Google Pixel 6 vs Apple iPhone 12 Pro: Which affordable flagship to buy?

Google Pixel 6 vs Apple iPhone 12 Pro: Which affordable flagship 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 baseline Pixel 6 also starts at a pretty affordable price of $699. For a similar price, you can also find a used or refurbished Apple iPhone 12 Pro from last year. While Apple doesn’t officially sell the iPhone 12 Pro anymore, you can find it in stock at plenty of third-party retailers, especially at discounted prices, and the pre-owned market for iPhones will surely land you a great deal on this phone. The iPhone 12 Pro was also a flagship phone last year which might confuse you as to which one you should get between the two — the Pixel 6 or the iPhone 12 Pro?

iPhone 13 Pro and Pixel 6 Pro

Well, we’re here’s a comparison of the Google Pixel 6 vs the Apple iPhone 12 Pro to help you decide which one’s better for you!

Google Pixel 6 vs Apple iPhone 12 Pro: Specifications

Google Pixel 6Apple iPhone 12 Pro
CPUGoogle TensorApple A14 Bionic
Body
  • 158.6 x 74.8 x 8.9 mm
  • Weight: 207g
  • 146.7×71.5×7.4 mm
  • Weight: 189g
Display
  • 6.4-inch FHD+ AMOLED
  • 1080 x 2040 pixels
  • 411 PPI
  • 90Hz refresh rate
  • 20:9
  • HDR10+
  • Gorilla Glass Victus
  • 6.1″ Super Retina XDR OLED Display
  • 2532 x 1170 pixels
  • 460 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
  • 8MP Front-facing, f/2.0
  • 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
  • 8GB RAM
  • 128GB/256GB UFS 3.1 storage
  • 6GB RAM
  • 128GB/256GB/512GB storage
Battery
  • 4,614mAh
  • 30W fast charging
  • Qi wireless charging (21W)
  • Reverse wireless charging
  • 2,815mAh
  • 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 ResistanceIP68IP68
SensorsFingerprint sensor (under-display), Accelerometer, Barometer, Gyro sensor, Proximity sensor, Light sensorFace ID, Accelerometer, Barometer, Gyro sensor, Proximity sensor, Light sensor
OSAndroid 12iOS 15
ColorsSorta Seaform, Kinda Coral, Stormy BlackPacific Blue, Silver, Graphite, Gold
MaterialAluminumStainless Steel
PriceStarts at $699$700-900 (Used/Renewed/Refurbished)

Build and Design

Pixel 6 back

There’s not a lot separating the Pixel 6 from the iPhone 12 Pro in terms of build quality and the materials used in the construction of the two phones. The iPhone 12 Pro does use a slightly more premium material on the chassis — Stainless Steel — compared to the aluminum frame on the Pixel 6. The Pixel 6 has Gorilla Glass Victus on the front while the iPhone 12 Pro has Ceramic Shield. The iPhone 12 Pro is thinner, marginally lighter, and more compact which means it’s going to be easier to use as well as carry around in your pocket or purse. Both phones are also IP68 dust and water-resistant. You shouldn’t be worried about picking up either device since they’re both solid.
While the way both phones are built is similar, they look quite different from one another. The iPhone 12 Pro goes for a more conventional look and is similar to the iPhone 11 Pro 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 takes a different approach here. Google has given the phone a two-tone finish with a large camera bar separating the two colors.

iPhone 12 Pro

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 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 while some may prefer the bolder look of the Pixel 6. The flat sides appeal to some while some may find the curved sides on the Pixel 6 easier on the palms.

Display

Pixel 6 display
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 has a notch but has slimmer bezels, while the Pixel 6 has a hole-punch but with thicker borders. 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 still has a slightly bigger cutout.

iPhone 13 Pro and Pixel 6 Pro

The Pixel 6 does have a more immersive display since there’s no big notch, but the bezels are quite thick and uneven. This shouldn’t be an issue for most people, but it’s something worth mentioning. The Pixel 6 also offers a larger canvas in the form of a 6.4-inch AMOLED display versus the 6.1-inch panel on the iPhone 12 Pro. A larger display means you can view more content and it’s a better experience while watching movies and shows.

