Should you buy Apple’s iPhone or wait for Google?

Should you buy Apple’s iPhone or wait for Google?

2020’s smartphone season perhaps wasn’t the most exciting for Pixel enthusiasts, with Google turning to a more mid-range market for the Pixel 5. But with 2021’s return of premium Pixel hardware with the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro and the latest launch of the iPhone 13 series, the two titans of tech — Google and Apple — are preparing for an exciting face-off at the high-end of the market.

Of course, we’re still waiting for Google to reveal the Pixel 6 series fully, but the company has already given away not just the name but a slew of core specifications. Enough to give us enough a few early comparison points to Apple’s newly announced product range.

If you’re looking to buy a premium smartphone before next year’s flagships roll around, the iPhone 13 and Pixel 6 are sure to be on your list. But should you grab Apple’s offering today or wait just that bit longer for Google’s latest hardware? Find out as we pit the Google Pixel 6 vs. iPhone 13 in this early comparison.

Why you should buy the Apple iPhone 13

iPhone 13 Pro back cameras

Besides the fact that you can order the latest iPhone from September 17, and you’ll have to wait a few weeks or months for the Pixel 6, Apple’s latest smartphone offers some truly compelling hardware that might immediately convince you. This is especially true if you’re prepared to stump up for the iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max models. Apple seems to make its Pro iPhones increasingly more accomplished than their regular and Mini variants, particularly in the camera department.

To start, though, let’s look at the display. The Super Retina XDR OLED display with 120Hz “ProMotion” capabilities (read: it has a high refresh rate) finally closes the gap on developments we’ve seen at the innovative end of the Android smartphone space for the past few years. Bigger batteries also look set to dispel previous iPhone criticisms, most notably for the Mini model. Similarly, Apple’s A15 Bionic SoC is likely to lead the processing pack in terms of sheer CPU and GPU grunt even into next year. However, that claim may be hotly contested by next-gen SoCs from Qualcomm and Samsung.

With a bigger battery and new cameras, Apple is improving its well-tested formula.

That’s because Apple’s performance improvements appear rather muted this year, with the only notable gains seen in the five-core graphics setup inside the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max. While we have high hopes for Google’s Tensor SoC in terms of AI and imaging, we’re not expecting it to knock Apple’s chip off its performance perch. Apple’s deep level of silicon customization keeps its nose out in front of the competition. Still, benchmarks may be closer than previously expected — especially for the four-core GPU inside the iPhone 13 and 13 Mini.

Of course, iPhones are known for their photography capabilities, too, and Apple is upping its game this year, although only the Pro and Pro Max models are set for meaningful upgrades. Apple includes a larger main sensor for improved low light performance and a 3x telephoto camera (up from 2x and 2.5x) for longer distance and portrait shots in these models. The company also promises improved HDR shooting thanks to its updated ISP and Cinematic Mode for depth-of-field video. We’ll have to wait to take these phones out for a spin, but the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max make some big claims about their camera setups.

The iPhone 13 only marginally improves on the iPhone 12, leaving itself open for the Pixel 6 to close the gap.

With the core specs covered, Apple isn’t shy on the bells and whistles either. You’ll find an IP68 dust and water resistance rating, MagSafe wireless charging and accessories, NFC, Face ID sensors, and Ceramic Glass protection. That’s pretty much everything you can cram into a flagship smartphone, if not exactly ground-breaking, making the iPhone 13 series a solid choice for those looking for a well-rounded package.

Bottom line, it’s hard to go wrong with any entry in the iPhone 13 series, particularly if you’re after solid performance and camera capabilities. That said, the range doesn’t change too much more than last year’s formula, which may disappoint those looking for something more exciting or those who already own an iPhone 12 series handset.

iPhone 13 ProiPhone 13 Pro Max
DisplayiPhone 13 Pro:

6.1-inch Super Retina XDR OLED
2,532 x 1,170 resolution
ProMotion 120Hz
HDR, True Tone
The wide color (P3)
2,000,000:1 contrast ratio
1,000 nits max brightness (typical); 1200 nits max brightness (HDR)
Ceramic Shield front

iPhone 13 Pro Max:

6.7-inch Super Retina XDR OLED
2,778 x 1,284 resolution
ProMotion 120Hz
HDR, True Tone
The wide color (P3)
2,000,000:1 contrast ratio
1,000 nits max brightness (typical); 1200 nits max brightness (HDR)
Ceramic Shield front

ProcessoriPhone 13 Pro:

