iPhone 15 Pro Max vs. Pixel 8 Pro: Which flagship could win?

Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max versus Google Pixel 8 Pro comparison.
(Image credit: Future)

Update: Check out our Apple Event live blog for the latest from Cupertino on the iPhone 15 and more.

Apple’s very best is on a collision course to take on Google’s mightiest smartphone this fall. While neither have been officially announced, an Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max vs. Google Pixel 8 Pro battle is sure to be one of the most coveted comparisons that people are sure to keep an eye out for when they’re gathering gift ideas for the holiday season. 

Leaks and rumors around both flagship devices have been rampant, seeing that we’re not too far from when both phones are expected to be unveiled. Apple’s expected to announce its new iPhone 15 series later today (September 12), while Google’s Pixel event is happening on October 4 — with both lining up to the same time frames as last year’s events.

These are legitimate top contenders for the best smartphones around because you can bet they’ll be packed with exciting features that only true flagships can get. We know a lot more about the iPhone 15 Pro Max, which is being hailed by many folks as the biggest leap since the iPhone X. As for the Pixel 8 Pro? There are fewer leaks about it, but you can bet it won’t be a slouch in the camera department.

In this iPhone 15 Pro Max vs. Google Pixel 8 Pro comparison, we’ll detail everything we know about these phones to see how they really stack up against each other.

iPhone 15 Pro Max vs. Pixel 8 Pro: Rumored specs

Swipe to scroll horizontally
iPhone 15 Pro MaxPixel 8 Pro
Price$1,099 or $1,299$899
Display6.7-inch6.8-inch QHD AMOLED
Refresh rate 120Hz1 - 120Hz adaptive
Rear cameras48MP main + ultrawide + telephoto50MP main + 64MP ultrawide + 48MP telephoto
Front cameraN/A11MP selfie
ChipsetA17 BionicGoogle Tensor G3
Battery4,852 mAh4,950 mAh
Charging27W (wired), 15W (wireless)27W (wired), 12W (wireless)
Water/dust resistanceIP68IP68

iPhone 15 Pro Max vs. Pixel 8 Pro: Price and availability

Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max versus Google Pixel 8 Pro comparison.

(Image credit: Future)

One thing we’re all crossing our fingers for — and hope doesn’t happen — is a price increase for the iPhone 15 Pro Max. While we’d be thrilled to see it at the same price point as its predecessor, this year’s flagship could see upwards of a $200 price increase largely due to how it could be packing a more durable titanium frame, exclusive periscope telephoto camera, and more. This would result in a $1,299 starting cost for the flagship, which is staggering.

This could be the opportunity for the Pixel 8 Pro to undercut its main rival, even if Google chooses to maintain its pricing. That’s because the Pixel 7 Pro launched at an impressive $899 cost, which is noteworthy when compared to the iPhone 14 Pro Max’s $1,099 starting cost. Even if Google ends up giving the Pixel 8 Pro a price increase, it’ll probably still be less than the iPhone 15 Pro Max.

As for when they’ll come out? With Apple's Wonderlust event happening on September 12, we're expecting the iPhone 15 series to release sometime the following week. That would probably mean September 22nd for the iPhone 15's release. Since Google is having its Pixel event in early October, it’s not out of the question for a release sometime later in the month.

iPhone 15 Pro Max vs. Pixel 8 Pro: Design and display

Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max versus Google Pixel 8 Pro comparison.

(Image credit: Future)

Between the two, it appears that the iPhone 15 Pro Max will be receiving a more substantial change with its design. In addition to leaks hinting at a titanium frame, the iPhone 15 Pro Max could be swapping the Lightning port in favor of USB-C, adding a similar Action Button like on the Apple Watch, and potentially the skinniest bezels to grace the iPhone ever. While it’ll distinguishably be an iPhone, you can expect nothing short of premium materials and craftsmanship with its design.

The Pixel series saw its biggest design change in 2021 when it shifted from the Pixel 5 to the refreshed look of the Pixel 6, and since then, there hasn’t been a dramatic shift to the design language. We don’t expect the Pixel 8 Pro to deviate from the norm, so we expect just the usual iterative upgrades. Possible new changes to the Pixel 8 Pro design include a move to a flat display, rounded corners, and a single cutout for its camera arrangement.

Factoring in all of the leaks, we feel that the iPhone 15 Pro Max would still have the more premium look and feel — but they should both at least have IP68 ratings, just like their predecessors.

Whether or not those slimmer bezels turn out true for the iPhone 15 Pro Max, it’ll be interesting to see if Apple will boost the resolution of the Liquid Retina XDR display with ProMotion. The iPhone 14 Pro Max currently has a screen resolution of 2796 x 1290 pixels. Therefore, the iPhone 15 Pro Max will likely measure in at the same 6.7-inches, but it’s rumored to reach an incredible 2,500 nits of brightness according to details shared by ShrimpApple Pro and OreXda on X (formerly Twitter).

Apart from the potential of a flat display, the leaks don’t indicate we’ll be seeing substantial changes with the Pixel 8 Pro’s display. If the leaked specs sheet is to be believed, we’ll probably get a 6.7-inch LTPO OLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate. One improvement we should get is it reaching a peak brightness output of 1,600 nits, up from its predecessor’s rating of 1,400 nits. However, the leaks point to a drop in screen resolution — from 3120 × 1440 on the Pixel 7 Pro, to 2992 × 1344 for the Pixel 8 Pro.

iPhone 15 Pro Max vs. Pixel 8 Pro: Cameras

Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max versus Google Pixel 8 Pro comparison.

