Camera comparison: Google Pixel XL vs. Galaxy S7 edge
Though Google's new Pixel phones have seriously impressive imaging that put its previous Nexus phones to shame, we have to remember that before they arrived it was well-observed that Samsung led the pack with the camera on the Galaxy S7 edge (and of course Galaxy S7 and Note 7).
Now that we've had a Pixel for a little while, it was only natural to compare it head-to-head with the camera that is leading the pack among all Android phones. Here's how the camera experience on the Pixel XL and Galaxy S7 edge compare.
Performance and interface
Before you even get to looking at photo quality, it's important to have a camera that can open quickly, perform well and have an intuitive camera interface. Both phones have the speed part down, with a double press of the power button (Pixel XL) or home button (Galaxy S7 edge) taking you to the camera in about a second. Shot-to-shot performance is on par between the two, and extremely fast — even when shooting in HDR or taking burst shots. This is how every phone should perform.
Google's camera interface is still pretty simple. To many people that means it's lacking features, but it definitely hits on the points most people need. You can use tap to focus and now adjust exposure with a slide, as well as toggle on grid lines, switch between HDR modes and swap to the front camera with a double flick of your wrist. Google's implementation of switching to lens bur, slow-mo and panorama modes is super simple as well — I don't have any complaints there.
Samsung's main camera interface is just as simple as Google's, but wins hands-down when it comes to the ability to tweak your shots, offering a full Pro mode with complete manual control over the camera. That's a big differentiator for some who want to make changes to very specific parts of the camera or perhaps mount the phone to a tripod for interesting shots. Samsung also has a larger array of shooting modes available by default, with even more waiting to be downloaded — but nearly everyone will stick with the main modes in either camera.
Now let's look at the output. As I do with all of my camera comparisons, I keep things smple to help reflect how the cameras perform in the hands of the average user. I kept both the Pixel XL and Galaxy S7 edge with their respective "auto" HDR settings turned on — then I took out one, snapped a photo, took out the other, snapped a photo. No tripods or lighting or burst mode or editing; just the direct output from the camera as it shot it.
You'll also notice a variety of situations in the samples below; indoors, outdoors, dark, light, the whole spectrum. Here are my results, set side-by-side.
In general, the Galaxy S7 edge still tends to take warmer and more saturated photos, which is something we've expressed in previous critiques of its camera and is just as apparent here next to the cooler, less-saturated and slightly more natural Pixel XL camera. The Galaxy S7 edge also tends to over-smooth certain parts of images, which comes across a bit more pleasing to the eye at a glance but isn't as impressive as the sharp lines the Pixel XL was able to produce. Most of the differences really aren't noticeable until you zoom way in on photos, though.
When it comes to low-light performance, the Pixel XL seems to have jumped past the Galaxy S7 edge if only because of its consistency. The GS7 edge's tendency for warmer photos is more pronounced at night, and its smaller pixels don't take in as much light as the Pixel XL's, which leads to a bit more grain and chroma noise in really dark parts of photos. The Pixel XL isn't immune to grain and noise of its own, but the grain feels a bit more "natural" in these shots, rather than being over-processed and blotchy. Both phones were definitely still capable of taking a slightly blurry shot if you didn't keep your hands steady at night.
Across this variety of situations, the biggest thing that stands out to me is how similar the photos are between the Pixel XL and Galaxy S7 edge. I don't think there was a single photo I took in this comparison with either camera that wouldn't be considered a "good" (or better) photo if I had shown it to someone on its own. It's only when you start to set the photos side-by-side that you notice a few differences.
I'm personally a bigger fan of the way the Pixel XL tends to be a bit more natural, cooler and sharper, but the GS7 edge takes photos that are arguably more pleasing to the eye with their more-saturated and warmer colors. The only true "win" for the Pixel XL here is in its consistency of handling low-light photos with its HDR+ software ... everything else is basically a wash.
These are two expensive phones with impressive cameras worthy of the price, that much is clear. Both can launch the camera in the blink of an eye, take great photos in just about every situation and manage even the toughest scenes. They trade punches in certain areas of emphasis, but the end result in either one is a great photography experience.
Samsung has a slight advantage in terms of its camera interface when it comes to customizations, shooting modes and full manual controls. Google is catching up in this respect, and offers a slick experience for just about everyone — save for those who need those extra tweaks.
Each phone can take amazing photos, and you have to zoom in, analyze and nit-pick in order to find issues in either one. Google may have a slight advantage in its tendency to keep things looking more natural and sharper, but how much that matters is basically a personal preference at this point.
Both the Pixel XL and Galaxy S7 edge have fantastic cameras — you can't go wrong here.
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Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.
And that absolutely will affect image quality sharpness in low light.
Speaking of weatherproofing: There is a youtube video in which a Pixel survives an extended soak in a bowl of water. Not bad.
as bloke that used to make living with gadgets and seals ,
Personally I wouldn't be dunking the galaxy or the apple phone which have a higher water resistance rating.
The majority of android consumers don't like stock android and could careless about Pixel or nexus.Could you remind me how many nexus were sold compared to Samsung androids smartphones like the S7? loooollll!!
