iPhone 13 Pro Max vs Pixel 6 Pro

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The iPhone 13 Pro Max is one of the best big phones around, but there is a competitor in town that might just dethrone it: the Pixel 6 Pro,

This is Google's first phone with an in-house processor, distinctive design and a brand new camera system that is ready to take on the big players. It's also the first time that Google is really serious about making a top-end phone, having invested years in making its own chipset and crafting that new design from the ground up. Not only that, this new Pixel is the perfect launch pad for a completely redesigned version of Android that looks fresh and colorful, and better able to fit your personal style.

All of this contrasts with the tried and true, but also very familiar iPhone, so... which one should you choose: the iPhone 13 Pro Max or the Pixel 6 Pro?

If you have found yourself in that conundrum, this is the right place to solve it as we take a deeper look at the design and size differences between the two, compare the cameras, the battery life and touch upon the differences between Apple's iOS and Google's Android.

Let's waste no time and get started!

Also read:

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max
9.3

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max


The Good

  • Amazing battery life
  • Super bright display with great colors
  • Fastest performance of any phone
  • Improved camera
  • Best video quality of any phone

The Bad

  • Lacks fast charging
  • Size is a bit extreme and it is a heavy phone
  • Cinematic Mode needs some more polish
  • No USB-C makes life more complicated
Google Pixel 6 Pro
9.0

Google Pixel 6 Pro


The Good

  • Superb design
  • Sharp OLED display with 120Hz refresh rate
  • Good battery life
  • Great performance
  • Versatile camera setup
  • Great image quality
  • Loud and rich speakers
  • Wireless charging on board

The Bad

  • Slow fingerprint sensor
  • Android 12 has some quirks

Design, display and size comparison

The iPhone is much heavier and wider


The Pixel looks decidedly different than... pretty much all phones on the market! It's striking and unique with a bold new "camera bar" that stretches across the back. It's a look that can be polarizing, but we like it.

While both the iPhone and Pixel are definitely on the bigger side, the iPhone in particular feels a bit extra large. In the hand, the iPhone feels particularly wide and it also weighs quite a bit more (240g vs 210g on the Pixel).

Design-wise, the iPhone uses flat sides that look nice and shiny, but the lack of curves make the phone harder to get a firm grip on, especially if you have a smaller hand. On the other hand, the Pixel is narrower and has tapered sides for a more comfortable feel.

Both being premium flagships, the iPhone 13 Pro Max and Pixel 6 Pro feature a refined design and sturdy build quality. They are both constructed out of glass (Apple calls its glass the Ceramic Shield, while Google uses Qualcomm's latest Gorilla Glass Victus on both the front and back), but there is a difference in the metal used in the middle. The iPhone is made of shiny stainless steel, while you have an aluminum frame on the Pixel.


Neither of these two features a headphone jack, but both have IP68 water protection for peace of mind when you get your phone wet.

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max
Dimensions

6.33 x 3.07 x 0.3 inches

160.8 x 78.1 x 7.65 mm

Weight

8.47 oz (240 g)

Google Pixel 6 Pro
Dimensions

6.45 x 2.99 x 0.35 inches

163.9 x 75.9 x 8.9 mm

Weight

7.41 oz (210 g)

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max
Dimensions

6.33 x 3.07 x 0.3 inches

160.8 x 78.1 x 7.65 mm

Weight

8.47 oz (240 g)

Google Pixel 6 Pro
Dimensions

6.45 x 2.99 x 0.35 inches

163.9 x 75.9 x 8.9 mm

Weight

7.41 oz (210 g)

See the full Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max vs Google Pixel 6 Pro size comparison or compare them to other phones using our Size Comparison tool.


The display size is 6.7 inches on both phones, but again, you have a slight difference in the aspect ratio, with the Pixel having the taller and narrower screen. The display on the Pixel is also slightly tapered at the sides, while the iPhone has a completely flat display.

Apart from that, these screens look similarly great: they use OLED tech for deep blacks and excellent viewing angles, and both get extra bright during the day. Both also support a variable refresh rate that goes from 10Hz with static content to 120Hz when you are scrolling or playing a compatible game, for an extra smooth experience.

