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Samsung Galaxy S9 vs. Google Pixel 2: Camera comparison

We've compared the broad strokes of how Samsung and Google take very different approaches to making a top-end smartphone. The processes are different, but the end results are very similar: both phones do a whole lot really well, and are worthy leaders in the Android world.

That same thought process follows in their cameras, and there's no surprise that when you talk about taking great photos with a smartphone both the Galaxy S9+ and Google Pixel 2 XL are always in the conversation. But in the end you're only going to buy one of these phones, and if you're using the camera quality as a big deciding factor we have you covered — here's how they differ, and which one is best overall.

Daylight

Galaxy S9+ (left) vs. Google Pixel 2 XL (right) — click to view larger

If I didn't put these photos side by side to analyze, you'd be extremely happy with the quality of either one. In good lighting conditions, both cameras are taking really good photos without any clear issues or consistent shortcomings. They're fundamentally sound and never struggle in daylight conditions.

The Galaxy S9+'s shots are far brighter, but the Pixel 2 XL brings out amazing colors and contrast.

Looking right down the line, the biggest differences you can see is that the Galaxy S9+ consistently takes brighter overall photos. Part of that is the f/1.5 lens, but also just comes from the way the phone sets its exposure a bit on the high side. Every photo the Galaxy S9+ takes is brighter across the whole scene, which most people will initially interpret as being a nicer-looking shot. But it comes at the cost of dynamic range and contrast, which is where the Pixel 2 XL takes over — though darker, these shots have deeper colors and a stronger emphasis on widening the range between light and dark parts of the scene. In many cases, it draws out a wider dynamic range than you see in real life.

Looking closer, the Galaxy S9+'s shots have fine details that are extremely crisp, just like the Pixel 2 XL, but where Samsung's camera wins is in the smoothing of noise on flat surfaces. It shows less grain and rough texture, which in most cases is a good thing. Samsung walks the fine line between nicely smoothing and over-processing these flat surfaces, and you could argue that in some cases where you want to accentuate the texture of a subject leaving some noise, as the Pixel 2 XL does, would be preferred.

Low light

Galaxy S9+ (left) vs. Google Pixel 2 XL (right) — click to view larger

This is where the real battle is: low light photography. Where the GS9+ absolutely wins is in the low noise and sharp detail in these conditions. Zooming in on side-by-side shots, it's a dramatic difference in how smooth the GS9+'s shots are compared to the standard levels of grain you see from the Pixel 2 XL. That's most-noticeable when you pixel peep, but it comes across as a whole when viewed at a "normal" size as the GS9+ photos just have a fantastic clarity and crispness to them you don't expect to see with so little light. Once again Samsung does an excellent job of walking the line between having a crisp photo and one that looks over-processed and smoothed.

The GS9+ is the superior choice for low noise and high clarity low-light shots.

To the Pixel 2 XL's credit, there are many things it does better in low-light situations. Down the line Samsung once again tends to over-expose a bit with the rule of "brighter = better," and its colors and contrast aren't quite as good as the Pixel 2 XL. Just like daylight shots the Google camera pulls out a wider dynamic range than you expect, and in my testing the Pixel 2 XL was also better at accurately setting the white balance to be more neutral while the Galaxy S9+ was regularly too warm. The f/2.0 lens makes it easier to keep close-up subjects in focus, too, where sometimes the GS9+'s f/1.5 lens can give you a soft-looking shot if it focuses slightly off from the point of your subject.

The Galaxy S9+'s f/1.5 lens and new sensor looked good anecdotally in our my review, and now setting its photos side-by-side with the Pixel 2 XL you can see just how good Samsung's camera is doing in weak lighting conditions. The Pixel 2 XL is still fantastic, but in some cases those GS9+ shots make you wish Google's phone had more advanced hardware to work with.

Portrait mode

Galaxy S9+ (left) vs. Google Pixel 2 XL (right) — click to view larger

The Galaxy S9+ has a "traditional" (for lack of a better term) portrait mode system, using two lenses to determine depth and selectively apply a background blur for dramatic effect. But even with two lenses and more information to work with, Live Focus seems like the lesser of the two systems overall. It's far pickier about how far away you are from your subject (stated as "3 to 5 feet"), and its processing often struggles to handle irregularities in the subject matter with jarring aberrations in areas it incorrectly thinks are in the foreground or background.

