance (+45%), better glass protection, and more OS updates (3 additional years).

Are there other things worth mentioning?

With the iPhone XS, you'll also get a larger (+0.3") display, better peak brightness, and a telephoto lens (+52 mm). But with the Pixel 3, you can get an Always-On display and a lightweight body (29 g./1.02 oz less).

Having said that, none of them truly stood out as they achieved a pretty even score.

But how much more will I have to pay for the iPhone XS?

If you're ignoring carrier offers, it should be about $98 more expensive.

Is it worth getting the Pixel 3 in 2021?

I'd rather avoid the trouble and go to the Pixel 4a instead. I can't recommend a phone about to lose its updates.

Is it worth buying the iPhone XS in 2021?

Why not? It's one of the best smartphones out there.

The price round is no contest. The Pixel 3 sounds like a bargain compared to the iPhone XS. That's something to consider when making a comparison between the two.

If you're considering the Pixel 3, it may lose it's security updates anytime soon (if not already).

Look out for a "Tek-Score" in every section of this article. All the specifications were examined to allow you a faster discerning of the variation between the phones. There's also a global rate for you to compare them to other phones if you're curious about other models aside from these two.

We've based our rate on a study from Globalwebindex.com about what people want from their next smartphones.

For additional information regarding our smartphone comparisons, check this FAQ.

Some features have a colored bar next to them. That can help you understand how they relate to the ones from similarly priced smartphones.

By clicking here: you'll see which ones we've analyzed, but basically, we've excluded every smartphone that's not within a 20% (above or below) price range.

Feel free to click any feature title to check out several top 10 tables for every spending plan.

Price* vs.
Device Pixel 3 iPhone XS
Release Date 2018, November 2018, September 0y.
OS Updates 3 years 6 years 3y.
Security Updates 3 years 6 years 3y.

*Reference: Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.


What about their chipsets? The Apple iPhone XS features the Apple A12 processor and the Google Pixel 3, the Snapdragon 845 processor.

If you're a gamer, you'll like to know that the former features a proprietary Apple GPU, and the latter has an Adreno 630.

In terms of performance, Geekbench 5 (IOS)(Android) scores the iPhone XS 45% ahead of its rival on the multi-core rankings. If you're a gamer, this should be an easy pick. You should be aware that apps on iOs usually run smoother because of the optimizations that Apple does.

The Pixel 3 features the Android 9 (Pie) OS, and the iPhone XS has iOS 12.

Although, in this case, since the Pixel 3 software updates are controlled directly by Google, you can count on support for at least 3 years.

Performance* vs.
Features Pixel 3 iPhone XS
SoC Snapdragon 845 Apple A12
Graphics Adreno 630 Apple GPU
Geekbench 5 Score 1874
OS Android 9 (Pie) iOS 12

*Reference: Apple iPhone 12.


Google Pixel 3 front transparent png Apple iPhone XS front transparent png

The iPhone XS features a 5.8" AMOLED display, while the Pixel 3 has a smaller 5.5" AMOLED display. There's no general contest here as each user has his personal preferences. To me, a 6.3 inches screen is where I draw the line.

If you're into small displays, stop searching, and just pick the iPhone XS. Other similarly priced smartphones just aren't that short.

The display of the iPhone XS has a resolution of 1125x2436 Full HD. The Pixel 3, in its turn, has 1080x2160 Full HD.

No one likes to look at a shattered screen, so it's essential to know what kind of glass protection they have. The iPhone XS has a Corning toughened glass display. The Pixel 3, in its turn, has a Corning Gorilla Glass 5.

There's a phone with an Always-On display here, the Google Pixel 3.

If you set these displays for auto-brightness, the Pixel 3 can do 450 nits, but the iPhone XS can go up to 210 nits above that.

If a device can't go over 500 nits, it isn't suitable for HDR content nor to use in direct sunlight visibility. Now about the HDR feature: The Pixel 3 supposedly does HDR video, while its rival can display HDR10 content.

Putting the Pixel 3 in perspective: none of its competitors have over 60hz of refresh rate, and only 9% of them feature Gorilla Glass 6 or Victus.