Apple A15 Bionic

iPhone 13 Pro Max:

Apple A15 Bionic

StorageiPhone 13 Pro:

128 / 256 / 512GB and 1TB

iPhone 13 Pro Max:

128 / 256 / 512GB and 1TB

BatteryiPhone 13 Pro:

Qi wireless charging up to 7.5W
Up to 50% charge in around 30 minutes with 20W adapter or higher (sold separately)

MagSafe:
Wireless charging up to 15W
Magnet array
Alignment magnet
Accessory Identification NFC
Magnetometer

iPhone 13 Pro Max:

Qi wireless charging up to 7.5W
Up to 50% charge in around 30 minutes with 20W adapter or higher (sold separately)

MagSafe:
Wireless charging up to 15W
Magnet array
Alignment magnet
Accessory Identification NFC
Magnetometer

CamerasiPhone 13 Pro:

Rear:
-Wide-angle 12MP, ƒ/1.5, dual OIS, 7-element lens, 100% Focus Pixels, Night Mode
-Ultra-wide 12MP, ƒ/1.8, 120° field of view, 5-element lens, lens correction, Night Mode
-Telephoto 12MP, ƒ/2.8, dual OIS, 6-element lens

3x optical zoom in, 2x optical zoom out, 6x optical zoom range, digital zoom up to 15x, Deep Fusion, Smart HDR 3, Apple ProRAW

Video:
HDR video with Dolby Vision up to 60fps
4K video at 24fps, 30fps, or 60fps
1080p HD video at 30fps or 60fps
720p HD video at 30fps
OIS for video (Wide)
3x optical zoom in, 2x optical zoom out; 6x optical zoom range, digital zoom up to 9x

Front:
-TrueDepth 12MP, ƒ/2.2

Night Mode, Deep Fusion, Smart HDR 3

iPhone 13 Pro Max:

Rear:
-Wide-angle 12MP, ƒ/1.5, dual OIS, 7-element lens, 100% Focus Pixels, Night Mode
-Ultra-wide 12MP, ƒ/1.8, 120° field of view, 5-element lens, lens correction, Night Mode
-Telephoto 12MP, ƒ/2.8, dual OIS, 6-element lens

3x optical zoom in, 2x optical zoom out, 6x optical zoom range, digital zoom up to 15x, Deep Fusion, Smart HDR 3, Apple ProRAW

Video:
HDR video with Dolby Vision up to 60fps
4K video at 24fps, 30fps, or 60fps
1080p HD video at 30fps or 60fps
720p HD video at 30fps
OIS for video (Wide)
3x optical zoom in, 2x optical zoom out; 6x optical zoom range, digital zoom up to 9x

Front:
-TrueDepth 12MP, ƒ/2.2

Night Mode, Deep Fusion, Smart HDR 3

ConnectivityiPhone 13 Pro:

5G (sub‑6GHz and mmWave)
Gigabit LTE with 4×4 MIMO and LAA
Wi‑Fi 6 (802.11ax) with 2×2 MIMO
Bluetooth 5
Ultra-Wideband chip for spatial awareness
NFC
Express Cards with the power reserve
GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS, and BeiDou
Digital compass
Wi‑Fi
Cellular
iBeacon microlocation

iPhone 13 Pro Max:

5G (sub‑6GHz and mmWave)
Gigabit LTE with 4×4 MIMO and LAA
Wi‑Fi 6 (802.11ax) with 2×2 MIMO
Bluetooth 5
Ultra-Wideband chip for spatial awareness
NFC
Express Cards with the power reserve
GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS, and BeiDou
Digital compass
Wi‑Fi
Cellular
iBeacon microlocation

SensorsiPhone 13 Pro:

Face ID
LiDAR Scanner
Barometer
Three‑axis gyro
Accelerometer
Proximity sensor
Ambient light sensor

iPhone 13 Pro Max:

Face ID
LiDAR Scanner
Barometer
Three‑axis gyro
Accelerometer
Proximity sensor
Ambient light sensor

SoftwareiPhone 13 Pro:

iOS 15

iPhone 13 Pro Max:

iOS 15

DurabilityiPhone 13 Pro:

IP68

iPhone 13 Pro Max:

IP68

Dimensions and weightiPhone 13 Pro:

146.7 x 71.5 x 7.65mm
204g

iPhone 13 Pro Max:

160.8 x 78.1 x 7.65mm
240g

ColorsiPhone 13 Pro:

Graphite, Gold, Silver, and Sierra Blue

iPhone 13 Pro Max:

Graphite, Gold, Silver, and Sierra Blue

In the boxiPhone 13 Pro:

iPhone
USB‑C to Lightning cable
Documentation

iPhone 13 Pro Max:

iPhone
USB‑C to Lightning cable
Documentation

Why you should wait for the Google Pixel 6

google pixel 6 pro camera

While final Pixel 6 and 6 Pro details aren’t expected to land until sometime later this Fall, Google has already spilled the beans on some of the handsets’ core specifications. So far, they look pretty tasty.

