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Google Pixel 2 XL Vs Apple iPhone X Vs Samsung Galaxy Note 8: Camera Comparison

We have the three best smartphones around today, and have put the photography skills of all to the test. Read on to find out which is our pick for the best camera smartphone of 2017.

google pixel 2 xl camera comparo lead

The age-old fight for camera dominance remains a hot topic even today, with a new manufacturer taking the crown every few months. While Samsung has traditionally been considered the expert in this domain, the last year has seen it become a closer fight than it has ever been. While the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 has been our pick for the last couple of months, the recently launched Apple iPhone X and Google Pixel 2 XL mount a strong challenge to its crown.

We’ve put the new Google Pixel 2 XL and Apple iPhone X to the test against the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, hoping to come to a consensus on what the best smartphone camera is today. Our test has put the three phones in a tough competition, taking the same pictures in different conditions to properly compare the performance of the three camera phones.

Introduction and specifications

While all three smartphones feature flagship-grade cameras, the setups are different in all cases. The Apple iPhone X and Samsung Galaxy Note 8 feature dual-camera setups, while the Google Pixel comes with a traditional single-camera setup. However, the Pixel offers some of the benefits of a dual-camera setup by using software algorithms. This way, the smartphone is able to capture depth information and offer portrait shots similar to the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 and Apple iPhone X. ALSO READ: Google Pixel 2 XL Review

The Google Pixel 2 XL features a 12.2-megapixel rear camera and 8-megapixel front camera, the Apple iPhone X comes with a dual-camera setup at the rear with two 12-megapixel sensors and a 7-megapixel front camera, and the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 comes with a dual-camera setup at the rear with two 12-megapixel sensors and an 8-megapixel front camera. All phones are capable of shooting at 4K resolution, and feature optical image stabilization and up to 240fps slow-motion video recording. The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 and Apple iPhone X also feature 2X lossless zoom, using the dual-camera setup. ALSO READ: Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Review

Regular Daylight

We first tested the three smartphone cameras in the simplest and usually most commonly used condition – regular daylight. The picture was taken in the evening with the sun shining on the Mumbai skyline. As you can see, the Google Pixel 2 XL gets the colors right, offering a natural tone to both the buildings and the sky.

Typical November air pollution in Mumbai is visible in the color of the sky. The Apple iPhone X and Samsung Galaxy Note 8 have a distinct warmth to the colors, with the Apple smartphone adding more yellow and the Samsung smartphone adding more orange tint. The iPhone X has a stronger ‘tint’ to the image, while the Note 8 strikes a better balance between natural and vivid colors.

Pixel 2 XL

Daylight - Google Pixel 2 XL

Apple iPhone X

Daylight - iPhone X

Samsung Galaxy Note 8

Daylight - Samsung Galaxy Note 8

WINNER: Google Pixel 2 XL

2X Zoom

The Google Pixel 2 XL is the weakest contender in this test, since it does not have the ability to shoot lossless images at 2X zoom. The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 and Apple iPhone X both use their dual-camera setups to shoot lossless zoomed-in images. It’s a close call, but the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is the better shooter in this case. Not only does the phone capture more detail when zoomed in, its use of optical image stabilization on both rear-camera sensors makes for images that are much more stable and less likely to blur out due to minor shakes.

Google Pixel 2 XL

2X Zoom - Google Pixel 2 XL

Apple iPhone X

2X Zoom - iPhone X

Samsung Galaxy Note 8

2X Zoom - Samsung Galaxy Note 8

WINNER: Samsung Galaxy Note 8

Portrait Mode – Rear Camera

While smartphone manufacturers have typically relied on dual-camera setups to offer depth effect and bokeh shots, Google has succeeded in offering the same level of capability with a single-camera setup, relying on algorithms and software magic to achieve the same results. We shot a couple of portrait shots with the rear camera on all three phones, and here are the results.

While all three phones have minor flaws in capturing the depth effect, the flaws are particularly visible on the Samsung Galaxy Note 8. Purely on detecting the difference between the foreground and the background, the Apple iPhone X comes out ahead. However, on the overall quality of the photo, the Google Pixel 2 XL’s incredible attention to detail and accurate color tones help it do a better job on the whole. Details on the face are much more visible on the picture taken with the Pixel 2 XL, while the other two smartphones tend to ‘beautify’ or smooth out smaller details presumably in pursuit of getting the depth effect right.

