- Source: Apple
Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max$1100 $1200 Save $100
Apple's iPhone 15 Pro Max comes with a slew of improvements over the prior generation, like USB-C, the A17 Pro chip, and a new telephoto lens. You'll be able to easily spot it thanks to a titanium design and a new Action button. But it is it enough to take down the reigning smartphone camera champ, in the Google Pixel 7 Pro?Pros
- New titanium build sheds weight
- Upgraded telephoto lens brings 5x optical zoom
- USB-C with USB 3.0 data speeds
- A17 Pro is like an overclocked A16 Bionic with better graphics
- Display and main camera is unchanged from last year
- Base model costs $100 more (but starts at 256GB)
- $649 $899 Save $250
Google delivered its best phone yet with the Pixel 7 Pro, and there are still a few weeks left before the Pixel 8 series debut. Known for its impressive camera and stock Android, the Pixel 7 Pro is a great value smartphone. However, its Tensor G2 chip tends to overheat, and it pales in comparison to Apple Silicon.Pros
- Best smartphone camera system
- System-wide use of AI and machine learning features
- Tight integration with Google services and Android
- Tensor G2 overheats and doesn't perform as well as Apple Silicon
- Battery life is rated for all-day use, but can be disappointing at times
- Will be replaced by Pixel 8 series in early October
Google tried to steal Apple's thunder by confirming that the Pixel 8 series would debut early next month, but alas, the talk of the town is the new iPhone 15 Pro Max. Apple's newest flagship smartphone packs a few key upgrades, but the biggest one is probably a new telephoto camera. We expect the iPhone 15 Pro Max to be one of the best smartphone cameras you can buy, but for now, Google's current Pixel 7 Pro holds that title. So, should you buy the new iPhone 15 Pro Max or go with Google's option instead? To help you out, we've put these two flagships up against each other.
iPhone 15 Pro Max vs Pixel 7 Pro: Pricing, specs, and availability
After months of heavy leaks and rumors, Apple finally revealed the new iPhone 15 Pro Max on Sept. 12 at a special event in Apple Park. Pre-orders for the smartphone opened Sept. 15, and the phone will be available starting Sept. 22. The iPhone 15 Pro Max features a new titanium build, and you can get it in Natural, blue, white, or black colorways. The smartphone retails for $1,200, which is $100 more than last year's model. However, it does come with 256GB of storage by default, and the pricing is equivalent to the 256GB iPhone 14 Pro Max model from last year. You can upgrade the device to 512GB or 1TB of storage if you need the extra space. The iPhone 15 Pro Max is available from Apple and third-party retailers, including major cellular carriers, which are offering up to $1,000 off via an eligible trade-in. For now, if you want an unlocked phone, you'll need to go through Apple.
Google released the Pixel 7 Pro in October 2022, and it still officially sells for $900. However, you'll find the smartphone on sale more often than not, and you can get some good discounts ahead of the Pixel 8 series debut next month. Right now, Google's 25th anniversary sale shaves $250 off the Pixel 7 Pro through Sept. 23 at the Google Store. You can also buy the Pixel 7 Pro directly from third-party retailers like Best Buy and Amazon, and major cellular carriers. You can choose Hazel, Snow, and Obsidian colorways. If you need more storage space, the 256GB model costs $1,000, and the 512GB model costs $1,100.
Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max Google Pixel 7 Pro SoC Apple A17 Pro Google Tensor G2 Display 6.7" OLED Super Retina XDR 6.7-inch QHD+ AMOLED, 120Hz, HDR 10+, 1500nits RAM 8GB 8GB/12GB Storage 256GB, 512GB, 1TB 128GB/256GB Battery 4,422mAh 5,000mAh Ports USB-C USB-C Operating System iOS 17 Android 13 Front camera 12MP TrueDepth camera 10.8MP, f/2.2 Dimensions 6.29 x 3.01 x 0.32 inches (159.9 x 76.7 x 8.25mm) 6.4 x 3.0 x 0.3 inches (162.9 x 76.6 x 8.9mm) Colors Natural Titanium, Blue Titanium, White Titanium, Black Titanium Obsidian, Snow, Hazel Weight 7.8 ounces (221g) 7.5 ounces (212g) IP Rating IP68 IP68 Price $1,100 $649
Google's Pixel 7 Pro was one of the most comfortable phones to hold this year, thanks to a curved design and a lightweight form factor. Apple took a step in this direction with the iPhone 15 Pro Max, ditching the stainless steel body found on last year's model for titanium. This helps the iPhone 15 Pro Max weigh just 221 grams, which is still 9 grams heavier than the Pixel 7 Pro, but it's a step in the right direction. You'll also notice a new button on the side of the smartphone called the Action button. It's customizable, and replaces the mute switch. Overall, the iPhone 15 Pro Max design is similar to that of the iPhone 14 Pro Max, but with a few improvements that will surely be noticeable in daily use. As far as durability goes, the iPhone 15 Pro Max still offers Ceramic Shield glass and an IP68 dust- and water-resistance rating.