Considering the iPhone XS, I should say that 90% of its rivals can play HDR content and have an AMOLED screen, and 75% of them have an Always-On display. In contrast, only 20% of them have over 60hz of refresh rate and feature Gorilla Glass 6 or Victus.

Display Density (DPIs)* vs.
Features Pixel 3 iPhone XS
Size 5.5
Resolution (px) 1080x2160
Refresh Rate 60hz 60hz 0
Dots per Inch 439.08
Always-On-Display Yes No
Notch - Wedge
Peak Brightness 450 nits
660 nits
Sub Tek-Score
Protection Corning Gorilla Glass 5 Corning toughened glass

*Reference: Sony Xperia 1.


Google Pixel 3 back transparent png Apple iPhone XS back transparent png

Things are different when it comes to lenses. Google's Pixel 3 can record videos at up to 2160p. It also has a shooter with 12 MP, an aperture of f/1.8, a 28mm wide-angle lens, two flash LEDs, HDR capabilities, and Optical Image Stabilization.

Want to know about its selfie capabilities? It has an 8 MP (f/1.8) shooter and a 28 mm wide-angle lens.

This camera came out of DxOMark's labs with a score of 106. If you add its digital zoom abilities, that will go up to 112**. If you want to know more about it, click here.

To put things in perspective: keep in mind that 91% of its rivals can record videos in 4K or more, and all of them have an ultra-wide-angle lens. On the other hand, only 18% of them come with a telephoto lens.

On the back of the Apple iPhone XS is a 12 MP (f/1.8) camera and a 26mm wide-angle lens. Then you'll have one flash LED, HDR abilities, and Optical Image Stabilization too. It can also record videos at up to 2160p. The iPhone XS also sports a 12 MP sensor, packed with an f/2.4 lens plus a 52mm telephoto lens.

On the front, there's an f/2.2 7 MP camera and a 32mm lens.

The guys over at the DxOMark labs rated this camera with 118 points. By considering its telephoto lens, we end up with a rate of 126** points. For an out-and-out review, click here.

Lastly, all of its rivals can record videos in 4 or 8K and have an ultra-wide-angle lens, and 80% of them feature Optical Image Stabilization. Additionally, only 25% of them feature a macro lens.

Be aware that the iPhone XS's picture quality is, on average, 18 points above its rivals for the same budget. And the Pixel 3 isn't good enough to win this battle.

What I really like about the iPhone XS is the 2x telephoto lens. As soon as you get used to it, you'll know what I mean.

**This rate still needs improvement, especially with cameras with less than 40MP and no telephoto lens. They moved to a better camera test protocol, and there aren't enough reviewed phones to extrapolate a backward-compatible score.

Picture Quality* vs.
Primary Camera Pixel 3 iPhone XS
Megapixels 12
Aperture 1.8
Lens 28mm
Lens Type Regular Wide-Angle
Flash 2 1 -1
HDR Yes Yes
OIS Yes Yes
Video 2160 2160 0
Score 112

*Reference: Huawei Mate 40 Pro.

Extra Camera(s) Pixel 3 iPhone XS vs.
Megapixels - 12
Aperture - 2.4
Lens - 52mm (2x zoom)
Lens Type - Telephoto lens
Score 6 8 2

Selfie Camera Pixel 3 iPhone XS vs.
Megapixels 8
Aperture 1.8
Lens 28mm 32mm 4

Pixel 3 iPhone XS vs.


The Pixel 3 comes at 145x68 mm (5.71x2.68 inches). The Apple iPhone XS, however, is a bit larger. Precisely 0.08 inches (2 mm) and a bit smaller: 0.08 inches (2 mm).

These two have about the same thickness: 7 mm (0.28 inches).

All of that goodness is presented in a sleek glass body. The iPhone XS is a little bit heavier: About 29 g. (1.14 oz). If you're curious, the Pixel 3 has a "weight to screen size" score of 6.9, meaning it has a pretty nice weight for its display size. Having said that, the iPhone XS has 4.2, so nothing to state here.

