Google Pixel 6 vs Apple iPhone 13


The Pixel 6 brings a complete overhaul to the Pixel lineup with Google’s first self-made “Tensor” processor inside that should provide a welcome leap in performance, but also with a brand new camera system, and a distinctive new design. The iPhone 13, on the other hand, is all about gradual improvements and refinements. It retains the design styling that Apple introduced with the iPhone 12, but brings an even faster processor, bigger battery, as well as upgraded cameras and new camera features like Cinematic Mode for videos.
So… what do the Pixel 6 and iPhone 13 look like in a direct comparison? And what are the improvements that Google has made to actually beat the iPhone? Let’s take a look!

Pixel 6 vs iPhone 13 key differences:

  • 6.4″ size on the Pixel, 6.1″ size on the iPhone, both use OLED screens
  • 90Hz refresh rate on the Pixel 6 vs 60Hz traditional refresh rate on iPhone 13
  • Google “Tensor” processor vs Apple A15 Bionic
  • Similar dual rear camera (wide and ultrawide) with no telephoto lens on either phone
  • Bigger battery size on the Pixel

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Design and Display

The Pixel has a bigger screen and fast refresh rate, two advantages over the iPhone

The biggest difference between these two is just in physical size as the iPhone is clearly the more compact of the two, while the Pixel is both a wider and taller device.

On the image above, you can also notice how borders around the screen are just noticeably bigger, and a bit uglier on the Pixel, compared to the iPhone. But then you also have the quite prominent notch on the iPhone, while the Pixel goes with a more discreet punch-hole design.

Apart from that, both are made from glass adding to that premium feel. The iPhone uses Ceramic Shield while the Pixel goes with Corning’s latest Gorilla Glass Victus, both types of toughened glass used on the front and back of the phones. Additionally, both phones also feature IP68 water protection. Neither phone supports a headphone jack, in case you were curious.

Google’s Pixel 6 also brings a high refresh rate screen that can go up to 90Hz, while the iPhone 13 sticks with a traditional 60Hz screen that cannot provide the same level of smooth scrolling. So yes, scrolling around and gaming feels quite a bit faster on the Pixel, an important advantage.As for screen sizes, the Pixel comes with a bigger, 6.4″ screen compared to a 6.1″ display on the iPhone. Both phones use flat screens, in case you were curious. By the way, Face ID is actually 20% smaller this year on iPhones, which is progress.

The actual screen tech, however, is essentially the same on both phones: they use OLED panels with excellent contrast, deep black and great viewing angles. The iPhone has a slightly higher peak brightness, which makes the phone easier to use outdoors on a sunny day.

Cameras

No zoom cameras on either model

The Pixel 6 and iPhone 13 both feature dual rear cameras, and both phones lack a dedicated telephoto lens, meaning you get worse zoom quality than with larger phones.

However, you do get some improvements with the main and ultra-wide cameras. The iPhone in particular has a main camera that lets in more light thanks to a very wide aperture, which helps in low light conditions, plus it gets sensor shift stabilization for the main camera.

The Google Pixel 6, on the other hand, is be the first Pixel in a few years to feature a new and larger camera sensor. Google has specifically mentioned that moving objects will be captured far better, great if you have a fast and furious toddler, and it will also bring improvements to HDR video (which wasn’t all that great on the Pixel 5). The company has also fixed overheating issues while recording video that used to plague Pixel phones in earlier years.

During the day both phones capture nice looking shots that don’t disappoint. However, there are subtle details to notice. The Pixel is just a bit inconsistent, we noticed that when you have a lot of foliage as we do now this season, it would capture a yellow-ish or orange tint photo, while the iPhone does a much better job with white balance.Also, the Pixel is just super aggressive and lifts the shadows so you get this kind of flat looking photo, while the iPhone offers a lot more contrast, which we personally find a bit better.

Don’t forget that on the iPhone you can also easily set a custom look with the new Photographic Styles option, so the iPhone is really versatile in this regard.

Next up, you have an ultra-wide camera on both, and the iPhone here stands out with its 13mm lens that is wider. The differences are even more pronounced with the ultra-wide, but they are still essentially the same, which is to say some inconsistencies with white balance and this flat look with lifted shadows.

Both phones offer a portrait mode, and as you can see above it is far from perfect on both, especially when you get glasses in the frame. The Pixel supports 1X and 2X portraits, but that’s a bit of a misnomer, 1X is actually a crop from the main camera and not quite identical with 1X in regular photo mode, and that means you are losing out on detail, while the iPhone supports a true 1X mode. The iPhone, however, lacks a 2X portrait mode, which is a big loss, and the Pixel shows that it can be done with just digital zoom, even if the quality drops a bit.

