Apple’s New Hope
The iPhone 15 Pro is the best iPhone yet thanks to a new titanium construction, superfast A17 Pro chip, and a better zoom camera. There's also the Pro Max for more screen and battery life. It's just a shame that it only comes in different shades of the same boring color.
- New 5x optical zoom camera
- Incredibly fast processor
- Titanium construction is lighter
- Why are all the colors gray?
A camera wonder
When it comes to camera phones, the Google Pixel 8 Pro is among the best in the business. Now it also has some premium hardware, custom silicon, and Android 14 to go with those camera chops. This is a viable alternative for iPhone buyers who aren't attached to iOS.
- Strong camera experience
- A great display
- Google smarts
- Android isn't for everyone.
At least once every time the Earth rotates around the sun, Apple and Google announce new phones. Some of those phones are better than others, but they always come. And 2023 was no different with the iPhone 15 Pro and Pixel 8 Pro joining the iPhone 15 and Pixel 8 as the latest and greatest models on the market,
But while expectations are always high when a new phone arrives, it's the range-topping iPhone 15 Pro and Pixel 8 Pro that have the highest expectations of all. They represent the best that the two companies can do (if you take foldable out of the equation because, well, Apple still doesn't have one.) But which one is better? That's always going to be a largely subjective thing, but that isn't going to stop us from discussing the objective things — specifications and capabilities.
That's precisely what we're going to do here because we can go back and forth all day long about Apple's ecosystem and Google's AI smarts. In the end, there's only one question that matters.
Which should you buy?
iPhone 15 Pro vs Pixel 8 Pro: Specs
Specifications are perhaps the most objective thing of all, but even they don't tell the whole story. As Apple has left unsaid for years, specs are only really of any import when they're used to make features possible. Fast chips only take you so far — you have to use that horsepower somewhere.
All of that being said, you can't make features without the building blocks that are those fast chips, high-megapixel cameras, and solid display technology. We'll get into all the fuzzy stuff soon enough. But first, let's dive into the cold, hard data:
|Specs||iPhone 15 Pro||Pixel 8 Pro|
|Display size||6.1/6.7‑inch, 120Hz variable refresh rate||6.17-inch, 120Hz refresh rate|
|Capacity||128GB (Pro only), 256GB, 512GB, 1TB + 6GB RAM||128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB + 12GB RAM|
|Splash, water, dust resistance||IP68||IP68|
|Chip||Apple A17 Pro||Google Tensor G3|
|Camera||48-megapixel wide, 12-megapixel ultrawide, 12-megapixel telephoto||50-megapixel wide, 48-megapixel ulgrawide, 48-megapixel telephoto|
|Biometrics||Face ID||Face and fingerprint|
|Mobile payments||Apple Pay||Google Pay|
|Power and battery||3,274 mAh (Pro), 4,422 mAh (Pro Max), fast charging (40W or 20W, charger sold separately), Qi wireless charging||Around 4,950mAh, fast charging (24W, charger sold separately), Qi wireless charging|
|Operating system||iOS 17||Android 14|
So what does that all mean? Well, that'll depend on a few things like what device you're coming from and what you're going to be doing. Let's dive in.
iPhone 15 Pro vs Pixel 8 Pro: Headline features
As is the case with every new round of phone releases, there are some headlining new features that people should know about. These aren't the be-all and end-all of the buying decision, but they're good starters — especially if you're coming from a slightly older version of these handsets.
iPhone 15 Pro — Action button
You can't really talk about the iPhone 15 Pro without also talking about the Action button. It's one of the biggest new additions this year, perhaps just ahead of the arrival of USB-C.
The Action button, much like the button of the same name on the Apple Watch Ultra 2, gives users quick access to certain things. Those things, or actions, could be opening the camera or turning on the flashlight. There are a number of predefined options available, but the real power comes from choosing a shortcut. Select a shortcut to run whenever you press the Action button and the world is your oyster. If it can be made into a shortcut, it can be activated with just the push of a button.
iPhone 15 Pro — Camera
All of the rumors were true and this year's Pro iPhones have new camera features. There are some impressive software additions including the ability to capture 24-megapixel shots from the 48-megapixel sensor rather than the 12-megapixel images we're used to. You can now also capture full-res 48-megapixel HEIF shots as well.
The real fun starts with the iPhone 15 Pro Max, however. That gains a new 5x optical zoom camera thanks to a tetraprism lens. It's like a periscope lens but it bounces the light around more, and the result is a more versatile zoom than any other iPhone. It might not be as impressive as some Android phones, but it's a step up for iPhone buyers.
iPhone 15 Pro — USB-C
The king is dead. Long live the king! After a decade, Apple's done away with Lightning and replaced it with something new. USB-C is here, and it means that you can now use your other charging cables to power your iPhone. Whether that cable came with your Nintendo Switch, iPad Pro, or MacBook Air, it'll work.
Unfortunately, the USB-C iPhone 15 Pro is still limited to USB 2.0 speeds of 480Mbps, which is less than ideal. Still, it does have a party trick — you can charge other USB-C devices with your iPhone now. It isn't the most powerful reverse charger, but it'll top up your AirPods and AirPods Pro just fine.
