All-in on AI
The Pixel 8 Pro isn't just the best phone that Google has ever released. It's also Google taking the next step by improving your smartphone experience with the help of AI.
- Bigger battery with faster charging
- AI features you won't find elsewhere
- Google's best cameras get even better
- Display is much improved on multiple counts
- More expensive than last-gen
- Tensor G3 still falls behind with heavy tasks and gaming
- Charging is still slow
Not the automatic pick
Apple made a lot of the right decisions when releasing the iPhone 15 Pro Max. But even with offering a great experience, it's not the "hands-down" favorite any longer.
- 5x Telephoto Camera is a welcome addition
- Incredible performance and battery life
- Redesigned case with Titanium is long overdue
- Action Button is a welcome addition
- iOS is still too limiting for some
Whenever it comes to comparing the best phones on the market, the race between Samsung and Apple has gained another competitor. Over the past few years, Google has been improving its flagship phones in various ways, culminating in the Pixel 8 Pro. But does this latest device have the "chops" to keep up with Apple's iPhone 15 Pro Max?
Pixel 8 Pro vs iPhone 15 Pro Max: Design
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Both Apple and Google introduced (arguably) radically different designs with both the Pixel 8 Pro and the iPhone 15 Pro Max. On the Google side of things, the 8 Pro ditches the curved display, while still retaining much of what we've come to love about the last few Pixel phones. This means you'll still have the camera bar on the back, while also moving to a matte finish that won't pick up as many fingerprints.
Speaking of the camera bar, one of the more subtle changes made to the Pixel 8 Pro is bringing all three rear cameras into the same window. Previously, you would find two of the three grouped together, with the third separated with a window of its own.
Apple has been sticking with the same overall design since the iPhone 12 was introduced, giving iPhone fans a dose of nostalgia harkening back to the iPhone 4. For the most part, the same overall design returns with the 15 Pro Max, but Apple traded its stainless steel frame for Titanium. Now, even the biggest iPhone is lighter than its predecessors and is one of the lightest flagship non-foldable phones on the market.
Another change that comes to the iPhone's frame is that it won't dig into your palms when you are just trying to check the weather. The edges of the frame have been softened and are moved curved, providing a much more comfortable experience.
With the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max, Apple made the decision to ditch the hardware mute switch that had been a staple feature since the original iPhone was announced. It's now been replaced by the Action Button, allowing you to customize and remap it to perform various actions. On its face, this doesn't seem like something that's particularly exciting. But, when paired with the built-in Shortcuts app, you are able to do so much more.
The last major change, at least for the iPhone, is that Apple finally made the switch to USB-C for charging and data transfer. For the first time ever, you can actually use the same cable to charge (almost) all of your Apple devices, with the AirPods Max and a few accessories remaining as the final holdouts.
Pixel 8 Pro vs iPhone 15 Pro Max: Specs
If you're comparing the Pixel 8 Pro vs. iPhone 15 Pro Max based on specs, you might have a difficult time actually picking a winner. Both companies released all-new processors to power their phones, with Google offering the Tensor G3 and Apple opting for the A17 Pro.
Both of these phones are more than capable of handling many different tasks throughout the day while being efficient enough to keep you from reaching for a charger before bedtime. One of the big complaints about Google's Tensor G2 came down to overheating, even when doing mundane things. It's still early, but everything is pointing to Google solving those problems.
That being said, Google also doesn't intend for the G3 to blow the world away in terms of raw performance. Instead, there's more of a focus on providing plenty of power for the variety of AI-enhanced features that are built into the Pixel 8 Pro.
|Category||Google Pixel 8 Pro||Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max|
|OS||Android 14||iOS 17|
|Display||6.7-inch Super Actua display, 120Hz LTPO AMOLED (2992 x 1344), HDR10+, 2400 nits, Gorilla Glass Victus 2||6.7-inch 120Hz OLED, Dynamic Island, 2796 x 1290, HDR10, 2,000 nits|
|Chipset||Google Tensor G3, Titan M2 security module||A17 Pro, 6‑core CPU, 6‑core GPU, 16‑core Neural Engine, 3nm|
|Storage||128GB/256GB/512GB, 1TB (US)||256GB/512GB/1TB|
|Rear camera 1||50MP f/1.68, 1.2um pixels, PDAF, OIS, 4K at 60fps||48MP f/1.78, 24mm, 28mm and 35mm focal length, sensor-shift OIS, Dolby Vision 4K at 60fps, ProRes video, 2x telephoto|
|Rear camera 2||48MP f/1.95, 0.8um pixels, 125.5-degree wide-angle with autofocus||12MP f/2.2 wide-angle, 120-degree FoV|
|Rear camera 3||48MP f/2.8, 0.7um pixels, OIS, 5x optical zoom||12MP f/2.8 sensor-shift OIS, 120mm focal length, 5x optical zoom, 15x digital zoom|
|Front camera||10.5MP f/2.2, 1.22um pixels, wide-angle||12MP f/1.9, autofocus, 4K at 60fps|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 7, Sub-6 5G (mmWave in US), Bluetooth 5.3, NFC, AptX HD, USB-C 3.2||Global 5G bands, Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC, second-gen UWB, Thread, USB3|
|Ingress Protection||IP68 dust and water resistance||IP68 dust and water resistance|
|Security||In-screen fingerprint module||Face ID|
|Battery||5050mAh, 30W wired charging, 20W wireless charging, 5W reverse wireless charging||4422mAh, 20W over USB-C port, 15W MagSafe|
|Dimensions||162.6 x 76.5 x 8.8mm||159.9 x 76.7 x 8.25mm|
|Colors||Obsidian, Porcelain, Bay||Natural Titanium, Blue Titanium, White Titanium, Black Titanium|
Something that helped the iPhone 15 Pro Max stand out after being announced was that the new A17 Pro chip is the first smartphone SoC to use the 3nm manufacturing process. This is something we expect to see from Qualcomm's next chip, as it improves performance and efficiency while drawing less power.