(Image credit: Future)

Both flagships are no doubt going to be in conversation for the best camera phones around, so you can expect nothing less than perfection from these flagships. While the two series have continually fought over which has the better set of cameras, it may be an even playing field for this upcoming generation after looking into the leaks and rumors.

Let’s start off with the iPhone 15 Pro Max, which is allegedly going to be gaining a periscope camera lens that will stretch its reach to 6x optical zoom. That’s going to be an improvement over its predecessor’s 3x optical range, but more importantly, it would be more than the Pixel 7 Pro’s current 5x optical zoom. Additionally, there could be a larger 1-inch sensor behind its triple camera arrangement — leading to better low light performance and increased overall clarity for photos.

Google takes pride in how well its Pixel phones are at capturing photos, and the Pixel 8 Pro should be no exception. Leaks suggest that it’ll be leveraging a Samsung ISOCELL GN2 sensor for its 50-megapixel main camera, while its ultra-wide camera will inherit a 64-megapixel Sony IMX787 sensor. These are two excellent upgrades to expect, but it looks like the telephoto camera will still remain at 5x optical zoom.

Interestingly, we could also be gaining 8K video recording on the Pixel 8 Pro with the help of the new Tensor G3 chip it’ll be packing

iPhone 15 Pro Max vs. Pixel 8 Pro: Performance

Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max versus Google Pixel 8 Pro comparison.

(Image credit: Future)

In our Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max vs. Google Pixel 7 Pro face-off, we saw how Apple’s flagship easily beat out the Pixel 7 Pro in nearly every synthetic benchmark test we ran. It was a one-sided affair, but the next generation could be more evenly matched.

Not only could the Tensor G3 give the Pixel 8 Pro 8K video recording, but it’ll also be giving the phone a much needed boost in the graphics processing department. That’s because it’ll probably adopt Arm’s Mali-G715 GPU, which would be leveraging a ten-core arrangement.

Apple’s apparently not going to be backing down in this area. That’s because the iPhone 15 Pro Max is slated to pack Apple’s new A17 Bionic chipset, which will usher in the 3nm process era. If past results are any indication, we could very well see upwards of a 35% boost in its power efficiency

We won’t know for sure which one will come out on top, but regardless of that, their real world performances shouldn’t differ for everyday tasks like navigating around their interfaces, surfing the web, or running your favorite apps. It helps, too, that they’ll offer smooth and silky movements courtesy of their 120Hz display refresh rates.

iPhone 15 Pro Max vs. Pixel 8 Pro: Battery life and charging

Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max versus Google Pixel 8 Pro comparison.

(Image credit: Future)

One area where Google desperately needs to focus on is battery life with its upcoming Pixel 8 Pro. If we’re to look at how the Pixel 7 Pro fared in our custom battery benchmark test, it was sorely lagging behind at 8 hours and 4 minutes. In contrast, the iPhone 14 Pro Max yielded an impressive mark of 13 hours and 39 minutes — even with a smaller battery.

From the looks of it, there won’t be a massive increase to the Pixel 8 Pro’s battery capacity. In fact, it’s only getting a minor increase to 4,950 mAh, which is up from the Pixel 7 Pro’s 4,926mAh cell. Knowing this, there will be a stronger spotlight on the Tensor G3’s power efficiency if it intends on matching what Apple’s working on with the iPhone 15 Pro Max.

A recent report indicates that the iPhone 15 Pro Max will get a boost to a 4,852 mAh battery — a heartier increase over the iPhone 14 Pro Max’s 4,323 mAh battery. Paired with the new power efficiency of the A17 Bionic chip, Apple’s forthcoming flagship could make greater strides at improving its longevity. We’d be impressed if it could reach 14 hours in our battery test, which no flagship phone has yet to achieve.

With iOS 17 packaging StandBy Mode, we suspect more people would be apt to use MagSafe charging over other traditional options. While it’s expected for the iPhone 15 Pro Max to continue offering 15W MagSafe charging, a leak hints to support for the new Qi2 wireless charging standard — effectively giving it the same speedy 15W wireless charging like MagSafe charging. And with the iPhone’s anticipated adoption of USB-C, it could move wired charging to 27W.

Google is also rumored to give the Pixel 8 Pro the same 27W wired charging speed treatment, but wireless charging doesn’t appear to get any boost, which means it’ll remain at the same 12W speed.

iPhone 15 Pro Max vs. Pixel 8 Pro: Outlook

Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max versus Google Pixel 8 Pro comparison.

(Image credit: Future)

After we’ve looked over everything they’re expected to offer, it looks like the Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max will be the more notable of the two phones given all of its anticipated upgrades. However, we can’t overlook the Pixel 8 Pro given how there’s still far fewer leaks about it. Google could very well throw us a curveball that catches us all off guard, but we feel that pricing and its camera performance will remain its best qualities.

Pricing is important at this time, mainly because we could very well see a significant separation between the iPhone 15 Pro Max and Google Pixel 8 Pro when they’re unveiled. In the past, the two flagships were separated by a couple hundred of dollars, but this year we could see the gap widen — which would certainly give the Pixel 8 Pro the advantage.

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John Velasco
Senior Channel Editor for Phones

John’s a senior editor covering phones for Tom’s Guide. He’s no stranger in this area having covered mobile phones and gadgets since 2008 when he started his career. On top of his editor duties, he’s a seasoned videographer being in front and behind the camera producing YouTube videos. Previously, he held editor roles with PhoneArena, Android Authority, Digital Trends, and SPY. Outside of tech, he enjoys producing mini documentaries and fun social clips for small businesses, enjoying the beach life at the Jersey Shore, and recently becoming a first time homeowner.