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Pixel 6 vs. iPhone 13: Which phone is better?

Pixel 6 vs. iPhone 13
Pixel 6 vs. iPhone 13 (Image credit: Future)

Welcome to the Pixel 6 vs. iPhone 13 face-off where we attempt to answer an age-old question: Android or iOS? Google unveiled the Pixel 6 on Oct. 19, undercutting its competition with a spectacular starting price of $599. Even the iPhone 13 mini — the line’s tiniest phone with base-level specs — is pricier than that, starting at $730.

But of course, as we all know, cheaper isn’t always better and costliness doesn’t always indicate superiority, either. As such, we’re going to compare the Pixel 6 and iPhone 13 in a slew of categories that matter to the average consumer, including battery life, cameras and more. 

We anticipate that the iPhone 13 will annihilate the Pixel 6 on the performance benchmarks, but I wouldn’t allow that to sway your decision. Apple’s A15 Bionic chip is the world’s most powerful smartphone processor, but truth be told, most of that power will be underutilized — few people have workloads that use the upper limits of that power. That being said, this match is reminiscent of the beloved David and Goliath saga with the Pixel 6 as the underdog. 

Can the Google phone pull off an upset and take down the iPhone? Or will Apple meet our expectations and bulldoze the Android device? Only way to find out! Stick around and read this vicious Pixel 6 vs. iPhone 13 showdown.

Google Pixel 6 vs. Apple iPhone 13
Pixel 6iPhone 13
Price$599$799
Display6.4-inch, 1080 x 2400 OLED, 90Hz6.1-inch, 2532 x 1170, 60 Hz
CPUGoogle TensorA15 Bionic
RAM8GB4GB
StorageStarts at 128GBStarts at 128GB
Front camera8MP, f/2.012 MP, f/2.2
Battery size4,614 mAh3,227 mAh battery
Water resistanceYes, IP68Yes, IP68
ColorsStormy Black, Kinda Coral, Sorta SeafoamRed, Starlight, Midnight, Blue, Pink
Dimensions6.2 x 2.9 x 0.4 inches5.78 x 2.81 x 0.30 inches
Weight7.3 ounces6.14 ounces

Pixel 6 vs. iPhone 13: price and value

The Google Pixel 6 is determined to steal the iPhone 13’s shine by seducing consumers with a more alluring price tag. An unlocked device starts at $599 and comes with 8GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, Google’s custom-made Tensor chip and a 6.4-inch, 2400 x 1080-pixel display. If you want more storage (256GB), you’ll have to shell out an extra $100.

Google Pixel 6

Google Pixel 6 (Image credit: Google)

If you connect the iPhone 13 with one of the big four carriers (i.e. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile or Verizon), you can get it for $799. If not, you’ll have to shell out $829. The iPhone 13 comes with 4GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, the lightning-fast A15 bionic and a 6.1-inch, 2532 x 1170-pixel display. If 128GB doesn’t do it for you, you can upgrade to a 256GB variant for $899 (or $929 for an unlocked device).

Of course, the Pixel 6 is the winner here in this round, offering competitive pricing and more RAM.

Winner: Pixel 6 

Pixel 6 vs. iPhone 13: design 

The funky black band that wraps around the Pixel 6 reminds me of a tennis player wearing a sweatband. The Roger Federer look is Google’s design solution for the Pixel 6’s dual, rear cameras. It’s definitely unique. Other smartphone manufacturers opt to place their camera bumps on the upper-left corners of their devices, but Google clearly wants to stand out of the crowd. I’m not a fan of the design, but I appreciate Google’s determination to not blend into a sea of clones.

Pixel 6

Google Pixel 6 (Image credit: Google)

Otherwise, the Google Pixel 6’s body is pretty standard with a slate-esque form factor. On the right side, you’ll find a volume rocker and the power button. The left side features a SIM tray. On the bottom is a USB-C port for charging.

The Pixel 6 comes in three colors: Stormy Black, Kinda Coral and Sorta Seafoam. 

When I reviewed the iPhone 13, I said that it reminds me of a premium thick candy bar wrapped in glossy foil — and I stand by that. It has an attractive, flat-edge design that harkens back to the iPhone 4 days. Unlike the Pixel 6, the iPhone 13’s dual lenses are placed inside a squircle shaped camera module on the upper-left corner. On the left side, you’ll find a SIM card slot, volume buttons and a mute switch. On the right is the power button. On the bottom, you’ll find the Lightning port that Apple can’t seem to let go of (it’s time to move on to USB-C!).

iPhone 13

iPhone 13 (Image credit: Future)

The iPhone 13 has more colors to choose from: Pink, Blue, Midnight, Starlight and PRODUCT(RED).

