Google Pixel 8 vs iPhone 15 Pro: the big differences

For anyone in the market for an affordable alternative to the iPhone 15 Pro, we’d generally make the obvious recommendation of an iPhone 15. But there could be another option in the shape of the Google Pixel 8.

What if we told you iPhone Pro fans that you could get another compact, powerful flagship phone with super-clean software and design, a great camera, and a fluid display, all at a way cheaper price? Yep, that’s the Pixel 8 for you.

Might the Pixel 8 actually be a better buy than the iPhone 15 Pro, then? There’s only one way to find out.

We decided to put two of the year’s biggest smartphone releases head to head, spec for spec, and try to come to some kind of reasonable conclusion. This one’s going to be interesting, so read on for our Google Pixel 8 vs iPhone 15 Pro showdown. 

Google Pixel 8 vs iPhone 15 Pro: specs comparison

Before we look more closely at the similarities and differences between the Google Pixel 8 vs iPhone 15 Pro, here’s a list of the phones' core specs, so you can see how they compare on paper.

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Google Pixel 8iPhone 15 Pro
Dimensions:150.5 x 70.8 x 8.9mm146.6 x 70.6 x 8.3mm
Display:6.2-inch 20:9 adaptive 60Hz to 120Hz 'Actua' OLED6.1-inch 'ProMotion Super Retina XDR' OLED
Resolution: 1080 x 24001179 x 2556
Refresh rate: Adaptive 60Hz to 120HzAdaptive 1Hz to 120Hz
Chipset:Google Tensor G3A17 Pro
Storage:128GB, 256GB (UFS 3.1)128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB
Rear cameras: 50MP wide, 12MP ultra-wide48MP wide, 12MP ultra-wide, 12MP 3x telephoto
Front camera: 10.5MP12MP
Charging:27W wired, 18W wireless (2nd-gen Pixel Stand), 12W wireless (Qi)27W wired, 15W wireless (MagSafe), 7.5W wireless (Qi)
Colors:Obsidian, Hazel, RoseBlack Titanium, White Titanium, Blue Titanium, Natural Titanium

Google Pixel 8 vs iPhone 15 Pro: price and availability

Google Pixel 8 Rose handheld lifestyle press image

The Google Pixel 8 Pro (Image credit: Google)

The Pixel 8 and the iPhone 15 Pro launched at a similar time, with the iPhone coming to market on September 12, 2023, and the Pixel 8 Pro following on October 4.

Google Pixel 8 pricing starts at $699 / £699 / AU$1,199 for the 128GB model, and there’s just the one upgrade path. You can specify a 256GB variant for $759 / £759 / AU$1,299.

That’s considerably cheaper than the iPhone 15 Pro, which starts from $999 / £999 / AU$1,849 for the 128GB model. The 256GB model costs $1,099 / £1,099 / AU$2,049, while the 512GB model costs $1,299 / £1,299 / AU$2,399. There’s also a 1TB model that costs $1,499 / £1,499 / AU$2,749.

The tricky question is whether the iPhone 15 Pro really be $300 / £300 better than the Pixel 8. Well a lot will depend on how ingrained you are in the Apple and iOS ecosystem, but in terms of pure hardware, we'd say the gap between the two phones isn't enormous. 

Google Pixel 8 vs iPhone 15 Pro: design and display

Google Pixel 8 review back straight

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

There are phone manufacturers out there who follow Apple’s lead a little too closely, but thankfully, Google isn’t one of them. Especially not when it comes to the matter of smartphone design.

While these two phones are similarly sized, with the iPhone being slightly shorter and thinner, but about the same thickness and exactly the same 187g weight, they look totally different.

Google’s design language is much curvier and softer – if glass and metal can ever be deemed ‘soft’ – with rounded corners and edges. Even the camera module, which takes up the whole width of the phone and features the phone’s only sharp angles, melts away into the frame.

Apple has gone with a strikingly angular look in recent years, with flat surfaces all around. It has started to soften its stance with the iPhone 15 Pro, however, which features a slightly rounded finish to the metal edges.

Talking of metal edges, there’s a fundamental difference in composition here. The Pixel 8 goes with a standard aluminum finish, whereas Apple layers on some super-tough titanium. They both feel premium, but the iPhone 15 Pro even more so.

iPhone 15 Pro review front angled handheld

The Pixel 8 Pro has a bigger, brighter screen (Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

That extends to the iPhone’s use of a matte finish on the rear, which looks and feels slightly classier than the Pixel 8’s shiny finish. Neither of them exactly excites with their bland color options, though.

Apple has also added a programmable Action Button to the left side of the Pro, which is the kind of customizable feature you might have expected from a more enthusiast Android device.

Around front, the eagle-eyed will notice a couple of other premium flourishes in the iPhone 15 Pro’s favour. For one thing, the bezels are slimmer and more uniform on the Apple device. For another, Apple has its Dynamic Island where the Pixel 8 has a mere hole punch selfie cam.

Pixel 8 Pro showing call screening

The iPhone 15 Pro has titanium sides (Image credit: Future / Philip Berne)

Technically both can facilitate facial recognition, but Apple’s solution is more secure and just plain better. Beyond that, the Dynamic Island provides heads-up UI information such as Uber updates, navigation instructions, and currently playing music.

In terms of the screens, there are some interesting parallels and differences. The Pixel 8 display is ever so slightly bigger at 6.2 inches vs 6.1 inches. It’s not as sharp, though, with the iPhone 15 Pro getting to 1179 x 2556 against the Pixel 8’s 1080 x 2400.

Both are vibrant OLED panels that can hit a peak brightness of 2,000 nits, which is very bright indeed.

Google Pixel 8 review front straight

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

Unlike the iPhone 15, the Pixel 8 manages to achieve full 120Hz refresh rate parity with the more expensive iPhone 15 Pro. Well, not quite parity. While both can top out at 120Hz, only the iPhone can drop right down to 1Hz, enabling more nuanced power management and a more advanced always-on LTPO display.

All in all, we’d give the edge in design and display terms to the iPhone 15 Pro. Whether that gap is a $300 / £300 one is another matter entirely.

Google Pixel 8 vs iPhone 15 Pro: cameras

iPhone 15 Pro review back handheld angled camera

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

The ‘Pro’ effect can be seen most obviously in the iPhone 15 Pro’s extra camera. As well as a 48MP main sensor and a 12MP ultra-wide, you also get a dedicated 12MP 3x telephoto camera.

With the Pixel 8, you only get a 50MP main camera and a 12MP ultra-wide. Any zooming you do with it will involve cropping in on that main sensor.

The iPhone’s main sensor is fractionally bigger (1/1.28“ vs 1/1.31”), shoots more detailed shots (24MP vs 12.5MP), and has better stabilisation (sensor-shift OIS vs regular OIS). The Pixel 8 boasts a slightly larger f/1.7 aperture (vs f/1.8 in the iPhone) in return, but that’s about its only hardware advantage.

Google Pixel 8 review camera

The iPhone 15 Pro has a triple-lens camera (Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

Of course, Google’s photographic strength has never been its hardware, but rather its machine learning and image processing chops. 

With the Pixel 8 you can remove background interlopers with the improved Magic Eraser, and can now even make it so that everyone in a group shot is smiling at once.

More generally, shots taken with the Pixel 8 are more vivid and tend to deliver more HDR-led shots with a boarder gamut of colors, while the iPhone 15 Pro captures more natural-looking scenes letting shadows and highlights remain in place. Both phones are excellent in low lighting scenarios, though we’d probably give the iPhone 15 Pro the slight edge here.