The Pixel 2 XL is better at portrait mode shots, but neither one does particularly well compared to a "regular" photo.

The Pixel 2 XL does its blurring entirely in software, showing that it is possible to get a good portrait mode without the assistance of a second camera as I found it bests the Galaxy S9+ in this area. Google's camera is far more willing to take a Portrait shot at a variety of distances, though my one knock on the interface is its lack of transparency about whether it's truly locked in a Portrait shot or dropped back to a regular photo. The results, however, are better than Samsung's, with more consistent accurate blurring of the background and fewer instances of jagged edges or incorrectly-placed blur.

The one thing throwing a wrench into this whole portrait comparison is that the Galaxy S9+'s main camera is capable of taking some fantastic shallow depth of field shots simply using its main f/1.5 lens. Because of that extremely wide aperture, portraits and macro shots taken in pure Auto mode can often have better background blurring than either Samsung's Live Focus or Google's Portrait mode can offer in the first place. Certainly something to consider here.

Zoom

2X zoom: Galaxy S9+ (left) vs. Google Pixel 2 XL (right) — click to view larger

4X zoom: Galaxy S9+ (left) vs. Google Pixel 2 XL (right) — click to view larger

The one place the Galaxy S9+ should be better is in zooming, where it secondary 2X lens gives it the physical advantage of delaying the point where it has to digitally crop on the sensor to "zoom" in. But interestingly, the Galaxy S9+ doesn't actually use the secondary camera every time you zoom to 2X and beyond — in weaker lighting conditions, it falls back to using a digital crop on the main camera like the Pixel 2 XL. In many cases the main camera will actually provide better photos than the secondary because it's using a better sensor and brighter lens, so it seems Samsung has that dialed in well.

At 2X, it's basically a tie — beyond that, the Galaxy S9+'s optics win.

In the above examples we see the Galaxy S9+'s second camera in use, and can compare that to the Pixel 2 XL's purely digital zoom. In daylight at the 2X zoom level things are roughly the same, which is a nice accomplishment from the Pixel 2 XL's perspective — at 2X, it's basically indistinguishable from having an "optical" zoom from the Galaxy S9+'s switching lenses. And things are even closer in mixed-light situations where the Galaxy S9+ also drops to a digital crop on the main sensor.

But at 4X, you see where the Galaxy S9+ has the advantage. Working from a starting point of using a 2X lens and digitally cropping from there, the GS9+'s shot is dramatically more sharp and clear. It's at this zoom level that the Pixel 2 XL's camera really looks like a poor digital crop, and that's not surprising — at some point it doesn't matter how you process things, because you just run out of resolution to work with.

Bottom line: Which one is best?

After all of that, which phone takes the best photos? Well of course, there's some nuance at play here.

Looking at daylight photos, I give the edge to the Pixel 2 XL. The amazing amount of color, great contrast and super-wide dynamic range lead to stunning photos with great consistency from shot to shot, and Samsung's only real answer to that is to just take brighter photos with slightly better noise reduction. The Galaxy S9+ takes great photos outdoors, but they are rarely mind-blowing in the same way the Pixel 2 XL's are.

The Pixel 2 XL is best when it has light to work, but the Galaxy S9+ is the new king of low light.

When it comes to low light, things are close but I give the nod to the Galaxy S9+ overall. Every single low-light shot with that main sensor and f/1.5 lens is smoother, sharper and clearer than what the Pixel 2 XL captures, and when it comes to low-light shots those things are far more noticeable than the Pixel 2 XL's better colors and white balance. But just like the daylight shots, this is close — perhaps you put more emphasis on colors and are willing to take an acceptable amount of low-light noise to get it, especially if you aren't showing off the images at large sizes.

Then we have zoom and portrait mode, which cancel each other out in my eyes. The Galaxy S9+'s secondary camera provides superior zoom at anything beyond 2X, and Google's digital crop isn't particularly close. But interestingly Samsung does a worse job with portrait mode shots than Google does — go figure. Now if you're comparing the smaller (and less expensive) Galaxy S9 and Pixel 2, things are different. The Galaxy S9 only has one camera, so it doesn't offer the optical 2X zoom or portrait mode, which then throws this portion in Google's favor.