One small technical difference is that the Pixel only supports the HDR10+ standard, while the iPhone has support for both Dolby Vision and HDR10+ (in case you are wondering, Netflix supports both those formats, so you're covered).


One obvious distraction on the iPhone is the notch, a necessary component that houses the complex Face ID system, while the Pixel does not support any form of face recognition and is able to get by with a more delicate looking punch-hole display.

For biometrics, the Pixel relies on an optical fingerprint scanner built inside the display, and that has proven to be a bit problematic as Google's implementations gets more failed readings than your average fingerprint reader. A recent update to Android 13 seems to finally address this issue, though.

Performance, storage and benchmarks

Apple A15 Bionic vs Google Tensor chip


The iPhone is equipped with the A15 Bionic chip, the latest and greatest from Apple, while Google uses its first-ever in-house chip that it calls "Tensor". Google's own silicon has been in the works for years now, and here is how it performs in real life:

Higher is better
Google Pixel 6 Pro
1042
Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max
1734

As you can see, the Google Tensor is not quite on par in terms of CPU speeds. Its CPU performance is more comparable to an upper mid-range chip or last year's top Snapdragon chips, and the Pro Max just sweeps the floor with it on most counts. Don't forget that while you have this big difference in speeds, in real life, both phones feel very smooth and it takes some truly demanding applications to notice the speed difference.

You should also know that you get no microSD card slot on either phone, so you cannot expand the storage inside. Both phones feature 128GB native storage in their base models, and you can pay extra for a 256GB model on both. The iPhone also offers a 512GB and 1TB options for the power users.

GPU and Gaming performance



But what about gaming performance and GPU? That is one area where the iPhone really excels and running the 3D Mark Wildlife Extreme stress test reveals its true advantage. In this test that runs for 20 minutes straight, you can see not only the initial performance, but when and how these chips throttle.

The iPhone quickly throttles after 2 or 3 minutes to its nominal speeds, and so does the Pixel, and those nominal speeds are about twice as fast on the iPhone compared to the Pixel, so if you want the best graphics performance, Apple really has the advantage in this regard.

Cameras



Cameras have become the defining feature of modern-day flagship phones, and both the iPhone 13 Pro Max and the Pixel 6 Pro give us their best here.

Camera specs at a glance:
  • Wide camera — 12MP, f/1.5 on iPhone vs 50MP , f/1.9 on Pixel
  • Ultra-wide camera —  0.5X, 12MP, f/1.8 on iPhone vs 0.5X, 12MP, f/2.2 on Pixel
  • Zoom camera — 3X zoom, 12MP, f/2.8 on iPhone vs 4X zoom, 48MP, f/3.5 on Pixel
  • Front camera — 12MP on iPhone vs 11MP on Pixel

The big news is that after years of relying on the same sensors, Google switches it up with newer and bigger sensors in the Pixel 6 series. In terms of technical details, you get a 1/1.31" sensor on the Pixel vs a smaller 1/1.65" sensor on the iPhone, but then those sensors are coupled with an f/1.9 lens on the Pixel vs a faster, f/1.5 lens on the iPhone. All of this is to say that the larger sensor on the Pixel and the faster aperture on the iPhone, should "even out", so you get comparatively similar light gathering capabilities.

During the day, both phones capture excellent photos with a few differences in the way they handle colors and dynamic range:


It's quite obvious that the iPhone goes with warmer colors, while the Pixel bets on more toned down, cooler tonalities. The images from the iPhone pop a bit more, while Pixel shots look a bit moody. It is a subjective thing, but yours truly would prefer the look from the iPhone with the added warmth. Also, keep in mind that the iPhone now gives you the option to get a "Pixel" look by playing with the new Photographic Styles option where you can select the "Cool" profile and get a very similar look.
 

The same color difference remains with the ultra-wide camera as well, but here, the iPhone also captures a much wider perspective with its 0.5X 13mm lens compared to the 0.7X 17mm lens on the Pixel. The advantage of having such an incredibly wide lens as on the iPhone is that you can fit more in the frame and do things like film yourself in very tight spaces, while the Pixel doesn't go as wide, but that also comes with an advantage of less distortion.