The iPhone 13, sporting dimensions of 5.8 x 2.8 x 0.3 inches and weighing 6.1 ounces, is thinner and lighter than the Pixel 6 (6.2 x 3 x 0.35 inches, 7.3 ounces).

Winner: iPhone 13

Pixel 6 vs. iPhone 13: display 

The Pixel 6, packed with a 6.4-inch, 2400 x 1080-pixel, AMOLED display, has a larger screen compared to the iPhone 13’s 6.1-inch, 2532 x 1170-pixel, OLED display. However, the iPhone 13 has a screen-to-body ratio of 87%, offering more screen real estate compared to the Pixel 6, which has a screen-to-body ratio of 84%

Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro

Pixel 6 (left) and Pixel 6 Pro (Image credit: Laptop Mag/Sean Riley)

The Pixel 6 outshines the iPhone 13 with a 90Hz refresh rate while the iPhone 13 isn’t as zippy with its 60Hz panel. However, the iPhone 13 screen has an advantage in that it’s a ceramic-shield display: the world’s toughest smartphone glass. So if you’re a klutz like me, the iPhone 13 will be more forgiving to accidental drops.

We also tested the brilliance of both screens. As it turns out, the iPhone 13 has a brighter display at 795 nits while the Pixel 6 is dimmer at 497 nits. If you’re outside during a sunny day, you may find that the Pixel 6’s screen is more difficult to see compared to the iPhone 13.

iPhone 13

iPhone 13 (Image credit: Future)

The iPhone 13’s display also covers more of the DCI-P3 color gamut at 78% while the Pixel 6 covers slightly less (71%). The Apple phone is also more color accurate with a Delta-E score of 0.26 (close to zero is better) while the Android device served up a score of 0.28.

With the iPhone 13 being brighter and more colorful, it is the clear winner in this round.

Winner: iPhone 13 

Pixel 6 vs. iPhone 13: performance and graphics 

The Pixel 6 might as well walk right out of the ring right now; it’s in deep trouble. Apple said that the A15 Bionic SoC is the fastest mobile chip on the market — and it did not lie. On the Geekbench 5 test, the iPhone 13 smoked its competitors with a spectacular score of 4,436, so there’s no way in hell the Google phone has a chance in beating the iPhone 13 on performance.

iPhone 13

iPhone 13 (Image credit: Future)

As expected, when we tested Google’s first custom processor, the Tensor chip, its Geekbench 5 score was only 2,696. That’s a little more than half of what the iPhone 13 offers. But as I mentioned at the outset, the A15 Bionic chip is overkill. It’s a performance beast, but your phone doesn’t need all that power. We also tested the GPUs of both phones via the 3DMark Wild Life benchmark. The Pixel 6 achieved a score of 5,705 while the iPhone 13, unsurprisingly, crushed it with a score of 8,659.

On the JetStream 2 benchmark, a web-browser test designed to measure JavaScript performance, the iPhone 13 demolished the Android phone with a score of 203 while the Pixel 6 could only muster up a score of 73.

In our Adobe Premiere Rush video editing benchmark, the iPhone 13 took only 25 seconds to finish rendering a set of tasks while the Pixel 6 needed double the time (49 seconds) to finish the same test.

Ouch! I don’t know if the Pixel 6 is still breathing after that beat down, but the iPhone 13 won this round by a landslide.

Winner: iPhone 13. 

Pixel 6 vs. iPhone 13: battery life

Battery life is one of the most important aspects of a smartphone. When you’re out and about, you’re increasingly prompted to use your phone to look up a restaurant’s menu via a QR code or hail a taxi with a rideshare app. As such, you don’t want to find yourself holding a dead phone when you need it the most.

Pixel 6

Pixel 6 (Image credit: Google)

The Pixel 6 sports a 4,614 mAh battery and the iPhone 13 has a 3,227 mAh battery. The Google phone may have a bigger battery, but Android and its Tensor chip are less power-efficient than iOS and A15 Bionic. 

On the Laptop Mag battery test (continuous web surfing at 150 nits on the T-Mobile network), the Pixel 6 lasted 8 hours and 16 minutes. The iPhone 13 survived for 10 hours and 33 minutes (AT&T network). 

Keep in mind, however, that Google’s machine learning algorithms will learn how you use your phone and optimize its endurance. Our test was done out of the box, so the Pixel 6 didn’t benefit from those software smarts. 