Count it up, and you have ... basically a tie, depending on the kinds of photos you take most often. The Pixel 2 XL does a better job in any situation where it has light to work with, creating fantastic photos that are so good you won't think about editing them before sending out online or to your friends and family — but at night, it's no longer the best camera out there. The Galaxy S9+ is the king when the lights get low, with amazing clarity and low noise you just can't get anywhere else right now — the trade-off there is that its daylight shots don't rise to the same level. Choose where you want your camera to do its best work, and that's the phone you want.

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.

71 Comments
  • I have both Pixel 2 XL and S9+, both take great pictures. But one thing I have noticed with S9 is skin tone on the pictures feels very smooth or somewhat blotched. With the pixel I just click and every time I get a great picture, but struggling a bit with S9. May be just got to get used to this way Samsung processes it's images.
  • I can always tell when someone uses a Samsung phone for selfies because of the artificial smoothness to the skin. I have come to prefer the Pixel's take on this but there are times when it can be unflattering.
  • Lol right. I'm ugly. Need all the help I can get.
  • LOL I remember the first time I took a selfie with the Pixel 2 XL. I was aghast at the quality of the shot because it was so clear...and because it managed to capture every single imperfection in my complexion.
  • On s9, Back cam and front cam? I know that "beauty mode" on the front cam does that skin smoothing thing.
  • the S9+ and Pixel 2 XL both take great pictures but it's prefer the punchier colours of the Pixel 2 XL but I expect the S9+ to win against the Pixel 2 XL in lowlight photos thanks to the F1.5 aperture on the S9+ camera but overall you can't go wrong with ether one and it's a testiment to the Amazing job Google did with the Pixel 2 XL camera that it can still more than hold it's own against the S9+.
  • Guess you guys didn't notice that the U11 and U11 Plus are better than the S9 Plus in low light, so the "king of low light" would only be in regards to this specific review. https://photos.app.goo.gl/waUBgTpdRSA930zA3 https://photos.app.goo.gl/AOH7ymTlDpNBP13N2
  • Hmmm are you using automatic mode? Because S9 has f1.5
  • Yes, automatic mode. The S9 has the slightly wider aperture (F1.5 vs F1.7) which does let in more light, and both cameras have the same sensor pixel size of 1.4 µm. I think where HTC makes up the difference is having 5 axis OIS instead of regular OIS, and a slight advantage in image processing thanks to their intimate relationship with Google.
  • Andrew, thanks for the detailed review. In your experience, even though the Pixel 2 brought out more dynamic range, which did you feel was more consistent to real life, like what your eyes actually saw?
  • The Galaxy S9+ was in daylight, simply because it didn't offer over-the-top contrasty shots. But if there's one thing we know, it's that a vast majority of people don't want "natural" photos — they want photos that are punchy and pleasing to the eye.
  • Thanks. Kind of ironic that a Samsung is in that position now, at least compared to the Pixel.
  • Yup, role reversal.
  • I shoot RAW and notice my edits are more Samsungish than Samsung in auto. Plenty of color and contrast to make an image pop, it's how I like viewing them and I get compliments on social media.
  • L0n3N1nja - There's some shots I like to punch up the colors, some I don't. I took a shot of a triangular library building from the roof of another building to catch the copper roof, and now I don't like the original colors, lol. Then there's times when the original colors of the subject are beautiful, and you want to keep them as-is. Below is the altered library shot and an untouched shot of some flowers, and the flower shot looked like a clone with no variation from the real thing. Then there are times when a scene really catches your eye (like a Tim Horton's after sunset), and it doesn't come out perfect, but you really like it anyhow. Note: all photos are lower resolution because of Google Photos. Library: https://photos.app.goo.gl/NcGXQbyDnCKHDspq2
    Breakfast flowers: https://photos.app.goo.gl/sDZZaHQ0kQPhJDDb2
    Sunset: https://photos.app.goo.gl/vA3P4aMVAWaItV1W2
  • So there were two different Samsung phones used in the comparison? Why not compare the reg S9 to the Pixel 2? It sounds like it would be a wash for the zoom. As Samsung has essentially two different camera setups, vs Googles one, it would make sense to rank the three of them.