We do like having some color options. You get Clearly White, Not Pink, and Just Black in the Pixel 3. But you can get Space Gray, Gold, and Silver with the iPhone XS.

You're out of options in the size domain, so if you want something different, you'll have to find it elsewhere.

Is the lack of a fingerprint scanner a deal-breaker to you? There's one on the back of the Pixel 3!

Although a pin isn't the only login option in the iPhone XS. Some say Face ID isn't as secure, but it's there for you.

The Pixel 3 truly is water-resistant. It can be submerged 1 to 3 meters deep, on par with the iPhone XS. But remember: it's for a maximum period of half an hour, and it's freshwater in standby mode only.

Looks* vs.
Body Pixel 3 iPhone XS
Size 145 x 68 x 7 mm
(5.11 x 2.40 x 0.25 in)
143 x 70 x 7 mm
(5.04 x 2.47 x 0.25 in)
Weight 148 g. (5.22 oz)
177 g. (6.24 oz)
Build Front and back glass Front and back glass
Colors Clearly White, Not Pink, and Just Black Space Gray, Gold, and Silver
Screen To Body Ratio 79.17%
Disp.Size To Weight Score 6.9 4.2 -2.7
Looks 7.3/10 8.1/10
Waterproof IP68 IP68
Biometrics Fingerprint Face ID

*100% = 4+ colors + front and back glass + S2BR: 86+%.


When it comes to battery life, in theory, the Google Pixel 3, with its 2915 mAh of battery capacity, wins over the Apple iPhone XS, with only 2658 mAh of battery capacity. But how would both perform in a real-world scenario? If you charge them up and run some tests, that's what you can expect from the Pixel 3:

  • If you do 1 hour of talking, 1 hour of web browsing, and 1 hour of video playback, you'll be at 77% of the battery charge.
  • By talking for 1 hour, browsing the web for 3 hours, and playing videos for 1 hour, you'll still have 57% left for the rest of the day.
  • For 1 hour of talking, 1 hour of web browsing, and 3 hours of video playback, you'll be with 59%.

And this is how the iPhone XS handles these tests:

  • For 1 hour of talking, 1 hour of web browsing, and 1 hour of video playback, you'll end up with 74% of the battery charge.
  • If you do 1 hour of talking, 3 hours of web browsing, and 1 hour of video playback, the battery charge will be about 54%.
  • From 1 hour of talking, 1 hour of web browsing, and 3 hours of video playback, you'll be with 56%.

I think this isn't surprising at all, but there's no real difference here.

This is one of the iPhone XS's worse features. Way worse than other price-liked phones. These tests show that it lasts up to 15% less.

Fast-charging's here, and both phones support it. The iPhone XS can go up to 15w, and the Pixel 3 up to 18.

There's also wireless charging (5w) in both of them. Cool.

And if you'd like to try out reverse wireless charging, you can try it with the Pixel 5, for example.

Battery* vs.
Features Pixel 3 iPhone XS
Capacity (mAh) 2915 2658 -257
1h Talk + 1h Web + 1h Video 77% left
74% left
1h Talk + 3h Web + 1h Video 57% left
54% left
1h Talk + 1h Web + 3h Video 59% left
56% left
Bat. To Phone Size Score 7.0 5.7 -1.3
Sub Tek-Score
Fast Charging 18w
Wireless Charging 5w 5w

*Reference: Samsung Galaxy A31.


Google put 4GB of RAM and 64GB of built-in storage on the Pixel 3. Unfortunately, Google didn't include a MicroSD slot. While it shouldn't be a deal-breaker, you should keep that in mind when purchasing one.

The iPhone XS also offers 64GB of storage and 4GB of RAM. It also doesn't have a MicroSD slot. You may need to regularly move your video files out of your phone. You may already know, but you can get more storage and more RAM on most of its rivals. They'd give you around 122Gb of storage and 7Gb of RAM.

Both phones have more than enough storage and RAM for the average consumer. However, if you can't get enough of the record button, 64 GB may be too short for you.

Storage* vs.
Features Pixel 3 iPhone XS
Internal (GB) 64GB
Micro SD No No

*Internal Storage + 256GB Memory Card (Max: 512GB).


