This week, Apple announced a gang of new products, including the new iPhone 15. Of course, that means it’s now time to enter Apple’s latest flagship into the arena with Google’s (at the time of writing) latest flagship.
That’s right, I’m here today to compare the iPhone 15 to the Google Pixel 7. One is already an excellent smartphone, while the other is more than likely going to be pretty excellent, too, when it comes out. Both have solid specs, impressive cameras, and fun features. But you can only have one smartphone.
Before we get down in the weeds, I should note that this comparison will focus on the base iPhone 15, not the Plus or the Pro. With that in mind, let’s dig in.
iPhone 15 vs. Pixel 7: Specs
Obviously, what’s on the inside matters more than anything when choosing a smartphone for yourself. Here’s how the basic specs compare between the iPhone 15 and Pixel 7:
Pixel 7: 6.3-inch display with 1080×2400 resolution and 90Hz refresh rate
iPhone 15: 6.1-inch display with 1179×2556 resolution and 60Hz refresh rate
Pixel 7: Google Tensor G2 processor
iPhone 15: Apple A16 Bionic processor
Pixel 7: 128GB or 256GB storage options
iPhone 15: 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB storage options
Pixel 7: USB-C charging port
iPhone 15: USB-C charging port
Let’s talk about displays first, as I feel fairly strongly that Google wins on that front. The difference in resolution isn’t big enough to really matter to most people, and the 0.2-inch size difference comes down to personal taste. But that refresh rate is a big deal. A flagship phone should really have a bare minimum refresh rate of 90Hz for smooth scrolling, and that’s what Google has provided. Apple, on the other hand, is still stuck in 60Hz land on the base iPhone 15.
That’s a shame because these two phones are very comparable otherwise. Apple’s expanded storage options are a definite plus over what Google offers, but other than that, it’s kind of a wash. Both use in-house processors that provide excellent performance and both offer USB-C charging ports for the first time, at least on Apple’s end. Speaking of which, it’s also hard to compare battery life without having an iPhone 15 on hand. Pixel 7 is rated for 24 hours of usage, and it more or less hits that goal on a practical basis. Hopefully the iPhone 15 is competitive in that regard.
One other thing to note is that iPhone 15 has the unique Dynamic Island display feature, which Google’s handset obviously lacks. Dynamic Island is great for notifications and other practical matters like tracking flight information. Pixel 7, on the other hand, has to use good old-fashioned push notifications for the same purpose. That’s fine, but it’s not as fancy.
Winner: Pixel 7 if you care about refresh rate, iPhone 15 if you don’t
iPhone 15 vs. Pixel 7: Cameras
Comparing the two camera systems that Apple and Google are putting out into the world is tough to do since we haven’t actually gotten significant hands-on time with the iPhone 15 yet. However, it’s still possible to render a verdict if you look at how they compare numerically:
Pixel 7: Two lenses, a 50MP main lens and a 12MP ultra-wide lens
iPhone 15: Two lenses, a 48MP main lens and a 12MP ultra-wide lens
Purely in terms of megapixel count, the two camera arrays are almost identical. However, that’s long since stopped being the main metric by which we judge smartphone cameras. Nowadays, it’s all about software features, and Google may have a leg up in that regard.
Both phones are capable of nighttime photography and portrait photography, which is great. However, Google’s lineup of software enhancements beats Apple’s, at least on paper. The Pixel 7 has the ever-handy Magic Eraser tool, which genuinely feels like magic. It can also unblur blurry photos, though I should note that feature is a little finicky. That said, iPhone 15 doesn’t have that at all, and something is always better than nothing.
To be clear, the iPhone 15’s cameras will almost certainly be excellent. Apple isn’t in the business of making bad cameras. It’s just that Google might be a little better at it.
Winner: Pixel 7
iPhone 15 vs. Pixel 7: Price and verdict
Comparing prices is a little unfair here. The Pixel 7 is almost a year old and its successor is on the horizon, while the iPhone 15 isn’t out yet. As such, Apple is going to look way worse in this department if you don’t apply that context. Anyway:
Google’s Pixel phones have always been a great value and that’s not any different here. On the flip side, everyone who likes Apple products understands that you have to pay an “Apple tax” to get them. Of course Pixel is a better value than iPhone. But that doesn’t mean this is no contest.
Pixel 7 has a better refresh rate, but iPhone 15 has Dynamic Island. Apple has better storage options, while Google’s array of photography software tricks is more expansive than Apple’s. Looking at this competition from a purely financial point of view, Google wins in a landslide. But it’s not that simple. There are great things about the iPhone 15 and great things about the Pixel 7. There’s no way to lose.
Winner: Pixel 7 if you want to save money, iPhone 15 if you don’t want to be judged for having green text bubbles