  • There were not two different phones used here. Galaxy S9+ and Pixel 2 XL only. I make mention of the smaller GS9 vs Pixel 2 comparison in the end :) — nearly all of what's shown here is applicable to the smaller phones as well. As I note, missing out on the 2X zoom and Live Focus on the GS9 doesn't notably change the comparison. I wouldn't at all call them two different camera setups — the core experience of using the camera on the GS9 and GS9+ is the same, it's merely a couple fringe features that are different.
  • Thank you. I was nit picking, but as good as the caneras are now I guess that is where we are. Three years ago you could do a blind sample and figure out which ones were Google's. They really have done a good job here. Samsung pushed them along that is for sure.
  • Both are damn great cameras 👍
  • I agree...s9 for low light, pixel for everything else lol
  • And this is exactly why the iPixel camera isn't the best. For the slight overexposure in auto mode on the S9, the iPixel delivers constantly darker photos, some of them borderline cartoonish (because they overuse the HDR). But while on the S9 you CAN fix that by going into manual mode (the S7 was better in this aspect since the auto-mode had an exposure slide in it as well. We'll see what Samsung will do on future updates to the S9), on the iPixel you can't. You get what Google wants to give you and that's it. And if you want something else you'll have to go use another camera app - which will never get full access to the camera hardware on the phone unless you root - and be left with a sub-par experience. Also, regarding the S9 vs S9+: the zoom is pretty much the only thing different. So if you don't care for zoom, you should spare yourself the money. The "Live focus" (or "selective focus" on the S9) doesn't work as well as you using manual modes.
    Regardless of using the S9 or S9+, for portrait shots you will be better off by going manual and selecting:
    - f1.5
    - ISO 100
    - Manual focus (Samsung covers the object you're focusing on in green dots)
    - and then adjust the shutter speed to the lighting conditions you're working under. All things the iPixel can't do. If its portrait mode fails, it fails. The only other thing (apart from the slight over-exposure) you can point at the S9 which I'd agree with, is the tendency to go for warmer tones. The iPixel tends to prefer cooler tones on the photos.
    This, however, will only affect you if you prefer the other option. If you like cooler photos, the S9 will take photos a bit too warm. If you prefer warmer tones, the iPixel will take photos a bit too cold.
    And here, yet again, the S9 gives you the tools to fix it (with a kelvin scale in manual mode) while the iPixel gives you a more limited selection (last I checked, it only allowed for a select number of temperature-scenes).
  • Give it a rest with calling the Pixel 2 XL "iPixels" the Pixel's are still Android and the best version of Android IMO.
  • 1 - I will when Google stops releasing phones that are nothing more than iPhone rip-offs. So I don't think it'll happen anytime soon ;) 2 - And IMO stock Android is the sh*ttiest version of Android. Now what? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  • There are other phones out there that mimic the iPhone way more than the pixel phones do. And then again, there's only so much you can do with a rectangle anyway. So idk what all your hate is about
  • The Pixel is still an Android phone that focuses on the core features and it still runs Android and has all the customisation, freedom and flexibility we've come to expect from Android, the way you're carrying with your "iPixel" jibe you'd think they are iPhones, they're not, the Pixel's may not have as many features as a Samsung or LG or HTC but the Pixels are the smoothest and fastest and best Android experience and it doesn't need all those features which the majority of them are useless and nothing more than gimmicks, look both phones are great and you can't go wrong with ether, buy I prefer the smooth, fast and bloat free experience of stock Android along with the fast updates and consistent monthly security patches which for all of Samsung's features it's those areas, they can't compete with Google.
