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Pixel 4 vs. iPhone 11 Pro: Flagships Compared

The Google Pixel 4 was one of the best phones of 2019. Google’s Pixel range offers the slickest software experience you’ll find with an Android device, swift updates, and an excellent camera. And with real-time interpretation, the Pixel 4 was more powerful than its predecessors. It’s fair to say that the Pixel 4 is more like an iPhone than any other Android device before it … but how does it measure up against Apple’s 2019 flagship, the iPhone 11 Pro?

The two have a surprising amount in common, but there are some important differences. Let’s dig into the details.

Specs

Google Pixel 4 Apple iPhone 11 Pro
Size 147.1 × 68.8 × 8.2mm (5.7 × 2.7 × 0.3 inches) 144 × 71.4 × 8.1mm (5.67 × 2.81 × 0.32 inches)
Weight 162 grams (5.71 ounces) 188 grams (6.63 ounces)
Screen size 5.7-inch AMOLED 5.8-inch Super Retina XDR OLED
Screen resolution 2,280 × 1,080 pixels (444 pixels per inch) 2,436 × 1,125 pixels (458 ppi)
Operating system Android 11 iOS 14
Storage space 64GB, 128GB 64GB, 256GB, 512GB
MicroSD card slot No No
Tap-to-pay services Google Pay Apple Pay
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Apple A13 Bionic
RAM 6GB 4GB
Camera Dual 12-megapixel and 16MP telephoto rear, 8MP front Triple-lens 12MP wide, ultra-wide, and telephoto rear, 12MP TrueDepth front
Video 4K at 30 frames per second, 1080p at 120 fps, 720p at 240 fps 4K at up 60 fps, 1080p at 240 fps
Bluetooth version Bluetooth 5.0 Bluetooth 5.0
Ports USB-C Lightning connector
Fingerprint sensor No No
Water resistance IP68 IP68
Battery 2,800mAh

Fast charging (18W)

Qi wireless charging

3,046mAh

Fast charging (18W)

Qi wireless charging

App marketplace Google Play Store Apple App Store
Network support AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon
Colors Just Black, Clearly White, Oh So Orange Midnight Green, Space Gray, Silver, Gold
Price $799 $999
Review score 4 out of 5 stars  4.5 out of 5 stars

Performance, battery life, and charging

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

While both of these phones will run the latest apps and games without complaint and navigation is smooth and stutter-free, Apple’s A13 Bionic is more capable than Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855. It’s significantly faster in most benchmark tests and, while it’s difficult to feel a difference in normal use, that extra grunt may pay off in the long term. The Pixel 4 has 6GB of RAM to the iPhone’s 4GB, but since Android and iOS handle memory management differently, that’s not really indicative of multitasking performance. Suffice it to say that both run like a dream.

Apple is adept at squeezing good battery life from relatively low capacity, but Google has disappointed in the past — the Pixel 3 had poor stamina. For some reason, Google put an even smaller battery in the Pixel 4, so it has a capacity of 2,800mAh to the iPhone’s 3,046mAh. Having used it for a while, we can confirm the Pixel 4 causes battery anxiety frequently and falls well short of the iPhone in the battery department. Both offer fast wired charging at 18W and support Qi wireless charging. With more power and better battery life, the iPhone 11 Pro takes the win.

Winner: Apple iPhone 11 Pro

Design and durability

iPhone 11 Pro and Pixel 4 hero
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

It’s surprising how alike these flagships were in terms of design. Google’s design overhaul for the Pixel 4 was striking. The two-tone back is gone, the fingerprint sensor is gone, and there are no notches in sight. Instead, we have a matte glass finish in orange or white or a glossy black with a rounded square camera module at the top-left. The front is mostly screen, with a slim bezel at the bottom and a much larger one at the top. The rounded frame is aluminum, and there’s a contrasting power button.

The iPhone 11 Pro has a similar rounded square camera module at the top-left, and the glass comes in Apple’s classic Space Gray, silver, or gold, with a new, muted Midnight Green as the final option. The front of the iPhone is virtually bezel-free, but that distinctive notch remains at the top of the screen. The frame is rounded, but it’s stainless steel in the iPhone, which gives it a more durable feel. The iPhone is a little wider and shorter than the Pixel 4, and it’s significantly heavier.

There’s no real difference here in terms of durability — both phones have an IP68 rating, so they can survive submersion in water. They also have a glass front and back, so snagging a case is a smart move. The iPhone may be slightly tougher, thanks to the stainless steel frame.

Winner: Apple iPhone 11 Pro

Display

iPhone 11 Pro and Pixel 4 screen
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Apple managed to pack a slightly bigger screen into the iPhone 11 Pro at 5.8 inches to the Pixel 4’s 5.7 inches. Both displays are OLED, so the contrast is excellent, and there are deep inky blacks with no backlight to distract you in the dark. They also offer great color accuracy and go bright enough to stay legible in sunlight.