Both phones have Bluetooth 5.0, so nothing special here. Both phones also have NFC.

Do you still favor wired headphones? None of them will help you with that. Want a piece of advice? Forget about adapters and go for the wireless buds. There also are other options out there if you don't care that much about them. The Pixel 4a can give you a headphone jack.

You can find these two in the LTE variant. If you want next-gen 5G connectivity, you should look at the Pixel 5 instead.

Connectivity vs.
Features Pixel 3 iPhone XS
Network LTE LTE
Bluetooth 5.0
NFC Yes Yes
3.5mm jack No No


The Google Pixel 3 may not be the cheapest phone, but it's cheaper nonetheless. But with a great deal or a price drop, it can be an impressive finding. Promotions aside, the iPhone XS is more expensive, but I think that you can find some additional value in it. And if you end up selling the iPhone, it should count as a discount.

If you still aren't sure about any of them, let's check how much value you can expect.

If you're looking for old phones, I do hope you're considering second-hand here.

Here are their recently updated prices:

I earn a small fee from qualifying purchases. It doesn't affect the price you pay nor my opinions, but it will mean a lot if you click on one of these buttons before purchasing your next phone. You'll be helping to take this to the next level.

Prices on eBay are in $US but Europe-based. You can click to check the prices in your country.

Prices marked with ! are from renewed/refurbished/carrier-locked phones (except eBay prices that, as a last resort, can be from bids or used devices).

How much of a "phone" can your money buy?
That's how much "score" you can get with $100 based on the global score that you'll see in the next section (higher is better).

Have you found better prices elsewhere? The formula is simple: score/price*100.

Value for money Pixel 3 iPhone XS VS
Amazon 2.51 1.67 ! -
eBay 2.15 0.85 -1.30
Best Buy - - -
Wallmart 1.90 1.46 ! -

And this is the "The Best Smartphones On A Budget" list.

Want to know about that global rate? Let me point out the average of its competitors. It's 5.4 for the Pixel 3 and 6.2 for the iPhone XS.

Verdict: Does any of them really stand out?

These two really are more alike than you may initially think of, despite their differences. These aren't also the best in their class, but if you're looking for a cheap and native software experience, I guess they are as good (if not better) as most. If you're looking for performance above all, you should clearly go for the iPhone XS. But performance isn't everything, and the Pixel 3 wins on the display, weight, and battery life. That's why they end up at about the same score. iPhone's chipset and camera alone aren't enough to make it stand out that much from the Pixel 3. In the end, they all have their MicroSD card and audio jack policies in common, since both want you to subscribe to cloud services or to buy an overpriced set of headphones.

Pros Pixel 3 iPhone XS
#1 AMOLED Performance
#2 Always-On-Display AMOLED
#3 Cameras Cameras
#4 Fast Charging Fast Charging
#5 Wireless Charging Wireless Charging
#6 Glass Protection

Cons Pixel 3 iPhone XS
#1 MicroSD Slot Always-On-Display
#2 3.5mm Jack Battery Life
#3 MicroSD Slot
#4 3.5mm Jack
#5 Price

Relative Score* vs.
Global Score Pixel 3 iPhone XS
Gaming Score

*Reference: Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.

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Hello there!

I'm Luis Silva, and this is the place where I nerd out about technology. I've been a tech enthusiast for 25 years, and I have a degree in computer management.

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Google Pixel 3 Related Comparisons

Apple iPhone XS Related Comparisons


Tek-Score explained

Every spec has it's own weigh on the global score.

Feature: Value
Battery Life: 1.28
Fast Charging: 0.31
Wireless Charging: 0.19
Reverse Charging: 0.08
Storage: 1.97
Performance: 1.86
Camera: 1.35
Glass protection: 1.08
Weight: 0.35
Waterproof: 0.35
AMOLED: 0.04
Always-On-Display: 0.31
DPI: 0.12
Refresh Rate: 0.04
Nits: 0.04
Notch: 0.04
Bluetooth: 0.08
NFC: 0.12
3.5mm jack: 0.19
Looks: 0.23
Total: 10

But there are a few things that I don't consider, like price, brand value, size, resell value, OS (iOS or Android), user experience, updates, RAM (included on performance), battery to phone size, display size to weight, and biometrics.