Winner: iPhone 13

Pixel 6 vs. iPhone 13: cameras

The Pixel 6 has a 12MP (f/2.2) ultra-wide lens, a 50MP (f/1.85) wide-lens and an 8MP (f/2.0) front-facing camera. Conversely, the iPhone 13 has a 12MP ultra-wide (ƒ/2.4) lens, a 12MP wide lens (f/1.6) and a 12MP (f/2.2) front-facing camera.

iPhone 13

iPhone 13 (Image credit: Future)

I did not get a chance to experiment with the Pixel 6’s lenses, but I have used the iPhone 13’s cameras. I stand by my remark that there’s such a thing as a camera that’s too good. High-megapixel lenses are excellent for shooting subjects, but it’s not necessary for selfies — you don’t need to see the molecular building blocks of your skin. As such, while you may want to give Google a thumbs down for slapping an 8MP lens on its front-facing camera, your selfies will thank you later.

If you want to take sharper, more detailed photos, the 50MP wide lens on the Pixel 6 may appeal to you, but keep in mind that the iPhone 13’s wide lens has a wider aperture, which means that it takes in more light than the Pixel 6. As such, I theorize that the iPhone 13 may offer better low-light photography than the Pixel 6 without Google’s excellent Night Mode enabled, but the Google Phone serves up superior in-the-sunlight photos, but this is just speculation.

Without being able to compare photos from both phones, I can’t call it. We’ll update this comparison once we’ve conducted a side-by-side photo shoot.

Winner: Draw 

Pixel 6 vs. iPhone 13: software 

The Pixel 6 runs on Android 12’s Material You software while the iPhone 13 runs on iOS 15. Material You focuses on making Android 12 more customizable, colorful and expressive. The entire UI updates to reflect whatever wallpaper you choose for your Pixel 6. For example, if your background is a mint-green hue, expect to see a similar color scheme throughout the UI, including icons, apps and the search bar. Google created Android 12 to ensure that the software adapts to the user — not the other way around.

The lock screen got updated, too, with the new At a Glance feature; it now shows relevant information (e.g. your boarding pass or important reminders) right when you need it. Google also acknowledges that “your life is on your phone.” In other words, your device holds a lot of important private data, including financial information, intimate photos and more. As such, Google claims that the Pixel 6 is its “most secure phone yet: because it runs sensitive information in an isolated core on the Tensor chip. Google also boasted that it will offer five years of security updates to Pixel 6 owners. However, given Google’s reputation for being a privacy intruder, I’m not convinced that the Pixel 6 is the way to go for top-notch security.

Now, let’s talk about iOS 15. iPhone users can now FaceTime with Android users. The Cupertino-based tech giant is also introducing a cool new feature called SharePlay, which lets FaceTime users watch streaming content (e.g. Netflix, Hulu, Apple TV) together. SharePlay is expected to roll out later this year. There’s also a new feature called Focus, which lets users filter notifications and apps to keep distracting stimuli at bay. The new software can also recognize text in photos via the Live Text feature, so you can quickly copy in-photo texts or search selected words in your web browser.

Android 12 and iOS 15 offer much more than what I’ve mentioned, but for the sake of brevity, let’s sum it all up. Android 12 is more focused on customization while iOS 15 is more concerned with functionality. g,Personally, I find iOS 15’s updates to be more exciting, so the iPhone 13 is the winner here.

Winner: iPhone 13

Pixel 6 vs. iPhone 13: Which should you buy?

The iPhone 13 is the champion here, and its competition-beating performance and graphics have nothing to do with it. The Apple device reigns supreme because it meets your daily needs, whether it’s offering all-day battery life or shining brighter under blinding sunlight. However, that $800 price tag is an eyesore compared to Pixel 6’s $600 sticker price.

For $600, you’re getting top-notch specs, including 8GB of RAM (more than what Apple offers) and 128GB (same as the iPhone 13). Plus, you’ll get a bigger screen with a 90Hz display while the iPhone 13 is still stuck with a 60Hz refresh rate. Of course, the Pixel 6’s performance can’t touch what the iPhone 13 can do, but again, no mobile phone needs that much power anyway. The 8-hour battery life is adequate — it’s not mind-blowing, but it’s enough. The point is, for $600, the Pixel 6 is still an excellent choice with compromises that won’t leave you feeling wanting.

If you have the budget, get the iPhone 13. If not, you’ll still be satisfied with the Pixel 6.

Kimberly Gedeon, holding a Master's degree in International Journalism, launched her career as a journalist for MadameNoire's business beat in 2013. She loved translating stuffy stories about the economy, personal finance and investing into digestible, easy-to-understand, entertaining stories for young women of color. During her time on the business beat, she discovered her passion for tech as she dove into articles about tech entrepreneurship, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the latest tablets. After eight years of freelancing, dabbling in a myriad of beats, she's finally found a home at Laptop Mag that accepts her as the crypto-addicted, virtual reality-loving, investing-focused, tech-fascinated nerd she is. Woot!