We've had limited hands-on time with the iPhone 15 Pro Max, and we'll have to wait to spend more time with the device before deciding whether it's more comfortable than the Pixel 7 Pro. However, we have tried the Pixel 7 Pro at length, and it's clear the phone is downright comfortable. It features a glass back, a polished metal finish on the edges, and the iconic Pixel camera bar. The slight curves around the display, sides, and back of the phone make it feel smaller than any other 6.7-inch phone I've tried. Plus, the camera bar has a functional element as well, since it keeps the phone from rocking when placed on a flat surface. Like the iPhone 15 Pro Max, the Google Pixel 7 Pro features an IP68 certification, so it can withstand limited time underwater at shallow depths.
Both the iPhone 15 Pro Max and the Google Pixel 7 Pro feature 6.7-inch display panels, but Apple's display is considerably brighter. There's a ProMotion panel on the iPhone 15 Pro Max that offers variable refresh rates up to 120Hz, which is great for fluidity and always-on display functionality. However, the bigger spec is that the iPhone 14 Pro Max display is rated for a 2000-nit peak brightness rating during outdoor use. The display is less pixel dense than the Pixel 7 Pro though, with a 2796x1290 resolution and 460 pixels per inch. As far as color goes, the iPhone 15 Pro Max has HDR support and features the P3 color gamut.
Since it's a modern iPhone, you also get the Dynamic Island, which is a clever way to make the Face ID sensors and front-facing camera into an interactive software feature. Though it's mainly used for system notifications and Live Activities, you can see a lot of information on the Dynamic Island. Things like now playing media, live game scores, and status indicators can all appear on and around the Dynamic Island as it expands and contracts. I wouldn't say it's a reason to buy the iPhone 15 Pro Max over other options, but it can be nice to have at times. If you want the least intrusion though, the Pixel 7 Pro's hole-punch camera cutout takes up less of the display than the Dynamic Island on the iPhone 15 Pro Max.
The Pixel 7 Pro has a great display too, as we found in our standalone display review. It has a QHD+ LTPO pOLED display panel that offers a 3120x1440 resolution, and there's a pixel density of 512 pixels per inch. Like the iPhone 15 Pro Max, the LTPO panel found on the Pixel 7 Pro can variate up to a 120Hz refresh rate. The display has a peak brightness of 1500 nits, which is significantly less than the iPhone 15 Pro Max, but it's enough for HDR content. Regardless of the specifications, you should know that both of these smartphones look great. If you like curved displays, the Pixel 7 Pro features a slight curve on the display edges.
Performance and software
Google is said to be working on the problems with the Tensor G2 chip inside the Pixel 7 Pro for its next generation of smartphones, but for now, we expect the iPhone 15 Pro Max's system-on-a-chip to perform better. Apple released a new A17 Pro chip for the iPhone 15 Pro Max, although it's basically an A16 Bionic SoC with a slight overclock and an extra graphics core. This will make a difference for some people, enabling ray tracing for the first time on a smartphone and bringing AAA gaming titles to the iPhone. There should be some efficiency improvements as well, according to Apple, so the A17 Pro should perform better than last year's A16 Bionic. We'll have to wait to test the device for ourselves, so stay tuned for our full review coming soon.
Like all the best iPhones released in 2023, the iPhone 15 Pro Max ships with iOS 17 installed, and that's the latest version of Apple's mobile operating system. Both iOS and Pixel UI are very simplistic operating systems, but some will prefer Apple's offering due to great hardware and software integration as well as exclusive features. You'll get some new features as well, like Contact Posters, NameDrop, and more. As far as future updates go, we typically see new iPhones get at least five or six years of upgrades, but Apple doesn't make any promises. Android is definitely more customizable on the Pixel 7 Pro, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's better than iOS on the iPhone 15 Pro Max.