Progress bars explained

#1: A big red progress bar means that this value is way below the average. In this case, it's 28.85MP, and the iPhone XR is 16.85MP below the average.

#2: In this example, the XR is just 0.36mm below the average, that's why the red bar is almost unnoticeable.

#3: On the other hand, the SE 2 is 1.8mm above (hence, the green bar) the 26.2mm of average.

#4: Performance-wise, the SE 2 is well above the average (of 2512) for its price range. That's the reason the green bar is that long.


"Display size to phone weight" ratio explained

This indeed is a "display size to phone weight" ratio, but because every phone ended up somewhere between 0.0272 and 0.0421, I've amplified (adapted) those values so they would fit in a 0-10 scale. As of now, the best smartphone is the Samsung Galaxy A40, with 140g. (4.94 oz) for a 5.9 inch display. It got a score of 9.92. While the worse device is the iPhone 8 Plus, which weighs 202 g. (7.13 oz) and has a 5.5-inch display. It ended up with a score of 0.75.

Please, be aware that this score is subject to change if and when a new smartphone comes along that ends up being outside of this scale.


"Battery to device size" ratio explained

This score should give you an idea about the energy footprint of the devices you're considering. It reflects not only the hardware and the energy that it requires but also the amount of energy that the battery can deliver.

The major spenders on any device should be the display and the SoC. But everything from a notification led to its modems need to be optimized, or else, the OEM should simply include a bigger battery as a compensation. Unfortunately, it isn't always possible due to size limitations. But in the end, if a particular OEM can do a good job and give you excellent battery life on a small device, so should everyone else. That's why I've added a "battery to device size" ratio. But since the real scale went from 119 (for the Galaxy S10e, Snapdragon variant) and up to 164 (for the iPhone 7 Plus), I've decided to convert them so they would fit in a 0-10 scale, being 0 the worst device, (the iPhone 7 Plus) and 10 the one every OEM should look up to.

As an example, Apple did an excellent job on the iPhone 7. It has a score of 8. Despite having a small capacity, the hardware is well optimized, and it still gives you decent battery life considering its size. The iPhone 7 Plus, on the other hand, with those bezels shrinking its display size, clearly could've been the #1 in our top 10 list of best battery devices if Apple simply filled all that empty space with a bigger battery.

As a side note: I haven't included the dept of the devices in this formula because even if a device ended up being 1mm/0.03 inches thicker, it wouldn't matter that much to those who really value battery life.

Please, be aware that this score is subject to change if and when a new smartphone comes along that ends up being outside of this scale.



As of now, these are the rivals that were considered for each of them. They may change every time its prices are updated.

These are the lowest prices found on any of the usual stores.

 Google Pixel 3 
  • Samsung

    Galaxy A70

  • Samsung

    Galaxy A30

  • Samsung

    Galaxy A40

  • Xiaomi

    Redmi Note 8 Pro

  • Apple

    iPhone 6s

  • Xiaomi

    Pocophone F1

  • Apple

    iPhone 7 Plus

  • Xiaomi

    Mi A3

  • Realme


  • Realme

    5 Pro

  • Apple

    iPhone 7

  • OnePlus


  • OnePlus


  • Xiaomi

    Mi 9 Lite

  • Samsung

    Galaxy S8

  • Xiaomi

    Mi 8

  • Xiaomi

    Mi 9 SE

  • Samsung

    Galaxy A31

 Apple iPhone XS 
  • Apple

    iPhone 8

  • OnePlus


  • Samsung

    Galaxy Note 8

  • Samsung

    Galaxy Note 10+

  • Apple

    iPhone 8 Plus

  • Samsung

    Galaxy Note 9

  • Samsung

    Galaxy S10e

  • Samsung

    Galaxy S10e EX

  • Samsung

    Galaxy S10e SD

  • Samsung

    Galaxy S10 EX

  • OnePlus


  • OnePlus

    7 Pro

  • Huawei


  • Google

    Pixel 4

  • Xiaomi

    Mi 9

  • Apple

    iPhone SE 2

  • Samsung

    Galaxy S10 Lite

  • Samsung

    Galaxy Note 10 Lite

  • OnePlus


  • Google

    Pixel 4a

  • Xiaomi

    Mi 10T Pro

  • Samsung

    Galaxy M51

  • Xiaomi

    Mi 10 Lite


Battery results

The battery score is based on Gsmarena's endurance rating and is taken with a screen brightness of 200 nits and a refresh rate of 60hz.