  • Don't be pathetic. The iPixel is an Android phone that emulates the worse of Apple: overpriced hardware of dubious quality, a complete lack of basic hardware features (like microSD support of wireless charging) and a simplified, dumbed down version of Android for people too stupid to understand how it works. "has all the customisation, freedom and flexibility we've come to expect from Android" I don't expect Android to be a ****** all-white backgrounds and circus coloured OS, without something as simple as the ability to change the system theme to black. "the Pixels are the smoothest and fastest and best Android experience" It's easy to be smooth and fast when you can't do almost anything. And they're the best Android experience for idiots. iPhone users would feel right at home on an iPixel because the software, like iOS, is pretty much locked down and treats people like morons. "all those features which the majority of them are useless and nothing more than gimmicks" Says you. The market clearly disagrees. And so does Google who keeps playing catch-up and copying those "gimmicks" other Android OEMs have had for years. "you can't go wrong with ether, buy I prefer the smooth, fast and bloat free experience of stock Android along with the fast updates and consistent monthly security patches" Good. Buy an iPixel.
    But everyone else - people who value bang-for-buck or want a phone that actually DOES something other than open the app drawer quickly - will buy the S9 or something else. That's why the S9 and others sell millions of phones and the iPixels are a sales flop. Because you, my friend, ARE a minority.
  • Sometimes it's almost too easy to spot when sambois are using blinders. 🙄
  • The iPhone has wireless charging now. So I assume Google will add it for the iPixel 3 in order to mirror what Apple is doing.
  • 🙂 Ny old Nexus 5, and even LG Nexus 4(2012), does also have wireless charging. So it will not be a new thing for Google to be using in their smartphones. And other companies have been using it as long or longer. So who is mirroring who?
  • Fun fact, Google and LG's Nexus 5 was the first smartphone with wireless charging, followed a few months later by Samsung. Having used wireless charging on a few past phones, it's not a deal breaker for me. It was slower to reach full charge, the phone got harder, and proper placement took longer than plugging in a cord. And in reality, this is the epitome of a first world problem. People act like it's an enormous undertaking to plug in a wire. Really?
  • DJCBS, The only thing the Pixel has in common with Apple is the pricing other than that,you know darn well it's Android, regardless of not having as much features as your precious Samsung, it has the core features of Android, you can change your launcher, tweak the settings with developer options, sideload any apks from Samsung or anyone else. So you saying that the Pixel (get it right) is locked down like the iPhone is nonsense, it's Android so that isn't possible, and not having an SD card slot is no big deal to me being a former iPhone user and I prefer internal storage over an SD card anyway as internal storage doesn't become currupt like an SD card and wireless charging isn't important either only for feature hungry people like you You've been nothing but disrespectful to me while I've been respectful of your opinion, your attitude stinks and in saying that the Pixels are for Android phones for idiots is plain ignorant, the Pixel phones are for people who want a pure Android and Google software experience with only the absolutely essential core features with fast updates and consistent monthly security patches which there's nothing wrong with that. I may be a minority but the Pixel phones work best for me in offering what I want and it's only the Pixel that can offer what I'm looking for with it's selling points which appeals to me more than any other Android phone and having used a Nexus 6 I realised I could never use anything else on Android that isn't pure Android, look you have your opinion and I have mine, let's leave it at that, Sammy boy.
  • ^^This guy must write more words than the journalists at Android Central. Every time a pixel phone is mentioned you can bet your house on the fact this fella will come wading in with his pixel hate/Sammy love. I mean, it's so regular it's kinda soothing. If the sun didn't rise in the morning I'd be freaked out and if a pixel was mentioned on this site without a comment from this guy I'd think it was end times.
  • I certainly don't hate Samsung, I just don't like their software which has way too many gimmicks rather have any truly useful features and I care about having the smoothest and fastest Android experience along with being first in line for updates and consistent monthly security patches which are all important to me and only the Pixel can offer me all of that and those things are more important to me than bloatware and features that are mainly gimmicks and I won't even use along with stutter and slow updates you get with the S9+ or any other Samsung phone.
  • Amazing...you, on the other hand, wrote 5 lines of useless text.
    You said nothing, provided no counter-argument. Nothing. You just whined.
    That takes talent.
  • There are 6 lines of text. He may not have talent, but I'll bet he can count.
