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Google Pixel 4 XL vs Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max: Which Is Better?

author Luis Silva (November 2020 Updated: August 2021 - 6 min. reading time)

The iPhone 12 Pro Max isn't that affordable, but it's the smartphone you should pick.

It gives you better performance (+75%), better glass protection, better cameras, better battery life, and more internal storage (128GB vs. 64GB).

Anything else?

The iPhone 12 Pro Max also features a larger (+0.4") display, better peak brightness, and faster wireless charging (15w vs. 5w). But the Pixel 4 XL adds a higher refresh rate, Always-On display, and a lightweight body (35 g./1.23 oz less).

How much more will those additional features cost me?

If you're considering a new and unlocked smartphone, it'll cost you around $400 more.

Is it worth buying the Pixel 4 XL in 2021?

The Pixel 4 XL is a pretty decent smartphone in 2021, especially now that it's cheaper. Nevertheless, you should also check other phones like the OnePlus 8 Pro because it has better performance, better cameras, better battery life, more storage, a better optical zoom, faster charging, more RAM, and reverse charging.

Is the iPhone 12 Pro Max still worth buying in 2021?

The iPhone 12 Pro Max remains a great smartphone in part thanks to its good performance, good cameras, and excellent glass protection. That's why I'll continue to recommend it in 2021, but don't just ignore the iPhone 12 Pro.

Just keep reading if you want to know everything about them, how they rival their competition, and how other specialists evaluate them.

Check prices on Amazon Check prices on Amazon
Click here or scroll down to check prices on eBay, BestBuy, and Walmart.

I earn a small fee from qualifying purchases. It doesn't affect the price you pay nor my opinions.

Google Pixel 4 XL, Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

CONTENTS

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Introduction

Apple launched its iPhone 12 Pro Max in November 2020, while Google's Pixel 4 XL arrived at stores in October 2019.

We've run down the specs, design, price, and much more in this guide to help you choose between the Pixel 4 XL and the iPhone 12 Pro Max.

The weight of each section

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

to check who their rivals are.

Price*
vs.
Device Pixel 4 XL iPhone 12 Pro Max
Release Date 2019, October 2020, November 1y.
OS Updates 3 years 6 years 3y.
Security Updates 3 years 6 years 3y.

*Reference: 100: Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.

Which One Has The Best Performance?

About performance: Geekbench 5 (IOS)(Android) scores the iPhone 12 Pro Max 75% ahead of its rival in the multi-core ranking. If you forget this number, you'll remember it every single day since day one. The iPhone is a bit more responsive to tasks like rotating the phone to landscape mode because Apple did their work to keep it fit.

The iPhone 12 Pro Max also has a performance above the average if you consider its rivals. While the average sits at 3376, this one is 26% above them.

By the way, you can define the Pixel 4 XL as a lower high-end and the iPhone 12 Pro Max as high-end.

Performance*
vs.
Features Pixel 4 XL iPhone 12 Pro Max
SoC Snapdragon 855 Apple A14
Graphics Adreno 640 Apple GPU
Geekbench 5 Score 2416
4240
1824
OS Android 10 iOS 14.1
Tek-Score
6.0
9.1
3.0

*Reference: 100: Apple iPhone 12.

Which Phone Has The Best Display?

Google Pixel 4 XL front transparent png Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max front transparent png

The Pixel 4 XL's display does stand out, and the difference is considerable. But the iPhone 12 Pro Max features better glass protection.

Most phones from this price range average at 792 nits, but the Pixel 4 XL stays at 357 nits below that.

If your next device can't do at least 450 nits, it isn't that good for HDR nor outdoor visibility. Now about the HDR feature:

If you're leaning towards the Pixel 4 XL, 95% of its rivals can play HDR content. Plus, all have an AMOLED screen, 91% have an Always-On display, and 82% have Gorilla Glass 6 or better.

For the iPhone 12 Pro Max, just so you know, 89% of its rivals can play HDR content, offer you more than 60hz of refresh rate, and have an Always-On display, and all have an AMOLED screen.