Google shipped the Pixel 7 Pro with stock Android 13, but the release of Android 15 to Pixel smartphones is coming soon. You can even download beta images of Android 14 right now if you want to try out the latest features. Overall, Pixel UI and Android 13 is a simplistic and functional version of Android that is good enough to compete with iOS 17. Which is better depends on your personal preference, but it's fair to say that Pixel UI is probably the best version of Android out there. However, it might be hard to beat iOS if you're used to exclusive features like AirDrop and iMessage.
The company followed in Apple's footsteps by designing a custom chip for the Pixel series, called the Tensor G2. It's the second-generation chip from Google, but it still struggles with performance when compared to similar SoCs from Apple and Qualcomm. The Pixel 7 Pro has a tendency to overheat as well, and this is due to the thermal issues related to the Tensor G2. The thing that the Tensor G2 has going for it is that it's heavily optimized for Android and the Pixel's camera system. As such, if you can handle the heat, it'll be reliable enough for daily use. When we get the iPhone 15 Pro Max in-hand, we'll put these chips to the test in benchmarks.
Both phones claim all-day battery life, but both phones might fall short in daily use. The iPhone 15 Pro Max features a 4,422mAh capacity and improved efficiency thanks to A17 Pro. However, Apple's own figures don't claim that there will be an improvement over last year's iPhone 14 Pro Max, which had disappointing battery life. The Pixel 7 Pro has a bigger 5,000mAh battery, but it'll need more power due to the requirements of its Tensor G2.
Arguably the biggest feature headed to the iPhone 15 Pro Max is a camera upgrade, and that comes in the form of hardware and software refreshes. On the hardware side of things, there's a new 12MP f/2.8 telephoto camera that has been re-engineered to provide up to 5x optical zoom and 25x digital zoom. The 48MP, f/1.78 main camera and the 12MP, f/2.2 ultrawide camera are the same as last year, but Apple is getting more out of the existing sensors. The iPhone 15 Pro Max can now take either 24MP or 48MP photos using the main camera sensor, which you couldn't do before.
Plus, Apple says that the A17 Pro chip will bring improved computational photography features, including Smart HDR 5 and improved Portrait Mode. This quality will extend to the front-facing camera as well, even though the 12MP, f/1.9 sensor is unchanged from last year's model. Photos utilizing Focus and Depth Control should look the best thanks to the A17 Pro, but we'll have to wait to test it for ourselves. If there's any company that has proven how influential computational photography can be, it's Google, so Apple has a lot to prove in this showdown.
Within the Pixel 7 Pro's camera bar you'll find three sensors: a 50MP main camera, a 12MP ultrawide camera, and a 48MP telephone camera. The main and telephoto cameras offer optical image stabilization, but you only get autofocus on the telephoto lens. Aside from the impressive camera hardware, the magic really starts with Google's artificial intelligence and machine learning features. Night Sight is especially good during low-light situations, where you'll see photos look noticeably brighter than the actual landscape. You can also edit photos after the fact with tools like the Magic Eraser, and these post-processing tools are a key advantage of going with a Pixel device.
Which one is right for you?
We can't say that you should buy the iPhone 15 Pro Max over a Pixel device just yet, but we can say it's the better phone to buy right now. The Pixel 8 series is coming soon, and that new model will likely stand a much better chance of besting the iPhone 15 Pro Max than the Pixel 7 Pro. The latter isn't a bad phone by any means, but the newer iPhone 15 Pro Max has advantages in performance, features a new USB-C port, and comes with the Action button. If you want the best of the best, you need to either choose the iPhone 15 Pro Max or wait for the Pixel 8 Pro to debut.
Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max
The iPhone 15 Pro Max introduces an all-new, customizable Action button, a titanium chassis with round edges, and a USB Type-C port. It exclusively offers up to 5x optical zoom, too.
But the iPhone 15 Pro Max is expensive, with a starting price of $1,200. It's more than some laptops, and it's a lot to ask for a smartphone. That makes the Pixel 7 Pro a great value for people who want a flagship smartphone on a budget. Its $900 starting price is 25% less than that of the iPhone 15 Pro Max, and you can routinely find the Pixel 7 Pro cheaper than that. As such, buyers who want a sub thousand-dollar flagship should look no further than the Pixel 7 Pro.
The Pixel 7 Pro is Google's best phone ever, with a refined, premium design and Google's second-generation silicon — plus awesome cameras, as usual.