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Google Pixel 8 Pro vs. iPhone 15 Pro: which $1,000 phone should you buy?

A Google Pixel 8 Pro in Porcelain (left) with an iPhone 15 Pro in Blue Titanium held in hand.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

It’s an exciting season for premium smartphones. Apple has unveiled its iPhone 15 Pro with a sleek new titanium finish and ultra-powerful A17 Pro chip. Now, Google has followed that up with its new flagship Google Pixel 8 Pro, packing in a new Tensor G3  processor, an improved camera system, and a wealth of fun new machine-learning-powered features.

There’s little doubt that Apple and Google are two of the biggest names in the smartphone market, which leads to inevitable comparisons between their top-of-the-line smartphones. Of course, since they operate in entirely different software and hardware ecosystems, it’s an easy decision for those folks who are already on either team iOS or team Android, but for many people, those lines aren’t nearly as black-and-white. Let’s dive in and see how these two behemoths compare.

Google Pixel 8 Pro vs. iPhone 15 Pro: specs

  Google Pixel 8 Pro Apple iPhone 15 Pro
Size 162.6 x 76.5 x 8.8mm (6.4 x 3.01 x 0.35 inches) 146.6 x 70.6 x 8.25mm (5.77 x 2.78 x 0.32 inches)
Weight 213 grams (7.5 ounces) 187 grams (6.6 ounces)
Screen 6.7-inch always-on Super Actua 120Hz OLED display 6.1-inch always-on Super Retina XDR OLED with 120Hz ProMotion
Screen resolution 2992 x 1344 pixels at 489 pixels-per-inch 2556 x 1179 pixels at 460 pixels-per-inch
Operating system Android 14 iOS 17
Storage 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB
MicroSD card slot No No
Tap-to-pay services Google Pay Apple Pay
Processor Google Tensor G3 Apple A17 Pro
Camera Rear: 50-megapixel (MP) Octa PD wide camera, 48MP Quad PD ultrawide camera, 48MP Quad PD telephoto camera

Front: 10.5MP Dual PD selfie camera

Rear: 48-megapixel (MP) main camera (wide), 12MP Ultrawide, 12MP telephoto, LiDAR Scanner

Front: 12MP TrueDepth

Video 4K at 24/30/60 frames per second (fps)
1080p HD at 24/30/60 fps
Slo-mo video support up to 240 fps
10-bit HDR video
Macro Focus Video
Dual exposure on wide camera
4K at 24/25/30/60 frames per second (fps)
1080p HD at 25/30/60 fps
HDR video with Dolby Vision up to 4K at 60fps
Slow motion 1080p at 120/240 fps
ProRes video recording up to 4K at 60fps with external recording
Macro video recording
Cellular 5G mmWave (model G1MNW), 5G sub-6GHz (model GC3VE), Dual SIM (Single Nano SIM and eSIM) 5G mmWave (U.S. models only) 5G (sub-6GHz), Dual eSIM with Physical SIM on non-U.S. models only.
Bluetooth version Bluetooth 5.3 Bluetooth 5.3
Water resistance IP68 IP68
Battery 5,050mAh. Beyond 24-hour battery life, up to 72-hour battery life with Extreme Battery Saver Video playback: 20 to 23 hours
Audio playback: 75 hours
20W fast charging
App marketplace Google Play Store App Store
Network support All major carriers All major carriers
Colors Obsidian, Porcelain, Bay Natural Titanium, Blue Titanium, White Titanium, Black Titanium
Price Starting at $999 Starting at $999
Review Google Pixel 8 Pro review iPhone 15 Pro review

Google Pixel 8 Pro vs. iPhone 15 Pro: design

An iPhone 15 Pro in Blue Titanium (left) and Google Pixel 8 Pro in Porcelain side-by-side showing backs.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

For the past few years, Google and Apple have both settled on a fairly established design language for their respective smartphones, and neither one departs too far from this with their 2023 flagships. In fact, you’ll probably have a hard time telling either model apart from its predecessor unless you know what to look for.

Google’s Pixel 8 Pro features the same rounded corners and flat display, with symmetrical bezels, a polished aluminum frame, and the prominent (and now-iconic) camera bar on the rear. The most significant switch is a move to a matte glass back, now made from edgeless Corning Gorilla Glass Victus 2, matching the glass used on the front display. Obsidian remains the standard color from last year, while Snow and Hazel are replaced by Porcelain and Bay, a medium-light blue.

