As a smartphone manufacturer, Google is not a hegemon, to put it mildly. If there was a Gartner magic quadrant, the Mountain View giant would probably land in the niche players section, rubbing against the right side of the chart, where visionaries can be found. Visionaries only because of the photographic capabilities of their devices. Google has undoubtedly contributed to the development of mobile photography with the release of the first Pixel in 2016. The device at that time had revolutionary possibilities in computational photography. Night, portrait, and aggressive HDR modes showed the manufacturer’s capabilities and how important the camera’s software is. For the second Pixel, however, Google did not change the cameras in terms of hardware. It’s still the same 12 MP matrix from which nothing more could be squeezed. In addition, the Pixel devices had many other disadvantages: poor performance, boring design, and deteriorating battery life, to name a few. They hardly sold at all. It is quite strange that the devices of the company that is the driving force of Android cannot permanently stay at the top of equipment manufacturers based on this operating system. Google phones were more interesting for true enthusiasts, and at the beginning, they were intended mainly for developers. The times of the Nexus line will not come back, and Google is trying to throw the glove to the Giants for the sixth time. Samsung Apple this year is stabilizing in the position of manufacturers dictating market conditions. That’s why I decided to compare the Pixel 6 Pro with the latest Apple child (also mentioning the S21 Ultra ). Can you talk about Pixel 6 Pro in the context of a flagship? Let’s find out.
Workmanship and design
Google Pixel 6 Pro – Rating: 8
iPhone 13 Pro Max : Rating: 9.5
Leaks about the new Pixel began to appear around April. Google decided to show the devices some 3 months ago, so there was no surprise as 2 weeks ago, the phones were officially presented, and the rest of the cards were revealed. The design of the new line is certainly interesting and distinctive. The strap with the cameras divides both parts of the device very interestingly; the manufacturer even tried to use double colors for this reason. We have a choice of 3 color versions: Stormy Black, Cloudy White, and Sorta Sunny. The Stormy Black variant is the most boring – black and gray, while Sorta Sunny combines pastel yellow with peach. I like this version the most. I think Google learned a lesson in design. The device stands out in the crowd; the camera strap is symmetrical and does not cause the phone to be unstable and annoyingly moving on the surface when you need to write something on the screen. The build quality is absolutely fine. The device is well-balanced, but it feels quite empty inside. A gentle finger tap on the screen produces a strange sound – as if there is a space below it. The downside is definitely for using glass, which is not frosted, and any touch causes the back of the phone to get dirty. At the front, we have a rounded display, Gorilla Glass Victus – the same at the back. The aluminum frame is also not matte. There is an IP68 certificate for it. In Europe, the 256GB version is only available in Stormy Black. In the US, Stormy Black can be purchased in the 512GB option, Cloudy White in 256GB, and Sorta Sunny 128GB. WTFGoogle?
iPhone 13 Pro Max : Rating: 9.5 (heavyweight and glossy bezel)
If you’ve seen the iPhone 11 Pro Max, you’ve seen the iPhone 13 Pro Max. On the 11 Pro model, the back of the phone changed slightly (frosted glass appeared), and the cameras (square module in the corner). In the 12 Pro model, the frame of the device and the screen have been changed. This year, thirteen in the pro version has a slightly higher camera module and larger lenses. The screen has a 15% smaller notch. A new color has been added – blue Sierra Blue (according to the author, the most beautiful). The device is available in 4 color versions (Sierra Blue, Silver, Gold, and Graphite) with 128GB – 1TB memory in each color version (sic!). The device can be liked and is certainly recognizable. When building quality, Apple tends to set the standard here. A tempered steel frame, ceramic-reinforced display glass (Apple says it’s the toughest on the market), and the overall feel of holding a solid device in your hand. iPhone version 13 Pro Max is IP68 certified.