Now in the quality, Pixel could have a bit more detail than the 6P/5X camera, specially when you see a photo of a city landscape with many details at far distance
This is making me so tempted to have a Pixel.
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It'll only improve Android strength
Just don't try that with CPW though - as you'll not be popular, (or be ignored like I get most times I try and buy anything from my local CPW, but then again that's because they're too concerned with gossip than serving customers).
Sd card slot
Better Water resistant
Rapid charge also wireless
Battery that works full day
when you're in the rain? Pixel or S7 edge? (trick question)
http://forums.androidcentral.com/google-pixel-pixel-xl/738312-yet-anothe... I also did the same photos with a DSLR as a reference although I didn't post them for the same reason Andrew just said. However, I did notice that, using the DSLR as a reference, in most of the pictures the pixel was closest, edged out by the iPhone 7 in a few, and mostly only in color accuracy/white balance.
Clear pics with natural colors is all I need.
However, when you turn over to pictures (which is what most people use their phones for), EIS is always terrible because you have to capture a single frame. EIS works on video as there's a constant rate of frames being captured that the phone can use to read the image and stabilise it. On a photograph there's no such thing. It's that one frame and that's it.
And while in daylight you might get away with it (as the iPixel does), when you turn to low light, the all camera falls apart. The shutter speed has to be slower to take in more light and as the lens has no stabilisation, the slightest of shakes will ruin the sharpness and clarity of the photo. And if you don't provide a full manual control option - as the iPixels don't (and neither does the Xperia line, actually) - the lack of hardware can't be compensated with software tricks (like playing with shutter speed and ISO values). If the iPixels were Nexus-priced phones, this wouldn't be a problem.
But when you ask for 800€ to 1000€ for a phone as Google is doing with the iPixels (again, convinced they are Apple), you better throw everything AND the kitchen sink into the phone.
And in 2016, launching a flagship without OIS - when even Apple, who's always late for everything has already added it - is a major sin which can NOT be overlook. (And neither can the lack of waterproofing, expandable storage, wireless charging etc. But for now I'm just talking camera here.)
when i was in store looking at pixels trying weigh up what was better with the pixel devices over my 64 gb 6p or LG G5 , in some ways it actually looked like the pixels where a downgrade from my perspective , and i`ll say it again , thats why i left the shop mt handed ..
I have a 6p and notice a very high battery impact recording 4k video with cinema FV-5 ( that I use to adjust exposure during video) so in the case of the Pixel maybe the extra screen resolution of the XL will also draw more power from battery, nor sure how it would compare...
For me implementation is key and it all works fine. Themes and good old launchers are here but i guess if people don't like customised phones..
1) Manufacturer bloat - Stuff I don't use, but cannot remove. Some of this I can remove, of course. Some of it I cannot remove. Samsung Pay, Gear VR, etc. I know it's nice for people who use these services, but I don't and I'd like to be able to remove them. 2) Carrier bloat - You may not have this in Europe, but my phone is saddled with a bunch of useless apps from AT&T. Does this affect the performance of the phone? Most of the time, no! The one point at which I see stuttering without fail is when I open the 'apps list' in Settings. It always takes a few moments to scroll smoothly then. Is this caused by the 'bloat'? I don't know, but it seems unnecessary.
Does anyone know how loud either the G7Edge or the Pixel are.
I went from a Galaxy S5 to the Note7 and the Note 7 was noticeably lower when I connected it to the audio jack in my car than the S5 was.
Not a big deal to most but it bugged me.
The pictures the flag ships take these days are all good in a very basic way. It is more about how much control you exercise over your photography using your phone than anything else. Understanding how digital and optical stabilisation works is very important before making judgements either way. Even with the best digital stabilization you are naturally losing pixels in which direction the stabilization is working since you will have to crop inevitably. But you will not see this on a smartphone screen but you will when you start a print and expand images larger this is why on Pro cameras the stabilization and zooming is usually on the lens. This way there is no cropping on the image sensor level. So if you never blow up or print your pictures, digital stabilization will not affect your experience. On any computer screen or any phone I'll Instagram Facebook etc, you will never notice the difference. My opinion is just an opinion but my experience is in working with both manual film and digital SLR'S (my work cams being canon, nikon fuji and hasselblad systems) for a few years of digital image manipulation and clean up in few past studio jobs. Plus I'm a bit little bit of a phone geek as well.
Really? I downloaded one of the photos and it's only 2MP in size. Did you shoot with the camera set to this resolution or did you resize after downloading the photos from the phones?
I guess what they mean is the the Pixel is the best "point and shoot" be happy with what you get kind of phone. If you want more control with a Pixel phone then you need to install a few apps. Or if you want full control over your image talking before you then edit is RAW info then go with the cheaper Samsung offerings with built in easy to accezs Pro mode. This without having to take up more of the otherwise non expandable pixel space. Choices choices. If the Pixel wasn't so expensive (had wireless charging, water resistance etc) it would be more appealing
Maybe that came up after this test?