Google Pixel 6 Pro vs Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max: Which big Pro phone to buy?

Google Pixel 6 Pro vs Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max: Which big Pro phone to buy?

Google’s Pixel line of phones has been quite underwhelming in the past few years. The Pixel 5 had a mid-range chip, the Pixel 4 had poor battery life, and the Pixel 3XL had a bathtub notch. While they had their own positives, they weren’t really THE phone to recommend for most people. Google is trying to change that with the Pixel 6 series. The new Pixel and Pixel 6 Pro make a strong case for a flagship phone that can compete against rival brands. The Pixel 6 Pro also starts at $100 lesser than most flagship phones that have breached the $1000 mark.

For a similar price, or maybe even cheaper, you can also find a used or refurbished Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max from last year. While Apple doesn’t officially sell the iPhone 12 Pro Max anymore, you can find it in stock at plenty of third-party retailers, especially at discounted prices. The iPhone 12 Pro Max was also a flagship phone last year which might confuse you as to which one you should get between the two — the Pixel 6 Pro or the iPhone 12 Pro Max?

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Google Pixel 6 Pro

Well, we’re here’s a comparison of the Google Pixel 6 Pro vs the Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max to help you decide which one’s better for you! Last year’s Pro flagship from Apple or this year’s Pro flagship from Google? Let’s find out which phone emerges as the winner.

Google Pixel 6 Pro vs Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max: Specifications

Google Pixel 6 Pro Apple iPhone 12 Pro
CPU Google Tensor Apple A14 Bionic
Body
  • 163.9 x 75.9 x 8.9 mm
  • Weight: 210g
  • 160.8×78.1×7.4 mm
  • Weight: 228g
Display
  • 6.71-inch QHD+ LTPO AMOLED
  • 1400 x 3120 pixels
  • 512 PPI
  • 120Hz refresh rate
  • 19.5:9
  • HDR10+
  • Gorilla Glass Victus
  • 6.7-inch Super Retina XDR OLED Display
  • 2778 x 1284 pixels
  • 458 PPI
  • 60Hz refresh rate
  • 19.5:9
  • HDR10
  • Dolby Vision
  • Ceramic Shield
Camera
  • 50MP Primary, f/1.9 (OIS, Laser AF)
  • 12MP Secondary f/2.2 ultra-wide
  • 48MP Tertiary f/3.5 4X telephoto
  • 11.1MP Front-facing, f/2.2
  • 12MP Primary, f/1.6 (OIS, PDAF)
  • 12MP Secondary f/2.4 ultra-wide
  • 12MP Tertiary f/2.0 2X telephoto
  • 12MP Front-facing, f/2.2
Memory
  • 12GB RAM
  • 128GB/256GB/512GB UFS 3.1 storage
  • 6GB RAM
  • 128GB/256GB/512GB storage
Battery
  • 5,003mAh
  • 30W fast charging
  • Qi wireless charging (21W)
  • Reverse wireless charging
  • 3,687mAh
  • 20W fast charging
  • MagSafe support (15W)
  • Qi wireless charging
Connectivity
  • 5G: Non-Standalone (NSA), Standalone (SA), Sub6 / mmWave
  • Ultra-Wide Band (UWB)
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/6e
  • Bluetooth 5.2
  • A-GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, BDS, QZSS
  • 5G: Sub 6GHz
    • mmWave for the USA
  • Ultra-Wide Band (UWB)
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/6
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • A-GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, BDS, QZSS
Water Resistance IP68 IP68
Sensors Fingerprint sensor (under-display), Accelerometer, Barometer, Gyro sensor, Proximity sensor, Light sensor Face ID, Accelerometer, Barometer, Gyro sensor, Proximity sensor, Light sensor
OS Android 12 iOS 15
Colors Sorta Sunny, Cloudy White, Stormy Black Pacific Blue, Silver, Graphite, Gold
Material Aluminum Stainless Steel
Price Starts at $899 $700-900 (Used/Renewed/Refurbished)

Build and Design

There’s not a lot separating the Pixel 6 Pro from the iPhone 12 Pro Max in terms of build quality and the materials used in the construction of the two phones. The iPhone 12 Pro Max does use a slightly more premium material on the chassis — Stainless Steel — compared to the aluminum frame on the Pixel 6 Pro. The Pixel 6 Pro has Gorilla Glass Victus on the front while the iPhone 12 Pro Max has Ceramic Shield. The iPhone 12 Pro Max is thinner, but also wider than the Pixel 6 Pro which makes it slightly uncomfortable to hold and use for long periods of time. The Pixel 6 Pro is slightly easier to handle despite being huge thanks to the curved edges. Both phones are also IP68 dust and water-resistant. You shouldn’t be worried about picking up either device since they’re both solid.

iPhone 12 Pro

While the way both phones are built is similar, they look quite different from one another. The iPhone 12 Pro Max goes for a more conventional look and is similar to the iPhone 11 Pro series barring the flat, shiny sides and a boxy look similar to the iPhone 4. It’s quite basic and is similar to what we’ve been seeing on modern-day phones. A plain glass back with a camera module housed on the upper left corner. The Pixel 6 Pro takes a different approach here. Google has given the phone a two-tone finish with a large camera bar separating the two colors.

