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Google Pixel 8 vs Apple iPhone 15: Which should you buy?

If you're not willing to take a big leap, it probably comes down to which platform you've sunk the most money into.
By

Published onJanuary 26, 2024

In a sense, there’s no more dramatic a battle in the platform wars than pitting Google’s Pixel 8 vs Apple’s iPhone 15. While both Apple and Google have higher-spec devices — the Pixel 8 Pro and the iPhone 15 Pro/Pro Max, respectively — these aren’t just the latest first-party devices for Android and iOS, they’re also what more people are likely to buy, being hundreds of dollars cheaper than their Pro counterparts. So putting aside Android Authority‘s bias for a moment, which phone should you buy if you’re flexible on the platform question?

Google Pixel 8 vs Apple iPhone 15: At a glance

  • The Pixel 8 is cheaper than the iPhone 15, starting at $699 versus $799, but lacks a 512GB storage option.
  • Both phones support USB-C, but the Pixel 8 can charge slightly faster in wired and wireless modes, even if full wireless speed requires a 2nd gen Pixel Stand.
  • While both phones share similar rear camera systems, the Pixel 8 technically edges ahead with a 50MP main camera and laser-detect autofocus.
  • The Pixel 8's display is barely larger at 6.2 inches next to the iPhone 15's 6.1.
  • Although the iPhone 15 uses the same A16 Bionic processor found in the older iPhone 14 Pro, it should hold up against Google's Tensor G3 under most circumstances.
  • The Pixel 8's biggest selling point for some may be unique software-based photography features such as Face Unblur and the Magic Eraser.

Google Pixel 8 vs Apple iPhone 15: Specs

Google Pixel 8Apple iPhone 15
Display
Google Pixel 8
- 6.2-inch Actua OLED
- 60-120Hz refresh rate
- Up to 2,000 nits peak brightness
- 1080 x 2400 resolution (428ppi)
Apple iPhone 15
- 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR OLED
- 60Hz refresh rate
- Up to 2,000 nits peak brightness
- 1179 x 2556 resolution (461ppi)
Processor
Google Pixel 8
Google Tensor G3
Apple iPhone 15
Apple A16 Bionic
RAM
Google Pixel 8
8GB LPDDR5X
Apple iPhone 15
6GB (type unknown)
Storage
Google Pixel 8
128 or 256GB
No expandable storage
Apple iPhone 15
128, 256, or 512GB
No expandable storage
Power
Google Pixel 8
4,485mAh ("minimum") or 4,575mAh ("typical") battery
27W USB-C wired charging
18W wireless charging with Pixel Stand 2nd gen, 12W with regular Qi chargers
Reverse Qi charging (Battery Share)
Apple iPhone 15
3,349mAh battery
20W USB-C wired charging
15W wireless charging with MagSafe, 7.5W with regular Qi chargers
4.5W reverse wired charging
Cameras
Google Pixel 8
Rear:
- 50MP wide, 1.2μm, f/1.68, OIS, 2x "optical quality" zoom, 8x digital zoom
- 12MP ultra-wide, 1.25μm, f/2.2, auto-focus
- Laser-detect auto-focus

Front:
- 10.5MP, 1.22μm, f/2.2, fixed focus
Apple iPhone 15
Rear:
- 48MP wide, 1.0µm, f/1.6, OIS, 2x "optical-quality" zoom, 10x digital zoom
- 12MP ultra-wide, f/2.4
- Focus Pixels

Front:
- 12MP f/1.9
Audio
Google Pixel 8
Stereo speakers
Spatial audio (with compatible apps and/or headphones)
No 3.5mm jack
Apple iPhone 15
Stereo speakers
Spatial audio (with compatible apps and/or headphones)
No 3.5mm jack
IP rating
Google Pixel 8
IP68
Apple iPhone 15
IP68
Biometrics
Google Pixel 8
Face Unlock or Fingerprint Unlock (using under-display sensor)
Apple iPhone 15
FaceID
SIM
Google Pixel 8
Dual SIM (nano SIM and eSIM)
Apple iPhone 15
eSIM-only (US) or nano SIM and eSIM (other countries)
Software
Google Pixel 8
Android 14
Apple iPhone 15
iOS 17
Dimensions and weight
Google Pixel 8
Dimensions:
- 150.5 x 70.8 x 8.9mm

Weight:
- 187g
Apple iPhone 15
Dimensions:
- 147.6 x 71.6 x 7.8mm

Weight:
- 171g
Colors
Google Pixel 8
Obsidian, Hazel, Rose
Apple iPhone 15
Blue, pink, yellow, green, black

As you can see, the phones aren’t far apart in most respects. It seems like Apple and Google were well aware of what each other would have on the market by fall 2023. Even the phones’ displays are each capable of 2,000 nits of peak brightness outdoors, although the iPhone 15 tends to be slightly brighter under normal conditions.