Display Density (DPIs)*
vs.
Features Pixel 4 XL iPhone 12 Pro Max
Size 6.3
6.7
0.4
Screen Type AMOLED AMOLED
Resolution (px) 1440x3040
1284x2778
-810648
Refresh Rate 90hz 60hz -30
Dots per Inch 533.94
456.77
-77.16
Always-On-Display Yes No
Notch - Wedge
Peak Brightness 435 nits
822 nits
387
HDR HDR10 HDR10
Sub Tek-Score
8.4
3.2
-5.2
Protection Corning Gorilla Glass 5 Corning Gorilla Glass Victus
Tek-Score
6.5
7.6
1.1

*Reference: 100: Sony Xperia 1 II.

Which Phone Has The Best Cameras?

Google Pixel 4 XL back transparent png Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max back transparent png

We can safely assume that the Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max has a better shooter.

About the Pixel 4 XL: I would've loved it if DXOMARK reviewed this camera, but considering its features, we came to about 121* points. If you also consider its telephoto lens, you'll end up with a score of 130**.

PS: all of its rivals can record videos in 4K or more, have an ultra-wide-angle lens, and feature Optical Image Stabilization. However, only 5% of them feature a macro lens.

About the iPhone 12 Pro Max: DXOMARK's gurus gave this shooter a score of 138. By considering the telephoto and wide-angle lenses, we'll get to the final score of 150 points. Just click here to read about it.

Winding it up, just like the other device, all of its rivals can record videos in 4 or 8K, feature a telephoto lens, have an ultra-wide-angle lens, and feature Optical Image Stabilization. Moreover, only 11% of them feature a macro lens.

If you're not a numbers person, we can tag the Pixel 4 XL as lower high-end and the iPhone 12 Pro Max more as a high-end.

Just out of curiosity, the iPhone 12 Pro Max zoom lens is 35mm below what you usually see for its price range, and the Pixel 4 XL is 43mm lower.

*DXOMARK knows how to test these shooters out. Too bad some cameras don't have a chance to be tested. So when I find one such shooter, I score every camera spec (like sensor size, lenses, and so on) to get a similar global score. You should give it a borderline margin of error of 2 points.

**Please take this with a grain of salt, particularly on mid-end cameras with less than 40MP and no zoom lens. They just changed their protocol, and I only have few reviewed devices to deduce a compatible score.

Picture Quality*
vs.
Primary Camera Pixel 4 XL iPhone 12 Pro Max
Megapixels 12
12
0
Aperture 1.7
1.6
-0.1
Lens 27mm
26mm
-1
Lens Type Wide-Angle Wide-Angle
Flash 2 2 0
HDR Yes Yes
OIS Yes Yes
Video 2160 2160 0
Score 130
150
20

*Reference: 100: Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra.

Extra Camera(s) Pixel 4 XL iPhone 12 Pro Max vs.
Megapixels 16
12
-4
Aperture 2.4
2.2
-0.2
Lens 50mm (2x zoom)
65mm (2x zoom)
15
Lens Type Telephoto lens Telephoto lens
Megapixels - 12
Aperture - 2.4
Lens - 13mm
Lens Type - Ultra-wide-Angle
Score 9 12 3
Selfie Camera Pixel 4 XL iPhone 12 Pro Max vs.
Megapixels 8
12
4
Aperture 2.0
2.2
0.2
Lens 22mm 23mm 1
Pixel 4 XL iPhone 12 Pro Max vs.
Tek-Score
7.6
8.8
1.2

Who has the best frame?

I'd go for the Pixel 4 XL for its weight. But I don't see any meaningful winner here.

The iPhone 12 Pro Max is a little bit heavier: About 35 g. (1.38 oz). If you want a big screen in a lightweight phone, I've developed a formula for a kind of "display size to phone weight" ratio. The Pixel 4 XL got a score of 4.1, meaning it has an acceptable score for its display size. Having said that, the iPhone 12 Pro Max has 2.1, which indicates it's oddly heavy.

The Pixel 4 XL is rated IP68, which means it's water-resistant in up to 1 to 3 meters, just like the iPhone 12 Pro Max. That should be for up to 30 minutes, in standby mode, so no underwater photos.

