In Review

Huawei P30 Pro vs. iPhone XS Max vs. Google Pixel 3 XL: which one is best?

The Chinese tech giant’s latest smartphone goes on sale tomorrow - here’s how it compares to its main rivals

Huawei’s new P30 Pro smartphone is due to hit stores tomorrow, a week after its grand unveiling in Paris. 

The P30 Pro is the Chinese tech company’s most cutting-edge handset to date, boasting a quad-lens camera system and near bezel-free display. 

But the phone will face stiff competition when it goes on sale. The iPhone XS Max is widely considered to be the best smartphone Apple has ever made, while the Google Pixel 3 XL uses the latest technology to capture images with DSLR levels of quality.   

Here’s how the new handset compares to its rivals, and whether it’s able to knock them off the top step in the ever-changing mobile world:

Prices

As many will expect, the iPhone XS Max is the most expensive phone on this list. A standard 64GB will set buyers back £1,099, while 256GB and 512GB versions cost £1,249 and £1,449 respectively. 

Meanwhile, entry-level P30 Pro models come with 128GB of storage and cost £899. Buyers can also get their hands on 256GB and 512GB versions, although prices for these models have yet to be announced. 

The Google Pixel 3 XL may be the cheapest of the three phones at £869, but it comes with only 64GB in the base model. It clearly beats the 64GB iPhone XS Max, but the 128GB Pixel 3 XL costs £70 more than the equivalent P30 Pro. 

Displays
iPhone XS

AFP_1921BV

Noah Berger/AFP/Getty Images

Image credit: Noah Berger/AFP/Getty Images

On paper, the Pixel 3 XL has the best display. It has a 6.3in OLED display with a resolution of 2,960x1,440 pixels. It’s a crisp display that pops with colour, and it doesn’t feel overly saturated as some other Android-powered smartphones do. 

The P30 Pro’s screen, meanwhile, is somewhat lacking compared to its rivals. Its 6.47in OLED screen has a resolution of 2,340x1,080, which doesn’t look as sharp when positioned next to the Pixel 3 XL or iPhone XS Max. It’s by no means bad, but it’s disappointing that a phone costing nearly £1,000 comes with a 1,080p display. 

While the iPhone XS Max isn’t the cheapest model on sale, its screen boasts almost identical specs to the Pixel 3 XL and is far ahead of the P30 Pro. Its 6.5in OLED display comes with a resolution of 2,688x1,242 - the most pixels crammed into an iPhone screen to date.

It is, however, almost impossible to tell the difference between the two displays as they’re both incredibly sharp and vibrant. 

What gives the XS Max an edge, however, is that its notch - the small indent at the top of the display housing the phone’s camera - is significantly smaller than that on the Pixel 3 XL. Both are noticeable, but the Pixel 3 XL’s is larger and so more intrusive.

Winner: Apple iPhone XS Max

Cameras

There are no real losers when it comes to camera quality. All three devices come with incredible cameras that would give a dedicated DSLR camera a run for its money. 

Starting with the iPhone XS Max, its twin-lens rear-facing camera captures an impressive level of detail without any hint of pixilation or distortion. But its real strength is video, as it’s able to capture ultra-smooth 4K footage at 60fps and movie-grade 4K at 24fps. 

The P30 Pro, on the other hand, has the most versatile camera. There’s a quadruple-lens system at the rear of the phone, which includes a 5x optical telephoto lens and a radical 50x digital zoom. While picture quality doesn’t match the iPhone’s, as it can look pixilated and unsaturated, its low-light capabilities are second to none and have proven to be a real showstopper in our tests. 

But the camera crown has to go to the Pixel 3 XL. It’s got only a single-lens rear-facing camera and it has the shortest zoom lens of the bunch. However, Google uses artificial intelligence (AI) to drastically enhance photographs after they’ve been taken, delivering an image quality that narrowly edges its more powerful rivals. 

Winner: Google Pixel 3 XL

Performance and security

All three handsets handle everything from menial tasks to gaming with ease, which is to be expected on devices that cost around £1,000. We also found they were more than capable of delivering a day’s worth of battery life with extensive use, so it’s unlikely that buyers will find themselves searching for a power cable halfway through the day. 

In terms of security, the P30 Pro has its rivals covered. Not only does the device include face-scanning technology, it also comes with a fingerprint reader tucked underneath its display. Both features appeared on last year’s Mate 20 Pro, but they are significantly better on the P30 Pro. 

The iPhone XS Max also includes a face-scanning ID system, though it does away with the fingerprint scanner. Face-scanning is slick and unlocks the phone in a split second, but the option of a fingerprint reader wouldn’t go amiss. 

The Pixel 3 XL comes a distant third in this area. There’s no option to unlock the phone by scanning your face and there’s no fingerprint reader nestled under the display, as on the P30 Pro. At least it has a fingerprint scanner, though, which is a notable omission from the iPhone XS Max. 

Winner: Huawei P30 Pro

Verdict

All three models boast impressive cameras, processing performance and displays - but there can be only one winner. 

The Pixel 3 XL edges its rivals in camera quality, but the ugly notch and thick bezels on the phone’s display makes it feel as though it’s a generation behind the other two devices. Given that it isn’t notably cheaper than the other phones, it doesn’t feel like particularly good value for money. 

The iPhone XS Max, on the other hand, has impeccable build quality, a slick user interface and stunning OLED display. It’s missing a few key features and is by far the most expensive phone here, but it’s one of the most well-rounded phones on sale today.

However, we think the Huawei P30 Pro offers the most bang for your buck and therefore takes the top spot in our triple test. It has the most complex camera system and its ability to power another device through wireless charging has proven to be a godsend on numerous occasions. Plus, it’s a real looker and is by far the most intuitive Huawei product to date.

Winner: Huawei P30 Pro

Second: Apple iPhone XS Max

Third: Google Pixel 3 XL

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