Apple iPhone XS awarded smartphone camera of the year, Google Pixel 3 runner-up

Posted:
in iPhone edited December 5
Apple's iPhone XS beat out other rivals for 2018's best smartphone camera award from Digital Photography Review, notably Google's Pixel 3.




While Digital Photography Review praised Pixel 3 for its ability to take still images, it awarded Apple first place due to "a more rounded feature set that includes class-leading video, reliable Auto Focus, wide color capture and HDR display of imagery, plus a range of improvements over the original iPhone X."

Over the past two years, Google has poured massive investment into mobile digital imaging, particularly the custom Image Signal Processing silicon used in its Pixel phones. In selecting Pixel 3 as a runner-up, DP Review praised its Night Sight mode, which rapidly captures a series of shots and merges them using processing to "extract more detail, reduce noise, and remove the need for demosaicing." The site called it "the best smartphone camera for stills we've ever seen."

However, mobile users don't just want to capture studio shots in poor lighting. Particularly since the release of iPhone 4 in 2010, Apple's has taken a comprehensive approach to make iPhone a compelling camera across a range of uses, from photos to video to Panorama, Slo-Mo, Time-Lapse, and the dual lens, depth-based Portrait imaging it introduced with iPhone 7 Plus.

Specific to the new iPhone XS models, the site called out the "larger image sensor in the main camera for better dynamic range and low light performance, and a refined Portrait Mode. In a snub to traditional cameras, the XS allows you to choose your aperture after you shoot - all the way from F1.4 to F16. Cleverly, Apple has modeled the optical properties of real full-frame portrait lenses to accurately - and attractively - simulate 'real' bokeh."

The site called Apple's new Smart HDR "perhaps the biggest improvement," noting that it "takes advantage of the faster processing capabilities of the phone to capture wider dynamic scenes in stills, panoramas, and even in video up to 4K/30p, making the HEVC 4K footage the best we've seen from a smartphone."

It concluded, "pair all this with improved contrast on one of the best displays on the market, with accurate color management under the hood so you get the benefits of the wide gamut display without a loss in color accuracy, and you have one of the best smartphones available today."

The photography site selected iPhone XS over other models in its shortlist, which included the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S9+ and Sony Xperia XZ3.

The future of Pixel looks like the past of tablets

The amount of money Google has invested in building propriety camera features for Pixel-- including software but mostly custom silicon-- raises a puzzling question for industry observers. Andreessen Horowitz analyst Benedict Evans tweeted, "What purpose do Google's Pixel phones serve?"

Writing for The Verge Vlad Savov argued that "sales are a measure of sales, not importance," and implied that Google is spending incredible amounts of money on the vanity project despite minimal actual sales merely to get Android developers to follow its guidelines for elongated, notched screens, and so Android users will "articulate their dissatisfaction with other Android phones more directly."

However, it's more reasonable to think that Google expected that winning over Android users with a premium priced, high-end phone would be easy. After all, Apple was doing it. That thinking is also evident in the fact that, after leaving Google, Android project founder Andy Rubin himself launched Essential with the same level of arrogant confidence, which continued right up until it completely crashed landed in failure-land.

Google previously pursued nearly a decade of attempts at building tablet hardware, first introducing its original ideas for Honeycomb tablets that looked very little like Apple's iPad, then pursuing an ultra-low price tablet in partnership with cheap PC maker Asus, then switching to copy iPad so closely that its own tablet looked virtually identical, right down to the price. After failing to sell that, it gave up on Android tablets entirely.

The company's phone strategy appears to have reached the third phase of that cycle, and without some huge influx of buyers to support future development, it appears that Google will have to give up on selling its own phones too.

Given the very difficult market for smartphones, and in particular the rough time that even Samsung is having in trying to sell a premium priced Android phone, it looks like Google's work on phone hardware is turning in the same results as its work in tablets and TV set-top boxes.
watto_cobra
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 112
    JWSCJWSC Posts: 246member
    But, but, but ...   We were told that the Pixel 3 XL was superior ...
    thedbaStrangeDayslostkiwiwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 112
    thedbathedba Posts: 459member
    Oh no!
    The internet is going to explode with indignation on how such a travesty could occur. 

    In all seriousness, all these modern smartphones take excellent pictures/videos and a slight advantage that the Pixel 2 might’ve had has now disappeared. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 112
    thedba said:
    Oh no!
    The internet is going to explode with indignation on how such a travesty could occur. 