It’s worth noting that as is usual for Apple, some iPhone 15 specs that seem weak on paper — mainly RAM and battery capacity — may not be in practice. Because Apple has airtight hardware and software integration, it’s able to optimize performance in a way Google can only dream of, despite its Tensor chips.

The Pixel 8 and iPhone 15 aren't that far apart, especially because of Apple's software optimizations.

Something we left out of our specs is that while both phones now support USB-C, the iPhone 15 only supports slow USB 2.0 data speeds, whereas the Pixel 8 is equipped with USB 3.2. Google does make you buy a separate cable to exploit that, yet if you regularly transfer gigabytes of video or other files, you may automatically need the Pixel 8. There are also differences in charging speeds — more on that in a later section.

We haven’t done a direct comparison of Google’s Tensor G3 processor versus Apple’s A16 Bionic, but the A16’s performance is well-documented, since it was previously used in the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max. As a rule we’d expect comparable performance, though it’s worth noting that the G3 is capable of running some cloud AI models on-device. Apple is still playing catch-up in the AI world, and it shows. The Pixel 8 is an overall “smarter” device, thanks to software features we’ll cover later on.

The Pixel 8 has both a nano-SIM slot and eSIM support. That’s also true of the iPhone 15 in most countries, but US models of the device are limited to eSIM.

Google Pixel 8 vs Apple iPhone 15: Size comparison

There’s not much difference between the phones in size. The Pixel 8 does of course have a slightly larger 6.2-inch display, but in terms of other dimensions, it’s not that much bigger.

Where you might notice things a little is in thickness and weight. The Pixel 8 comes in at 8.9mm thick versus the iPhone 15’s 7.8mm, and it’s a bit heavier at 187g. That might make the iPhone 15 marginally more comfortable in the hand and easier to fit in a pocket.

Yes, both phones have an IP68 rating. You shouldn’t shower or swim with them though, at least not without a fully water-sealed case.

Google Pixel 8 vs Apple iPhone 15: Cameras

google pixel 8 vs iphone 15 cameras in hand
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

In terms of camera specs, the products are once again extremely close. The iPhone 15 is Apple’s first non-Pro model with a 48 megapixel main camera, just shy of the Pixel 8’s 50 megapixels. Apple and Google both claim 2x “optical-quality” zoom, although what they really mean is that their sensors can do a 2x crop without a noticeable quality setback. The companies have yet to put true telephoto lenses on an entry-level or mid-range device — once again, we’re stuck with an ultrawide as the secondary. Anything beyond 2x zoom is aided by computational trickery and won’t necessarily look as good.

In fact, Apple and Google each rely on a lot of continually evolving processing tech. That’s especially true in the case of Google, which offers a variety of post-shot AI enhancement options that Apple doesn’t, such as Best Take, Magic Editor, Magic Eraser, and Face Unblur. That, combined with things like an Astrophotography mode, could push the Pixel 8 over the top for people who rely on their phone for all their photos.

Google's photo wizardry could be a deciding factor for some people.

Apple is still known for having some of the best camera tech in the industry however, so no one should be disappointed with an iPhone. When it comes to video, the iPhone 15 can go toe-to-toe or better, supporting 4K resolution up to 60fps, and matching the Pixel 8’s hardware and software stabilization (on the main lens). The iPhone 15 can even shoot in Dolby Vision, whereas the Pixel is limited to “just” 10-bit HDR. The main video advantages the Pixel 8 seems to hold (on the surface) are a macro focus recording mode and Audio Magic Eraser for deleting unwanted sounds.

Check out our full reviews for sample photo galleries.

Google Pixel 8 vs Apple iPhone 15: Battery life and charging

iPhone 15 USB C power charging
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

As expected, Apple seems to be outperforming the battery specs it has on paper. Although the iPhone 15 is equipped with a 3,349mAh pack, nominally much smaller than the one in the Pixel 8, Apple claims the device can handle up to 20 hours of non-stop video, whereas Google will only promise “beyond 24-hour” battery life when using a mix of functions. In practice both phones should have some charge left at the end of a day, but not enough that you can skip charging overnight. That’s par for the course.

One reason you might prefer the Pixel 8 is its Extreme Battery Saver mode. This goes beyond the low-power mode most smartphones have, shutting down all but the most essential functions to push battery life up to 72 hours. You’ll want to avoid using it, but if you’ve ever been worried about how long your phone will last after a long flight or an extended power outage, it could be appealing.

The Pixel 8 can technically charge faster, but only under specific conditions.