  • Look DJCBS I've said what I needed to say, it's not my problem if you can't understand the Pixels appeal, but there's no reasoning with. Samsung Fanboy.
  • I have heard nothing but praise for the Pixel phones. The feature that stand out about the Pixel is The camera and how Great it is! ...I would like to see an objective review on this phone , overall!...
    I believe Mathew does an outstanding job with his reviews! He is fair and objective!.
  • Overall I chose the Pixel pics, but there were a few S9+ ones that I liked best.
  • Any thought on the differences in video? Especially low light video.
  • "at 2X, it's basically indistinguishable from having an "optical" zoom from the Galaxy S9+'s switching lenses." It looks quite distinguishable to me.
  • Yes, clicking on the 2x pic comparisons and zooming in clearly shows the S9 shots are sharper. The building has much sharper and distinct lines the other shot inside is also much sharper.
  • Both look good enough to me.
    S9 colours looked better to my eye.
    But the most important thing is speed and accuracy of focus. From experience the Pixels have been quicker than the S series in this department.
  • Both did a great job but the S9 did a better job here. IMO the Pixel just adds a bit too much contrast and tones in it's pictures. You can say it gives it a punchy look that's pleasing to the eye but it's not realistic. For examples, when it comes to the sky and clouds, it adds too much contrast and doesn't look realistic to what they actually looked like in real life. Also, the Pixel outdoor pics always look unusually dark to me too, the natural light seems like it's crushed...underexposed maybe? I don't know but maybe that's why their pictures have that dark filter look. Call the S9 washed out or desaturated or whatever you want to say. But to me it looks more natural and true to life and it edges out the Pixel in details majority of the time. It tends to have more dynamic range and it lets in more natural light whereas the Pixel looks like it has some sort of dark filter on. The Pixel has an excellent front facing camera and Samsung definitely needs some work in that department but overall the S9 is still the winner.
  • And I like the higher contrast/more HDR look of the Pixels myself - I'm a big fan of Trey Ratcliff (https://www.stuckincustoms.com/) and his Lightroom filters and other software he has developed that does amazing stuff with HDR. That being said, if you use the S9, it is the easiest thing in the world to open the pics on the phone in the Google Photos gallery app, which I use as my default gallery over the Samsung version. 99% of the time hitting edit-->auto makes it more contrast-y and look just like it would have come out of a Pixel. Easy-cheesy solution if you prefer the S9 for other reasons over the Pixel.
  • Finally someone calls it like it really is. The Samsung is the clear winner. Stop trying to give the pixel a crown it doesn't deserve.
  • I don't own either one of these phones, and don't have a strong favorite between the two, though I would probably pick the Pixel if HTC didn't exist ;)
    With that being said, here's my honest opinion viewing the photos on a 22 inch calibrated monitor: Daylight photos
    1. City construction: Pixel. I like both shots, but the pixel shot is sharper with wider dynamic range. You can see the difference in sharpness looking at the crane at the top of the photo.
    2. Flowers: S9. The Pixel photo is too contrasty, the S9 more natural and sharper.
    3. Looking up at skyscraper: Tie. I like the S9 exposure, except for it washing out the skyscraper. The Pixel gets the skyscraper right, but the rest is too dark. I would have to play with either photo to get it closer to what I want, but I'm amazed that you can see the mesh of the catwalk (?) in both shots.
    4. Bicycle seat: S9. Plate beneath the seat is sharper on the S9 shot, and the Pixel saturation is a bit overboard.
    5. Plant closeup: S9. More of the plant is in focus. Saturation appears equal this time though.
    6. Communications building: Pixel. Better contrast and dynamic range, and the S9 shot has a loss of sharpness in the top left of the photo.
    7. Construction equipment: S9. The primary subject is better exposed and sharper. Lowlight photos
    8. Tap collection: Pixel. Extra saturation helps this time, and the text on the taps is more legible.
    9. Across the street: Pixel. Despite the overall exposure being similar, you can see inside the shop windows, and there's less motion blur.
    10. Vinason Pho & Grill: S9. Sharper with greater detail.
    11. Furniture sign: S9. Slightly better exposure.
    12. Liquor cabinet: S9. Despite the yellow tint, the S9 shot is more detailed. You can fix tint, you can't fix lost detail.
