Google Pixel 3 XL vs. iPhone XS Max: Which Camera Reigns Supreme?

Discussion in 'MacRumors.com News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Oct 15, 2018.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot

    MacRumors

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    [​IMG]


    Google's newest flagship smartphones, the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, are officially launching later this week. With their high-quality cameras, fast processors, and other improvements, the new devices are direct competitors to Apple's newly released iPhone XS models.

    We were able to get our hands on the new Pixel 3 and Pixel 3XL ahead of their debut, and in our latest YouTube video, we compared the Google Pixel 3 XL camera to Apple's iPhone XS Max camera to see which one reigns supreme.


    Both the Pixel 3 and the Pixel 3 XL are equipped with a single-lens 12-megapixel rear camera system, while the iPhone XS Max uses a dual-lens camera system that features a 12-megapixel wide-angle lens and a 12-megapixel telephoto lens.

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    The two camera system allows the iPhone XS Max to do things like capture Portrait Mode images with an adjustable depth of field and a blurred background, but the Pixel 3 XL has much of the same functionality enabled through software.

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    Like the iPhone XS Max, the Pixel 3 XL features a Portrait Mode. With its newest devices, Apple introduced some improvements to Portrait Mode with the A12 Bionic chip, and that gave it the edge over the Pixel 3 XL in our image tests. The Pixel 3 XL won out when it came to edge detection in most cases, with less blurring in areas we didn't want blurred, but iPhone XS Max Portrait Mode images were sharper.

    [​IMG]

    Google advertises a new "Super Res" zoom in the Pixel 3 XL, but the single-lens camera system can't compete with Apple's telephoto lens.

    With the iPhone XS Max, Apple introduced a new Smart HDR feature that takes multiple images at different exposures and combines them for one ideal shot. Google's Pixel 3 XL has a similar HDR+ mode that does the same thing to eke out more detail in photos with a lot of variation in lighting.

    [​IMG]

    In our testing, we preferred the Smart HDR on the iPhone because it was able to preserve more detail without blowing out bright areas like the sky, but the Pixel 3 XL was not far behind.

    Google's Pixel 3 XL uses a Night Sight feature that's designed to create brighter, clearer photos than the iPhone XS Max can produce. Night Sight isn't available at launch, but will be coming to the Pixel phones later and could give the devices a serious edge over the XS Max.

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    In our low light photo tests, both performed well, but the Pixel 3 XL demonstrated more noise and grain than low-light photos taken with the iPhone XS Max. In Portrait Mode, though, the Pixel 3 XL outperformed the iPhone XS Max.

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    While the Pixel 3 XL has a single-lens rear camera, Google has implemented a two-camera system at the front of the device with two 8-megapixel cameras for taking selfies. The iPhone XS Max, meanwhile, has a single-lens 7-megapixel front-facing camera and TrueDepth camera system that allows it to capture the same Portrait Mode photos as the rear camera system.

    Because Google is using two cameras, there are front-facing features not available on the iPhone XS Max, such as a wider-angle lens that captures 184 percent more of a scene to enable group selfies.

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    When it comes to front-facing camera systems, the Pixel 3 XL definitely beats the iPhone XS Max. Front-facing Portrait Mode photos look great on both devices, but the group selfie mode is something Apple can't compete with.

    The camera systems in the iPhone XS Max and Google Pixel 3 XL both have their strengths and weaknesses, but when it comes down to it, both are so good that determining which one is better is a matter of preference.

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    Photos from the iPhone XS Max, for example, tend to be a bit more even in color than the overly cool or warm-toned photos coming from the Pixel 3 XL, which some people prefer and others don't. iPhone XS Max images also come out a bit darker due to the Smart HDR feature that preserves detail, which is another visual difference that may influence opinion towards one camera or the other.

    Bottom line, though, both the iPhone XS Max and the Pixel 3 XL produce impressive images that are better than both the previous-generation iPhone X and the Pixel 2 smartphones, and both are closer than ever to overtaking more traditional handheld cameras.

    You can see all of the full resolution photos that we took with the Pixel 3 XL and the iPhone XS Max in this Imgur album that we created. Do you prefer Pixel 3 XL photos or iPhone XS Max photos? Let us know in the comments.

    Article Link: Google Pixel 3 XL vs. iPhone XS Max: Which Camera Reigns Supreme?
     
  2. Cyberpower678 macrumors 6502

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    #2
    The XS Max appears to have slightly better HDR. All in all, both are good.
     
  3. mookie89 macrumors newbie

    mookie89

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  4. AppleFan91 macrumors 65816

    AppleFan91

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    #4
    Very intrigued to see how it comes out now that people are getting their hands on both. I think this will be closer than the X vs Pixel 2
     
  5. Hustler1337, Oct 15, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2018

    Hustler1337 macrumors 68000

    Hustler1337

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    #5
    It would have been more helpful if the full-res image links were posted underneath each picture. The small-sized samples embedded in the review are near useless to discern the differences.

