Camera comparison: iPhone 11 Pro vs. Galaxy Note 10 vs. Google Pixel 3 vs. Huawei P30 Pro

Photography is one of the biggest battlegrounds for comparing high-end smartphones, and there are some great choices out there — both with the established Android players, and of course the new iPhone 11 Pro. To see how the best smartphone cameras perform, we got out there and tested them: with the iPhone 11 Pro going up against the Galaxy Note 10, Google Pixel 3 and Huawei P30 Pro.

With staggered release cycles, we know there's never going to be a perfect time to compare multiple phones. To that point, the Pixel 3 and P30 Pro are included in this comparison even with the Google Pixel 4 on the horizon and Mate 30 Pro having just been announced. Future comparisons will certainly include them.

For now, we have these four phones with cameras that are well regarded as the best of the best. Here's how they compare.

Note: The phones are, in order left to right and top to bottom: iPhone 11 Pro, Galaxy Note 10, Google Pixel 3, Huawei P30 Pro. In the comparison shots below with telephoto and wide-angle shots, the Pixel is dropped but the other three remain in the same order.

Daylight

The iPhone strikes a great balance of being natural and cranking things up selectively to stay visually interesting

The iPhone 11 Pro does an excellent job of striking a balance between looking "natural" and cranking things up selectively to be visually interesting. White balance and colors are both spot on, as are brightness and fine details — you get sharp edges, but also texture. Of these comparative photos, the only real flaw to speak of is the portrait mode shot of the flower, where it completely misses on edge detection and applies blur to the subject in a way that completely wrecks the effect.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is the Note 10, which very clearly throws out balance and nuance in favor of contrast and pop. Photos tend to be warmer, with more contrast and saturation that really grabs your attention. This typically also comes with higher brightness and more of a classic "HDR" look — but that isn't really a bad thing, because people are obviously drawn to this style. And Samsung does get the rest of the fundamentals, with very sharp fine details.

The Pixel 3 is by far the most natural, but I just wish it would turn up the brightness or colors just a little in certain scenes.

The Pixel 3 is far and away the most natural, accurate and lifelike of the bunch, as we've seen time and time again. It really nails colors and white balance, and is happy to let shadows continue to exist. Unfortunately not everyone's eye is drawn to this sort of photo; and I'll admit there are many times when I wish it would just up the brightness a little so it wouldn't come off looking so bland — even if it's far less noticeable when not looking at photos side-by-side. The Pixel 3 photos are fundamentally so good, but I think they could use a little more opinionated processing to really make photos pop.

The P30 Pro takes an approach a bit more like the Note 10, with lots of contrast and saturated colors with the aim of being really appealing at a glance. Though it seems to keep the brightness in check more than Samsung. With the exception of really missing the reproduction of the red color of the flower above, the colors and white balance are generally accurate. The only real downside I can find with the P30 in daylight is softness in fine edges, which is a little off-putting compared to the other three cameras that are tack-sharp in so many instances.

The iPhone 11 Pro and Note 10 both have good telephoto cameras, but the iPhone handles things a bit better with seemingly more details and a better consistency with its main camera. The Note 10 does well, and still produces warm and colorful photos, but out-and-out detail isn't quite as high as the iPhone 11 Pro — there's a bit more softness to the whole image on the Note.

The iPhone 11 Pro is the most consistent across its three cameras, but all three phones do well in daylight.

The P30 Pro automatically gets a leg up in telephoto because it offers more optical zoom — that gives you a more unique look, and reduces the amount you have to digitally zoom. And in daylight, you get great quality even at the higher zoom levels. Sure we don't take as many telephoto shots as we do main camera shots, but this is still one feather th P30 Pro keeps in its hat.

Each of the available ultra-wide cameras follow their "main" sensor counterparts. The iPhone 11 Pro is perhaps the most consistent between the sensors, with wide-angle shots that are more balanced across the board. The Note 10 is, like its main sensor, more colorful and saturated. The P30 Pro is a bit more on the neutral and muted side. All three have considerable distortion around the edges that's easy to see — but that's also kind of part of the appeal of the unique wide-angle viewpoint. All three get the job done in daylight.

Low light