Photo comparison – iPhone X versus Pixel 2 XL


Let me start off by saying I think these are both tremendous cameras.  That should be the starting point for any photo comp here – you can’t really go wrong with using either of these 2 devices’s cameras.  But my intent is to showcase a bit of the differences in the primary camera of both of these phones, and let you as the reader decide what info you want to take from it.  Below you will find some unfiltered and unedited photos taken on both the Pixel 2 XL and the iPhone X – who is the winner?  Let’s find out.

First off – specs:  the iPhone X primary camera features: 12 MP (f/1.8, 28mm), OIS, phase detection autofocus, quad-LED dual-tone flash while the Pixel 2 camera features a shooter with: 12.2 MP (f/1.8, 27mm, 1/2.6″, 1.4 µm, Dual Pixel PDAF), OIS, phase detection & laser autofocus, dual-LED flash (both courtesy of the great details captured from

Here, the iPhone X is on the left, and the Pixel 2 on the right – the image in the Pixel shot is noticably brighter, and has less shadow on the statue.  Also the details in teh tree are a bit more easily visible, but the Pixel image also appears a bit “washed out” as a consequence as well.

Here, the iPhone X pic on the left appears brighter, and a bit more pleasing to the eye, while the Pixel 2 XL shot is more dull and a bit darker.  The detail in both shots is about the same.

The Pixel 2 XL here seems a bit brighter in the sky and trees, but dull in the colors of hte building.  The iPhone X color of the building is nice and bright, but the sky and trees are darker and not as full of detail.  Google’s auto HDR+ is likely responsible for the Pixel shot looking a bit more crisp.

When we get up close and personal, the Pixel 2 XL shot on the right again appears a bit lighter and a bit more visible.  The detail of the wall is better in the iPhone shot however, and the shots are close enough elsewhere that its more of a toss up here.  Depending on what you choose to look at, both could be winners.

Here, we have a somewhat strange reversal of fortune, as the iPhone X shot here is lighter, and the Pixel 2 shot darker.  The Pixel 2 shot is a bit more accurate in reproducing the lighting of the original scene (shot in shadow of a building) but detail between the 2 is both very good.  I’d say the leaf is a bit better looking in the Pixel 2 shot, but not by much.

At night, the Pixel 2 XL should be the champ of all time, due to software enhancements right?  Well….maybe, maybe not.  The iPhone X shot on the left here looks better to me, with better correct colors and more light.  This was an almost dark scene, so the fact that both these cameras captured an image without a flash is incredible to start with.  But I think that while Google’s computation photography has an edge in some areas, it didn’t win this round.

Now – this scene illustrates a bit more as to what I thought would actually happen  The Pixel 2 XL shot on the rght is brighter in the same lighting, has more detail in the tree, and is much more pleasing to the eye.  Again, the iPhone X shot isn’t awful, and the fact that we caught as much detail as we did in both these images is remarkable.  We are in a great time for smartphone cameras, with respect to night performance and lower light image taking.

I’d say again here, the Pixel 2 XL shot is a bit more useful.  It contains the light in background from blowing out (something the iPhone couldn’t deal with as capably) and the detail in the squirrel is better in the Pixel image to my eye.  Also the lights to the upper left of the image from across the way are also blown out in the iPhone image, with the Pixel crushing the rendering like a champ.  The other areas of the background in the iPhone shot actually make the image look a bit brighter, but its also much harder to make out the details, including the features of the building, which the Pixel was able to capture.

In this last shot, we have a complex subject, with both a moving object in the background, and both light and shadow, as well as multiple different colors that need to be rendered correctly in both the background and foreground.  This is challenging for most mobile smartphone cameras because of the multiple elements as well as the short focal length of the lens.  Here, I think the Pixel 2 image wins again, with the detail in the shrubbery being a bit clearer, and the color and detail in the small tree in the background both being better.  The color of the lettering in the truck is also a bit darker and easier to read as a result.

While its clear that both these cameras have similar hardware features in their primary cameras, what may end up being the difference is Google’s ability to leverage software in their camera to their  benefit (and sometimes to their detriment) – where we have almost reached parity with high-end flagship smartphone camera hardware, software is still just beginning to scratch the surface of what it can do for our mobile photography.  Both cameras are excellent, and honestly for the price of them both, they should be.  What is really encouraging is that they actually are a bit closer than I originally thought they might be, and that’s great news for lovers of iOS and Android.  We can be pretty sure that no matter what your preference, if you buy either of these phones, you will get a great performing camera.  Feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comments below to share your experience with either device and their respective cameras.  Thanks for reading!  Cheers!




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