Google Pixel 6 Pro vs iPhone 13 Pro Max: Android and iOS top phones do battle

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The Google Pixel 6 Pro is out now and essentially, the first comparison that needs to be done is with Apple’s iPhone 13 Pro Max.

The similarities are clear. These are super-sized representatives of the two major smartphone platforms, Android and iOS. They are also stylish premium devices with excellent camera system and bespoke processing power.

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So how do they compare? We’ve spent a lot of time with both flagship phones so far, and here’s how we see it.

Google Pixel 6 Pro vs. iPhone 13 Pro Max Price and Availability

Google Pixel 6 Pro went into stores on October 28, 2021. Prices start at £849 / $899 / AU$1,299 for 128GB. There is also a 256GB model priced at £949 / AU$1,449 (about $1300) and a 512GB model for AU$1,599 in Australia.

The iPhone 13 Pro Max was released on September 24, 2021. Prices start at $1,099 / £1,049 / AU$1,699 for the 128GB model, increase to $1,199 / £1,149 / AU$1,869 for the 256GB, then $1,399 / £1,349 / AU$2,219 for the 512GB, and newer 1TB models Topping out at $1,599 / £1,549 / AU$2,569.

As you can see, the Pixel 6 Pro is significantly cheaper than its main competitor. This is an early victory for Google.

design

Both these phones are stylish, but the Google Pixel 6 Pro has the freshest, and thus more attractive, design.

While the iPhone 13 Pro Max looks pretty much the same as the iPhone 12 Pro Max, the Pixel 6 Pro doesn’t look like any phone that went before it.

Its split two-tone rear panel (in sorta Sunny, Cloudy White and Stormy Black) is particularly striking, while the full-width camera module offers a pleasantly symmetrical solution to the age-old problem of ever-growing cameras.

As we said, the iPhone 13 Pro Max looks a lot like the iPhone 12 Pro Max, although this phone represents a major break from the design that Apple found between the iPhone 6 and iPhone 11 eras.

In terms of direct size comparison, both the phones have their own bragging points. At 163.9 x 75.9 x 8.9mm, the Google Pixel 6 Pro is narrower but longer and thicker at 160.8 x 78.1 x 7.65mm than the iPhone 13 Pro Max.

However, Apple’s super-sized phone is noticeably heavier than its Google rival, weighing in at 238g versus 210g. Neither is what you’d call light, but the iPhone is downright heavy.

Both the phones have got IP68 dust and water resistance rating. While the iPhone 13 Pro Max has a super-tough ceramic shield covering the display, Google’s Pixel 6 Pro uses off-the-shelf (but still tough) Gorilla Glass Victus Glass.

The iPhone 13 Pro Max uses premium, shiny stainless steel on its flat rim, and comes in Graphite, Gold, Silver, and Sierra Blue. They’re all stylish, if a little too muted for some tastes.

Apple has slashed its iconic display notch by 20%, although the Google Pixel 6 Pro has a much less intrusive hole punch notch for the selfie camera. Apple’s notch is, of course, a Face ID authentication system, which Google attempted to emulate and increasingly abandoned with the Pixel 4.

Overall, this is a design win for the Pixel 6 Pro, if only because it doesn’t look like any other phone on the market.

Display

Both these phones use a 6.7-inch OLED display with 120Hz refresh rate.

Those increased refresh rates are made possible by the same LTPO technology, which in both cases enables the display to be scaled up to 10Hz when dictating landscape. This is a great battery saving feature.

Where the display differs is on the sharpness. The iPhone 13 Pro Max display has a 2778 x 1284 resolution, while the Google Pixel 6 Pro tops out with a 3120 x 1440 QHD+ resolution.

However, it can’t match the iPhone 13 Pro Max for brightness. Apple’s handset can hit 1000 nits in normal usage and 1200 nits in HDR tasks. Google hasn’t provided its own figures, but it’s clear to see that it’s not as porous under external conditions.

Overall, these are two very closely matched displays. We’ll have to go hand-in-hand to determine which one is best.

It’s worth noting that Google goes with an in-display fingerprint sensor versus Apple’s Face ID facial authentication method. There are pros and cons to both systems, but it must be said that the Pixel 6 Pro’s fingerprint sensor isn’t the most reliable we’ve used.

cameras

After an impressive spell, Google is somewhat left behind in the camera stakes. It always had excellent algorithms, but its hardware was starting to get a bit stale with the Pixel 5.

The Google Pixel 6 Pro goes some way to rectifying this. It comes with a 50MP wide sensor of 1/1.31 inch with f/1.85 aperture.

It is backed by a 12MP ultra-wide, and 1/2-inch 48MP telephoto sensor that is capable of 4x optical zoom. The wide and telephoto sensors enjoy both optical and electronic image stabilization.

