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iPhone 13 Pro Max vs. Google Pixel 6 Pro: Which flagship will win?

iphone 13 pro max vs pixel 6 pro composite image
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

In this iPhone 13 Pro Max vs. Pixel 6 Pro face-off, we'll take a look at how these two flagships stack up to each other so far. 

While Apple's latest and greatest is already out and available for everyone to purchase, Google's new redesigned Pixel is waiting on the sidelines. After all, it'd be silly to try (and fail) to steal Apple's thunder.

That said, we do know some of what's coming with Google's return to big-screen phones. From camera upgrades to tidbits about the new custom chip, the Pixel 6 Pro is shaping up to be an Android powerhouse. The Pixel line is the closest thing to an iPhone, seeing as those phones get the latest Android versions on Day One.

Obviously, Google hasn't spilled all of the beans on the upcoming Pixel. We have some rumors and supposed leaks to go off of in the meantime. The information we do have at hand gives us a good glimpse at how the Pixel 6 Pro will fare against the iPhone 13 Pro Max.

iPhone 13 Pro Max vs. Google Pixel 6 Pro: Specs

iPhone 13 Pro MaxPixel 6 Pro
Starting price$1,099N/A
CPUA15 BionicTensor
Display6.7-inch OLED (2778 x 1284)6.7-inch OLED QHD+
Refresh rate120Hz120Hz
RAM6GB12GB (rumored)
Storage128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB128GB, 256GB, 512GB (rumored)
Rear cameras12MP (f/1.5) main, 12MP (f/1.8) ultrawide, 12MP (f/2.8) telephoto with 3x optical zoom50MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 48MP telephoto with 4x optical zoom
Front camera12MP (f/2.2)12MP
BatteryN/A5,000 mAh (rumored)
Charging20W wired, 15W MagSafe33W (rumored)

iPhone 13 Pro Max vs. Google Pixel 6 Pro: Price and release date

The iPhone 13 Pro Max launched Sept. 24 with a starting price of $1,099 for the 128GB model. Going up to 256GB runs $1,199, 512GB costs $1,399, and you can go all the way up to 1TB of storage for $1,599.

We don't know much about the Pixel 6 Pro's pricing yet, nor when Google will announce it. Rumors suggest Oct. 19, which would hold in line with Google's history of Pixel events. 

One prominent leaker says the phone will go on sale Oct. 28 with pre-orders going live on Oct. 19. All that is to say: Expect a mid- to late-October timeline for the Pixel 6 Pro.

Furthermore, Google has outright said that the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro will be "expensive." The company says it's taking things seriously this year and plans to price its new phones accordingly. The $699 Pixel 5 is a thing of the past now.

iPhone 13 Pro Max vs. Google Pixel 6 Pro: Design

Apple played it safe this year with the iPhone 13 Pro Max's design. It looks very similar to the iPhone 12 Pro Max, but with a bigger camera hump and a smaller notch. The latter is especially notable, as the notch that houses the Face ID technology had remained the same size since it debuted on the iPhone X in 2017.

iphone 13 pro max in hand at the beach

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The iPhone 13 Pro Max is a big boy, with a huge 6.7-inch display, a stainless-steel frame, and a larger battery. All that equals a bulky and heavy phone, clocking in at 8.5 ounces. You won't ever forget that you're holding this handset. 

Face ID is still the only means of biometric authentication, even though many users are still wearing masks in public. Rumors had suggested that Apple was experimenting with in-display Touch ID, but that didn't pan out. You're still stuck typing in your PIN to unlock and authorize Apple Pay purchases.

Google Pixel 6 renders

(Image credit: Google)

Thanks to Google, we know what the Pixel 6 Pro looks like. It's a massive departure from the Pixel line's typically spartan design language, with the new phones attempting to make a statement.

Gone is the rear-mounted fingerprint reader, with it likely moving under the display. The back features a tri-color design with the very obvious camera bar spanning the width of the phone. The glass below that camera bar looks to be matte, while the strip above the cameras looks glossy. 

Google Pixel 6 Pro on display

(Image credit: Future/TechRadar)

Google has not only shown off the Pixel 6 Pro in renders and photos, but you can actually go see it on display at its store in New York City. You can look at it, but you can't touch it. 

iPhone 13 Pro Max vs. Google Pixel 6 Pro: Display

Apple went with a 6.7-inch OLED display for the iPhone 13 Pro Max, which looks really good. It could get over 1,000 nits of brightness in our testing, which is insanely bright. With a crisp 2778 x 1284 resolution, any content you view on the iPhone 13 Pro Max is sure to look good.

iPhone 13 Pro Max display on in hand

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Of course, the big deal this year is the inclusion of 120Hz ProMotion on the Pro models. As with Android phones, this is an adaptive refresh rate, clocking down 10Hz and anywhere in between depending on what you're doing. 

Apple says that the display will even adjust itself to how quickly you're moving your finger across the glass.

We don't know everything about the Pixel 6 Pro's display, other than that it's 6.7 inches diagonally and has OLED, QHD+ resolution and a 120Hz refresh rate. 

A report from XDA Developers said that the Pixel 6 Pro will be able to maintain the 120Hz variable refresh rate with the display at QHD. We don't have a clue on how this will affect battery life.

iPhone 13 Pro Max vs. Google Pixel 6 Pro: Cameras

Apple and Google are the kings of smartphone photography, trading blows every year. They take similar approaches to color profiles and rely on heavy number-crunching to produce natural-looking photos. 

The iPhone 13 Pro Max features a triple camera system: 12MP main, 12MP ultrawide, and 12MP telephoto with 3x optical zoom. There's a 12MP front-facing camera, too. 