    13. Night streets from above: S9. I'm gonna go with the S9 again due to sharpness. There may be a bit of over sharpening (cars on the street), but that's better than soft details.
    14. Plant in corner: S9. Better exposure, less grain. Portrait mode photos
    15. Face: S9. The Pixel shot just looks like CGI to me.
    16. Eiffel Tower: S9. The level of blur on the pixel shot is exaggerated for the difference in focal plane. It stands out as fake the instant you see it. Zoom photos
    17. Buildings: Tie. Although the bricks have better detail in the S9 shot, The Pixel just adds just enough pop to make the photo more likable to me, so I'll call it a draw.
    18. Kitchen counter: S9. The Pixel photo did not have enough resolution to maintain sharpness. ----------------
    Subtotal scores
    Daylight photos: S9-4, Pixel-2, Tie-1.
    Lowlight photos: S9-5, Pixel-2, Tie-0.
    Portrait mode: S9-2, Pixel-0, Tie-0.
    Zoom photos: S9-1, Pixel-0, Tie-1. Totals: S9-12, Pixel-4, Tie-2.
  • Neither do I but I plan on getting the Pixel 2 XL as I prefer stock Android and love being first in line for those fast updates and consistent monthly security patches and the Pixel phones are the smoothest, fastest and bloat free Android experience and it has all that I offer plus the camera is still top notch.
  • I prefer the samsung camera just looks more natural.
  • The S9 pictures looks better to my eyes. Sky is blown out but looks to offer more information in some areas than the Pixel.
  • This doesn't even take into account pro mode which just takes the S9+ to another level. A level beyond point and shoot.
  • Can't we all agree that they are both great cameras and not bash the one you don't like?
  • Admitting one is better is not bashing the other.
  • "But even with two lenses and more information to work with, Live Focus seems like the lesser of the two systems overall." However, you admit f/1.5 is better for portrait shots, anyway, since you get REAL bokeh, and not software simulated bokeh. And the Pixel 2 doesn't have f/1.5.
  • S9 is over exposing on default and blowing out the highlights in a way I don't like. I think it's relying on the 1.5 aperture in too bright of conditions or not adjusting to a fast enough shutter. I take most photos in manual with RAW because I like the option to do full edits later anyway, but still a pain auto doesn't give me results I would expect.
  • I'm guessing Samsung will probably tweak it, but use manual mode in the meantime.
  • Yes blown highlights are an issue as impossible to fix in post processing.
    I think this is why Google tends to expose for the highlights more.
    Due to focal length and sensor size I'm not convinced even a F1.5 lens has a shallow enough DOF for my needs.
  • Pixel has tendencies to create mud, I've seen it before and first two samples here prove that once again.
  • To me, pixel 2 xl is still the champ!
  • How does the Pixel have better dynamic range when you can't even see the details let alone the actual color of the darker darker parts of the Pixels picture? When the S9 doesn't overexpose I can make out the highlights and shadows much more clearly with much better detail and you can make out the colors as well. Most of the time the darker parts of the Pixel are just underexposed, I can't tell you what I'm looking at. And I'm viewing these samples on a Quad HD calibrated display. So actually the Pixels darker parts are actually OUTSIDE of it's dynamic range since they're actually just too dark to make out the details. The highlights on the Pixel is fine but again I prefer the more realistic highlights from the S9. So that would make the S9 actually have better dynamic range than the Pixel and not the other way around. The Pixel pictures are darker and it would appear to have the better dynamic range but I've seen enough Pixel vs S9 comparisons to know that's just not the case.
  • Better dynamic range is somewhat objective, but the Pixel does appear to have more dynamic range at default settings.
    The Samsung over expose loosing highlights more than the Pixel under exposes in the shodows. Recovering details from shadow is usually possible but from blown areas it's not.
    Most photographers would rather under exposes due to this.
    So I think the term better dynamic range is true for most people.