When it comes to zoom, the iPhone only really has an advantage at 3X zoom where the iPhone uses its native camera and the Pixel uses digital zoom, but going further from 4X all the way to 15X zoom, the Pixel crushes the iPhone. It's just incredible what the Pixel does with a 4X lens and how it leverages it to further lengths, truly a great achievement.


In low light, we can see a similar trend when it comes to the colors: warmer photos from the iPhone versus a more muted, toned down colors on the Pixel. Images from the Pixel also just often look a bit flat as it tries hard to bring out the shadows and images come out with less contrast. On a few occasions, the Pixel was fooled by the incandescent street lamps and captured a photo with a yellow-greenish tint, while the iPhone seems to now do a better job with those scenarios and is able to preserve the natural colors a bit better.

And one other huge difference is just in the speed of the camera while capturing night photos: the iPhone takes a second or two, rarely three, while the Pixel often takes twice as long in what is a very slow and quite tedious process. We should also note that Apple has reversed course with the iPhone 13 and now goes for a more true-to-life look for photos at night rather than attempting to just brighten them as much as possible. Notice the image of the helicopter on both phones, the darker look of the iPhone is what my eyes were actually seeing, while the Pixel photo looks more impressive, but it is a bit better and brighter than reality.
 

The ultra-wide cameras at night follow the pattern from the main cameras with typically warmer shots from the iPhone with darker shadows, while the Pixel goes for cooler tonalities and a brighter photo at night. Because of the narrower lens on the Pixel, you get less distortion and noise towards the end of the photo, but obviously you cannot fit as much in the frame.


Both phones can also shoot portrait mode photos and blur the background, but the effect is seen live in the viewfinder on the iPhone, while on the Pixel it is applied only after you capture a photo and you cannot actually preview it while shooting. Apart from that, the portrait mode on the iPhone definitely felt more finicky, it required us to often step back or forward just so that it kicks in, while it was a lot more effortless on the Pixel.

You can capture 1X and 3X portraits on the iPhone, while on the Pixel you can go for 1X or 2X portraits, but you cannot use the 4X camera in portrait mode which is definitely a shame. The 1X and 2X modes on the Pixel are also actually cropped in from the main camera, so that means you lose some detail compared to the iPhone and that's quite obvious on a bigger screen. The same we talked about earlier applies to portraits too: warmer and more cheerful tones on the iPhone compared to cooler and moodier picture on the Pixel.


For selfies, both phones offer a wide mode to fit larger groups in the frame and it's the Pixel that goes a bit wider here. In terms of just colors and looks, the iPhone goes for brighter photos with less contrast, while the Pixel prefers darker tonalities with a more contrasty look. Both capture a good amount of detail too. My personal preference lies with the warmer and more cheerful look from the iPhone, but that is a personal preference and both are objectively good selfie snappers.

Video Recording Quality


On the video front, both phones can record at up to 4K video resolution. One concern around the Pixel was that it could overheat, but that hasn't really been a problem as Google has dealt with overheating issues.

However, what the Pixel lacks is HDR video recording, while the iPhone supports 10-bit HDR recording including Dolby Vision support. That probably is not something that the average user should worry too much about, but if you're a pro, this would be quite an important advantage the iPhone has.

The iPhone also has one more stand-out new feature that is Cinematic Mode, where you can blur the background in a video in real time, something the Google cannot do. Unfortunately, that feature is limited to 1080p resolution only and it doesn't always work as you would expect, so it does seem like a cool gimmick but not much more at the moment.

For the professionals out there, the iPhone 13 Pro also offers ProRes video recording with better dynamic range and that also gets rid of the artificial oversharpening typical for smartphones.

Audio Quality


While neither phone comes with a 3.5mm headphone jack, that would hardly be a surprise these days.

