Google Pixel 6 Pro vs. iPhone 13 Pro: which phone is right for you?

If you’re shopping for a new smartphone, Apple’s iPhone 13 Pro and Google’s Pixel 6 Pro are two of the best options on the market. Both devices offer incredible performance, camera quality, screens and battery life, but let’s be honest: The biggest difference is their operating systems, forcing you to pick either iOS or Android.

While some may never dream of making a switch from their tech comfort zone, there’s plenty of reasons to consider either of these devices. After all, they’re priced similarly and deliver on the fundamentals of a great smartphone while offering their own unique features. Here’s everything you need to know before you plunk down the cash for the Google Pixel 6 Pro or Apple iPhone 13 Pro. All we ask is that you keep an open mind.

The Google Pixel 6 Pro offers a standout design, while the iPhone 13 Pro is more traditional

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Jacob Krol/CNN

The Pixel 6 Pro bucks tradition by extending the rear camera bump to the width of the phone while adding a two-tone finish to each color option, including Sorta Sunny, Stormy Black and Cloudy White. The result is a look that’s exclusive to Google. It also includes tapered sides for a more ergonomic feel. We also appreciate that the display is slightly curved to minimize the appearance of bezels.

Meanwhile, Apple’s iPhone 13 Pro offers a much more traditional form factor with a large camera bump in the corner, flat sides and a flat screen. Some may prefer the more subdued look, but anyone shopping for a flashy flagship may find Google’s offerings to be more their style.

The Pixel’s camera kills in the dark, but video quality remains best on the iPhone

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It should be no surprise that for the price, both the iPhone 13 Pro and Pixel 6 Pro offer stellar camera systems. However, each has distinct qualities that will attract different types of users. For example, the Pixel 6 Pro comes with Google’s astrophotography feature, which allows you to take astonishing nighttime and low-light photos with ease. The feature works by drawing out the exposure time of the camera to collect as much light as possible, while special software tricks analyze the photo you’re taking to gather extra detail and information. Resulting photos come out as if you poured natural light on the subject you’re shooting. The night sky is vibrant with dancing stars, landscapes are breathtaking and dim settings, such as bars and nightclubs, are sharp and clear.

Apple offers its own Night mode on the iPhone 13 Pro, but it fails to match the quality you get from the Pixel.

That being said, if you value video quality more than taking the brightest nighttime shots, you’ll want to look at the iPhone. The iPhone 13 Pro series remains at the top of the market when it comes to video quality, with 4K video support at 60 frames per second, excellent stability and beautiful color reproduction. This generation also comes with highly rated new features geared toward pro users like Cinematic mode for movie-like focus racking and ProRes support for postproduction editing.

The Pixel 6 Pro, on the other hand, takes a basic approach to video quality, giving a more choppy appearance with less accurate colors.

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Jacob KrolCNN

The iPhone 13 Pro’s A15 Bionic chip is simply a beast, allowing you to speed through everything from social media to heavy gaming. And despite shipping with half as much RAM as the Pixel 6 Pro, it manages to offer identical multitasking performance.

Google’s Tensor processor may be the company’s first in-house chip for smartphones, with enough horsepower for most people, but fails to match the graphics or efficiency performance of the A15.

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Jacob KrolCNN

It was delightful to see Apple’s iPhone 13 Pro make such a huge leap in performance when it comes to battery life. In addition, its bigger, pricier sibling, the iPhone 13 Pro Max, is now regarded as the battery king in the flagship smartphone space, per our own battery tests. But when it comes to recharging, the Pixel 6 Pro comes out on top with its 30W wired charging, proving faster than both the standard 13 Pro and higher-end 13 Pro Max.

The Pixel 6 Pro is also faster at wirelessly charging, thanks to Google’s second-gen Pixel Stand, capable of up to 25W fast charging. In our testing, we found that it could replenish your battery from zero to 100% in under two hours.

Apple’s iOS 15 feels familiar, while Google’s Android 12 dares to be different

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Jacob KrolCNN

Without getting into the weeds about iOS versus Android, there’s something to be said for the most recent versions of both operating systems.

Apple’s iOS 15 offers many nice upgrades over past versions, such as Focus modes for controlling notifications, improvements to first-party apps like Weather and Maps, Live Text for selecting text inside images using AI and a simplified Siri experience. iOS 15 will feel strikingly familiar to any past user of iOS because, well, Apple didn’t change much. And that’s OK, because it’s already a great system.

The Pixel edition of Android 12, on the other hand, feels fresh and different compared to past versions. The new Material You interface adds customizable color schemes and iconography to reflect your own personal style — and quality-of-life features, like better control over notifications, are welcome additions. Plus, all of the familiar Pixel features like Now Playing (helps to identify songs on your lock screen), the Recorder app (offers AI-powered transcriptions), Call Screening (helps you find out who’s trying to get in touch with you using the Google Assistant) and Magic Eraser (lets you erase different subjects from your photos using AI) are included.

Regardless of whether you’re Team iOS or Team Android, it may be worth opening your mind and taking a better look at both systems.

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Compared to the iPhone 13 Pro, the Pixel 6 Pro is just plain cheaper. Even with 512GB of storage, you’ll save up to $300 if you go the Google route — an important factor to keep in mind since they are both expensive to begin with.

Differences aside, both of these phones can be an excellent choice. Google delivers one of the best Android devices currently available with the Pixel 6 Pro, while Apple continues to build on the excellence of the iPhone with its 13 Pro.

We suggest the Pixel 6 Pro for those who want to take great night and low-light photos, value a different design or are shopping on a budget. Meanwhile, those who need tones of horsepower in their pocket and remarkable video quality at their disposal are better suited to the iPhone 13 Pro.

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