Google Pixel 9 vs. Pixel 9 Pro — all the expected differences

Google Pixel 9 vs. Google Pixel 9 Pro
(Image credit: OnLeaks/ 91Mobiles / MySmartPrix)

It's usually easy enough to spot the differences between the different Pixel models Google releases every fall. But this year, a Google Pixel 9 vs. Pixel 9 Pro comparison could be more complicated than usual. That's because it's likely there will be more than two phones to compare.

Specifically, we've heard rumors that three Pixel flagships are in the works for a fall release. In addition to the standard Pixel 9, Google is reportedly developing two different Pixel 9 Pro variants. The regular Pixel 9 Pro will have a smaller screen than we're used to seeing on that model, while the big-screen version will apparently be called the Pixel 9 Pro XL.

While that's certain to cause some initial confusion if you're used to only seeing two Pixel models, some similarities to past Pixel releases should persist. In several key areas, the Pixel 9 phones — whether there's three of them or just two — will share the same features, leaving us to focus on four distinct differences between the models.

Here's how a Pixel 9 vs. Pixel 9 Pro comparison is shaping up, focusing first on where we expect the phones to differ.

Google Pixel 9 vs. Pixel 9 Pro: Different displays

Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro shown side by side

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

We've already touched on the most noticeable thing that will separate the different Pixel models from one another — they'll have different sized displays. That's been true since Google went back to releasing two handsets following the solitary Pixel 5 model, and it will remain the case should there be three different Pixels this fall.

Rumored display sizes have been all over the place thus far, but the latest Pixel 9 rumors suggest the standard phone will feature a 6.03-inch screen that's considerably smaller than the 6.2-inch panel on the Pixel 8. As for the Pixel 9 Pro, the smaller version is tipped to offer a 6.1-inch display while the larger model retains the 6.7-inch screen found on the Pixel 8 Pro.

The Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro offered different levels of brightness — a 2,000-nit peak for the former model and a 2,600-nit peak on the latter. It seems likely that differentiation will remain at least between the Pixel 9 and Pixel 9 Pro; we're not sure if both Pixel 9 Pro models would have match brightness specs. We're fairly confident that all three phones would keep 120Hz adaptive refresh rates.

Google Pixel 9 vs. Pixel 9 Pro: Different cameras

Leaked Pixel 9 Pro renders via MySmartPrice

(Image credit: MySmartPrice/@OnLeaks)

Since the Pixel 6, Google has gone with very distinct camera arrays for its standard and Pro flagships — something all but certain to continue with the Pixel 9 models. The main Pixel features two rear cameras, with a main lens and an ultrawide shooter. The Pro model adds a telephoto lens to the mix.

Few details about camera specs have emerged at this point, leading to speculation that the Pixel 9 would keep the same setup as the Pixel 8, with a 50MP main camera and a 12MP ultrawide sensor. 

The Pixel 8 Pro has that same 50MP main shooter but augments it with 48MP ultrawide and telephoto lenses, the later of which supports a 5x optical zoom. At this point, the only Pixel 9 Pro rumor we've heard suggests that the telephoto lens might also add a variable aperture. It's unclear if that feature would be a part of both rumored Pro models.

To that end, we also don't know if the smaller Pixel 9 Pro will have the same camera specs as the larger one, should both models materialize. The more likely scenario is that Google uses the same camera setup and relies on size to differentiate the two Pixel 9 Pro offerings.

Google Pixel 9 vs. Pixel 9 Pro: Battery sizes

Pixel 9 renders posted by OnLeaks at 91Mobiles

(Image credit: 91Mobiles/OnLeaks)

Bigger phones leave more space inside for bigger batteries, something Google has taken advantage of for its different Pixel models. In the current lineup, the smaller Pixel 8 relies on a 4,575 mAh battery, while the Pixel 8 Pro has the space for a 5,050 mAh cell. That's not the greatest disparity we've seen in batteries sizes, but it does help the Pixel 8 Pro last longer on a charger than the regular Pixel 8.

No battery rumors have emerged to date about the Pixel 9 or Pixel 9 Pro. But we can expect the same pattern as before — the larger XL model would have the bigger battery and therefore a chance of lasting longer on a charge. The interesting thing to see will be whether the Pixel 9 and smaller Pixel 9 Pro have similarly-sized batteries, given that they're rumored to be essentially the same size.

