It’s time to compare the Apple iPhone XR and Google Pixel 3 to see which one has the best camera.
This is iPhone XR versus Pixel 3.
Let’s start with the basics.
They both have a single lens, 12-megapixel camera around the back.
The 10R has a 26 millimeter wide angle lens at F/1.8, while the Pixel 3 has a 28 millimeter wide angle lens, also at F/1.8 One important thing to remember is that the iPhone 10r and the more expensive iPhone 10s actually share the same wide angle lens camera.
And I’ve already compared the iPhone 10s to the Pixel 3 in an earlier comparison on CNET.
If you’ve watched that, then the results of this comparison might not be too much of a surprise.
However, that being said, the XR does take photos in a slightly different way in areas such as portraits, and in low light and for zoom.
So that’s what I expect that to be the biggest changes.
For general photos, the phones do an excellent job.
Expect shots with pleasing color saturation and good exposures.
When it comes to HDR, the iPhone uses a mode called Smart HDR, while the Pixel has HDR+ and HDR+ Enhanced.
Turn them on and you’ll notice a big difference in the dynamic range captured.
Photos from the Pixel have a touch more contrast than the iPhone.
Smart HDR actually evens out the differences between shadows and highlights a little more than the pixel does.
In portrait mode both phones generate the bocca or the blur in the background through software.
On the iPhone, you can use this simulated [UNKNOWN] slider to increase or decrease the booker effect.
By default it’s set at f 2.8 while the iPhone 10s is set at f 4.5 The Pixel uses a plain slider without the f-stop markers.
But it also lets you change the focus point and add foreground blur.
The wider lens on the 10R means that portraits look different to those taken on other iPhones, like the 10S with two lenses.
You have to physically move closer to get more of your subject in the frame.
And because the iPhone’s lens is so wide, there can be a slight distortion of faces if you subject is at the sides of the frame.
The Pixel can do portrait mode on just about anything from flowers, to dogs, to spooky skeletons.
The iPhone, though, can only do portrait mode on people.
If you try it on a nonhuman subject, it will just say no person detected on the screen.
That being said, I love the look of portrait mode on both.
Your subjects will look pen sharp, while the background is nice and creamy.
The iPhone’s blur can smooth out edges around things like hair a little too much, but the Pixel does make highlights and details look a little harsh.
That being said, there is more contrast on the Pixel, so it does make images look sharper.
and sometimes a complicated background can through the pixel off completely.
For selfies, the Pixel has two front facing cameras with a regular and wide angle lens.
With that wide lens, you can get a lot more in your shot than the Iphone does.
The Pixel also has a face retouching filter.
If you don’t like the super-detailed photos without any filters at all, and I definitely don’t, you can try using the natural filter for a good middle ground.
I think Smart HDR on the iPhone does a better job overall of Evening out the highlight and shadow detail over the Pixel, but that being said, you might like that look better.
Neither phone has optical zoom, so they rely on digital zoom to get closer.
The Pixel uses Super Res Zoom, which combines multiple photos to produce a better looking zoom Shot, it kicks it at 1.2x or more.
Results are impressive, especially when you compare them to regular digital zoom on the iPhone.
This is at 5x, the maximum reach of the iPhone.
Time for some low light shots.
I took them to the Spooky Terror Vault in San Francisco to push the cameras to the limit.
The Pixel has the clear edge here, producing photos with less noise and more sharpness than the iPhone.
But the Pixel does saturate the red channel more than the iPhone.
So photos look really vivid.
For low-light portrait mode, the Iphone sometimes struggles locking onto the subject.
But, both can leave the image looking a little soft.
I think the pixel’s flash looks more natural, and brightens up the scene more, but this one is close.
And google night sight feature, that offers better looking photos without flash wasn’t officially available at the time of testing.
The video, both phone recording 4K but only the iPhone does 60 frames a second.
It’s good on both, but the iPhone is sharper with smoother shifts and exposure and colors look more natural.
The Pixel has the added bonus of tracking moving subjects in steals or video.
But stabilization looks more natural on the iPhone while the Pixel has some evidence of that jelly like effect.
The slow motion video, both can film at 240 frames a second, but the Pixel maxes out at 720p while the the iPhone is full HD.
In low light the results are flipped from the still photos.
It’s the Pixel that has a noisy, messy image, and it also has trouble focusing in low light.
The iPhone’s recording sounds more rich than the Pixel, even though they’re both recording in stereo.
Baby in the terror vault We’re waiting for you.
On the iPhone, a setting called auto low light FPS automatically drops the frame rate from 30 to 24 frames a second.
The difference between the two in low light video is dramatic.
Both these have fantastic cameras, each with their strengths and weaknesses.
Without comparing the photos, I’d be pleased with either.
But like the results from my 10S versus Pixel 3 comparison, the Pixel just has the edge for still images, especially in low light.
And the iPhone clearly wins for video recording.