Google Pixel 6 Pro – Rating: 8
iPhone 13 Pro Max – Rating: 10
Google joined, like Apple, the manufacturer offering screen refreshment at 120Hz. Pixel 6 Pro has an LTPO panel that can go “into the rotation,” but the refresh rate can drop to 10 frames per second where there is no such need. The display has a native resolution of QHD+ (1440 x 3120) – we can’t change it, with a density of 512PPI in a size of 6.7 inches diagonally. The manufacturer gives a maximum brightness of 1000 nits. The panel manufacturer is Samsung, and the E5 model was used here. Color reproduction and calibration leave much to be desired – the display is calibrated toward cold temperatures. The biggest caveat, however, is the maximum brightness for me. While I could accept 1000 nits, as this is a number at the level of flagships in 2021, it is practically impossible to force high contrast mode (at least I did not manage to do it on a sunny day). Compared to the competitor from Cupertino, the panel is weak – it’s just dark. My test Pixel, however, did not have any defects reported by various users, such as light bleeding or flickering. This is a correct panel, but unfortunately, it stands out from the competition slightly in the negative. I am also not a fan of rounded displays myself.
iPhone 13 Pro Max – Rating: 10
Apple also followed the “invisible hand of the market” and used an LTPO panel with a maximum display frequency of 120Hz. The panel is contrasting, very well-calibrated, and bright. On a sunny day, I had absolutely no problems seeing the content of the screen. It is worth mentioning that the Pixel has a reduced brightness mode compared to the iPhone and can lower it very significantly, so if you use the phone in the evening, this is a very useful “feature.” As for the technical data, the iPhone 13 Pro Max display looks like this: 6.7-inch diagonal, 2778×1284 resolution, and 458 PPI density.
Efficiency and ease of use
Google Pixel 6 Pro 8/10
iPhone 13 Pro Max 10/10
I decided to combine these categories. As I’m not a gamer, I can’t tell you clearly how it performs in Pixel and iPhone games. However, I refer you to tests on this topic, which are plenty on the web. I use smartphones to browse social media (Twitter, FB, IG), take photos, manage FB pages, use corporate email in Google Workspace, manage a YT channel via YT Studio, and develop photos in Lightroom. In addition, navigation via CarPlay and Android Auto. I spend about 6-8 hours a day on the phone.
The worlds represented by Pixel and Pro Max are different. Both representatives present very strong sides of their systems. Google released the first device with a proprietary (redesigned Exynos chip) SoC Tensor and Titan M2 – a security processor. The GPU is a 20-core Mali-G78 chip. Apple has been installing systems designed by itself on its mobile devices (and not only) for years. In this case, we are talking about the A15 bionic, a 6-core mobile monster. Both processors are made in a 5 nm lithographic process. For Apple, this chip is provided by TSMC, and for Google, Samsung. Experience shows we say Apple, optimization, and efficiency in the same breath without thinking. What does it look like in the case of Pixel?
The performance of the Mountain View smartphone is very good. I encountered no problems with exporting photos, I did not notice any cropping, and applications remain in RAM and are not killed. The equipment is very efficient and convenient to use. Gesture navigation works great and is intuitive. In principle, you can leave an equal sign between these phones regarding the convenience of use. The one-handed operation of the Pixel and the way it is turned on is practically the same as what we know from iOS-powered devices. Pixel wins by several lengths by the ability to personalize the phone and how you interact with it. Google emphasized ML mechanisms and integration with Google AI. In Pixelyou see it everywhere. The ability to translate text in the background in messages, integration with the Google Assistant, or the newly introduced Material You allows the user to assume that Pixelis his, that he adapts to his needs. Using the phone is pure pleasure. Unfortunately, giving him a card and a full note is impossible. The fingerprint reader seems from another era; it is slow and does not always work. In addition, the phone does not recognize the Polish language transcription in the Recorder application. Tap to wake does not work 5 out of 10 times, and I had a problem with the Sony WF-1000XM4 BT headphones – one very often just stopped making any sound, and I had to put it back in the case and take it out again. This is the only device I’ve had an issue with these headphones, which pair with 4 devices.
iPhone: what to write here, so as not to reinvent the wheel … On the stable version of iOS 15.1, everything works, links are opened in native applications, and integration with Google Workspace is decent. iPhone works extremely fast and without jams. Face ID is mature enough to recognize my face in 10/10 cases unless I have a mask on; the phone does not freeze – it’s a real “love story.”