Pixel 6 Pro back

The colors are nice and playful and the camera bar really adds character to the phone. It spans across the entire width of the phone similar to what we saw on the Nexus 6P from a few years back. This sort of look is quite unique which makes the Pixel 6 Pro score high in terms of design. Looks and design are extremely subjective so the winner in this department should ideally be chosen by you. Some may like the clean and proven design of the iPhone 12 Pro Max while some may prefer the bolder look of the Pixel 6 Pro. The flat sides appeal to some while some may find the curved sides on the Pixel 6 Pro easier on the palms.

Display

Pixel 6 Pro with bloom wallpaper on window sill

Before we get into the particulars of the display, the first thing you would notice while looking at both phones is that iPhone 12 Pro Max has a notch but has flat sides, while the Pixel 6 Pro has a hole-punch but with curved edges on the sides. Again, this comes down to personal preference. A lot of people seem to hate the notch since it’s an eyesore while you’re viewing content on the screen. Others don’t mind it since it’s just there and you get used to it in a couple of days. Well, I belong to the second category. Apple has reduced the size of the notch on this year’s iPhone 13 by about 20%, but the iPhone 12 Pro Max still has a slightly bigger cutout.

iPhone 13 Pro and Pixel 6 Pro

The Pixel 6 Pro does have a more immersive display since there’s no big notch, and the edges are curved. Now, just like the notch, a lot of people either hate it or don’t mind it at all. There can be some accidental touches due to the curved nature, but it also makes the phone look more premium. This shouldn’t be an issue for most people, but it’s something worth mentioning. Both the Pixel 6 Pro and the iPhone 12 Pro Max offer a similarly sized canvas in the form of a 6.7-inch AMOLED display. The large display means that you will enjoy watching content on both phones. Videos and Shows might look more immersive on the Pixel6 Pro though since there’s no notch on the front.

Pixel 6 Pro with iPhone 13 Pro

The Pixel 6 Pro also scores high in another aspect in the display department — refresh rate. The panel on the Pixel 6 Pro is a 120Hz LTPO display which makes scrolling and gaming a lot smoother. A faster refresh rate is something you will appreciate since things like scrolling through lists and social media feeds will appear smoother. Even in terms of resolution, the Pixel 6 Pro is better since it has a QHD+ display while the iPhone 12 Pro Max is slightly above Full HD. It’s clear by these metrics that the Pixel 6 Pro has a better display compared to the iPhone 12 Pro Max.

Performance

Since both the iPhone 12 Pro Max and the Pixel 6 Pro are flagship phones, they have top-of-the-line internals to power them. It’s important to note, though, that the iPhone 12 Pro Max is last year’s flagship whereas the Pixel 6 Pro is more recent. The iPhone 12 Pro Max gets Apple’s A14 Bionic while the Pixel 6 Pro has Google’s new in-house Tensor SoC. Over the past few years, Apple’s chipsets have been ahead of the competition in terms of raw performance. Google is trying to catch up with the Tensor, especially in terms of processing computational algorithms.

Pixel 6 Pro vs iPhone 12 Pro performance

The iPhone 12 Pro Max, despite being a year old, will still perform better in intensive tasks like video editing, rendering, and gaming. However, day-to-day tasks like running social media and messaging apps, casual gaming, watching videos/movies, etc. should ideally feel similar on both phones. With the higher refresh rate, it may even be faster on the Pixel 6 Pro. The Tensor isn’t too good with graphics performance so if high-end gaming is your priority, the iPhone 12 Pro Max is the one to pick. Apple’s hardware and software integration has gotten stronger over the years which has resulted in apps being better optimized for the iPhone. This is only Google’s first attempt at making their own hardware and software, so we can hope that it gets better with time.

The iPhone 12 Pro Max is a big phone with boxy corners.

You shouldn’t be worried about performance on either phone. It’s seldom that last year’s phone performs as well as this year’s flagship but that’s just how good Apple’s chipsets have been lately.

Needless to say, the software on both phones is very different. The Pixel 6 Pro runs Android 12 and will receive three years of major Android version updates and five years of security patches. The iPhone 12 Pro Max, on the other hand, runs iOS 15 and should ideally get four to five years of software support going by Apple’s track record. Note that it’s already a year old at this point, though. It again comes down to personal preference as to whether you want an OS that’s customizable to a large extent or one that gets the basics right and is better optimized.

Cameras

This is an area where the Pixel 6 Pro absolutely shines. While the iPhone 12 Pro Max does click some great pictures, the Pixel 6 Pro just does better. The Pixel 6 Pro has a higher resolution primary sensor which captures more details. It’s also better at low-light photography compared to the iPhone 12 Pro Max. Google’s Night Sight mode is quite magical and captures more light than the night mode on the iPhone 12 Pro Max. The still images clicked by the Pixel 6 Pro in almost all scenarios are better than those clicked by the iPhone 12 Pro Max.

