Pixel 2 vs. iPhone 8 camera: A real-world test

Everyone knows the Pixel camera is something special, and if Google made anything clear from the Pixel 2 announcement event it was how much better this new camera actually is. So we wandered into the demo area with an iPhone 8 to see for ourselves how these cameras stack up.

It's worth pointing out the Pixel 2 is running pre-production software and we're using an unreleased demo phone, and because of time and venue this photo compare is hardly comprehensive. Each photo was taken with a single hand and no mechanical stabilization. Each phone was set to full auto with no tap-to-focus or expose, and HDR Auto was on with both phones.

This shot is in a relatively low-light area of the event, clearly showing off the Stranger Things partnership between Netflix and Google. In these two shots, you can see the iPhone 8 (on the left) has much warmer colors. It makes the Pixel 2 version of the shot (on the right) look almost washed out by comparison. Zooming in on these photos reveals how much more detail the Pixel 2 camera was able to catch, which makes a huge difference in those low-light shots.

These shots were taken with much more ambient light, and again the iPhone captured more vibrant colors. In fact, the iPhone shot almost looks overly saturated. The Pixel 2 again captured more detail, but the colors are consistent and sharp everywhere in the image.

Ohai there, Andrew! This photo was intentionally taken with more background light than foreground light, and it quickly demonstrated how Apple and Google see the world a little differently. Apple focused on warmth and detail in the foreground, but the background is now blown out and doesn't look great. Google properly exposed the entire image, leaving the foreground a little less lively.

Last but not least, we have direct downward light on a subject. You can see the iPhone 8 photo is clearly the brighter and more vibrant of the two shots, and there's really not much else to say here. Both phones captured a respectable amount of detail, but one is very clearly better than the other.

So there you have it. At first glance, there are some clear strengths and weaknesses to this Pixel camera when compared directly to its biggest competitor. There will obviously need to be a lot more testing done with this camera, but it's safe to say the race for "best" camera on a phone this year is going to be closer and even more interesting.

Russell Holly

Russell is a Contributing Editor at Android Central. He's a former server admin who has been using Android since the HTC G1, and quite literally wrote the book on Android tablets. You can usually find him chasing the next tech trend, much to the pain of his wallet. Find him on Facebook and Twitter