Blue Titanium (left) and Natural Titanium iPhone 15 Pros on a green park bench.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

The iPhone 15 Pro likewise retains the classic iPhone look, featuring the square, three-lens camera bump that’s been a staple of Apple’s high-end smartphones since 2019. This year, Apple moved to a titanium construction for the frame, which offers a brushed metallic look on the sides — a nice contrast to the shinier stainless steel of prior iPhone Pro models — and significantly reduces its weight, shedding 19 grams over last year’s model. The rear of the iPhone 15 Pro features a similar matte glass back; however, while Apple uses its own Ceramic Shield glass for the front screen, the back glass is nothing particularly special. Apple’s colors reflect the new material theme this year: Natural Titanium, Blue Titanium, White Titanium, and Black Titanium, and are all pretty much what you’d expect from those names.

Where the two smartphones differ most apparently from each other is in their size. The Pixel 8 Pro is Google’s highest-end flagship model, coming in with a 6.7-inch screen, a size that’s more comparable to Apple’s pricier iPhone 15 Pro Max. Unlike Google, Apple makes two sizes for its top-tier flagships, and the iPhone 15 Pro is the more pocketable 6.1-inch version that delivers nearly all the same capabilities as its larger sibling. While one would expect the smaller phone to be significantly lighter, it’s Apple’s new titanium construction that we have to thank for this; the Pixel 8 Pro weighs the same as last year’s Google Pixel 7 Pro, and the iPhone 14 Pro wasn’t far behind.

Someone holding the Google Pixel 8 Pro in front of a colorful background.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Besides the noticeable size differences, the Google Pixel 8 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro feature the same IP68 dust and water resistance. The IP68 rating guarantees resistance against immersion in a minimum of one meter of water for at least 30 minutes but typically goes beyond that; how far beyond is up to the manufacturer. Apple says that the iPhone 15 Pro can handle up to six meters of water for up to 30 minutes, while Google doesn’t offer any specifics on what its IP68 rating means.

The Pixel 8 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro have unique design elements and tradeoffs that make it hard to pick a clear winner here. Both phones are well-built, durable, and attractive, but Apple gives you lots of power in a smaller package, while Google delivers a larger screen for the same price. Since that comes down to personal taste, we’re calling this one a tie.

Winner: Tie

Google Pixel 8 Pro vs. iPhone 15 Pro: screen

An iPhone 15 Pro in Blue Titanium (left) and Google Pixel 8 Pro in Porcelain showing lock screens.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

The Pixel 8 Pro uses what Google is calling its new “Super Actua” display, which is an LTPO OLED screen with a variable refresh rate from 1-120Hz, always-on capabilities, and an eyeball-searing brightness of 2,400 nits outdoors. That makes it the brightest display we’ve seen on any mainstream smartphone, surpassing the 2,000-nit Super Retina XDR screens that Apple debuted in last year’s iPhone 14 Pro lineup.

Peak HDR brightness on the Pixel 8 Pro is a more modest but still impressive 1,600 nits, but other than significant brightness improvements, the display technology remains essentially the same as before, and the resolution has dropped slightly over the Pixel 7 Pro, coming in at 2992 x 1344, for a density of 489 pixels-per-inch (ppi), compared to 512 ppi on last year’s model.

The Home Screen on the Google Pixel 8 Pro.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

The display on Apple’s iPhone 15 Pro remains basically unchanged from last year, featuring the same Super Retina XDR OLED screen with 2,000 nits of peak outdoor brightness and 1,600 nits of HDR brightness and a 10-120Hz refresh rate during regular use, which drops to 1Hz for the always-on display. The 2556 x 1179-pixel resolution is lower than the screen on the Pixel 8 Pro, but it’s important to remember that it’s also a smaller display at only 6.1 inches. This gives it a 460 ppi density that’s close enough to deliver the same crispness to the naked eye.

Blue Titanium iPhone 15 Pro showing home screen with custom icons.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

While the screens here are pretty evenly matched, the iPhone 15 Pro gets a slight edge here by offering a richer always-on display that can show a full-color wallpaper background rather than merely a monochromatic view of the time and other info. However, the increased brightness and larger screen size of the Pixel 8 Pro make it the winner, albeit by a small margin.

Winner: Google Pixel 8 Pro

Google Pixel 8 Pro vs. iPhone 15 Pro: performance and battery

Battery settings on the Google Pixel 8 Pro.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Two years ago, Google began designing its own Tensor system-on-a-chip to power its Pixel phones, and while the early chips had a few growing pains, the Pixel 8 Pro ushers in Google’s third-generation Tensor G3. Google notes that “every major subsystem has been upgraded” in the new chip, with a new ARM V9 CPU cluster and some significant GPU upgrades.

