Tuesday, May 21, 2024
Smart Phones

iPhone 15 Pro Max vs Pixel 7 Pro: FOMO, or the fear of missing out


Intro

With the iPhone 15 Pro Max, Apple is ever-so-slightly reinventing the “Pro Max” experience. Not only are we getting a USB Type-C port, a refreshed titanium design with contoured lines that make the phone that much more ergonomic, but we are also finally getting treated to a proper periscope lens on the iPhone lineup. Well, actually it’s a tetraprism, so technically not a traditional periscope, but still, proper zooming on the iPhone 15 Pro Max is no longer a fata morgana. 

Both flagships have a bone to pick with one another, being the best of Apple and Google right now, offering excellent experience and tons of premium features. Ecosystem-agnostic users who are willing to save will surely want to look in the Pixel 7 Pro‘s general direction, while those who experience FOMO on the regular would most certainly be heavily enticed by the hot new iPhone 15 Pro Max, of course in the Natural Titanium colorway.

iPhone 15 Pro Max vs Pixel 7 Pro main differences:

  • Apple A17 Pro 3nm vs Google Tensor G2 5nm
  • Thinner bezels (iPhone 15 Pro Max)
  • Titanium build (iPhone 15 Pro Max)
  • 8GB RAM (iPhone 15 Pro Max) vs 12GB RAM (Pixel 7 Pro
  • 256GB, 512GB, 1TB (iPhone 15 Pro Max) vs 128GB, 256GB, 512GB (Pixel 7 Pro)
  • 48MP main (iPhone 15 Pro Max) vs 50MP main camera (Pixel 7 Pro)
  • New Action button (iPhone 15 Pro Max)
  • 12MP selfie camera (iPhone 15 Pro Max) vs 10.8 selfie camera (Pixel 7 Pro)
  • 25W vs 23W wired charging
  • 15W vs 23W wireless charging

Table of Contents:

Design and Size

Big changes for the iPhone

With the iPhone 15 Pro Max, Apple introduces a contoured titanium frame improving the ergonomics and the visuals of the large device. Unlike stainless steel, which was used on most premium iPhones in the past few years, titanium is lighter and stronger, while also being less prone to fingerprint smudges. The soon-to-be signature Dynamic Island punch-hole is staying as well; we are probably a good few years before we’ll see it go away.

Meanwhile, the Pixel 7 Pro retains the general design of the previous Pixel flagship, with a glass-metal sandwich build with a slightly curved front that has a redesigned rear camera strip that blends in with the side frame of the phone. It’s a slight departure from the all-black camera strip of the Pixel 6 era, but we definitely like the new looks of the Pixel lineup.

Another big change with the iPhone 15 Pro Max is the adoption of USB Type-C and the new Action Button that substitutes the classic mute switch. The latter allows for some basic but also deeper customization options if you love tinkering with the Shortcuts app. 

For example, you’d be able to map the flashlight, different shortcuts, or other accessibility features to the button. Both of these changes are as they kill off signature Apple features like the Lightning port and the mute switch.

In terms of colors, the Pixel 7 Pro is available in Obsidian (black), Snow (white), and Hazel (gray-green). At the same time, the iPhone 15 Pro Max is coming in Natural Titanium, Black Titanium, White Titanium, and Blue Titanium, which is a more conservative selection in comparison with previous iPhone releases. The reason for that is titanium itself: it’s harder to get this one painted, so Apple had to resort to a more muted selection of color.

The Pixel 7 Pro doesn’t come with a wall adapter in the box, and neither does the iPhone 15 Pro Max

Display Differences

The iPhone 15 Pro Max comes with the same 6.7-inch display as the iPhone 14 Pro Max. Actually, there aren’t any significant changes in the display department, with the same killer Super Retina XDR OLED display with excellent contrast and color reproduction as well as super-smooth dynamic ProMotion refresh rate that makes content so rewarding to scroll. 

The Pixel 7 Pro also comes with a 6.7-inch OLED display with a very smooth and pleasing-to-use display with dynamic refresh rate that switch between 10 and 120Hz and in-between. It’s also quite sharp with its QHD+ resolution which gives it that small but important edge over the standard FHD+ display you might see on most ‘regular’ flagships these days. The Pixel 7 Pro also boasts a quite bright display that can reach up to 1,500 nits of maximum brightness in certain lighting conditions.

Display Measurements:

A big difference between the iPhone 15 Pro Max and the Pixel 7 Pro is the biometric authentication on board. While the Pixel 7 Pro comes with both picture-based Face Unlock and a secure fingerprint sensor built into the display, the iPhone 15 Pro Max will be solely relying on Face ID, which combines the ease-of-use of face unlock with the security of a fingerprint sensor. 

