Apple’s New Hope
The iPhone 15 is the latest handset to bear the iPhone name, and it brings some significant updates to the whole line. There’s the Dynamic Island from last year's iPhone 14 Pro, a new 48MP camera, and some lovely new colors to choose from. If you’re about to upgrade, this might be the iPhone to go for.
- Newer, more powerful camera
- Beefier processor
- Sleeker chassis
- Where'd all the color go?
A camera wonder
The Google Pixel 8 is a great way to get Android without carrier and OEM cruft and has all of the AI smarts you'd expect from Google. Throw in some solid camera features and this could be a viable option, even for previous iPhone buyers.
- Strong camera game
- Fast refresh rate display
- Single-camera face unlock
- No 512GB option
Every year both Apple and Google release their new phones with the iPhone 15 and Pixel 8 being the latest to make their debuts. And every year the two companies show off new features, upgrades over previous ones, and sometimes complete redesigns. But which one should you spend your money on?
This year there are reasons to look at both of these new phones with positives and negatives applying to each of them. We're going to run through all of the similarities and differences between the pair so you can choose the one that's right for you.
As always, choosing a new smartphone is a personal decision and only you can make that decision. But it helps to have all of the information available to you — and that's where we come in.
iPhone 15 vs Pixel 8: Specs
It's easier to compare specifications when you're looking at two iPhones because the new features are more obvious upgrades over older ones. But in the case of comparing an iPhone to a Pixel, we have to strip things back a bit and take a different approach.
Below is a table of the key specifications and features of the two phones in question. Not all of them will be applicable to everyone — note everyone cares how fast their phone's display refreshes — but we'll dig deeper into the key points further down this post. We'll add context to the specs, giving you more information to make your buying decision with.
But first, the cold, hard data:
|Specs||iPhone 15||Pixel 8|
|Display size||6.1‑inch OLED display, 60Hz refresh rate||6.17-inch AMOLED display, 120Hz refresh rate|
|Capacity||128GB, 256GB, 512GB, + 6GB RAM||128GB, 256GB + 12GB RAM|
|Splash, water, dust resistance||IP68||IP68|
|Chip||Apple A16 Bionic||Google Tensor G3|
|Camera||Dual lens 48MP wide and 12MP ultra-wide rear, 12MP TrueDepth front||Dual lens 50MP main camera and 12MP ultra-wide, 10.8MP front|
|Biometrics||Face ID||Face and fingerprint|
|Mobile payments||Apple Pay||Google Pay|
|Power and battery||3,877mAh, fast charging (40W or 20W, charger sold separately), Qi wireless charging||Around 4,485mAh, fast charging (24W, charger sold separately), Qi wireless charging|
|Operating system||iOS 17||Android 14|
With all of that said, let's start to dive into what it all really means to someone who just wants to know that they spent their money wisely and got all of the features they need.
iPhone 15 vs Pixel 8: Headline features
Both of these new phones have plenty to shout about, and they both have some headline features that you're going to want to take into consideration when planning a purchase.
Some of these new features are bigger than others, but they all add up to some notable upgrades over the phones that came before them. Whether or not they're enough to tip the balance in favor of one or the other is a question we'll help you answer.
Previously limited to the iPhone 14 Pro, the Dynamic Island is a big upgrade over the notch of previous models. It ditches the bathtub-look at the top of the display and replaces it with an elongated pill shape that can dynamically reshape itself depending on the data it's showing. That data can be anything from the battery status of your AirPods to the location of your takeaway delivery — and more apps with Dynamic Island support are popping up in the App Store every week.
iPhone 15 — Camera
Another feature finding its way from the iPhone 14 Pro is the 48-megapixel main camera, although it isn't exactly the same hardware as the 2022 flagship. It's definitely a notable upgrade over the previous 12-megapixel sensor used in the iPhone 14, but the hardware is only half the story here.
As always, Apple has used the specs to offer new features. Portrait mode can now detect objects in the foreground and background which means you can snap a photo and focus on either. Need to change that focus after the fact? Not a problem, your iPhone can now do that, too.
iPhone 15 — USB-C
Yes, it finally happened. The iPhone now has a USB-C port which means that Lightning has officially gone the way of the dodo. That port can fast charge your iPhone using a 20W USB-C power adapter, just like before, but there's another Lightning hangover that we wish wasn't there.
The USB-C iPhone 15 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.
Pixel 8 — 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 Pixel owners. With the Pixel 8 Google has been able to support face unlock capabilities without adding extra sensors — it just uses a single front-facing camera. Despite that, it's still considered secure enough to be used for things like banking apps and passwords.
Pixel 8 — Actua Display
The Pixel 8 has gained a new Actua Display, which means that it has a variable refresh rate that starts at 60Hz and goes all the way to 120Hz. It also offers an improved brightness over the Pixel 7, topping out at an impressive 2,000 nits.
iPhone 15 vs Pixel 8: Processor
When it comes to the iPhone 15's processor, it got a notable upgrade over the iPhone 14 without adding anything new. That's because it uses the iPhone 14 Pro's A16 Bionic, a chip that still more than holds its own. It has a six-core CPU and a four-core GPU, while the 16-core Neural Engine handles AI tasks.