    That said, the cameras on both are excellent and it's really down to personal preference which one prefers.
     
  6. Shiro_Simba macrumors regular

    Shiro_Simba

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    #6
    Both are excellent . Can’t go wrong with either smartphone if you want great pics.
     
  7. biggest father1 macrumors member

    biggest father1

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    #7
    I’m picking the pixel 3 in case they’re tricking me and swapped them. :p
     
  8. Andres Cantu macrumors 68030

    Andres Cantu

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    Well, given how quick people were to praise the XS camera disguised as the Pixel 2, I’d say the difference in quality is not as important as it used to be. Most flagship cameras are excellent.
     
  9. mozumder macrumors 6502a

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    The plastic skin smoothening on the XS front camera is really noticeable, though. Not good.
     
  10. Quu macrumors 68030

    Quu

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    Difficult to see the differences in these small sample images. I think some of the photos on the left retain more fine detail but some other the pictures on the right look overall my pleasing.
     
  11. imtiktok macrumors newbie

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    I would estimate 8 of 10 reviews I've read online this past week have Google's phone taking better pics than Apple's. Can MR parse specs anymore thinner to justify their closer "Both phones have their advantages & drawbacks"? Seems a bit petty to me.
     
  12. Packers1958 macrumors 65816

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    Both look good. The Pixel looks better with the jack o lattern. The Pixel shows the orange much better, while the Max is more washed out.
     
  13. zakarhino macrumors demi-god

    zakarhino

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    #13
    the XS indoors is atrocious, looks like something from 2010. That hyper smoothing/blurring is so apparent... to think people were trying to say "its not that bad! it actually makes your skin look better"
     
  14. super tomtendo macrumors 6502a

    super tomtendo

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    These comparisons are just stupid IMO. Every flagship phone is basically the same quality. Let's be honest and focus on something else.
     
  15. Shiro_Simba macrumors regular

    Shiro_Simba

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    #15
    The big question ..... will dxomark still be relevant on MR if it scores pixel higher :p

    For what’s it worth, I don’t think they are relevant either way:)
     
  16. iapplelove macrumors 601

    iapplelove

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    Damn props to the pixel and google for making a proper camera. Right up there with Apple and better in some cases.
     
  17. zakarhino, Oct 15, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2018

    zakarhino macrumors demi-god

    zakarhino

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    #17
    I don't think anybody could seriously tell me that there isn't a huge quality difference in these two photos below.

    XS Max:
    [​IMG]
    Pixel 3:
    [​IMG]

    EDIT: Not my pictures FYI, I took them from the Imgur album linked in the original article.
     
  18. Baymowe335 macrumors 68030

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    I'm sure I'll get crushed, but based on these pictures, the iPhone XS camera takes better pictures overall.

    The 5 Trillion operation/sec neural engine and new sensor seem to have really stepped up the game on the iPhone.
     
  19. Shiro_Simba macrumors regular

    Shiro_Simba

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    #19
    I see your point now. That’s a major difference
     
  20. super tomtendo macrumors 6502a

    super tomtendo

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    #20
    I mean, I guess, the hair.. but are you trying to be some award winning photographer? I just think these comparison are 95% the same.
     
  21. Return Zero macrumors 6502a

    Return Zero

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    #21
    Both seem very good. iPhone tends to be warmer and softer. Pixel is cooler and harsher. Really it's a preference thing, and whether you'll be spending more time with selfies (Pixel wins) or traditional shots (iPhone wins).

    Honestly, I don't like the idea of Night Sight (based on the marketing shots). I don't want nighttime pictures to look as if they were taken in the daytime... I want them realistically dim, sharp, and low-noise.

    The hugely differentiating factor to me is video, which this post doesn't discuss. The iPhone is MILES better than the Pixel when it comes to videos, especially when you factor in audio quality. This is true for both front and rear cameras.
     
  22. Packers1958 macrumors 65816

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    #22
    They don't look that much different. What do you expect from a $45 camera on a phone?
     
  23. WannaGoMac macrumors 68020

    WannaGoMac

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    #23
    The kids head moved, so the light likely hit the hair a bit differently between the two shots.
    Also the images seem to be different aspect ratios?
     
  24. Piggie macrumors G3

    Piggie

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    #24
    The feature that allows better night shots on the Pixel is not enabled yet I understand.

    Will be interesting to see comparisons when all the features mentioned are working.
     
  25. jonnyb098 macrumors 68020

    jonnyb098

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    #25
    Wow, the Pixel 3, blows away the iPhone, hands down. Amazing and no ugly skin smoothing effect either.
     

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