Pixel 8 Pro — Face Unlock
It might be something iPhone users have enjoyed for years, but proper face unlocking support is something that isn't so familiar to Android phone owners. With the Pixel 8 Pro, Google has added face unlock capabilities without adding extra sensors. The iPhone has a whole Face ID system with multiple sensors, but Google has managed to do it with just the front-facing camera.
Despite that, it's supposedly still secure enough to be used for banking and password apps, which is impressive.
Pixel 8 — Super Actua Display
The Pixel 8 Pro has gained a new Super Actua Display, which means that it has a variable refresh rate that starts at 1Hz and goes all the way to 120Hz. It also offers an incredibly impressive display brightness which reaches a retina-searing 2,400 nits.
iPhone 15 Pro vs Pixel 8 Pro: Processor
The iPhone 15 Pro changed the game when it comes to phone chips with the arrival of the A17 Pro. It's the first chip to be based on a 3nm manufacturing process, in this case, TSMC's. That theoretically allows it to run cooler and use less power. Apple also added new GPU capabilities that allow for console-quality games to be played thanks to hardware-supported ray tracing.
When it comes to the Pixel 8 Pro, Google has used the all-new Tensor G3 but details on its core count haven't yet been made public. Rumors suggest it has nine CPU cores, but that configuration would be made up of a single "big" core, four "mid" cores, and four "little cores."
iPhone 15 Pro vs Pixel 8 Pro: Colors
Buyers of an iPhone 15 Pro or iPhone 15 Pro Max basically have four different shades of gray to choose from. While that might seem harsh, it's true. Black Titanium, White Titanium, Blue Titanium, and Natural Titanium are your options with the last one being many people's favorites.
Buying a Pixel 8 Pro? You won't have as many colors to choose from, but they are arguably better — Porcelain, Bay, and Obsidian are essentially white, blue, and black.
iPhone 15 Pro vs iPhone 8 Pro: Battery life
It's always difficult to predict battery life when you're talking about new phones. The specs don't really tell you much, and it's only when millions of people use these things that you can really get a feel for how things are working out.
Apple does give some figures that mean not a lot, including how many hours you can watch videos for. But in use, you should expect to get through the day without needing to charge — more if you're buying the iPhone 15 Pro Max.
Google hasn't said much beyond promising that you'll get "24+ hour battery life."
Battery life is greatly affected by how much you use your phone and what you're using it for, but you should be fine with either of these models unless you're really going to town on Google Maps or Pokemon Go.
iPhone 15 Pro vs Pixel 8 Pro: Price and storage
The iPhone 15 Pro starts at $999 and the iPhone 15 Pro Max begins at $1,199, but those prices soon jump up when you go beyond the base storage options. Remember that the base option for the iPhone 15 Pro Max is 256GB, though, which makes the price more palatable.
The Pixel 8 Pro starts at the same $999 as the iPhone 15 Pro which means that price isn't really a factor when choosing either of these phones unless you want the bigger screen and a 5x optical zoom camera.
iPhone 15 Pro vs Pixel 8 Pro: Cameras
Buying a smartphone is often a case of choosing the one with the best camera, and both of these phones are strong options. The iPhone 15 Pro has a main 48-megapixel camera. The ultrawide camera has a 12-megapixel sensor while the 3x optical zoom is also a 12-megapixel shooter. Choose the iPhone 15 Pro Max and that increases to a 5x optical zoom but, again, it's limited by that 12-megapixel sensor.
Choosing a Pixel 8 Pro will get you more pixels with the main camera having a 50-megapixel sensor. The theme continues with the 48-megapixel sensors used in the ultrawide and zoom cameras, too. That's something to keep in mind if you're going to make a lot of use of those particular cameras. It's worth noting that Pixel 8 Pro has a 5x zoom, an important note if you're comparing it with the iPhone 15 Pro which doesn't.
Both phones have selfie cameras; the iPhone's has a 12-megapixel sensor and the Pixel 8 Pro's has a 10.5-megapixel sensor.
iPhone 15 Pro vs Pixel 8 Pro: Which should you buy?
Choosing a new phone can be a complicated process, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
The iPHone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max are the best iPhones Apple has ever made, of that, there's no doubt. They have great cameras, great screens, and fast A17 Pro chips. They also have the weight of the Apple ecosystem behind them — if you own an iPad, MacBook, and an Apple Watch, it's almost a no-brainer. The iPhone will just work and you'll benefit from all those intangibles — AirPods that automatically connect, apps that you bought on your iPad automatically appearing on your iPhone, iCloud, iMessage, etc.
But that doesn't mean that the Pixel 8 Pro doesn't have plenty going for it. It has arguably better cameras with Google's fancy AI magic. It can remove things from images and tidy up audio in videos. The Home Screen customizability options are unparalleled and you can even play Fortnite on it without using cloud services.
Which you choose is ultimately up to you and you can't go wrong with either of them. But if you're already entrenched in the Apple world and are coming from an iPhone, it's hard to look beyond the iPhone 15 Pro. It really is a very good phone indeed.
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Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.
Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.