Over in the Pixel world, Google has used the all-new Tensor G3 but details on its core count haven't yet been made public. Rumors suggest it has nice CPU cores, but that configuration would be made up of a single "big" core, four "mid" cores, and four "little cores." It's difficult to read too much into that without confirmation that's exactly what Pixel owners will get, however.
iPhone 15 vs Pixel 8: Colors
Those feeling unkind could argue that all of the iPhone 15 colors are slightly different shades of white because they're very muted no matter which you choose. As far as Apple is concerned, however, the lineup consists of Black, Blue, Green, Yellow, and Pink. The most notable absence here is the PRODUCT(RED) that has been a mainstay for years. Apple could be planning a mid-cycle addition to bring that color back, however.
In Pixel land, the colors are more obvious although two of them are different shades of black and there are only three in total. Obsidian (black), Hazel (gray), and Rose (pink) are your options here.
iPhone 15 vs iPhone 8: Battery life
Apple is notoriously cagey when it comes to telling people what kind of battery life they should expect from its wares. The iPhone 15 is no different.
Apple says that iPhone 15 owners can expect up to 80 hours of battery life when playing back audio, 20 hours when watching video, and 16 hours when streaming that video. Beyond that, it'll depend on your usage but most people can expect to get from morning to bedtime without too many problems. That'll fluctuate if you're taking a lot of photos or videos or playing games, however.
Google hasn't said much beyond promising "beyond 24-hour battery life" and saying that you can get up to 72 hours of use out of it if you enable the "Extreme Battery Saver" feature. That'll "turn off more features, pause most apps, and slow processing for even more time between charges" but it's a good option if you need it.
iPhone 15 vs Pixel 8: Price and storage
When it comes to picking up a new phone at this level, it's going to cost. Not as much as the Pro models, of course. But neither of these phones is cheap.
The iPhone 15 starts at $799 for 128GB of storage. You can upgrade that to 256GB or 512GB if you wish, but each bump will add $100 to the price.
Choosing a Pixel 8 will cost a little less with the base 128GB selling for $699. The upgraded 256GB model costs an extra $60, but there is no 512GB option.
iPhone 15 vs Pixel 8: Cameras
Smartphones might be phones at heart, but they're a lot of people's main cameras. For that reason, the cameras a phone has can be a key part of the buying decision.
In that respect, both of these phones are strong options. The iPhone 15 has a main 48-megapixel camera with an ƒ/1.6 aperture. The ultrawide camera has a 12-megapixel sensor with an ƒ/2.4 aperture.
Choosing a Pixel 8 will get you more pixels with the main camera having a 50-megapixel sensor and an ƒ/1.7 aperture. That's joined by a 12-megapixel ultrawide camera that sports an ƒ/2.2 aperture.
Both phones have selfie cameras; the iPhone's has a 12-megapixel sensor and the Pixel 8's has a 10.5-megapixel sensor.
The iPhone 15 and Pixel 8 both have their fair share of camera options as well as plenty of AI-powered trickery to make your shots look just the way you want them to. And you can of course download new camera apps from the respective stores if the built-in option doesn't pass muster.
iPhone 15 vs Pixel 8: Which should you buy?
As is always the case with these things, choosing a new phone will very much depend on what you want to do with it and how attached you are to ecosystems.
In Apple's corner, there's the whole iCloud and App Store situation. If you're using a Mac, Apple TV, and AirPods you're going to get all of the best integrations if you use an iPhone. If you're an Apple Watch owner, an iPhone is your only option. And then there's iMessage. Do you want to be a green bubble if your friends and family are using iMessage?
The iPhone 15 is the best non-Pro iPhone that Apple has ever made and the addition of the Dynamic Island makes it seem more Pro than ever, too. It's lacking in some features you might expect at this price point, like a variable and high refresh-rate display. but it's the best iPhone around if you don't want to choose the iPhone 15 Pro.
All of that being said, the Pixel 8 is the best non-Pro Pixel, too. It's a thoroughly modern-looking phone with small bezels and a premium finish the likes of which Google hasn't always been known for. And Android is better now than ever, with Android 14 coming preinstalled. You'll also get seven years of software updates which, again, is unprecedented for Google.
If you're choosing between the iPhone 15 and Pixel 8. you can't go wrong with either phone in isolation. But choose the one that best fits your specific needs. You're unlikely to be disappointed with either.
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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.
Pretty simple really. iPhone all the way.Reply
Pixel cameras or software have taken a hit with a wired red tint this year and their soc is utter garbage. What’s the point of a pixel anymore. This is just embarrassing.
My choice is the iPhone until I get tired of them. Period.Reply
I shall buy iPhones while they still make them. I nearly understand how to work them now !Reply