Google Pixel 9 vs. Pixel 9 Pro: Prices

Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro shown side by side

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Price rumors about the Pixel 9 series likely won't become more concrete until we get closer to the expected fall launch for the new phones. But we can at least rely on past Pixel pricing to get a sense of potential Pixel 9 vs. Pixel 9 Pro differences.

We've gotten to used a $300 pricing gap between the entry-level Pixel and its more expensive Pro counterpart. The current Pixel 8 starts at $699, for example, while the Pixel 8 Pro costs $999. That's after a $100 price hike by Google last fall.

Let's assume that Google holds the line on pricing, at least for the Pixel 9, and charges $699 for its entry-level flagship. That gives Google the space to slot in the smaller Pixel 9 Pro at $899 to reflect its telephoto camera; the larger Pixel 9 Pro would then keep the $999 price. Then again, we could also the smaller Pixel 9 Pro start at $999, while the Pixel 9 Pro XL tries a $1,099 starting price, though you'd imagine Google might fear turning off customers by charging more than $1,000 for a phone.

The point is, Pixel 9 vs. Pixel 9 Pro pricing will be different. We just don't know by how much. and the introduction of a Pro XL model introduces a wildcard to the guessing game.

Google Pixel 9 vs. Pixel 9 Pro: What's likely the same

Pixel 09 renders from OnLeaks and 91Mobiles

(Image credit: @OnLeaks / 91Mobiles)

As noted, the standard and Pro versions of the Pixel flagship may have a few visible differences, but the phones are also a lot alike in many ways. Here's where we anticipate the Pixel 9 and Pixel 9 Pro will share features.

Design: Apart from the obvious differences in height and width, Pixel phones have the same basic look. Based on the CAD renders of the Pixel 9 and Pixel 9 Pro that have leaked to date, that's continuing with this falls flagships. 

Specifically, Google looks like it's going to retain the design it first introduced with the Pixel 6 where a horizontal camera bar spans the length of its' phone backside. Both alleged Pixel 9 and Pixel 9 Pro renders offer this look, with one noticeable change from previous generations — the edges of the camera bar are rounded off, giving it an elongated oval design. Again, though, that's a change present on renders for both the standard and Pro Pixel 9 models.

Chipset: We're expecting the Pixel 9 and Pixel 9 Pro to run on an new Tensor G4 system-on-chip, just as the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro both feature the Tensor G3. The Pro model might get more RAM — the Pixel 8 Pro has 12GB to the 8GB on the Pixel 8 — but otherwise performance should be about the same.

The same Tensor G4 silicon should mean the same AI-powered features on all three Pixel 9 models, just as every Galaxy S24 supports the same Galaxy AI capabilities. That said, there is one exception, at least when it comes to one of the Pixel 8 Pro features. Only last year's Pro phone supports the Video Boost feature Google introduced last December in which Google's algorithms can optimize the video footage you capture for color, stabilization and lighting. There's no word on whether the Google 9 Pro and 9 Pro XL will have exclusive features of their own, but it's something we'll keep an eye on.

Software: The Pixel 9 and Pixel 9 Pro models will all debut with Android 15 on board. You'd also imagine the three phones will get matching software and security support, which meant seven years of updates for the Pixel 8 family.

Google Pixel 9 vs. Pixel 9 Pro: Outlook

Google may be changing things up by allegedly working a third model into its Pixel 9 lineup, but the basic difference between the standard and Pro Pixels should remain the same. Until we hear otherwise, we'll assume that the Google Pixel 9 Pro will have a telephoto camera and that at least one of the Pro models should have a bigger screen and battery compared to the standard Pixel. Regardless of which phone you get, you can expect a similar design and matching Tensor chipset.

The big question is whether there's anything separating the Pixel 9 Pro from the Pixel 9 Pro XL apart from the latter's bigger display. We expect more details to come into view as we get closer to the likely fall release for these new phones.

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Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.

  • Davidj22
    If they do copy iPhone with the sharp, flat, cold metal edges I'll switch to another brand. Have used Pixels since the 3.