Google Pixel 6 Pro 5/10
iPhone 13 Pro Max 10/10
It’s two worlds again. While the iPhone this year destroys the competition, the Pixel fails for unknown reasons. The size of the battery speaks against the iPhone here, and it might seem, judging by the specifications, that it will not withstand the fight with the Pixel: 4352 to 5000 mAh. My experience with these two smartphones says a completely different thing. The iPhone can provide me with about 8-10h SOT and stay awake without use for 3-4 days. Pixel? Well. Not once did I get a 5h SOT. With the battery at 7%, I plugged the phone in to charge when the SOT was at 4:40h. Hopefully, a software update will fix this issue. Charging time just for Pixelis better because this one charge with a 30W charger, and the iPhone, unfortunately, only 25W. But when I used the iPhone, I forgot about the charger completely; in the case of a Google phone, I tried to always have it with me.
Google Pixel 6 Pro 9/10
iPhone 13 Pro Max 9/10
For now, it looks like the iPhone crushes the Pixel in every way. Well, you might think so. So it’s time for the most important of the categories, i.e. the camera. This is what Pixel is known for because it has been setting trends in this field for years.
I’m a photographer, I use a Sony system, but last week I used these 2 smartphones to compare them for you.
Pixel has 3 cameras: ultra wide-angle lens (112st, 12MP, f/2.2), standard (26mm, 50MP, f/1.9) and a 4x telephoto lens (48MP, 104mm, f/3.5).
Using this system is pure pleasure. Sometimes we get results that are just perfect, unavailable when using anything else out of the box (portrait mode, Astro mode). It happens, however, that Pixel’s algorithms exaggerate the processing and beautification of the photo. As a photographer, I want to be free to edit and assess the degree of interference. Pixel can win with the iPhone with several additional features, such as motion mode. This camera has come a long way since the introduction of the first-generation Pixel. We have RAW recording, motion mode, 4 types of stabilization, the ability to adjust the color temperature on the screen, etc. The multitude of functions and simplicity make it, in my opinion, the top system when it comes to mobile photography. Google tries a little too hard to get details out of the shadows, so often, the photo loses depth, and the night turns into day.
The iPhone again shows that it will not give up the field easily. From generation to generation, Cupertino devices have been increasingly focused on this aspect. This year, creative modes have been added to emphasize contrast; along with the previous generation, Apple ProRaw mode was introduced, saving photos with a 12-bit color profile in DNG format. The system in the iPhone is as follows: an ultra-wide-angle lens (12th, 12MP, f / 1.8), a wide-angle lens (12MP, 26mm, f / 1.5), and a 3x telephoto lens (77mm, 12MP, f / 2.8). The lenses are brighter than the Pixel but with a lower native resolution. The system is simpler and not so rich in the multitude of personalization in the camera application. More settings can be found in the settings of the device itself. If I had to choose which system to take a better photo, I would choose Pixel without thinking. However, if we were talking about 100 photos plus a video? I choose the iPhone. MKBHD is right – I’d rather have a system that takes photos that I’ll rate 9/10 every time than a camera that takes a 10/10 photo once in a while and then serves me 7-8/10 that are poorly processed. Video? This is where the Pixel did a little homework; the stabilization works very well, especially in Cinematic Pan mode. I rarely record videos, so I prefer not to talk about them.
Sample Pictures Google Pixel 6 Pro:
Sample Pictures iPhone 13 Pro Max:
Pixel is a great phone. It has an excellent camera, display, and a sensationally optimized system. The SoC designed by Google guarantees the integration and development of Google technologies. Transcription and translation services take place offline from your phone. This is the most “Google” phone I’ve ever used, and I’ve been a Pixel user since the first generation. The offer seems very attractive considering its price for the 128GB variant. Are there better devices on the market? Without a doubt – the iPhone 13 Pro Max is mentioned, which the test won in virtually every aspect. There is also the Samsung S21 Ultra, which has the same advantages over the Pixel as the iPhone (much better display, much better battery, more predictable camera, faster charging, better biometrics, and a refined overlay). Its price, however, is also 300 euros higher.
Pixel, however, is the most interesting phone I had the opportunity to use this year. It has several infantile diseases, some of which will be resolved with software updates. They are guaranteed directly from the manufacturer for the next 3 years (5 years for security updates). The most exciting, however, seems to be that Google will develop this platform, and next year, Tensor2 may turn out to be a real flagship killer. At the moment, it lags, but it raises a lot of hope. If someone can overcome shortcomings, they will have a lot of fun using this phone. This purchase is very profitable, and you can still be tempted by the cheaper version without Pro.