Assumptions: The display is off during a call, there's a web page refresh every 10 seconds, and the video playback is in Airplane mode.

You can click here for more information.


Formula deviation

Since the guys at DxoMark don't review every camera out there, I've come up with a formula based on the ones that they do rate, so I could get an equivalent score for the ones they don't review. After testing it against these cameras, I got the deviation between that and their DxO score.

Device: DxOScore Deviation
Samsung Galaxy A50: 88 -1
Apple iPhone XR: 104 1
Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro: 108 -7
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro: 87 1
Sony Xperia 1: 99 -1
Sony Xperia 5: 101 1
Samsung Galaxy Note 8: 100 0
Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus: 126 2
Apple iPhone 8 Plus: 96 -3
Xiaomi Pocophone F1: 92 -1
Apple iPhone 7 Plus: 90 -1
Apple iPhone X: 101 3
Apple iPhone 11: 112 -1
Samsung Galaxy Note 8: 100 0
Samsung Galaxy Note 9: 107 1
Apple iPhone XS Max: 110 -2
Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max: 124 1
Samsung Galaxy S10: 124 2
Apple iPhone XS: 110 -1
Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus: 120 -2
OnePlus 7 Pro: 122 0
OnePlus 7T Pro: 122 0
Huawei P30 Pro: 125 -1
Google Pixel 4: 117 0
Google Pixel 3: 103 0
Google Pixel 2: 100 0
Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus: 127 -2
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra: 132 2
OnePlus 6: 100 0
OnePlus 6T: 101 1
Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus: 105 -1
Huawei Mate 20 Pro: 120 0
Xiaomi Mi 9: 115 0
Huawei Mate 30 Pro: 132 0
Huawei P40 Pro: 140 -1
Apple iPhone SE 2: 101 0
OnePlus 8 Pro: 126 0
Xiaomi Mi 8: 105 1
Samsung Galaxy A71: 89 1
Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro: 134 0

As you can see, most cameras sit between 1 and -1, while a few of them go up to 2 or -2. That means it's reasonable to assume other similar cameras that they don't review to, in the worst-case scenario, be anywhere from -2 to 2 points from the score that the formula gets.

For example: Given that the Pixel 4 got 117 points and that the Pixel 4 XL share the same year and camera specs, it's reasonable to expect a score of 117 too. But in reality, if they do review that camera, it may end up anywhere between 115 and 119.

Be aware that at DxO, they give a score based on their opinion, not based on any formula. That's why I think there's an odd difference of 6 points between the iPhone 8 Plus and the iPhone X. In theory, they should have the same camera.

I'm guessing that the Mi 9T Pro got a deviation of 7 points because they tested its Chinese variant (the K20 Pro).

Update: They just changed their protocol to include preview image evaluation and trustability. I'm keeping the old table (for now) for reference purposes, and I'll be adding a new one as soon as they review at least a couple of new mid-range cameras.

You can expect the same (or a bit bigger) deviation for high-end cameras, but anything with a score below 100-110 should be taken with a grain of salt.

This is valid for all cameras tested with the previous protocol. For those that they didn't test, the deviation may be up to twice as much.



With regards to AMOLED screens, sometimes OEMs claim higher maximum brightness. That's because an AMOLED screen can push its brightness progressively higher as its white area gets smaller.

These values are from the lab tests made by GSMArena, and their white test pattern takes up 75% of the physical size of the screen.


About GeekBench 5

This is just a quick note to let you know that, if, by any chance, the smartphone you're looking for isn't on the GeekBench site yet, you can check on GsmArena.com, as they also usually test smartphones with that benchmark tool.

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