Google Pixel 2 XL

Ali Portrait - Google Pixel 2 XL

Matty Portrait - Google Pixel 2 XL

Apple iPhone X

Ali Portrait - iPhone X

Matty Portrait - iPhone X

Samsung Galaxy Note 8

Ali Portrait - Samsung Galaxy Note 8

Matty Portrait - Samsung Galaxy Note 8

WINNER: Google Pixel 2 XL

Portrait Mode – Front Camera

Thus far, portrait mode has been hardware-dependent, and offering the feature with the front camera has usually needed a dual-camera setup at the front. Manufacturers such as Oppo and Honor have taken the lead in this, but with improvements in software algorithms, it’s now possible to offer portrait mode with the front camera as well. While Google entirely depends on those algorithms for portrait mode shots with the Pixel 2 XL, the Apple iPhone X and Samsung Galaxy Note 8 must also use the same software-based calculations for portrait shots with the front camera.

The Google Pixel 2 XL falls short in this, as the picture we took gets the borders for the depth effect woefully wrong. However, it does retain detail and more careful composing could fix this problem. The Apple iPhone X gets the depth effect right and does a considerably better job than the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, which tends to suffer some pixilation at the edges. Colors, while maintaining the warm tone, aren’t as bad when you’re capturing faces and skin tones, as is usually the case with the front camera.

Google Pixel 2 XL

Ali Portrait Selfie - Google Pixel 2 XL

Apple iPhone X

Ali Portrait Selfie - iPhone X

Samsung Galaxy Note 8

Ali Portrait Selfie - Samsung Galaxy Note 8

WINNER: Apple iPhone X

Low Light Photography

Here’s something that matters a lot to smartphone buyers. You can’t always count on lighting conditions to be ideal, and a lot of the pictures you take when you’re out with friends and family will be in low light conditions. Flagship phones have usually delivered on the promise of superior low-light photography, and we tested the three phones indoors and outdoors in low light conditions.

While the lack of warm colors in the outdoor frame helps the iPhone X achieve a decent result, the distinct yellow tint once again hampers the phone’s ability to produce pictures with natural color tones. The Samsung Galaxy Note 8’s tendency to boost vividness makes for pictures that are interesting and clean, but not quite as natural-looking as pictures taken on the Google Pixel 2 XL. Once again, whether in dark parts of the frame or bright, the Pixel 2 XL produces the best images in low light.

Google Pixel 2 XL

Low Light Barking Deer 2 - Google Pixel 2 XL

Low Light Barking Deer - Google Pixel 2 XL

Low Light Marathon - Google Pixel 2 XL

Apple iPhone X

Low Light Barking Deer 2 - iPhone X

Low Light Barking Deer - iPhone X

Low Light Marathon - iPhone X

Samsung Galaxy Note 8

Low Light Barking Deer 2 - Samsung Galaxy Note 8

Low Light Barking Deer - Samsung Galaxy Note 8

Low Light Marathon - Samsung Galaxy Note 8

WINNER: Google Pixel 2 XL

Verdict

The result is fairly obvious; the Google Pixel 2 XL is, on the whole, the best of the three devices on test when it comes to still photography in our opinion. With natural colors, oodles of detail (particularly when it comes to facial features), solid performance in low light and the sheer quickness of the camera, the Pixel 2 XL outperforms the Apple iPhone X and Samsung Galaxy Note 8 in our test.

However, the Google Pixel 2 XL isn’t better if every department. The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is the test winner when it comes to zoomed-in images, while the Apple iPhone X takes better portrait selfies. These are niche departments though, and on the whole, we believe that users who want superior camera performance will be best served by the Google Pixel 2 XL.

OVERALL WINNER: Google Pixel 2 XL

You Might be Interested

Samsung Galaxy Note 8

67900

Android 7.1.1 Nougat with TouchWiz UX
Exynos 8895 Octa-core 64-bit Processor
12 MP (f/1.7 aperture) + 12 MP (f/2.4 aperture)
Apple iPhone X

89000

iOS 11
A11 Bionic 64-bit chipset with M11 motion coprocessor
dual 12MP camera f/1.8 and f/2.8 apertures with dual OIS
Google Pixel 2 XL

73000

Android 8.0.0, Oreo
Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Octa-Core 2.35GHz + 1.9GHz, 64-Bit Processor
12.2 MP with f/1.8 aperture
  • Published Date: November 7, 2017 4:13 PM IST