Performance and Software

Apples and oranges

In the past few years, it’s been rather hard to beat Apple in terms of raw performance in the mobile space. The iPhone 15 Pro Max is the latest heavy-hitter to emphasize that, as it comes with a rather potent chipset. The Apple A17 Pro inside the iPhone is actually the very first widely available 3nm mobile chip and delivers excellent performance that further extends Apple’s dominance in terms of horsepower. 

The Apple A17 Pro runs circles around the Google Tensor G2 chipset, which is ticking inside the Pixel 7 Pro. That said, Google has recently moved past raw performance, instead focusing on artificial intelligence and machine learning. Yet, it’s hard to overlook the palpable performance gap between the two phones. Although not as powerful as most other flagship chips, the Tensor G2 is still a pretty adequate chip for everyday tasks, though it surely lacks in performance. 

That said, it also isn’t prone to overheat, which is definitely an unfortunate side effect of the iPhone 15 Pro Max during some intensive tasks. That 3nm chip surely takes its toll and drives the iPhone noticeably warmer than we’d like to see. 

The iPhone 15 Pro Max comes with 8GB of RAM, as well as 256, 512GB or 1TB of storage, which are all priced the same as the similar-sized versions of the iPhone 14 Pro Max. The notable omission here is the 128GB option, the cheapest one around, which is no longer on sale. 

How long will each phone be supported? The Pixel 7 Pro will receive major software updates until October 2025, or until Android 16 hits us, as well as security support until 2027. Meanwhile, the situation isn’t very clear with the iPhone 15 Pro Max. Yes, it should technically get five years of both major and security updates, so until 2028, but Apple has recently prolonged the life of some older models, so who knows, maybe this one wouldn’t be considered outdated until the end of the decade. 

The iPhone 15 Pro Max comes with iOS 17, while the Pixel 7 Pro is certainly getting Android 14.
iOS 17 debuted during Apple’s WWDC 2023 developer conference. The iPhone 15 Pro Max will come with iOS 17 on board. Along with significant updates to Maps, Siri, Visual Look Up, and Phone, Messages, and FaceTime, iOS 17 also offers interactive widgets, and makes enhancements to Maps and Siri. Aside from finally scoring offline maps, iOS 17 also allows you to simply say “Siri!” to invoke the assistant, no “hey” necessary anymore. While your iPhone charges wirelessly or cable, a new StandBy function will provide you with vital information, and a brand-new Journal app will help you manage your life and digital memories, curating data from multiple apps. You will also have enhanced lock screen customization options and improvements to autocorrect. 

Camera

Triple-camera monsters

The iPhone 15 Pro Max comes with the same 48MP camera, but boasting some software goodies like a new Photonic Engine, Smart HDR, as well as improvements to the night mode photography and automatic portraiture.

The Pixel 7 Pro comes with a 50MP wide camera with an f/1.85 aperture, mostly similar to the Pixel 6 Pro‘s camera. With this one, you actually get two cameras in one: a new 2X camera mode was introduced with the Pixel 7 Pro, which crops the central 12MP area of the sensor, giving you a zoomed-in 12MP photo with excellent quality.

Main Camera

Both the iPhone 15 Pro Max and the Pixel 7 Pro have done an excellent job in the first scene, with ample detail and eye-pleasing colors. Unlike the iPhone, the Pixel delivers a moodier and gloomier photo that’s slightly on the underexposed side.

In the second round of samples, the Pixel has definitely delivered cleaner detail, with the iPhone smudging some of the finer details, especially the tree leaves at the back. At the same time, the Pixel is heavily dialing on the magenta in this scenario, with the iPhone relying on a more balanced overall tone.

Once the lights go down, both the iPhone 15 Pro Max and the Pixel 7 Pro do a great job at delivering a well-exposed photo. While the Pixel 7 Pro does an excellent all-around job with livelier color, the iPhone does a better job at correctly exposing for my colleague Victor’s face, which is partly in the shadows. 

In our last scene, it’s pretty hard to come up with a clear winner. Honestly, either one of these two superb devices will do you just fine once the lights go down, and no amount of nitpicking can trounce neither the iPhone 15 Pro Max nor the Pixel 7 Pro

Ultra-wide

The iPhone 15 Pro Max comes with the same 12MP ultra-wide camera sensor, with an f/2.2 aperture and 120-degree field of view. Meanwhile, the Pixel 7 Pro also scored a slightly wider 12MP ultra-wide camera, and now mostly matches other flagships in terms of how much it could fit into the scene.