The iPhone 11 Pro has a slightly higher resolution, which makes it a hair sharper, but you’ll be hard-pressed to see a difference. What does make a difference is the higher, 90Hz refresh rate of the Pixel 4’s screen. For fast-paced action in games and slick navigation and scrolling, the higher refresh rate makes a tangible difference, and it wins the Pixel 4 this round.

Winner: Google Pixel 4

Camera

iPhone 11 Pro and Pixel 4 rear
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Google’s Pixel phones have dominated our best camera phones list for the last couple of years, but Apple took the title in 2019 with the iPhone 11 Pro. It has a triple-lens main camera, all rated at 12MP. The standard wide-angle lens has an f/1.8 aperture, there’s a telephoto lens with an f/2.0 aperture, and there’s a new ultra-wide lens with an f/2.4 aperture. It’s a versatile combination, and Apple has built on it with improved image processing, a new night mode, and a wonderful portrait mode.

On paper, the Pixel 4 doesn’t look as capable, with a dual-lens main camera that combines a 12.2MP lens with an f/1.7 aperture and a 16MP telephoto lens with an f/2.4 aperture. But in the past, it has been Google’s superior image processing that has enabled it to get better results from inferior hardware, and that’s arguably the case again. The Pixel also has amazing low-light capability and a really pleasing portrait mode. The iPhone has a 12MP front-facing camera, while the Pixel makes do with an 8MP lens, though it does have a larger aperture to let in more light.

In a smartphone camera shootout from 2019, we compared the Pixel 4, iPhone 11 Pro, Note 10 Plus, and OnePlus 7T. The Pixel 4 XL took the top slot in this competition with eight wins, with the iPhone in second place, the Note 10 Plus in third, and the OnePlus 7T last. Does this mean the Pixel 4 XL is the absolute best camera phone? Not necessarily. Choosing favorite photos is a subjective process, and you might not have picked the same winners as we did. Both phones pack incredibly good cameras, so you’re very unlikely to be disappointed with either. Of note: One area where we can say the iPhone is better is in video recording. It can record at a higher frame rate, and it’s smoother. The lack of a wide-angle lens in the Pixel 4 could also be a turn off for some.

Winner: Tie

Software and updates

With Pixel 4, you’ll get Android 11 with Google’s latest apps and services fully integrated. It’s the most accessible and slick version of Android you can use. With the iPhone 11 Pro, you get iOS 14, which offers a similarly easy and enjoyable experience while adding some great new features for iOS, such as home screen widgets and an App Library. Whether you prefer Android or iOS is likely based on which one you’re used to. With gesture navigation and a world of great games and apps, the two platforms have never been closer than they are in these two phones.

They can’t be separated on updates either because Google and Apple roll out security patches and version updates swiftly. Pixel phones are the only Android phones that match Apple’s iPhones on this score.

Winner: Tie

Special features

iPhone 11 Pro and Pixel 4 assistant
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Face Unlock was a new feature introduced by the Pixel 4, bringing Google’s phone in-line with Face ID on the iPhone. Apple’s device doesn’t have too many other standout special features since Apple tends to focus on the core experience, but you might point to the U1 chip, which is still used largely to improve AirDrop at the moment but may grow more useful in the near future.

By contrast, the Pixel 4 bears the fruits of Project Soli’s labor, with built-in radar capable of picking up on hand gestures to wake the phone quickly, turn off the screen when you move away, and skip music tracks or dismiss alarms. There are also some stunning improvements to Google Assistant, partially enabled by on-device language processing, so you get quick responses to commands or questions and can string them together in a natural way without having to say “Hey, Google” in between. Throw in existing features like Call Screen and Now Playing, and the Pixel 4 wins this round.

Winner: Google Pixel 4

Price and availability

The Google Pixel 4 started out at a base price of $799 when it was released to the public in 2019, but it has now been terminated by Google (due to the recent launch of the Pixel 5). That being said, you can still get it from retailers like Amazon and Best Buy and presumably at a cheaper cost than its official RRP. Much of the same goes for the Apple iPhone 11 Pro, which first began at $999. Apple stopped production of this phone as well, in favor of the iPhone 12 Pro.

Overall winner: Apple iPhone 11 Pro

This is one of the most nail-biting competitions we’ve ever experienced, and that just proves the quality of flagship phones available in today’s world. Apple’s iPhone 11 Pro is an extraordinary tool that gives more power and endurance, plus excellent video filming capability. Google’s Pixel 4 equals the iPhone in many areas — or at least comes very close — and perhaps surpasses it when it comes to still photography. In addition, we adore the high refresh rate in the display, and it provides novel features like air gestures and the most dependable voice assistant experience you can get at the current. And it does all of this while coming in at the more affordable price of $200. 

The truth is, this choice will be clear for most people: If you’ve been working with an iPhone for a while, you’ll probably want an 11 Pro; if you’ve been using a Pixel for the last year or so, you’ll most likely want the Pixel 4. If you’re not married to either, you may want to opt for the iPhone 11 Pro because the limited battery life of the Pixel 4 might be a deal-breaker for you.

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