What's more interesting and unclear is which of these two has a better loudspeaker setup. Both phones use a bottom-firing main speaker coupled with a secondary one, embedded in the earpiece. The iPhone sounds a bit more bass-y, while the Pixel can get really loud and really packs a punch.

Both of these phones sound excellent, and are among the best in terms of loudspeaker quality. If you really want the very best, though, a true front firing dual speaker setup can deliver quite a bit more and it's the Asus Rog Phone 5 that is the current leader in audio quality on a smartphone, and these two are not quite on par.

Battery Life

A bigger battery does not always mean longer battery life


Looking at the specs sheet for these two, you will see that the iPhone has a 4,352mAh battery inside compared to an even larger, 5,000mAh battery on the Pixel 6 Pro.

Just looking at battery sizes, however, might be misleading since iOS and Android are quite different in the way they manage battery life, so to actually say which of these two has better battery life, we have to run them both through our series of independent battery tests.

Officially, both companies state that these phones will last you all day, but we have seen that with moderate use, the iPhone can easily go 2 days between charges.

Browsing test 120Hz (hours) Higher is better
Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max 18h 52 min
Google Pixel 6 Pro 13h 13 min
Video Streaming (hours) Higher is better
Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max 10h 23 min
Google Pixel 6 Pro 9h 10 min
3D Gaming 120Hz (hours) Higher is better
Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max 10h 29 min
Google Pixel 6 Pro 4h 19 min

In our benchmarks, the iPhone is clearly ahead of the Pixel on pretty much all counts.

In our web browsing test, the iPhone scores nearly 19 hours compared to a bit more than 13 hours on the Pixel, a difference of nearly 50%.

The Pixel battery drained surprisingly quickly in our 3D gaming test where the 120Hz option definitely hits the battery the hardest, so it might be a good idea to game at 60Hz if you are not really looking for a big competitive advantage, and gain quite a bit of battery life instead. The iPhone, on the other hand, is able to maintain solid battery life even at 120Hz, which is impressive.

Charging speeds


On the charging front, both phones do not provide a charging brick in the box, and only ship with a cable (Lightning to USB-C cable in the case of the iPhone, and USB-C to USB-C in the case of the Pixel). Unless you already have a compatible fast charger, you would have to purchase one separately.

Interestingly, the iPhone 13 Pro Max supports faster charging speeds than Apple officially discloses. While Apple says it charges at up to 20W, we and others have measured that it can actually accept up to 27W charging speeds, so we recommend getting a 30W charger if you want to make use of those faster charging speeds. The Pixel 6 Pro, on the other hand, supports 30W fast charging and you can either purchase Google's official 30W charger, or pick up a slightly cheaper alternative from a company like Anker.

Both phones also support wireless charging with the iPhone features the MagSafe standard with a circular array of magnets on the back of the phone, so compatible chargers snap to it neatly, while the Pixel just uses regular Qi wireless charging.

The iPhone maxes out at 15W speeds for wireless charging, while the Pixel 6 Pro supports slightly faster speeds of up to 23W.

Price, release date and availability

Google undercuts the competition and allows you to save a few hundred dollars


Apple sells the iPhone 13 Pro Max at the same $1,100 price as earlier Max-sized iPhone, while the Pixel 6 Pro surprised everyone with a starting price of $900, quite a bit cheaper. Both phones have base models that feature 128GB of native storage too, so no difference on that front.

In terms of availability, Apple's iPhone has the advantage. The 13 Pro Max is not only available across all three major US carriers, but the phone is also easy to buy in pretty much any country across the world, while Google promises wider availability for Pixel phones, but so far we can see that Pixels are not widely available internationally.

So which of these two would you pick?

The iPhone has the insane battery life, improved camera, and the familiarity of the iOS ecosystem with sidekick gadgets like the Apple Watch and AirPods that you may want. Plus, video professionals will want it for its ProRes recording ability. 

The Pixel, on the other hand, does not lock you in a particular ecosystem, gives you a bit more freedom, while still offering excellent battery life, impressive camera and a clean and fast user experience. And it allows you to save a few hundred dollars in the process.

But which one would YOU go for? Let us know your choice and your reasons right below, in the comments section!

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