Looks*
vs.
Body Pixel 4 XL iPhone 12 Pro Max
Size 160 x 75 x 8 mm
(5.64 x 2.65 x 0.28 in)
160 x 78 x 7 mm
(5.64 x 2.75 x 0.25 in)
-8640
Weight 193 g. (6.81 oz)
228 g. (8.04 oz)
35
Build Front and back glass Front and back glass
Colors Clearly White, Oh So Orange, and Just Black Silver, Gold, Graphite, and Pacific Blue
Screen To Body Ratio 82.55%
88.38%
5.82
Disp.Size To Weight Score 4.1 2.1 -2.0
Looks 8.1/10
10.0/10
1.9
Waterproof IP68 IP68
Biometrics Face ID Face ID
Tek-Score
7.1
6.4
-0.6

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

Which has the best battery?

They both have a capacity of about 3700 mAh. But as claimed by GSMArena, the iPhone 12 Pro Max is the winner here.

So, you're not considering the Pixel 4 XL because of its battery life. Google could've done much better, as other devices of this size have way better battery life. It got a rate of 2.3 for the "battery to device size" ratio.

The new iPhones also feature magnetic wireless charging. It's nice but not as good as USB-C charging.

Did you know you can reverse wireless charging other phones? Not with these, though, but you can try it with the OnePlus 8 Pro and the OnePlus 9 Pro, for example.

Battery*
vs.
Features Pixel 4 XL iPhone 12 Pro Max
Capacity (mAh) 3700 3687 -13
1h Talk + 1h Web + 1h Video 78% left
82% left
4
1h Talk + 3h Web + 1h Video 60% left
67% left
7
1h Talk + 1h Web + 3h Video 60% left
69% left
9
Bat. To Phone Size Score 2.3 2.6 0.3
Sub Tek-Score
6.6
7.3
0.7
Fast Charging 18w
20w
2
Wireless Charging 5w
15w
10
Tek-Score
5.8
6.7
0.9

*Reference: 90: Samsung Galaxy A31.

Which has more storage?

The iPhone 12 Pro Max has about two times more storage.

In terms of RAM, the Pixel 4 XL brings 6GB. In terms of storage, it has 64GB. Also, similarly priced adversaries usually have more RAM and more storage. They're around 9GB of RAM and 145Gb of storage.

The iPhone 12 Pro Max offers 128GB of storage and 6GB of RAM. Again, you can effortlessly get more storage and more RAM on most of its rivals. 9Gb/199Gb. That's the average.

Storage shouldn't be an issue on any of these phones. However, if you love to store 4k videos, you'll find out that 64 GB won't be enough for you.

Storage*
vs.
Features Pixel 4 XL iPhone 12 Pro Max
RAM (GB) 6GB
6GB
0
Internal (GB) 64GB
128GB
64
Micro SD No No
Tek-Score
2.8
6.0
3.3

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

Which is the most connectivity-friendly?

The iPhone 12 Pro Max is your better option, as it features 5G.

Do you still favor wired headphones? None of them will help you with that. You can try an adapter if you want, but the wireless buds are the way to go here. Luckily, you can still get it on other phones if you just ignore these two. You'd have to pick a smartphone like the Sony Xperia 1 II.

You can connect the iPhone 12 Pro Max to (LTE and) 5G networks.

Connectivity
vs.
Features Pixel 4 XL iPhone 12 Pro Max
Network LTE 5G
Bluetooth 5.0
5.0
NFC Yes Yes
3.5mm jack No No
Tek-Score
3.6
4.6
1.0

Which is more affordable?

Here are the best deals on some major online stores:

Google Pixel 4 XL

Reference: $780

Google Pixel 4 XL

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max

Reference: $1,180

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max

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 (or whatever else you end up buying). 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 4 XL iPhone 12 Pro Max VS
Amazon 0.71 - ! -
eBay 0.59 0.62 0.03
Best Buy - - ! -
Walmart - - -

Also, don't forget to check the latest deals from these four stores, and the state of the art on mobile technology, if you don't want to overpay on your next smartphone.