Though the last two generations of Tensor have had some issues with overheating, cellular reception, and general performance instability, it seems Google has finally improved the Tensor G3 this year with the Pixel 8 Pro. In our review of the Pixel 8 Pro, the Tensor G3 chip has been able to handle everything we threw at it, from playing a bunch of mobile games, using plenty of apps, streaming video over 5G, taking a ton of photos, benchmark tests, and more — the Pixel 8 Pro handled everything pretty flawlessly.

Oh, and overheating? Not this year. The phone does get a bit warm after playing games in particular, but nothing too bad. The Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro got uncomfortably hot at times, but that isn’t the case for the Pixel 8 Pro this year. And this time, we haven’t experienced any game-breaking bugs either! All in all, the Pixel 8 Pro’s Tensor G3 chip has been smooth sailing.

Battery life on the Pixel 8 Pro is pretty much one full day, unfortunately, despite the Tensor G3 chip being an improvement over the past iterations and the massive 5,050mAh battery. In our Pixel 8 Pro review, with about five hours of screen-on time from 7:30 a.m. or 8 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., the battery would end up around 15% to 5% remaining. It may last longer if your usage isn’t as heavy, as we used it as much as we could during the review period, but still, it’s disappointing when other Android phones with large battery capacities would last around two days on a single charge.

Assassin's Creed Mirage on an iPhone 15 Pro Max.

Apple, on the other hand, has been designing its own silicon for over a decade, and this year, it’s upped the game in a big way — literally — with a new A17 Pro, the first of its A-series chips to get a new moniker since the A11 Bionic was introduced in the 2017 iPhone lineup. Apple is making a big push into gaming with the new chip, and you can already find iPhone 15 Pro-exclusive console games like Resident Evil 4 up for preorder on the App Store to take advantage of the extra power, with more to come. The A17 Pro features a significantly redesigned GPU core that adds hardware-accelerated ray racing and Metal Effect upscaling using the Neural Engine in tandem. There’s clearly power to spare here.

In our iPhone 15 Pro review, performance with the A17 Pro chip has been a beast. There’s plenty of power here, as we juggled dozens of apps at a time, played countless games, streamed music and video, connected to wireless dash cams in the car, and took a ton of photos. The iPhone 15 Pro handled everything without any stuttering or lag. However, we did notice that sometimes the phone would get a little warm, and it’s been noted that the iPhone 15 lineup has a bit of an overheating problem, though that seems to be mostly rectified through a software update.

The iPhone 15 Pro’s battery life is still a bit disappointing, as it won’t last more than a day for sure. When we take the iPhone 15 Pro off the charger at 8 a.m. and average between five to seven hours of screen-on time each day, by 9:30 p.m., we have anywhere from 20% to 30% battery remaining. But on those days when you may need a lot of turn-by-turn directions, the battery will take big hits, as we experienced 50% battery by noon with a lot of Apple Maps usage.

Blue Titanium iPhone 15 Pro showing battery information.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

Thanks to Apple’s decision to finally switch to the USB-C standard, the Google Pixel 8 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro are also on more equal footing when it comes to wired connectivity and charging. Neither offers especially fast charging, promising a 0% to 50% charge in about 30 minutes with an appropriate 30-watt USB-C charger. The Google Pixel 8 Pro can charge a bit faster wirelessly, drawing up to 12 watts from a standard Qi-certified charger, but you’ll need to pick up Google’s Pixel Stand to get the fastest 23-watt charging. The iPhone 15 Pro will only draw 7.5 watts from a Qi charger and 15 watts from an Apple-certified MagSafe charger. However, unlike Google’s Pixel Stand, iPhone 15 Pro owners can choose from a considerably broader range of third-party MagSafe chargers.

These tradeoffs put both the Pixel 8 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro on par when it comes to battery life and charging. However, based on Apple and Google’s relative chip-making prowesses, we strongly suspect that the A17 Pro chip in the iPhone 15 Pro will at least edge out Google’s Tensor G3 in terms of raw performance.