The Pixel 8’s 27W wired charging is faster than the regular iPhone 15, though not the 15 Pro or Pro Max, and you’ll still need to buy your own USB Power Delivery PPS-compatible adapter to make that happen (there’s no charger in the box). Likewise, while the phone can handle 18W wireless charging, that’s only with Google’s 2nd gen Pixel Stand. You’ll max out at 12W with a conventional Qi charger, which is below the 15W the iPhone 15 can handle with a certified MagSafe accessory. Google also doesn’t appear to have plans to support Qi2 on the Pixel 8, whereas that’s already in the works for the iPhone 15 lineup.

Bear in mind that the iPhone 15 is limited to 7.5W with Qi chargers, and doesn’t offer an equivalent of the Pixel 8’s Battery Share reverse wireless charging. The only reverse charging it has is wired, and even then it’s meant mostly for Apple Watches and AirPods. You can potentially use it with other devices if they support the USB-PD spec.

Google Pixel 8 vs Apple iPhone 15: Price and availability

  • Google Pixel 8 (128GB): $699
  • Google Pixel 8 (256GB): $759
  • Apple iPhone 15 (128GB): $799
  • Apple iPhone 15 (256GB): $899
  • Apple iPhone 15 (512GB): $1,099

Though Apple has mercifully avoided hiking prices this year, there’s no doubt that it considers the iPhone 15  a “premium” product, given its $799 entry fee. If you shoot a lot of photos and video you can even spring $1,099 for a 512GB model, though at that point you’re spending as much as you would on a 256GB iPhone 15 Pro.

Apple iPhone 15Apple iPhone 15
Apple iPhone 15
Excellent update commitment • Top-tier build quality • USB-C port, finally!
MSRP: $799.00
The entry-level iPhone, now with USB-C
The iPhone 15 is the most accessible model of four iPhone options for 2023. With a 6.1-inch display running at 60Hz, the A16 Bionic SoC, and up to 512GB of storage, this is a capable phone for most users.

The Pixel 8 only has 128 and 256GB storage options, but slides in cheaper on both counts. That makes it a pretty good deal — unless of course going with an Android phone might sacrifice some of the Apple ecosystem in your household. More on that in a moment.

Google Pixel 8Google Pixel 8
AA Recommended
Google Pixel 8
Bright display • Upgraded face-unlock • Improved camera
MSRP: $699.00
A bright display from Google's 2023 flagship phone
The Google Pixel 8 introduces the new Actua display, a 6.2-inch panel that's 42% brighter than the Pixel 7. Backed by the fully updated Tensor G3 chipset, and a new 50MP camera, this promises to be one of the more exciting Pixel phones.

Depending on where you live, you might also have to wait longer for the Pixel 8. Although both phones launched in fall 2023, the iPhone 15 debuted in 40-plus countries. Months later, the Pixel 8 is still limited to Austria, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, the UK, and the US.

Google Pixel 8 vs Apple iPhone 15: Which should you buy?

Based purely on features, it’s hard to go wrong with either. They each have solid performance, and may even dispel some of the interest in buying their Pro versions now that you can get 2x digital zoom without hurting photo quality. We’d steer towards the Pixel 8 for reasons like price, AI tech, a bigger display, and faster wired charging, but the iPhone 15 has things to recommend such as MagSafe, build quality, top-notch video recording, and the convenience of an integrated Apple ecosystem (assuming you own other Apple products).

If you're already invested in one ecosystem or the other, it's probably safest to stick with whichever phone belongs to it.

Speaking of which, the elephant in the room is that many people are now fully bought into either the Android or Apple ecosystems, and choosing one sacrifices the advantages of the other. Android users have an easier time switching phone and accessory brands, for instance, as well as increased customization options, and tie-ins with the Google services even iPhone owners users every day. Apple’s cross-product integration is very attractive however, allowing devices like iPhones, AirPods, Apple Watches, and Macs to work seamlessly with each other (most of the time). There’s a bit of that on the Android side, but even brands like Google and Samsung are fighting to compete.

Would you rather buy the Google Pixel 8 or Apple's iPhone 15?

222 votes

If you’re already invested in one ecosystem or the other, it’s probably safest to stick with whichever phone is attached to it. If something has nudged you towards making a platform switch however, now’s a pretty good time to change lanes, particularly since we finally have interchangeable power cables.

Google Pixel 8 vs Apple iPhone 15: FAQ

The iPhone 15 shipped on September 22, 2023, while the Pixel 8 arrived October 12 the same year.

Yes, although the base iPhone 15 only supports USB 2.0 data speeds, not USB 3.1 like the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max.

No. They do come with USB-C cables.

Yes. The Pixel supports up to 18W with a 2nd gen Pixel Stand, or 12W with most Qi accessories. The iPhone 15 supports 15W with MagSafe chargers or 7.5W with Qi. Only the iPhone 15 is slated to get Qi2 compatibility.

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