The ultra-wide camera of the Pixel 7 Pro is ever-so-slightly narrower than the one on the iPhone 15 Pro Max, so it technically fits slightly less content. It’s also too magenta-happy, which becomes clear once you compare the same scene shot with the iPhone 15 Pro Max. The latter gives off more natural vibes. 

Zoom Quality

With the iPhone 15 Pro Max, Apple is finally jumping head-first into long zoom. With a 5X optical zoom, the iPhone 15 Pro Max lets you shoot far-away subjects and take creative portraits. That’s quite similar to the 48MP periscope found on the Pixel 7 Pro, which also has a 5.0X optical zoom and maxes out at 30X hybrid zoom.

At 5.0X zoom, the dedicated telephoto cameras of the two devices kick in, and the results are excellent on both. There’s plenty of detail in both photo samples, so it’s hard to pinpoint a winner in terms of detail resolve alone. The Pixel 7 Pro‘s affinity towards underexposure carries on to its zoom lens. 

Once you go up to 10X zoom, however, the iPhone starts struggling, with some noise starting to creep in. The Pixel 7 Pro delivers a cleaner albeit underexposed shot.

Selfies

There aren’t any changes in the selfie camera department with the iPhone 15 Pro Max. This means we get the same 12MP FaceTime camera that was found on the iPhone 14 Pro Max, which delivers excellent image quality. The Pixel 7 Pro also has a very decent selfie camera, which weighs in at 10.8MP, so not that big of a difference.

The iPhone delivers the better selfies due to the much nicer exposure and overall rendition of Victor’s facial features. It’s a selfie you’d want to share on social media, for example, whereas the Pixel 7 Pro has gone conservative on the exposure, which makes for a gloomier selfie. Not everything has to look like it belongs to the DC universe. 

Video Quality

Video Thumbnail

Once again, the iPhone 15 Pro Max is king when it comes to video recording. You get excellent exposure, lovely colors, and superb stabilization with the iPhone. The Pixel struggles with exposure and tends to add in some noise; it also struggles with stabilization which delivers shakier footage.

Audio Quality and Haptics

The iPhone 15 Pro Max is a dual stereo-speaker phone offering excellent audio quality. The Pixel 7 Pro has a dual-speaker setup consisting of a bottom-firing loudspeaker and another speaker in the earpiece. Although it lacks some depth and richness in the base frequencies, the Pixel 7 Pro outputs very decent sound. 

Haptic feedback has always been great on flagship iPhones, and the iPhone 15 Pro Max is no different. The Pixel 7 Pro also has excellent taptics, enriching the user experience. 

Battery Life and Charging

Great hopes for the 3nm future

The iPhone 15 Pro Max comes along with a 4,422mAh, which happens to be the largest battery ever fitted on an iPhone. 

The Pixel 7 Pro has a large 5,000mAh battery that delivers very decent battery life in comparison with most previous Pixel phones and the rest of the Android top brass. Surely, the efficiency and humbler specifications of the Tensor G2 help it achieve such good battery life. 

In our custom battery tests, which have the two phones’ displays set at 200 nits, the iPhone generally beats the Pixel. In the video streaming test, both devices last around shy of 10 hours, but the iPhone reigns victorious in our custom web browsing and 3D gaming tests.

PhoneArena Battery Test Results:

In terms of charging, the iPhone 15 Pro Max comes with 25W wired charging and 15W MagSafe wireless charging. The Pixel 7 Pro, on the other hand, maxes out at 23W wired and wireless charging, provided that you buy Google’s own Pixel Stand wireless charger. In our tests, however, the Google device has the upper hand in terms of charging speeds.

PhoneArena Battery Charging Results

Specs Comparison

Summary and Final Verdict

Overall, we expect that the iPhone 15 Pro Max is more than serious competition to the Pixel 7 Pro. The hot new iOS powerhouse will be a dominant force to be reckoned with come the 2023 holiday season, the yardstick that all phones will have to contend with. 

Despite the rumors, Apple didn’t go through with the price hike, so the iPhone 15 Pro Max remains at the same $1,199 entry-level price tag. This essentially spells good news for the potential adopters of the phone. 

Meanwhile, Google’s best traditional flagship so far embodies the best of Android in 2023, with a pristine software that isn’t found on other phones and a hardware that’s shaped to fulfill the unique needs of an AI/ML-driven experience. It will also cost you less than the iPhone 15 Pro Max, so those ecosystem-agnostic users willing to save should go with Google’s flagship phone. 



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