On the other hand, a smaller display with slim bezels on the iPhone 12 Pro means the phone is compact and relatively easier to use one-handed. If you don’t watch a lot of content on your phone, the iPhone 12 Pro’s 6.1-inch OLED display should serve you well. Even if you do watch a lot of content, it’s going to look better on the iPhone 12 Pro’s display thanks to the support for Dolby Vision. However, the Pixel 6 hits right back with its 90Hz refresh rate 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.

iPhone 12 Pro

Both phones offer good displays that have their own pros and cons. Pick the Pixel 6 if you want a larger display that’s also smoother while scrolling and gaming, and doesn’t have a notch that might be interrupting. Pick the iPhone 12 Pro if you want a more compact display with corners that you can reach with the thumb of your hand, provided you’re okay with the notch.

Performance

Pixel 6 performance

Since both the iPhone 12 Pro and the Pixel 6 are flagship phones, they have top-of-the-line internals to power them. It’s important to note, though, that the iPhone 12 Pro is last year’s flagship whereas the Pixel 6 is more recent. The iPhone 12 Pro gets Apple’s A14 Bionic while the Pixel 6 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.
The iPhone 12 Pro, 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. The Tensor isn’t too good with graphics performance so if high-end gaming is your priority, the iPhone 12 Pro 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 runs Android 12 and will receive three years of major Android version updates and five years of security patches. The iPhone 12 Pro, 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

Pixel 6 cameras

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

That’s not saying the iPhone 12 Pro 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 and the dynamic range looks great. In fact, the iPhone 12 Pro even has a slight hardware advantage here in the form of a dedicated telephoto lens that the Pixel 6 lacks. However, it’s just a 2X lens which isn’t that useful anyhow except while capturing portrait mode shots.

The Pixel 6 outputs images with slightly boosted colors and contrast. Selfies are good on both phones with no clear winner. In terms of still images, the Pixel 6 captures photos that are pleasing to look at which probably makes it a better pick for the average consumer, despite the iPhone 12 Pro having an extra lens.

iPhone 12 Pro cameras

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

Overall, you’ll be happy picking up either phone in terms of camera performance. The iPhone 12 Pro 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 is a great pick.

Battery Life and Charging

Pixel 6 battery

The iPhone 12 Pro has got a pretty small battery so it’s surely not winning any endurance awards. You can expect about 6 hours of Screen-on time from the iPhone 12 Pro before having to plug it into the charger. This should be good for most people but if you’re a heavy user, you might have to start looking for a charger late in the evening. The Pixel 6, on the other hand, has a much larger battery that can last a full day with moderate to heavy use. It’s not the best in terms of battery life, but it is slightly better than the iPhone 12 Pro.

The Tensor chip isn’t really an endurance champion and the 90Hz display can also drain more battery especially in apps that make use of that high refresh rate. Both phones will not disappoint you though as Apple’s optimization is pretty good. However, you’ll have to charge the Pixel 6 less frequently. Speaking of charging, the iPhone 12 Pro supports fast-charging up to 20W while the Pixel 6 can go up to 30W. Both phones have wireless charging too with the iPhone 12 Pro capping out at 15W via MagSafe and the Pixel 6 going till 21W. A huge advantage that the Pixel 6 has over the iPhone 12 Pro is that it charges via USB-C instead of the proprietary lightning connector on the iPhone.

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

Pixel 6 vs iPhone 13

The Pixel 6 starts at $699 in the US, while the iPhone 12 Pro can be more expensive depending on where you get it from and in what condition. Other than that, there’s not a lot of differences between the two phones. Both of them have great cameras, good battery life, 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 is better at gaming, taking videos, and has a compact form factor. 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 has a bigger display with no notch, an equally good set of cameras, a unique design, slightly better battery life, 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 2X telephoto lens, the Pixel 6 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 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 which you might find cheaper than the iPhone 12 Pro.

    Google Pixel 6
    The Pixel 6 comes with Google's new Tensor chip, a modern design, and flagship cameras.
    iPhone 12 Pro
    The iPhone 12 Pro 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 or the iPhone 12 Pro? Let us know in the comments below! You can check out the best Pixel 6 deals if you plan to buy the phone and also the best Pixel 6 cases or the best iPhone 12 Pro cases 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.