However, things haven't been smooth sailing for Apple's flagship smartphone, as there have been numerous complaints about the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max overheating. Things reached a boiling point when Apple not only responded to the claims but also released a software update that attempted to fix whatever problems were cropping up.
Even still, there's really not much else to say in terms of overall performance, as both the Pixel 8 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max are quite incredible. The real test will be to see how well, or poorly, these devices age in the coming years.
Pixel 8 Pro vs iPhone 15 Pro Max: Cameras
Moving onto the cameras, this might be the most interesting aspect of this comparison. Both the Pixel 8 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max are equipped with a triple rear camera setup. The Pixel 8 Pro uses a 50MP main camera, along with a 48MP ultrawide lens, and a 48MP telephoto camera. The iPhone 15 Pro Max utilizes a 48MP main wide-angle camera, a 12MP ultrawide, and a 12MP telephoto sensor.
What makes the iPhone special here is that this is the first time that Apple is implementing a 5x optical zoom on a device. For years, Apple has been relying on either a 2x or 3x optical zoom, but thanks to the larger body of the Pro Max, you can get even closer to your subject without relying on digital zoom. It's also worth pointing out that this 5x telephoto lens is limited to the Pro Max model, as the standard iPhone 15 Pro still uses a 3x optical zoom.
Of course, this is nothing new when compared to many of the best Android phones, as the Pixel 8 Pro, Galaxy S23 Ultra, and others have had this for years. But where the Pixel 8 Pro really starts to pull ahead is in what you can do after your pictures have been snapped.
Google has already been offering various AI-enhanced features such as Magic Eraser, Photo Unblur, and Real Tone. But the Pixel 8 Pro turns things up a notch, as Best Take, Magic Editor, and Video Boost give you all the tools you'll need. Best Take ensures that nobody's eyes are closed, Magic Editor lets you lean on AI to completely transform a picture into something different, and Video Boost makes automatic adjustments when recording videos.
The reality is that no matter which of these you choose, your pictures and videos will come out looking absolutely fantastic. But, Google does give you some help if you need to make a few edits after the fact.
Pixel 8 Pro vs iPhone 15 Pro Max: Price
One area that we haven't touched on yet is the price, as it's a bit different this year than in the past. While it's true that the Pixel 8 Pro is $200 less than the iPhone 15 Pro Max, that price difference comes with an asterisk. The base $999 price of the Pixel 8 Pro comes with 128GB of storage, something that isn't available with the iPhone 15 Pro or Pro Max. Instead, for $1,199, you'll get an iPhone with 256GB of storage.
That being said, the Pixel 8 Pro still comes out ahead, as it's priced at $1,059 with 256GB of storage. That's enough of a difference to give you a little wiggle room to grab a Pixel 8 Pro case, but it's not as steep of a drop-off as the Pixel 7 Pro was when compared to the iPhone 14 Pro Max.
Pixel 8 Pro vs iPhone 15 Pro Max: Which should you buy?
Choosing between the Pixel 8 Pro vs. iPhone 15 Pro Max is more difficult than in years past. Google continues to make incredible strides to improve the user experience in ways that we didn't really think would be possible. All the while, still offering meaningful hardware upgrades and changes that are for the better.
Apple doesn't even have the advantage in the software department, as Google announced that the Pixel 8 and 8 Pro will receive seven years of major OS updates. Apple's official stance is that the iPhone will get at least five years of iOS releases, but there have been instances of fluctuation.
There's no clear-cut winner, as it really comes down to user preference. If you want the best and most powerful iPhone, then it doesn't get any better than the iPhone 15 Pro Max with its Titanium frame and new 5x telephoto camera. But, if you want the best Android experience (without all of the extra fluff,) then you'll be happier than a clam with the Pixel 8 Pro.
Those looking for the best all-around Android experience, without a bunch of extra fluff, then you'll love the Pixel 8 Pro. It's incredibly powerful, even if you don't actually see or notice the difference.
The iPhone 15 Pro Max is the best iPhone ever, and that's not just a tongue-in-cheek comment. The 5x telephoto camera is an incredible addition, while Apple also finally made the move to USB-C.
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Andrew Myrick is a Senior Editor at Android Central. He enjoys everything to do with technology, including tablets, smartphones, and everything in between. Perhaps his favorite past-time is collecting different headphones, even if they all end up in the same drawer.