iPhone 16 Pro vs Pixel 9 Pro: Which phone should you plan on buying?

Pixel 8 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max next to one another.
(Image credit: Future)

As the owners of iOS and Android respectively, Apple and Google’s handsets occupy a special part of the smartphone world. 

Both the iPhone 16 Pro and Google Pixel 9 Pro are set to combine stellar specs with the latest iOS and Android features. But how will they stack up against each other? Here’s what we know about both handsets so far.

iPhone 16 Pro vs Pixel 9 Pro: Specs

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Row 0 - Cell 0 iPhone 16 Pro (rumored)Pixel 9 Pro (rumored)
Display6.3 inch OLED (1-120Hz)6.1 inch OLED (1-120Hz)
ChipsetApple A18 ProGoogle Tensor G4
Storage256GB, 512GB, 1TB128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB
Battery3,355 mAh4,575 mAh
Rear camera48MP main + 12MP 5x telephoto + 48MP ultrawide50MP main + 48MP ultrawide + 48MP telephoto (5x zoom)
Front camera12MP10.5MP

iPhone 16 Pro vs Pixel 9 Pro: Release date and price

SE handsets aside, all bar one iPhone released in the last decade arrived in September (the iPhone 12 was delayed a month in 2020 due to Coronavirus supply chain issues), so it seems near certain the iPhone 16 Pro will continue that trend. 

As for pricing, we’re hopeful that Apple will maintain the $999 starting point. Going into four figures feels like quite a big deal, psychologically speaking, and we’re not sure Apple is quite ready to do that.

Google’s Pixel phones, meanwhile, tend to arrive a month later in October. The same logic applies in terms of pricing: While Google could up the price from the Pixel 8 Pro’s current $999, that would push it into four figures, so we’re hopeful that will prove a deterrent. In fact, the 6.1-inch Pixel 9 Pro could be cheaper if Google chooses to keep its rumored 6.7-inch XL model under a grand.

iPhone 16 Pro vs Pixel 9 Pro: Design and screen

iPhone 16 Pro render front and back

(Image credit: Future)

While early renders of the iPhone 16 Pro look pretty similar to the last few generations — barring the arrival of a Capture button for instant photography — it is reportedly getting bigger. After years of 6.1-inch displays, it looks like Apple will be upping things to 6.3 inches this time around. This will apparently lead to a frame of 149.6 x 71.45 x 8.4mm — not too different from the iPhone 15 Pro’s 146.6 x 70.6 x 8.3mm chassis.

No word on what this will mean for resolution yet, but expect the same LTPO OLED panel, capable of refreshing at between 1 and 120Hz. 

While the Pixel 8 Pro was 6.7 inches, Google is apparently set to mimic Apple this time around with two models of Pixel 9 Pro, one with a 6.1-inch screen and an XL model with a 6.7-inch panel. If the 6.1-inch model maintains the 1440p output of the current Pro, it could appear quite a bit sharper, though it’s possible that Google will drop the resolution to compensate. 

It also seems that Google may be adjusting its iconic camera visor that stretches along the back of the phone. It will now appear to be a small oval shape housing the cameras, making the phones look not unlike characters from Among Us

iPhone 16 Pro vs Pixel 9 Pro: Performance

Pixel 9 Pro renders

(Image credit: OnLeaks / MySmartPrice)

With the iPhone 16 Pro, Apple is expected to introduce the A18 Pro chipset — and the 3nm manufacturing process should boost both performance and efficiency. Indeed, one leaker expects the iPhone 16 Pro to beat some MacBooks in terms of performance, with reported Geekbench scores in the 3,500 (single core) and 8,200 (multicore) region. 

While not exactly disappointing in day-to-day use, the Google Pixel’s Tensor chipset has historically lagged a little behind rivals from Qualcomm and Apple in terms of raw performance. But it could get a big boost to both power and efficiency with the Tensor G4 which will apparently be built to the same 4nm process as the Exynos 2400 chip used in the Samsung Galaxy S24 outside of the USA.

How much of an improvement it will be remains to be seen, though one purported benchmark was distinctly underwhelming, with a single-core score of 1,082 and a multi-core one of 3,121

There are a whole bunch of reasons not to despair at that, however. Firstly, it’s Geekbench 5 and not the current Geekbench 6 (the scores aren’t comparable, according to CEO Jim Poole). Secondly, we’re six months away from the hardware being released and there’s plenty of time for optimization. Thirdly, Geekbench scores are easy to spoof, and this could just be a hoax. 

In any case, there’s more to processors than just raw power, and the Tensor G4 could improve AI performance considerably. Google is no stranger to artificial intelligence with its Magic Editor allowing users to edit media to perfection with AI assistance, and it’s likely the Pixel 9 Pro will have some more on-device AI tricks up its sleeve.

But Apple is set to follow suit, with iOS 18 set to offer on-device AI. In short, the iPhone 16 Pro isn’t going to be short of AI features, either

iPhone 16 Pro vs Pixel 9 Pro: Cameras

iphone 16 pro leak colors 3

(Image credit: @MajinBuOfficial)

There could be some big changes afoot for the Pro iPhone’s camera layout this year. Not only is the iPhone 16 Pro tipped to get the 5x tetraprism telephoto lens that debuted on last year’s iPhone 15 Pro Max, but there’s talk of the 12MP ultrawide lens getting upgraded to a 48MP sensor.

Pixel phones have always punched above their specs in terms of photographic quality, thanks to Google’s excellent image processing. We haven’t heard of any change to the specs this year, though MySmartPrice speculates that “the large sensor on the camera island suggests that Google will likely equip the device with support for variable aperture.”

iPhone 16 Pro vs Pixel 9 Pro: Outlook

Pixel 9 Pro renders

(Image credit: OnLeaks / MySmartPrice)

At the time of writing, more is known about the upcoming iPhone 16 Pro than the Pixel 9 Pro — and it certainly seems an exciting handset with a larger screen size, improved cameras and all kinds of AI tricks up its sleeve.

But don’t discount the Pixel 9 Pro just yet. Google offering the handset in two sizes could be a masterstroke, especially if the smaller 6.1-inch model knocks a few bucks off the price. With the usual camera magic and more AI tricks, the Pixel 9 Pro could be a great showcase for the power of Android 15 when it arrives this fall. 

Alan Martin

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.