Confirmed specs for the standard Pixel 6 include a 90Hz 6.4-inch FHD+ display, an in-display fingerprint scanner, a custom Google Tensor SoC, and a main and ultra-wide camera combination. The Pixel 6 Pro upgrades this setup with a 120Hz 6.7-inch QHD+ panel, along with a main, ultra-wide, and 4x telephoto camera setup. Based on previous releases, we’re also expecting wireless charging, IP68 dust and water resistance rating, 5G connectivity, and possibly some new haptic features. If you’ve been longing for a return to high-end Google hardware after the more mid-range Pixel 5, the Pixel 6 should please.

Between the regular and Pro models, Google’s core specifications look set to be a very good rival for the entire iPhone 13 series. That’s a bit of a surprise for a brand that’s never been too focused on raw specs. The Pixel 6 Pro may even end up having a better display than Apple’s top-end model, although Face ID, LiDAR, and UWB perhaps give the iPhone 13 a few extra bells and whistles beyond Google’s hardware formula. That said, we’re expecting the Pixel 6 series and the Pro, in particular, to be photography powerhouses that might have the edge on the iPhone 13 series.

Google’s camera technology looks poised to leapfrog Apple’s improvements.

The Google Pixel 6 is rumored to pack a larger 50MP Samsung GN1 main camera sensor to address issues from the Pixel 5 and 4a series’. The GN1 boasts 2.4μm binned pixel sizes that would exceed the 1.9μm pixels inside the sensor Apple has picked for its more expensive iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max. Paired up with an ultra-wide lens to fit more in, the Pixel 6 will rival and quite possibly exceed Apple’s iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Mini. Meanwhile, the Pixel 6 Pro sports a 4x zoom camera that exceeds the long-range capabilities of the iPhone 13 Pro Max’s 3x optical zoom. Combined with Google’s computational photography smarts powered by the Tensor SoC, we’re anticipating industry-leading photography from the Pixel 6. Be it HDR, portraits, night shooting, and more.

If you’re on the lookout for the best camera phone money can buy, we’d suggest waiting to see what the Pixel 6 Pro has in store.

Google Pixel 6 vs. iPhone 13: Wait or buy now?

Apple iPhone 12 Pro vs Google Pixel 5 EOY 2020

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Of course, hardware isn’t everything. Google will offer a bloat-free software experience with Android 12 along with some of the best smart assistant features around. Those looking for high-end hardware backed by Google’s pure vision for its Android OS will want to wait that little longer for the Pixel 6. Speaking of software, the Pixel 6 will see core OS updates until at least October 2024, possibly out to 2026, if some rumors are to be believed. If the latter is true, the Pixel 6 series will offer unrivaled longevity in the Android space.

However, iPhones typically enjoy an even longer six or seven years of major OS updates, possibly more in the future. The iPhone 13 series all sport the company’s iOS 15, complete with Apple’s latest software bells and whistles. Including redesigned notifications, spatial audio, and revamped privacy features. Google has a good reputation in the Android ecosystem, but when it comes to product longevity, at least from a software perspective, Apple remains the company to beat.

The iPhone 13 series is available to pre-order from Friday, September 17, meaning you can go out and get it all ready. With pricing ranging from $699 to $1,599, Apple has a model to suit most budgets depending on your model and storage. But at the high-end, Apple’s best tech remains more expensive compared to its Android rivals.

Google’s Pixel 6 series isn’t anticipated to arrive until later this Fall, so it’s not a viable choice if you need a phone right now. We don’t have pricing information yet, but the Pro model is said to be “expensive.” This suggests prices could end up around the $1,000 mark but isn’t expected to cost as much as the most premium iPhone. The regular Pixel 6 should be more affordable and could be worth the wait for a reasonably priced phone with an excellent camera that exceeds the standard iPhone 13 and Mini. However, it won’t be quite as low cost as the $499 Pixel 5a.

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