Google Pixel 6 Pro

That’s not saying the iPhone 12 Pro Max is bad by any means. It’s still got a solid set of cameras that are arguably more consistent than most phones out there. The colors look natural on the images shot by the iPhone 12 Pro Max and the dynamic range looks great. Both phones even have a telephoto lens but Google’s periscope camera trumps Apple’s meager 2X lens in this department too. You can use the telephoto camera on the Pixel 6 Pro to actually zoom into far-away objects and capture them. However, the iPhone 12 Pro Max just has a 2X lens which isn’t that useful except while capturing portrait mode shots.

pixel zoom

Pixel 6 Pro showing 16x zoom on the viewfinder

The Pixel 6 Pro outputs images with slightly boosted colors and contrast. Selfies are good on both phones but even in this department, the Pixel 6 Pro takes the cake thanks to a wider lens that can fit more people. In terms of still images, the Pixel 6 Pro captures photos that are pleasing to look at which probably makes it a better pick for the average consumer.

iPhone 12 Pro cameras

One area where the iPhone 12 Pro Max does slightly better is videography. The Pixel 6 series has improved considerably from previous generations in terms of capturing videos. However, it still loses to the iPhone 12 Pro Max in this department. The iPhone 12 Pro Max’s video looks more crisp, stable, and better in terms of colors and dynamic range. The iPhone 12 Pro Max can also shoot in 4K 60fps via all three cameras onboard, something that the Pixel 6 Pro can’t do.

Overall, you’ll be happy picking up either phone in terms of camera performance. The iPhone 12 Pro Max is consistent, but if still images are all you care about and you want photos that can be readily posted to social media, the Pixel 6 Pro is a great pick.

Battery Life and Charging

The iPhone 12 Pro Max is an absolute battery champ. You can expect about 8-9 hours of Screen-on time easily from the iPhone 12 Pro even with heavy usage. Despite having a battery that isn’t very large in terms of capacity, the optimization of iOS is what gives the phone excellent endurance. The Pixel 6 Pro, despite having a much larger battery doesn’t perform as well as the iPhone 12 Pro Max.

Black Google 6 Pro on a round table

The Tensor chip isn’t really an endurance champion and the 120Hz display can also drain more battery especially in apps that make use of that high refresh rate. While it’s not terrible, we certainly expected the Pixel 6 Pro to last longer. You will have to start looking for a charger by evening with the Pixel 6 Pro, especially if you’re a heavy user. Speaking of charging, the iPhone 12 Pro Max supports fast-charging up to 20W while the Pixel 6 Pro can go up to 23W. Both phones have wireless charging too with the iPhone 12 Pro Max capping out at 15W via MagSafe and the Pixel 6 going till 21W. A huge advantage that the Pixel 6 Pro has over the iPhone 12 Pro Max is that it charges via USB-C instead of the proprietary lightning connector on the iPhone.

Overall, in terms of battery life, the iPhone 12 Pro Max is the clear winner if you want a phone that just goes on and on and doesn’t die even at the end of the day.

Pixel 6 Pro vs iPhone 12 Pro Max: Which one should you buy?

Pixel 6 vs iPhone 13

The Pixel 6 Pro starts at $899 in the US, while the iPhone 12 Pro Max can cost around the same or even lesser depending on where you get it from and in what condition. Other than that, there are not a lot of differences between the two phones. Both of them have great cameras, a nice display, and a flagship processor. It all boils down to the age-old Android vs iOS debate, doesn’t it? Well, kinda. The iPhone 12 Pro Max is better at gaming, taking videos, and has exceptional battery life. It’s also got additional features like AirDrop, Continuity, Hand-off, etc. that you’ll appreciate if you’re into the Apple ecosystem.

The Pixel 6 Pro has an arguably better display with no notch, a better set of cameras, a unique design, and it runs on Android 12 with the new Material You overhaul. It’s one of the best Pixel phones made to date. Unless you really want a phone with iOS that syncs with other Apple products and a phone that lasts more than a day on a single charge, the Pixel 6 Pro actually makes more sense since it’s also more recent and gets most of the basics right. You can even check out our Pixel 6 Pro review to know more about the device. In fact, if you’re already into the Apple ecosystem and like iOS, you can also consider picking up the iPhone 13 or iPhone 13 Pro which you might find cheaper than the iPhone 12 Pro Max.

    The Pixel 6 Pro comes with Google's new Tensor chip, a modern design, and flagship cameras.
    The iPhone 12 Pro Max is last year's flagship from Apple but is till a good smartphone to purchase in 2021.

Which one are you going to buy —  the Pixel 6 Pro or the iPhone 12 Pro Max? Let us know in the comments below! You can check out the best Pixel 6 Pro deals if you plan to buy the phone and also the best Pixel 6 Pro cases or the best iPhone 12 Pro Max case to protect either of the two devices.

About author

Sumukh Rao
Sumukh Rao

A tech fanatic with a hunger for knowledge in the ever-growing field of science and technology. An avid quizzer and a gadget critic who loves simplifying tech for the masses has a keen interest in modding Android devices.

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