Right now, the iPhone 13 Pro Max is our best camera phone, besting the Pixel 5 from last year. Photos from the new iPhone are gorgeous and rich, and vibrant without being too oversaturated.

iPhone 13 Pro Max camera sample of produce stand

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

New this year is Cinematic mode, which allows for portrait-style videos with dynamically adjusting focus. It's a cool feature that could lead to some neat videos. 

Apple also added the ability to record in the ProRes format, up to 4K 30fps on the 256GB, 512GB and 1TB models — the 128GB variant is capped at 1080p 30 fps. Otherwise, you can record in Dolby Vision HDR up to 4K 60 fps.

The Pixel 6 Pro has its work cut out for it, but Google can probably pull it off. We know that the new Pixel will also feature a triple camera array: 50MP main, 12MP ultrawide, and 48MP telephoto with 4x optical zoom with a 12MP front-facing camera. 

Google says the main wide-angle sensor lets in 150% more light, but beyond that, we don't know much else about the hardware.

It's the software that has us excited, especially since Google is going all in on machine learning with the Tensor system-on-chip. That could mean huge leaps in computational photography, and we're looking forward to seeing the final results. Google said that it's taken steps to improve the photo quality for pictures with people of color, too.

Rumors suggest that the Pixel 6 Pro will be able to record up to 4K at 60 frames per second.

iPhone 13 Pro Max vs. Google Pixel 6 Pro: Performance

The iPhone 13 Pro Max features Apple's new A15 Bionic system-on-chip. You should check out our iPhone 13 benchmarks story to see how the new phone compares to the competition. 

While the improvement over the A14 Bionic in the iPhone 12 Pro Max isn't that much, the new iPhone crushes the best that Android has to offer in CPU and GPU performance.

iPhone 13 Pro Max review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Google is parting ways from Qualcomm this year for the Pixel 6, going with its own chip reportedly designed in collaboration with Samsung. Called Tensor, it will carry a huge focus on AI and machine-learning applications. We'll likely see the fruits of this in the photography department. 

Rumor has it that Tensor is an unreleased Samsung Exynos chip and that it'll use the Mali-G78 GPU. If the latter is true, the Pixel 6 Pro will fall far behind the iPhone 13 Pro Max for gaming.

We obviously won't know how the Pixel 6 Pro performs until we get our hands on one. Even if Tensor isn't as powerful as the A15 Bionic, we think its machine-learning capabilities could make it a force to be reckoned with.

iPhone 13 Pro Max vs. Google Pixel 6 Pro: Battery and charging

We don't know the iPhone 13 Pro Max's exact battery capacity, but we do know that Apple increased the power-pack size this year. It certainly shows, with the iPhone 13 Pro Max appearing on our best phone battery life list even with the 120Hz display. 

iPhone 13 Pro Max face down on desk with magsafe charger

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

In the Tom's Guide battery-life test, where we make a phone endlessly reload web pages over a cellular connection until it dies, the iPhone 13 Pro Max went for an astounding 12 hours and 16 minutes. 

That's well above the average that we see and is outpaced only by some gaming and low-powered phones, most of which have mammoth batteries.

The Pixel 6 Pro is rumored to have a 5,000-mAh battery, the largest that Google has ever used. Pixels have historically struggled with battery life, so there's a lot of room for improvement here. If Google is fine-tuning the hardware with its control over Tensor, the Pixel 6 Pro could see battery-efficiency gains.

One thing we don't like about the iPhone 13 Pro Max is the charging speed, with wired capping out at 20W and MagSafe sitting at 15W. Apple just isn't competitive in this regard, especially with the iPhone 13 Pro Max's larger battery.

We don't know what wattage the Pixel 6 Pro will charge at just yet, but rumors say 33W. That's still quite a ways from OnePlus' 65W or Xiaomi's 120W, but it's better than the Pixel 5's 18W.

iPhone 13 Pro Max vs. Google Pixel 6 Pro: Software

The iPhone 13 Pro Max is the showcase device for the new iOS 15. Continuing the legacy spearheaded by iOS 14 last year, the new version of Apple's mobile operating system improves notifications, enhances FaceTime, introduces Focus modes, and adds tweaks and adjustments to many of the core system apps. Be sure to check out our iOS 15 review for more.

iPhone 13 Pro Max

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Pixel 6 Pro will likewise be the device that will show off everything Android 12 has to offer. Google's OS this year introduces a radical redesign with its Material You design language. This is a light theming system that adjusts system colors to your wallpaper, creating a variety of accents you can choose from. It's a cool feature.

Both operating systems have taken a further focus on privacy, with Android 12 offering a dashboard where you can see exactly which permissions your apps have accessed. iOS 15 will be getting a similar feature later on.

Neither OS is better than the other; they just each have their own strengths. The Pixel 6 Pro will benefit from being a Google phone, meaning it will enjoy Day One access to the latest Android updates. This is the closest an Android phone can get to an iPhone's update cycle — every supported iPhone can get the new iOS update when it's available.

iPhone 13 Pro Max vs. Google Pixel 6 Pro outlook

This will be an intense face-off once we get our hands on the Pixel 6 Pro later this fall. The iPhone 13 Pro Max has already won our highest rating ever, so Google has a tough battle ahead. Previous Pixels have been flawed to varying degrees, so let's hope Google pulls out all the stops.

If nothing else, the camera fight will be awesome to behold, and we can't wait to put both phones through their paces. Stay tuned for the results of this face-off once we've had some time with the Pixel 6 Pro.

Jordan Palmer

Jordan is the Phones Editor for Tom's Guide, covering all things phone-related. He loves nothing more than relaxing in his home with a book, game, or his latest personal writing project. It's hard to nail down one thing that Jordan is passionate about, since his attention span for a single given topic or activity doesn't last long. Jordan tends to lurk on social media, but you can best reach him on Twitter.