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iPhone XS VS Google Pixel 3: The Ultimate Smartphone Showdown (Travellers’ Edition!)


Nasreen Nasir •  Nov 03, 2018


The year-long wait has ended! In the past two months, we saw the launch of brand new smartphones - iPhone XS and Google Pixel 3 by tech giants, Apple and Google. The hype was so intense that people waited in long lines to get their hands on the new gadgets and stocks are running low. If you’ve been following the news, you’d know that there are a few new features and high specs worth getting excited about, especially for travellers! ?Credit: GiphyWhen you’re travelling, you have that ONE chance to capture picture-perfect moments and most of us aren’t blessed with the advantage of owning a DSLR. And with that comes a set of lens to make up for the shots that you need, so imagine lugging around with extra bags just for your camera. Not so ideal, ey?
Credit: Paul Robertson on FlickrIt shouldn’t come as a surprise then, that for a long time, iPhone has been seen as THE smartphone that every traveller needs but now, it faces competition with several smartphone makers - primarily Google. So now you’re stranded between choosing iPhones XS or Google Pixel 3. From cameras to storage options and other features, here’s a breakdown of deal clinchers for two contending phones:
1. Camera
Credit: @o.me_o.m on InstagramWe know what you’re thinking - which phone has a better camera for your travels? While the iPhone XS appears to use the same camera as the iPhone X, there’s a couple of new changes made to the setup. Sure, we still get the same 12MP camera but there are a few significant differences in the detailed specs and image processing like the redesigned wide-angle lens, wider ISO range, a new sensor and longer exposure time up to 1 second.
As you’d expect with a yearly upgrade of a flagship phone, the Google Pixel 3 has indeed improved from its predecessor. While still retaining the 12.2-megapixel f/1.8 camera, the camera app comes with a few new additions like Top Shot, Super Res Zoom and Night Sight. You can also take better group selfie with the front camera that comes with a wide-angle called the Group Selfie Cam, allowing you to cram more faces into one photo. If you’ve always loved the HDR function on your phone, you’ll be happy to know that both phones still offer that and they work similarly in boosting your photos. While Pixel has HDR+, iPhone XS has Smart HDR. When shot in daylight, you can expect fantastic colours coming from both cameras.
Taken with iPhone XS
Taken with Google Pixel 3But in terms of saturation, we can see that the photos on Google Pixel 3 are a lot better than iPhone XS. For anyone who loves saturated photos, Google Pixel 3 might be your best bet. Moving on to portrait mode - you won’t have to worry about the quality as both phones are pretty neat. While portraits from the Google Pixel 3 look sharp, the grainy background is a bit of a letdown.
Taken with Google Pixel 3
Taken with iPhone XSFor iPhone XS, you’ll find the portraits a little less grainy and more natural and brighter. You can even add different lighting effects to your photos from Stage Light to Natural Light. You can even adjust the depth of field (from F16 to F1.4) in real-time as well as post-capture with Depth Control on the iPhone XS! Now that's a feature that isn't available on the Google Pixel 3.2. StorageAs with its predecessor, the new XS comes with the same 64GB, 128GB and 256GB. By contrast, Google Pixel 3 only offers two options - 64GB and 128GB which are slightly smaller than the iPhone XS. While these two smartphones don’t have expendable storage, they still offer Cloud storage.
For any Apple user, you’d know by now that you’ll need to pay for iCloud storage if you want more than 5GB but the one that truly takes the lead here is Google with its unlimited storage in Google Photos. So for travellers who love taking lots of OOTDs and travel photos, you know what to choose ?
3. Water-resistance
Are you a clumsy traveller, such that your phone would sometimes end up in the water (unintentionally, of course!)? ?  Good news for you, both iPhone XS and Google Pixel 3 get a water/splash/dust resistance of IP68! ?
Courtesy of AppleThat means you can finally take your phone out for a swim up to a maximum depth of 1.5 underwater for up to 30 minutes! That’s pretty decent, at least if you opt for snorkelling ?
4. Battery life
As a traveller, the one thing that truly irks us when we’re out and about is having our phone’s battery running on low. So you can't help but wonder: “How good is the battery life?”.
Credit: @danamicorg on InstagramAlthough Google Pixel 3’s battery comes in at 2,915mAh, the iPhone offers a slightly smaller size - 2,658mAh. Considering the different optimisations in Android and iOS, Google claims that the 18-watt fast charger that comes with the phone gives you 7 hours of use in just 15 minutes of charging! That's pretty impressive for a phone. Plus, you get the charger together with its cable in the box.Unfortunately for iPhone XS, you’ll need to buy the kit separately which would cost a little bit more. But in the end, it really depends on how often you use your phone because if all else fails, you still have your power bank to back up ? 
*Bonus: Best Features
Now that we've distinguished the differences in terms of specs and camera, we thought it would be great to highlight other features that are useful for travellers too:
Google Lens (Google Pixel 3)
Similar to its predecessor, users can have access to Google Lens on Google Pixel 3. What can you do with it? Simple - the Lens provides information about anything that you see - from buildings to artwork in museums, books and even food based on a photo. All you have to do is take a photo of something then ask Google for more information.Credit: GiphyFor example, if you’re looking up a dish right from the menu and you can’t seem to figure it out, take a photo and ask Google - you won’t be disappointed. While the accuracy of information varies from time to time, tech experts have said that it’s pretty precise 90% of the time. Imagine you’re at a museum, taking a photo using Lens will somewhat be a fun sport as your phone becomes a digital history that tells you everything about the collection around. Who needs a group tour, right?
Dual Sim Card (iPhone XS)
You ever find it troublesome when you have to switch sim cards while travelling? Well, you don’t have to go through that anymore because Apple hears you!
Credit: iHelp on FacebookThe latest iPhone in the market could easily be every traveller’s dream phone for it comes with dual sim card support - one a physical SIM and the other an electronic one. That’s great news if you’re a frequent traveller and you want to use a local plan when you’re overseas. There you have it - all the important details you need to know about these two smartphones. While we won’t deny that both are fantastic phones that have significant improvements from their predecessors, in the end, the decision very much comes down to not just your budget but also your preferences.

If you're an avid traveller who loves taking photos, it all boils down to the quality of the cameras. We think that the iPhone XS offers a good lighting which makes your photos look a little more lively. But if you love edgy, sharp and vibrant images without any sort of editing, the Google Pixel 3 is all yours.