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Shortly after the launch of the new iPhone 13 models in September, Google came out with the Pixel 6 and the Pixel 6 Pro, its latest flagship devices, which are feature rich and priced at $599 and $899 respectively. We picked up the Pixel 6 Pro, which has the most advanced lens system, and thought we'd compare it to the iPhone 13 Pro Max to see the similarities and differences between the two smartphone cameras.


The iPhone 13 Pro Max includes a 12-megapixel Wide, Ultra Wide, and Telephoto lenses for a total of three lens options, which is similar to the lens setup offered by the Pixel 6 Pro. It features a 50-megapixel wide angle camera, a 12-megapixel ultra wide angle lens and a 48-megapixel telephoto lens that supports 4x optical zoom, a wider range than the 3x optical zoom offered by the iPhone 13 Pro Max.

With smartphone cameras this advanced, both the iPhone 13 Pro Max and the Pixel 6 Pro take incredible photos and there's often not a lot of difference in quality just because they're both offering excellent camera options. There are some small differences that might make you prefer one over another, but even from image to image, these differences can vary.

pixel-6-pro-iphone-docks.jpg

You'll notice that at times, the Pixel 6 Pro is warmer and more natural looking than the iPhone, which primarily factors in with the sky. Apple tends to make the sky very blue, which looks striking, but not always true to life. There are also differences in the highlights and the shadows, with the iPhone tending to lose a bit of the black tones and the Pixel trending towards higher exposure for the highlights.

There's not a lot of difference with the ultra wide lenses, and for the telephoto, Google's Pixel 6 Pro can be a bit sharper (and it can zoom in further), but it does not let in as much light as the iPhone 13 Pro Max's telephoto lens so when taking photos of light sources, there's too much flare.

pixel-6-pro-iphone-skeleton.jpg

The iPhone wins out when it comes to Night Mode photos, and in our testing, it was just much better at preserving detail and accurately recreating color. It also didn't have quite as much of a light source flare issue as the Pixel 6 Pro.

As for Portrait mode, the Pixel 6 Pro is producing better photos. Subjects are sharper and more in focus, with more detail preserved, and it produces great bokeh. That's not to say that iPhone Portrait mode images aren't nice, but Google still seems to have better software algorithms for edge detection.

pixel-6-pro-iphone-portrait.jpg

Apple's iPhones almost always have superior video compared to Pixel smartphones, and that's still true, but Google has made improvements to image quality and stabilization. The Pixel 6 Pro can take decent video, but the iPhone 13 Pro Max is better, especially with Cinematic Mode and ProRes support.

Google also built in some neat little features to its Pixel 6 Pro camera. There's a Magic Eraser that can use the Tensor chip inside to erase objects that you don't want from a photo, and it works super well so it's a great option to have available natively.

pixel-6-pro-iphone-arcade.jpg

So both the Pixel 6 Pro and the iPhone 13 Pro Max have their pros and cons when it comes to camera quality, and realistically, the differences are minor. These are incredibly advanced smartphone cameras and you're not going to be disappointed by either one. Make sure to watch the video up above for our full comparison, and let us know which images you preferred in the comments below.

Article Link: Camera Comparison: iPhone 13 Pro Max vs. Pixel 6 Pro
 

Adamantoise

macrumors 6502a
Aug 1, 2011
962
201
I mean, this is just splitting hairs to be honest.

Your choice of phone purchase these days is mostly based on which ecosystem you're invested in; there's a device for everyone, and comparisons like this aren't the reasons people switch phones.

Still nice to see the difference in approach to 'default' post-processing though.
 

FasterQuieter

macrumors 6502a
Feb 21, 2008
541
1,020
Is the new 3x zoom option utter crap (noisy as hell), or is it no longer switching lenses when tapping the zoom while recording a 1x video?
I have noticed that it doesn't seem to swap lenses any more. It means I have to stop the video and start a new recording.
 
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duck apple

macrumors member
Feb 26, 2009
48
13
Why so many reviewers frequently judge cameras quality with pictures shot with lens of vastly different properties?

In the above portrait comparison, the focal length, view angle and depth of field of the two pictures are quite different and the model also changed post quite a lots. Isn't it obvious that Pixel 6 was shot with zoom lens while iPhone Pro was shot with standard wide lens (and then cropped so the model look of same size)? Or 4x vs 3x zoom will give such big difference?

For the night shot. Why reviewers just don't understand that average users won't be qualified for judging this kind of high contrast pictures unless they have HDR display nearly on a par with OLED display of top gear smartphone like iPhone Pro.
 
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840quadra

Moderator
Staff member
Feb 1, 2005
8,857
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Twin Cities Minnesota
Reviews and camera comparisons seem to be all over the place. Contradicting this article / post many of the Android reviewers have noted the Pixel is more saturated and less true to life than the iPhone. Curious how / why this article is seeing differently.

With regards to personal experiences, I will not have my regular 6 until later this week, but comparing Google Camera on my Pixel 3 to my iPhones of the era, and current models, the Pixel tends to saturate more, while the iPhone produces more flat images (Similar to my SLR).

As with all comparisons, YMMV.
 

cjboffoli97

macrumors regular
Oct 4, 2005
102
270
Seattle, WA
I'm delighted with the camera in my new iPhone 13 Pro and can see a discernible difference in quality over the iPhone 12 Pro. But for me it is far more than just the camera that motivates me to buy an iPhone over the iPhone copies. No other manufacturer offers the privacy and security of the iPhone, as well as the tight integration of hardware and software produced by the same manufacturer. Purchasing an iPhone over the crowd of second-rate phones is a no-brainer.
 

4jasontv

macrumors 603
Jul 31, 2011
5,148
6,080
I thought the Pixel’s night mode feature was supposed to overcome the darkness to capture the image as if it was well lit.

These photos suggest it does that well. Or were these taken with standard shooting setting in a dark environment?
 
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