Does the Pixel 3 camera live up to the hype?

The Google Pixel 3 is one of the best smartphones of the year, but one area in particular where it truly shines above just about everything else is its camera performance.

For the last couple of years, Google's Pixel series has been the gold standard when it comes to smartphone photography. The Pixel 3 continues that trend with great prowess, and if you caught our full review of the phone, you'll know that we're more than impressed with what Google was able to achieve this year.

However, in day-to-day use for the AC forum community, is the Pixel 3's camera just as impressive?

I came from the iPhone XS. The cameras are what I would consider a wash, pixel is a little on the cooler scales and iPhone warmer, really comes down to preference. The video on Pixel 3XL isn't even close, the iPhone blows it out of the water... hopefully they can fix it with some software updates.


As an avid photographer with multiple DSLRs and about 20 lenses in my collection I used to laugh at cell phone photography. Don't get me wrong...some cell phones took nice snapshots but I was never impressed enough where I felt comfortable going away without a dedicated camera so I bought a compact DSLR with a internal zoom lens to get by. That was until I purchased a Pixel 2 XL. I was...

Mike Dee

it is the bomb 💣


It is on par with DSLR at times for sure thanks for the great post


What do you think? Does the Pixel 3's camera live up to the hype?

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Joe Maring

Joe Maring was a Senior Editor for Android Central between 2017 and 2021. You can reach him on Twitter at @JoeMaring1.

  • I have been pleased, when it actually saves the picture you took.
  • Yes, the camera is very good. But in late 2018 4gb's & 128gb's of storage ain't gonna cut it. Plus that ridiculous notch? And 150.00 dollars more than last year's model. It's a hard pass for me!
  • You do know that you get full res storage in Google photos? So this phone has unlimited photo backup. In essence, the Pixels offer the greatest amount of storage on any smartphone. You are pushing a false narrative. Stop.
  • I was under the impression that it gets unlimited "High Quality" photo uploads, not full res. Either way the only false narrative is saying that it has the most storage, considering the "unlimited" portion only pertains to photos that are uploaded. That doesn't work for people who store music or documents on their phones. I'd take 512GB of actual storage on a note or iPhone before I take 128GB and unlimited uploads on a pixel, js.
  • Do you know how many documents it takes to get to 128GB? More than you should manage on a phone. Music, sure, if you live in an area with zero coverage, but then why have a smartphone? Just get a flip phone and a Walkman. Seriously, 128GB is a lot of music too, about 30000 tracks I believe. If you need more than that, then by all means, this phone isn't for you. Here is the article about the photos from 2016.
  • It's full res for Pixel owners, high quality for everyone else. Honestly though, how much music and how big of documents are you storing? 128 is overkill for 99% of users...if you need more storage this isn't the phone for you but it's not an issue for most people.
  • You can get 1TB for free from Flickr. That's not a much of a selling point.
  • Don't forget that it's the most optimised android phone, so 4gbs of ram is fair, and about the storage, you get free unlimited Google storage for all the pictures and videos you take, receive or download, being able to save so much space, storage wouldn't be a problem alone, I've used the first pixel with only 32 GBS of ram for 1 year and a half and it was never full.
  • Right. I don't have a P3, just a P2, and this thing just never binds up at all. I never have to think of how much memory it has. Because when **** just works and you forget there's actual processing going on (I don't mean cellular bandwidth binds), you don't have to always be eyeing the next spec upgrade. And for all the work Google's software does for every picture, the camera app is really fast. Taking a dump on a spec sheet without actually using the device, or referencing specific issues you've had, is just not worth the time it takes to say. There's laptop brands out there which love to build impressive spec sheets, but run like **** compared to more conservative builds which make the most out of solid hardware. I care about real world use feedback, while theoretical benchmarks can take a backseat. Google isn't marketing their phones as productivity machines, or "the phone that can replace your laptop". There's no pretense you're going to buy one of these for heavy office work or serious gaming. It does what it was made for very well, and if you need more, there's other options.
  • People say that but I don't agree with the notion that it's the most optimised android phone. One Plus and flagship Xperias are just as fast if not faster it only trumps them in taking photos and nothing else.
  • It's not about the phone. It's about third party apps and games. Google didn't develop those, lasting checked. What you're doing is regurgitating a talking point and projecting it. This is useless I urge grand scheme of things. Apps determine system requirements, not the platform.
  • Further to booboolala2000's point (regarding a false narrative), The "ridiculous" notch is on a phone (pixel 3xl) that's only $50 more than it's predecessor. It's the pixel 3 that is $150 more than last year's model.
  • The comments regarding the video recording performance is very disappointing.
  • I hear ya, I don't take videos on a regular basis, but for me it seems fine. It seems to do the stabilization after the video has been taken vs. on the fly. That being said it took about five seconds for my thirty second video to load.
  • Pixel tens to set the standard for smartphone photography. I just leave it in HDR+ mode, and let Google decide what's best for post processing. The photos app recommends some lighting fixes, but overall, the Pixel takes amazing shots. I have a first gen pixel, btw. I'd like to upgrade to the 3 non XL, but no interest in shelling out $800. I'm hoping for a price cut, or I'll buy a used one on Swappa later.
  • The photos are always way too cold, looking dark and under exposed. Too much editing look in them, like you stacked 3 vsco filters. I don't like the way the photos look, personally.
  • Nope. Not when the iPhone x still beats it in video and the P20 pro from last year still beats it in still photos. Definitely didn't live up to the hype.
  • Best phone of the year as long as you don't plan on trying to use more than 2-3 apps at a time. It's looking like the worst phone of the year when it comes to ram management and saving pictures..
  • I don't think so this year. It's basically the same camera from last year with some AI thrown on it. It's not that much better and the audio recording is still dead last amongst the top flagships. But it is still one of the best.