Google has finally unveiled its flagship device, the Pixel 6 Pro. The device goes up a notch in all areas,
both in terms of design, display and photo capabilities. It is thus confronted head-on with its major
competitor, the Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max, launched in September.
The reason for pitting these two devices against each other – despite the rather significant price
difference between them – is that they represent Apple and Google, which offer the two most
popular mobile operating systems on the planet: iOS and Android. As a result, both devices benefit
from advanced design and a true harmony between hardware and software. They are also two of the
most important American players in the smartphone world.
Design & Concept
To each his own style. Apple's design is refined, with a straight stainless steel chassis, a frosted glass
back with a large square photo block and Gorilla Glass Ceramic Shield on the front. While visually the
device doesn't change much from last year's iPhone 12 Pro Max, Apple's design is still impeccable.
Like it or not, you can't take away the luxury of the iPhone 13 Pro Max. However, by trying to
integrate premium materials, Apple has also made its flagship smartphone one of the heaviest
devices on the market, weighing in at 238 grams. In the pocket, that's starting to feel pretty heavy.
As for the Google Pixel 6 Pro, it has changed completely compared to its predecessor, the Google
Pixel 5 XL. On the front, the screen is slightly curved around the edges, the edges are made of
aluminium, and the back is made of shiny Gorilla Glass 6. Fortunately, in our first tests, we noticed
that this glass back was almost fingerprint-free, a good point. Finally, this smartphone has a funny
long camera block that extends on both sides. The weight advantage goes to Google, which keeps
the smartphone under 210 grams.
On the display side, the two flagships are neck and neck on paper. The iPhone 13 Pro Max has a 6.7-
inch OLED Super Retina XDR panel (458 dpi) with ProMotion support up to 120 Hz and 1000 nits of
brightness. Its characteristic feature? A notch, located near the top edge, which houses the Face ID
facial recognition system.
The Google Pixel 6 Pro has a 6.7-inch curved OLED panel with QHD+ definition (512 dpi), an adaptive
refresh rate of up to 120 Hz and an Always-On mode. The front camera is housed in a small punch
centred on the top of the slab, and the smartphone can be unlocked via its fingerprint sensor,
integrated into the screen.
So it's a tie in this category. The iPhone 13 Pro Max will undoubtedly manage to get away with its
excellent brightness, but it will still have to get used to its large notch, while the Pixel 6 Pro benefits
from a true edge-to-edge display with its small punch. Of course, we have Face ID on one side, but in
these times of health crisis, the fingerprint sensor on Google's smartphone is a real asset… that we
don't find on Apple's.
While it used to make do with Snapdragon chips to equip its smartphones, Google is launching its
very first in-house chip with the Pixel 6 Pro. The Google Tensor is a proprietary SoC that allows the
firm to fully control the design of its smartphone, from hardware to software to its mobile chip.
More concretely, this SoC offers a score of 1,014 points in single-core on GeekBench, and 2,788
points in multi-core, knowing that the smartphone is equipped with 12 GB of RAM. This score doesn't
look like much on paper, but as previously mentioned, the arrival of an in-house SoC should allow
Google to take full advantage of it by optimising its smartphone to the hilt.
As for the iPhone 13 Pro Max, it also relies, once again, on a chip designed by Apple. This generation
features an A15 Bionic chip, whose performance knocks out all its competitors. By way of
comparison, on GeekBench, the smartphone scores 1,738 points in single-core and almost 4,766
points in multi-core. No other smartphone on the market does better at the time of writing, not even
the Google Pixel 6 Pro. Apple wins the round hands down.
The match gets tougher when it comes to photo/video. Google is particularly well known in the
mobile photography sector thanks to its excellent image enhancement algorithms. As for Apple, it
remains a reference in terms of photography, but especially in video, with exceptional image
stabilisation, perfect colours and infallible focus.
On the hardware side, the iPhone 13 Pro Max offers this year the same recipe as last year. There is a
trio of 12MP sensors: a wide-angle, an ultra-wide-angle and a telephoto X3. These sensors are quite
large, and the main wide-angle lens, in particular, has a massive f/1.5 aperture, making the iPhone 13
Pro Max formidable in low-light conditions. The ultra-wide angle lens can also be used as a macro
lens when you get close to an object. Finally, there is also a LiDAR sensor.
As far as the Pixel 6 Pro is concerned, Google has passed the 12 MP mark this year, which its previous
smartphones were stuck at (just like the iPhone 13 Pro Max). As with its Californian competitor, there
are three sensors: a 50MP wide-angle, a 12MP ultra-wide-angle and a 48MP telephoto lens offering
an X4 zoom. The extra pixels are used to enhance the existing one, so don't expect to capture 50MP
images. Google uses the pixel-binning technique of merging multiple pixels into one to produce more
detailed 12MP shots.
It's hard to tell the difference between these two devices on paper. On the one hand, the iPhone 13
Pro Max is making a real leap forward this year and offers excellent photo performance, both day
and night, but the Pixel 6 Pro takes advantage of Google's excellent algorithms capable of
transforming a lambda shot into a masterpiece.
When it comes to photography, we'd be more inclined to go with the Google Pixel 6 Pro, while the
iPhone 13 Pro Max is still the smartphone of choice for video.
The iPhone 13 Pro Max has a 4,352 mAh battery, while the Google Pixel 6 Pro has a 5,000 mAh
battery. On paper, Google's smartphone seems to win this round, but it's not that simple.
Apple's flagship is a true champion of autonomy in the world of smartphones. According to the
numerous tests carried out by our colleagues and other videographers, the iPhone 13 Pro Max is,
without question, the most autonomous smartphone on the market at the time of writing. Despite
its "small" battery size, Apple manages to maintain excellent autonomy thanks to its ProMotion
screen – which adjusts the refresh rate according to the content displayed -, its A15 Bionic chip, and
the brand's advanced optimisations.
The Google Pixel 6 Pro should therefore be less self-sufficient in its current state, although further
testing will be needed to be sure. Nevertheless, Google's new flagship offers fast charging up to 30W,
whereas its competitor, the iPhone 13 Pro Max, has a maximum of 23W. When it comes to fast
charging, however, the iPhone takes the lead with a maximum of 15W, compared to 12W for the
Pixel 6 Pro.
And to charge these devices, you'll also need to rely on two different ports: USB-C for Google, and
Lightning for Apple. The iPhone 13 Pro Max also offers charging via MagSafe, Apple's in-house
magnetic wireless charging system.
On the price side, the difference stings a bit. The iPhone 13 Pro Max starts at €1,259 in its 128GB
version, compared to €899 for the Google Pixel 6 Pro. What's more, Google has put together a pre-
order offer of £299 worth of Bose Headphones 700 with the purchase of a Pixel 6 Pro. Google is
therefore literally crushing its competitor in terms of price.
However, the real question to ask is rather the experience. On the one hand, we benefit from iOS
and the Apple ecosystem, and on the other, a pure Android experience. So it's going to be a matter
of preference between iOS and Android, rather than a match of features. And whether you prefer an
Android smartphone or an iPhone, the Pixel 6 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max represent the best of what
Google and Apple have to offer. Either way, you're unlikely to be disappointed.