Winner: Apple iPhone 15 Pro

Google Pixel 8 Pro vs. iPhone 15 Pro: cameras

An iPhone 15 Pro in Blue Titanium (left) and Google Pixel 8 Pro in Porcelain showing camera modules.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

The strength of Google’s camera system has always been more in the computational photography power of its Tensor chips, and the Pixel 8 Pro continues to punch above the weight class of its camera hardware. Nevertheless, Google has packed in an upgraded 50-megapixel (MP) sensor this year with an f/1.68 aperture that promises to collect 21% more light than the one found in the Pixel 7 Pro.

The other two cameras include a pair of 48MP sensors with similar improvements in low-light performance, with the telephoto lens gaining 56 percent more light sensitivity and the ultrawide jumping by 105%.

The iPhone 15 Pro retains Apple’s typical three-lens arrangement, with last year’s upgraded 48MP main camera joined by a pair of 12MP telephoto and ultrawide sensors. While the 48MP shooter has been upgraded and features an f/1.78 aperture, that’s still a bit shy of Google’s f/1.68 50MP sensor, and the 12MP secondary cameras can’t compare with Google’s 48MP versions. However, Apple upped the photos taken with the main camera to 24MP resolution, so you get more details in every photo, though that also means a slightly larger file size. Smart HDR 5 this year also doesn’t wash out the colors in your photos, so images don’t look overly processed this year.

Someone holding the blue Google Pixel 8 Pro in front of their face.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Google also continues to deliver a superior optical zoom range, with the Pixel 8 Pro telephoto camera delivering a 5x zoom, compared to the 3x that’s been Apple’s norm since the iPhone 13 Pro was released in 2021. Although Apple finally boosted its optical zoom to 5x on the iPhone 15 Pro Max, that improvement didn’t trickle down to its 6.1-inch counterpart, ostensibly due to challenges in fitting the camera hardware into the smaller design. However, that’s not a problem for Google with the larger Pixel 8 Pro.

Both Google and Apple deliver impressive image signal processing and computational photography features on the software side. Still, this year, Google is ramping things up with manual “Pro” controls in its built-in Camera app, plus Night Sight for Video, a Magic Editor feature that uses generative AI to move subjects around, remove objects, and change lighting, plus a “Best Take” feature in Google Photos to create a blended image to let you choose the best parts from a series of photos. For example, this would allow you to take a series of group shots and create one where everyone is actually looking at the camera and smiling.

From our time with the Google Pixel 8 Pro, photos look incredible. It’s been hard not to take a good photo with a Pixel device, and the Pixel 8 Pro continues that tradition. With the larger sensors that are able to capture more light, any photo you take with the Pixel 8 Pro is going to come out good. Especially with all of the software processing after you take the photo, images look realistic and pack in a lot of detail. And the 5x optical zoom has taken very good closeups that you just won’t get with the iPhone 15 Pro, especially since it lacks the 5x optical range of its larger sibling.

Blue Titanium iPhone 15 Pro in hand.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

The iPhone 15 Pro still takes great photos, though, even if it lacks that new telephoto in the iPhone 15 Pro Max. Since the default photos will have 24MP instead of 12MP, you get more detail, and the colors are bright and vibrant without being too over the top. There is less washing out of skies and less harsh colors in the post-processing this time around thanks to Smart HDR 5, so we have fewer complaints about how photos look compared to the iPhone 14 Pro.

Low light images also look much better thanks to the larger sensors, and Auto Portrait is an incredible feature. With Auto Portrait, as long as the focus is on a person or pet, the iPhone 15 Pro will capture depth data automatically, allowing you to turn it into a Portrait mode image even after the fact. It’s an especially useful feature for parents of kids and animals.

While some of these software capabilities may seem a bit gimmicky, Google is definitely pushing the envelope much harder on what’s possible with machine learning and generative AI. The iPhone 15 Pro uses similar techniques to create great photos behind the scenes, but it doesn’t let you manipulate them nearly as much after the fact. Those extra features, combined with the superior optical zoom and camera sensors, make the Pixel 8 Pro the clear winner, at least in terms of features and specs. We’ll have to wait for the inevitable camera shootouts to see how actual photos compare between the two flagships.

Winner: Google Pixel 8 Pro

Google Pixel 8 Pro vs. iPhone 15 Pro: software and updates

iOS 17 interactive widgets on an iPhone 15 Pro Max.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

The Pixel 8 Pro naturally arrives with Android 14 this year, delivering the same “pure Google” experience that Pixel phones have become known for. However, this time around, Google is raising the bar in a big way with the promise of seven years of Android updates and Pixel Feature Drops. That means a Pixel 8 Pro you buy today will someday be able to run Android 21.