  • Samsung doesn't over exposes the highlights more than the Pixel under exposes the shadows. The Pixel under exposes the shadows 90% of the time. The Pixel under exposes its entire picture like 75% of the time. While not every picture will have sunlight to over expose there will always be darker areas that can be under exposed. I've look at at least 30 pictures from both phones side by side and it's the same thing going on. The S9 takes more balanced pictures. It really doesn't over exposes thst often. You can even see it in the first shot on this site. All I see in the picture of those buildings is blue and everything else is pretty much black in the Pixel. Everything is crushed. There's very little detail in those dark areas. Completely black shadows means the camera is out of its dynamic range. You can barely see the parking deck. Meanwhile you see the parking deck in the S9 a lot better. It's sharper, better color and more clarity. The entire picture looks like it has a dark filter on. The smaller white building on the right to the tallest blue building has a brown stripe going down the center on the S9. How does it look on the Pixel? Black and if I'm being generous I can say it looks like a dark brown/black color, but still the color is lost and being crushed. This is just one example but there's plenty other examples as well I can breakdown.
  • To my eye the S9 (in manual mode) over exposes more than the Pixel under exposes.
    The under exposure looks to be about 2 stops on the Pixel where as the S9 looks to be about 4 stops over exposed. (For me)
    And for me (and many others) it is always better in under expose.
    Nether can expose correctly but for me the Pixel does a better job with its dynamic range.
    The point I'm making is I could make the Pixel look the same at the S9 in post processing, I could not make the S9 look like the Pixel. (Range only).
    Having said all this I believe the S9 has the better camera (for my needs) The problem with these tests and ones done by DxOmark is they are always done on fully manual settings. This really doesn't tell the whole story.
  • Should read "not always done"
  • Pixel 2XL is the software champ not hardware. S9+ is clearly the better 📷
  • Both of these phones have fantastic cameras, IMHO. I was so tempted to get a Pixel 2 (not the XL) when it launched, but with Google dropping wireless charging, I just never could pull the trigger. I just gave up my S7 (which took ok photos) for the S9, and I'm happy that I did. Time will tell, but since I do a lot of close-up type product shots, I'm already thrilled to be able to take a great photo that doesn't need a ton of editing before I can use it. I find the S9's white balance on auto to be pretty accurate, too, which seems to be half the battle with phone cams.
  • I’m interested to see how the S9 is better than S8. Just to see how much better f1.5 does to Low light with similar processing, background blur and if wide open is it not as sharp as f1.7 in landscapes. Corner sharpness etc. Also would like an example for the f1.5 photos of people. Just to see how much background blur you get. Remember that f1.5 is still like f7 full frame equivalent. Also mentioned in the podcast f1.5 is 2 stops from pixel, ok so here’s how f stops work, f1.4 is one stop faster than f1.8 and 2 stops faster than f2.8. So 2 stops from f1.5 is about f2.8 or more. And f1.2 is half stop faster than f1.4 for those interested.
  • Another thing about f1.5. It captures in faster shutter speed. So let’s say an f1.4 lens will take at 1/20s while a lens at one f stop lower at f1.8 will need 1/10s. Just a correction from the podcast.
  • Sick of companies making cameras interpret things instead of just capturing what really is. I don' want artificial manipulations, I want pureness.
  • Artificial manipulation is kind of what photography is.
    You can always avoid manipulation in the Jpeg process by shooting RAW and adjust as you see fit.
    Most people (using smart phones) want them to convert to JPEGs automatically and this is where personal preferences differ.
  • I've done a heap of comparing between our 2XL and S9 plus. The 2XL produces more detail in every shot in low light. The S9+ might have a cleaner looking image but the details are all smoothed out. Also colours are rarely accurate compared to our 2XL. The noise on the 2XL isn't that bad unless you're peeping deep. In bright daylight I've noticed the S9 + gets a weird halo or glow around edges of people's skin or white objects. Also the 1.5 just makes shots less realistic indoors to me. Too much light. Then there's the over exposing Samsung shows. I guess you can adjust it but I'd rather not worry about adjusting. They're both good though. Win win either way these days.
  • Hi, I love to take selfies and I find that my Google Pixel2 smooths my face too much. is there any way to avoid this? The beauty feature is off (obviously) Im even thinking to swtich my new Pixel2 for the S9 but I read that the S9 smooths your face even more! I want more realistic pictures I hate the cartoonist artificial look,What do you suggest?