Related articles:


Best smartphone deals


The Best Unbiased Smartphones For All Budgets


Smartphone Specs Statistics: The State Of The Art (Q1 2021)

Are you also considering other options? The global score can help. Just so you have an idea, take a look at where its adversaries average. They're in the ballpark of 7.2 for the Pixel 4 XL and 7.7 for the iPhone 12 Pro Max.

Verdict: What Makes the Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max Stand Out?

Unless you really prefer Android over iOS, the iPhone 12 Pro Max is the obvious choice. The Pixel 4 XL does have a smooth Always-on display, but the iPhone's performance alone should clear up your mind. 75% faster. It should be that noticeable, especially while browsing the web.

But this isn't about performance alone. It also has a higher peak brightness (+387 nits), better glass protection (2 Gorilla Glass generations above), better cameras, and double the internal storage.

If you value battery life or much faster wireless charging speeds, the iPhone 12 Pro Max is also the way to go.

Pros Pixel 4 XL iPhone 12 Pro Max
#1 Performance Performance
#2 AMOLED AMOLED
#3 Always-On-Display Cameras
#4 Cameras Fast Charging
#5 Fast Charging Wireless Charging
#6 Wireless Charging Glass Protection
Cons Pixel 4 XL iPhone 12 Pro Max
#1 MicroSD Slot Always-On-Display
#2 Weight MicroSD Slot
#3 3.5mm Jack Weight
#4 Price 3.5mm Jack
#5 Price
Relative Score*
vs.
Global Score Pixel 4 XL iPhone 12 Pro Max
Gaming Score
5.8
6.9
1.1
Tek-Score
5.70
7.42
1.72
Your Score

Scroll the sliders down below to get your own personalized score. Let's suppose you value performance and battery life, and you don't really care about anything else. Then, just set the "Performance" and the "Battery" sliders up to 5 (5+5=10), and then the other sliders down to 0. You'll know what's the best phone for you.

Performance 1.9
Display 1.7
Cameras 1.4
Frame 0.9
Battery 1.9
Storage 2.0
Connectivity 0.4
Total Should be 10 or as close as possible: 9.6

*Reference: 100: Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.

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About me

Hello!

My name is Luis Silva, and I have a degree in computer management. Ever since I was a teenager, I've loved everything to do with tech. Music, pictures, video editing, I've done it all! This site is a place for me to share some of the knowledge I have, as well as keep up-to-date with current trends. This is a wonderful place for tech-geeks and everyone else that just want to learn more about tech and smartphones in general.


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Google Pixel 4 XL Related Comparisons


Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max Related Comparisons

×

"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.

×

Rivals

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 Amazon, eBay, BestBuy, and Walmart.


 Google Pixel 4 XL 
  • ApplerivaliPhone 12
    $689
  • SonyrivalXperia 1
    $688
  • SonyrivalXperia 5
    $649
  • ApplerivaliPhone 11 Pro
    $684
  • ApplerivaliPhone XS Max
    $650
  • ApplerivaliPhone 11 Pro Max
    $900
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S10 Plus
    $689
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S10+ EX
    $689
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20 EX
    $697
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20 U.EX
    $789
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy Note 20 U.SD
    $899
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20
    $697
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20 Ultra
    $809
  • HuaweirivalMate 30 Pro
    $849
  • HuaweirivalP40 Pro
    $799
  • HuaweirivalP40
    $666
  • OnePlusrival8 Pro
    $799
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy Note 20 U.
    $899
  • XiaomirivalMi 10 Ultra
    $846
  • ApplerivaliPhone 12 Mini
    $739
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S21 Ultra
    $899
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S21
    $729
  • SonyrivalXperia 1 II
    $650
  • XiaomirivalMi 11
    $698
  • VivorivalX60 Pro
    $900

 Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max 
  • ApplerivaliPhone 12 Pro
    $969
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20 U.SD
    $1049
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy Note 20 U.EX
    $999
  • HuaweirivalMate 40 Pro
    $1065
  • OpporivalFind X2 Pro
    $950
  • XiaomirivalMi 11 Ultra
    $1079
  • OnePlusrival9 Pro
    $969
  • VivorivalX60 Pro Plus
    $1177
  • OpporivalFind X3 Pro
    $1149
×

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 mclass-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 dclassn't test, the deviation may be up to twice as much.

×

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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