It is facing a tough challenge in the iPhone 13 Pro Max, which is probably the best camera phone in the market right now. It achieves this title through a trio of 12MP sensors for wide, ultra-wide and telephoto.

All are bigger than before, sucking up even more light, while Apple has brought its sensor-shift stabilization system from the iPhone 12 Pro Max. The wide sensor has a huge f/1.5 aperture, so this thing really is a night warrior.

The Pixel 6 Pro also takes great shots at night, but you’ll have to stand still for a really long time to get the best results.

Meanwhile, the iPhone’s ultra-wide sensor also doubles as a macro shooter, allowing you to get as close to 2cm from your subject. As for the telephoto lens, which can zoom in up to 3x. That’s an improvement over the 2.5x iPhone 12 Pro Max, but the 4x Pixel 6 Pro has licked it.

Both camera systems bring a number of new software tricks to the table. The Motion mode of the Google Pixel 6 Pro is designed for taking creative long exposure shots of moving subjects. The more resultant – if less showy – is Real Tone, which enables more natural-looking skin.

Magic Eraser, meanwhile, lets you remove unsightly photo bombers and other annoyingly messy background details from your shots. Pixel will also suggest which elements to remove.

The iPhone 13 Pro Max adds photographic styling, which lets you radically change the tone and warmth of a scene without making things look weird. You can even give your shots an extra dose of pixel-like contrast.

Both cameras add interesting new tricks to the video side of things as well. The Pixel 6 Pro has Speech Enhancement, which can capture speech even when there is a lot of noise in the background.

The iPhone 13 Pro Max brings Cinematic Mode, which lets you apply a portrait-like bokeh effect to your footage — even after you’ve shot it. It will also track your subjects’ eyesight and adjust focus accordingly.

ProRes support came with the iOS 15.1 update. It adds support for the high-end video codecs used by professionals, allowing you to adjust further in post-production.

Glasses & Display

The Google Pixel 6 Pro’s custom Tensor chip doesn’t quite approach the power of Apple’s A15 Bionic chip from a traditional perspective.

The Geekbench 5 multi-core score of 2760 for the Pixel is significantly lower than the iPhone 13 Pro Max’s 4549. That is a big difference.

The benchmark also reveals that the iPhone 13 Pro Max is powered by 6GB of RAM, which is half as much as the Pixel 6 Pro. However, we know so far better than to attribute this disparity to much. Android and iOS are very different in the way they handle memory to point to anything.

What really matters here is that both phones feel buttery smooth and super-responsive in all the usual practical applications. From app-switching to gaming, we can’t criticize either of them.

We should also note that Google’s Tensor chip is more focused on machine learning than raw (and largely unnecessary) horsepower. It’s what powers all those clever camera tricks, among other things.

In terms of storage, both the phones offer 128GB as standard. But while both also offer a 256GB option, the iPhone 13 Pro Max adds 512GB and 1TB models on top of that. You can only get the 512GB Pixel 6 Pro Max in Australia for whatever reason.

Both of these phones are 5G-ready, and both also have their respective ultra-wideband chips for precise range and spatial orientation.

Battery

The Google Pixel 6 Pro packs a 4,905mAh battery, while the iPhone 13 Pro Max packs a 4,352mAh battery. This may seem like a win-win for Google, but as we’ve already noted, these two phones handle their resources very differently.

The iPhone 13 Pro Max has given us the best battery life we’ve ever seen from an iPhone. We were able to do a full day’s worth of intensive use and still have about a third of the tank left.

In contrast, one of the Pixel 6 Pro’s weakest elements is the battery life. That’s not enough to put you off purchase as it can last a full day of normal use, but unlike the iPhone with more strenuous use, you’ll be sweating.

None of these phones are more remarkable when it comes time to recharge. The Pixel 6 Pro wins with its support for wired charging up to 30W, as the iPhone 13 Pro Max only goes up to 23W. But none of the companies bundle the charger in the box. When rivals from OnePlus and Xiaomi are supplying 65W Brix (and beyond) as part of the phone package, it’s not impressive at all.

Apple’s phone supports 15W Qi wireless charging, while Google’s only goes up to 12W. However, if you buy a Pixel stand, that figure jumps to 23W.

Software

This is where the real difference lies. Both phones have highly compelling hardware, but most importantly in contrast, one phone is the champion of iOS 15, while the other is the champion of Android 12.

In terms of excitement, Google’s Android 12 with its new material You UI is definitely the newest of the two. It largely comes down to where both operating systems are in their development cycles, but the point remains.

Contents offers you a vibrant, colorful interface, with a smart system that…

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