The iPhone 15 Pro ships with Apple’s latest iOS 17, and while Apple has never made any update promises for its iPhones, it has an established track record of providing at least five years of updates for older iPhone models. It’s a safe bet the iPhone 15 Pro will make it to at least iOS 22, if not beyond.

Both phones are pretty evenly matched here. You’re getting great software out of the box and years of updates to follow. It really comes down to your preference for Android or iOS, so we’re calling this one a tie.

Winner: Tie

Google Pixel 8 Pro vs. iPhone 15 Pro: special features

Google Pixel 8 Pro temperature app showing a cold reading.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

As usual, Google has packed the Pixel 8 Pro with some interesting new features powered by the machine-learning capabilities of its Tensor G3 chip. In addition to the previously mentioned camera improvements, the Pixel 8 Pro adds an Audio Magic Eraser, Selfie Autofocus, and support for using Face Unlock in other third-party apps and places where you’re required to sign in. Gboard gains built-in proofreading tools for spelling and grammar, and Guided Frame expands from the selfie camera to the rear camera and can recognize objects and pets.

Google has also added an Object Temperature sensor to the Pixel 8 Pro this year. As the name suggests, this can measure the temperature of objects, and once it clears the necessary regulatory hurdles, you’ll be able to use it to record your body temperature and upload it to Fitbit.

Perhaps the most significant “special feature” of the iPhone 15 Pro this year is Apple’s transition to USB-C, which brings broader accessory compatibility and the same 10Gbps USB 3 data transfer speeds and reverse-charging capabilities of the Pixel 8 Pro. The iPhone 15 Pro can also record 4K/60 fps ProRes video to an external storage device and supports several other high-end video encoding features that set it apart from most other smartphones on the market.

Using the focal length lenses on an iPhone 15 Pro.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

These aren’t things that consumers will typically care about, but they’ll certainly be of interest to studios and professional videographers. A similarly niche feature is that the iPhone 15 Pro will be able to record 3D Spatial Video that can be played on Apple’s Vision Pro headset when it launches next year.

For a more practical feature, the iPhone 15 Pro gains the new StandBy mode in iOS 17 that lets you use it as a smart display whenever it’s propped up in landscape orientation and charging, letting you take advantage of the always-on display to show photos, clocks, or custom widgets. If you’re using a MagSafe charger, it will also remember the StandBy displays settings for each one you dock it with, so you can have it set up as a photo album in your living room and an alarm clock beside your bed. The iPhone 15 Pro also adds a new Action button that replaces the classic ring/silent switch and can be customized to trigger any number of actions on your iPhone, including custom routines in Apple’s Shortcuts app and a new Ultra Wideband chip that can be used to locate your friends in a crowd — as long as they’re also toting an iPhone 15.

While the iPhone 15 Pro has a few neat new tricks up its sleeve, Google offers a more exciting collection of mainstream features.

Winner: Google Pixel 8 Pro

Google Pixel 8 Pro vs. iPhone 15 Pro: price and availability

Blue Titanium iPhone 15 Pro leaning on park lamp post.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

The Google Pixel 8 Pro starts at $999 for the 128GB version, with 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB models also available. It’s available for purchase now from Google and other retailers and comes in Obsidian, Porcelain, and Bay colors.

The iPhone 15 Pro can be purchased from Apple and most other major retailers starting at $999 for the base 128GB version. It’s also available in 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB capacities, all of which are available in your choice of Natural Titanium, Blue Titanium, White Titanium, and Black Titanium.

Overall winner: Google Pixel 8 Pro

The Google Pixel 8 Pro laying face-down on a wood bench.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

As usual, it’s a close race between Apple’s and Google’s flagships, but this year, the Google Pixel 8 Pro comes out slightly on top with a better camera system and a larger and brighter screen — both things you’d have to step up to Apple’s more expensive iPhone 15 Pro Max to try and match.

The Pixel 8 Pro also offers an assortment of fun and useful new features, especially for working with photos, and a new Tensor G3 chip that’s leagues better than its predecessors.

Nevertheless, the iPhone 15 Pro is a solid buy for folks looking for a smaller smartphone with power to spare and a great camera system. This is the key area in which it wins out over most Android makers, nearly all of which reserve their best features or their biggest phones. And if you prefer iOS over Android, the iPhone is clearly the way to go.

But if you’re OK using Android and can manage a larger phone, the Google Pixel 8 Pro is the one to beat. Google’s had a rocky road with its Pixel lineup over the years, but the Pixel 8 Pro makes it all worth the wait.

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