Google Pixel 8 vs iPhone 15 Pro Max: all the key differences

The Google Pixel 8 and the iPhone 15 Pro Max aren’t, perhaps, two phones that you’d naturally compare.

One is the latest compact phone from the maker of Android, while the other is the latest super-sized flagship from the maker of iOS. Aside from a shared release window, they don’t appear to have a lot in common.

It’s an interesting case study, however, in how much of that premium flagship experience you can expect to retain if you want to pay a lot less money and shrink the package into a more manageable form factor.

Given what the Pixel 8 has to offer, then, does the iPhone 15 Pro Max simply represent too much of everything? Well find out in our Google Pixel 8 vs iPhone 15 Pro Max showdown. 

Google Pixel 8 vs iPhone 15 Pro Max: specs comparison

Before we get to an in-depth breakdown of how these two phones compare, here’s a brief overview of their key specs.

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Google Pixel 8iPhone 15 Pro Max
Dimensions:150.5 x 70.8 x 8.9mm159.9mm x 76.7mm x 8.25mm
Display:6.2-inch 20:9 adaptive 60Hz to 120Hz 'Actua' OLED6.7-inch 'ProMotion Super Retina XDR' OLED
Resolution: 1080 x 24001290 x 2796
Refresh rate: Adaptive 60Hz to 120HzAdaptive 1Hz to 120Hz
Chipset:Google Tensor G3A17 Pro
Storage:128GB, 256GB (UFS 3.1)256GB, 512GB, 1TB
Rear cameras: 50MP wide, 12MP ultra-wide48MP wide, 12MP ultra-wide, 12MP 5x 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 Max: price and availability

Google Pixel 8 Rose handheld lifestyle press image

The Google Pixel 8 (Image credit: Google)

The Pixel 8 and the iPhone 15 Pro launched within a month of one another in late 2023. First up was the iPhone on September 12, with the Pixel 8 following on October 4.

Pricing for the Google Pixel 8 starts from $699 / £699 / AU$1,199 for the 128GB model, while $759 / £759 / AU$1,299 gets you 256GB.

The iPhone 15 Pro Max is considerably more expensive, starting out with the 256GB model at $1,199.99 / £1,199 / AU$2,199. You can double that storage to 512GB for $1,399.99 / £1,399 / AU$2,549, while the top 1TB model costs $1,599.99 / £1,599 / AU$2,899.

Even comparing the like-for-like 256GB models, then, there’s a huge $451 / £440 / AU$900 difference between these two phones. 

Google Pixel 8 vs iPhone 15 Pro Max: design and display

Google Pixel 8 review back angled

The iPhone 15 Pro has titanium sides (Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

It’s fair to say that Google and Apple have borrowed liberally from one another as Android and iOS have developed as competing mobile platforms over the years. What’s heartening to see, however, is that their phones now look completely different.

Curves are very much the name of the game with the Google Pixel 8, from its bulging rim to the rounded glass rear. Even the camera module swoops and melts into the side of the phone.

Conversely, the iPhone 15 Pro Max is mostly flat surfaces, with a a flat rear and predominantly flat sides. The corners have been rounded off a smidgen in this year’s model, though, which indicates that Apple might be moving towards a more curvaceous design language itself.

We prefer the matte finish of the iPhone’s rear glass panel to the Pixel 8’s shinier approach, though neither sports the most exciting of color options.

There’s a fundamental difference in the makeup of the frames of these two phones too. While the Pixel 8 uses aluminum, the iPhone 15 Pro Max brings in titanium, which is far stronger and more premium.

iPhone 15 Pro Max

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Apple has also added a new Action Button to the left edge of the iPhone 15 Pro Max, which grants a useful customisable app shortcut. It’s the kind of feature you might have expected an Android manufacturer to implement, but curiously few have over the years.

The biggest difference here is one of size. The iPhone 15 Pro Max towers over the Pixel 8 by almost a centimetre, while it’s just over half-a-centimetre wider. It might be a fraction thinner than the Google phone, but it’s also 34g heavier.

Despite being much bigger, the iPhone 15 Pro Max’s screen bezels are thinner and more uniform than the Pixel 8’s, which gives it a sleeker look from the front. Conversely, the iPhone’s Dynamic Island is far more obtrusive than the Pixel 8’s hole punch notch – though it’s also more functional, with a better facial recognition system and a neat heads-up UI.

That fundamental size difference is reflected in the size of the displays. The Pixel 8’s AMOLED display comes in at 6.2 inches, while the iPhone 15 Pro Max’s screen measures 6.7 inches.

This size difference makes comparing screen resolutions somewhat pointless, so we’ll use the pixel density metric instead. At 460 ppi, the iPhone has a slight sharpness advantage over the 428 ppi Pixel, though that size difference arguably negates any hint of a perceivable difference.

Google Pixel 8 review front straight

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

Both displays can hit a peak brightness of 2,000 nits, and both also max out at a 120Hz refresh rate. The latter is an interesting distinction, as the Apple phone that really competes with the Pixel 8 is the iPhone 15, which only manages 60Hz.

You could argue that the Pixel 8 screen carries a Pro-level refresh rate, though it should be pointed out that it’s not an LTPO panel. While the iPhone 15 Pro Max screen can drop all the way down to 1Hz, thus saving power, the Pixel 8 can only drop to 60Hz. This perhaps explains why the iPhone’s always-on display carries more visual detail.

The iPhone 15 Pro Max has the clear edge here in terms of fit and finish, as well as the sheer size and sophistication of its display. Of course, for the added price of a Google Pixel 7a, you’d expect as much.

Google Pixel 8 vs iPhone 15 Pro Max: cameras

Google Pixel 8 review camera

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

Apple shows its Pro credentials with a full three-camera set-up to the Pixel 8’s two. In addition to wide and ultra-wide sensors, the iPhone 15 Pro Max gives you a dedicated telephoto.

Not just any telephoto either, but a new 12MP periscope camera with an extended 5x zoom. The Pixel 8 can only crop in on its 50MP main sensor for those up-close shots.

Apple’s new 48MP 1/1.28“ main sensor is slightly larger than the Pixel 8’s 50MP 1/1.31” equivalent, and it also captures more detailed 24MP shots compared to the Pixel’s 12.5MP. The iPhone also backs this sensor with a superior sensor-shift OIS system, meaning it can stay steadier during those extended shutter time shots. Both phones give you high quality 12MP ultra-wide sensors.

However, the main difference in overall photographic output from these two phones comes down to the choices and areas of expertise of the two manufacturers. Both devices take great shots, but Google’s color science is way cooler and more contrasty, while Apple’s is more naturalistic.

Google gives your some unique AI-driven editing tools here. Magic Eraser lets you remove unwanted background elements after the fact, while you can even insert a fake golden hour sky, with the color tone of the shot following suit. Best Take now lets you edit group scenes to make sure everyone is smiling.