On top of the hardware changes, the iPhone 13 comes with Cinematic Mode for video, which will blur the background in real time as you record, plus it will automatically rack focus in a smooth and well… cinematic way. This option only records in 1080p 30fps, and won’t work for 4K, but it’s the first time that we get to see the ability to change the focus on a video, even after it’s recorded.

We would say that the iPhone still has the upper hand in video offering more clarity, better low-light performance and a slightly superior video stabilization, but Google has shortened the gap in quality, and the two are now much closer.

Performance: Google vs Apple processors

Pixel 6 Tensor chip vs iPhone 13’s Apple A15 Bionic

Apple has been making its own processors for iPhones for nearly 8 years now, as the iPhone 5s from 2013 was the first phone with Apple silicon. Controlling the hardware and software allowed Apple to fine tune performance and it has been leading the charts when it comes to phone performance.

It’s 2021, however, and Google is stepping into that space too. After years of relying on Qualcomm Snapdragon processors, the Pixel 6 is the first phone to break with that tradition and embrace the first Google-made mobile chip, codenamed “Tensor”.

As you can see in the CPU benchmark above, the performance of Tensor is not quite on par with the latest Apple A15, and not even the latest Snapdragon 888 processor. The Tensor chip currently outperforms some mid-range chips, but Google’s focus here has been on AI and machine learning capabilities, and we’ll explore that in more detail in a separate article.

The Pixel 6 also comes with 8GB of RAM on board, compared to half that at just 4GB RAM on the iPhone 13, so the Pixel could theoretically have more apps running in the background for smoother multitasking.

Storage

When it comes to storage, neither phone supports microSD cards for expandable storage, so the storage you buy is the storage you get throughout the lifetime of the device.

The Pixel 6 starts at 128GB of native storage, and we also have a 256GB version for those users who need a bit more in terms of storage. The iPhone 13 this year finally matches that and also starts at 128GB of built-in storage. Additionally, Apple also offers a 256GB and 512GB tiers.

Battery and Charging

iPhone 13 battery size might be a bit bigger, but not quite as big as on the Pixel

Apple has given the iPhone 13 a slightly larger battery, going from a 2,815mAh cell on the previous model, the iPhone 12, to a 3,227mAh battery on the 13. The Google Pixel 6, on the other hand, has an absolutely massive battery size at around 4,600mAh.

While this is a considerable difference in favor of the Pixel, keep in mind that iOS on the iPhone and Android on the Pixel behave differently and iOS is more power efficient, especially when your phone sits idle.

Google is now on the record saying that the Pixel 6 has an “all day” battery life, about the same as you get on the iPhone 13.

We have run our independent battery tests on both phones, and the Pixel 6 has quite a bit longer life when streaming videos and a very tiny advantage in our lightest, web browsing test. 

On the charger front, the iPhone 13 ships without a charger in the box, and Google has quickly followed Apple’s example as the Pixel 6 also skips the charger in the box.

So unless you already have a proper charger, you will need to buy one separately for both these phones. Keep in mind that the iPhone maxes out at 20W wired charging speeds, while the Pixel 6 supports up to 30W speeds, quite a bit faster.

Both phones also support wireless charger, and the Pixel again has the speed advantage here. If you purchase the new Google Pixel Stand, you can get up to 21W wireless charging speeds on the Pixel (but a regular Qi wireless charger will only deliver up to 12W). The iPhone, on the other hand, supports MagSafe, which provides speeds of up to 15W wirelessly.

Pixel 6 vs iPhone 12: Specs Comparison

And here is a detailed specs comparison between the Pixel 6 and iPhone 13. Don’t forget that the specs for the Pixel 6 below are based on leaks, so they may look different in the final devices.

The big surprise with the Pixel 6 is just how low it’s priced. Starting at just $600, it undercuts the iPhone 13 and even traditionally more affordable brands like OnePlus, but just comparing to the iPhone 13, that phone costs $830 unlocked, or $800 if you buy it with a carrier contract. That’s a difference of $200 or more, so the Pixel definitely allows you to save quite a bit of money.

One thing Google still hasn’t quite figured out, though, is availability. The Pixel 6 is available on all three major US carriers, just like the iPhone, but internationally it is hard to come by, while iPhones are sold across most of the world and are far easier to find.

So… which one would you go for: the Pixel 6 with its more affordable price, larger screen, smooth refresh rate and improved camera, or the iPhone 13 with its more compact size and iOS ecosystem?



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