    In all seriousness, all these modern smartphones take excellent pictures/videos and a slight advantage that the Pixel 2 might’ve had has now disappeared. 
    No worries about that. Since Google controls search, only Apple sites will even hear of this. I did a search with these phones in the title. It only showed positive pixel articles by the Android  love brigade. Even when I included the name of the review...nothing. 

    He who controls the internet controls the narrative. 
    edited December 5 chasmlostkiwiwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 112
    Apple really outdid themselves this year with the camera!  IMHO, this was the first big improvement to the camera since the 5s came out in 2013.
    lostkiwinetmagewatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 112
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 2,888member
    JWSC said:
    But, but, but ...   We were told that the Pixel 3 XL was superior ...
    Here is the snippet:

    "The iPhone XS faced fierce competition from the Google Pixel 3 this year, and from a pure still image quality standpoint the Pixel 3 wins hands down"

    chasmmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 6 of 112
    avon b7 said:
    JWSC said:
    But, but, but ...   We were told that the Pixel 3 XL was superior ...
    Here is the snippet:

    "The iPhone XS faced fierce competition from the Google Pixel 3 this year, and from a pure still image quality standpoint the Pixel 3 wins hands down"

    P3 may edge out XS in pics, but XS blows P3 out of the water in video.  So, overall, the CAMERA SYSTEM on XS is better.
    tmaynetmagewatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 112
    croprcropr Posts: 862member
    genovelle said:
    thedba said:
    Oh no!
    The internet is going to explode with indignation on how such a travesty could occur. 

    In all seriousness, all these modern smartphones take excellent pictures/videos and a slight advantage that the Pixel 2 might’ve had has now disappeared. 
    No worries about that. Since Google controls search, only Apple sites will even hear of this. I did a search with these phones in the title. It only showed positive pixel articles by the Android  love brigade. Even when I included the name of the review...nothing. 

    He who controls the internet controls the narrative. 
    Fake news, I just did a Google search and the article came in on the second place
    muthuk_vanalingamtht
  • Reply 8 of 112
    I’d trust DP Review 1,000x more than all the other “tests” you see online. I’ve been buying gear based on their recommendations (and the experience of their users) almost since they started. 
    chasmgeorgie01StrangeDaysboltsfan17lostkiwiwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 112
    chasmchasm Posts: 993member
    The first half of this article is an excellent and journalistic news piece, and the sort of thing I enjoy reading on AI. I’m not sure why someone appended a barely-relevant editorial on Google’s future in smartphones onto it — and not that I disagree with those conclusions — but the editorial should have been its own piece (and btw, Google is still trying to sell a tablet ... and failing).
    muthuk_vanalingamnetmagephilboogiewatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 112
    Cleverly, Apple has modeled the optical properties of real full-frame portrait lenses to accurately - and attractively - simulate 'real' bokeh."

    It is nice to see someone saying what Apple actually did, rather than saying ‘Android has had adjustable bokeh for <insert length of time here>’ when it isn’t the same accomplishment. Apple should be praised and acknowledge for what they’ve done.

    tmayStrangeDaysnetmagewatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 112
    I’d trust DP Review 1,000x more than all the other “tests” you see online. I’ve been buying gear based on their recommendations (and the experience of their users) almost since they started. 
    Completely agree. I always head over to DP Review when I'm researching camera gear to buy. 
    ericthehalfbeelostkiwiwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 112
    DPreview and Cameralabs are the two authoritative sites for camera stuff.  Cameralabs do not do mobile stuff though.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 112
    silvergold84silvergold84 Posts: 39unconfirmed, member
    Well, I have the XS Max and the photos are something incredible better. No other smartphone have something similar , especially the pixel. Why?because the galaxy or huawei or pixel show the same limit of smartphones camera. The iPhone bring up the level of quality. This is the real step forward to bring us into the future. Not the pixel. Look the picture in a big display or tv and you will understand the differences.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 112
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 3,930member
    Well, I have the XS Max and the photos are something incredible better. No other smartphone have something similar , especially the pixel. Why?because the galaxy or huawei or pixel show the same limit of smartphones camera. The iPhone bring up the level of quality. This is the real step forward to bring us into the future. Not the pixel. Look the picture in a big display or tv and you will understand the differences.
    I concur. Xs Max camera is superb! It’s the first phone camera that I truly believe to have SLR qualities.
    lostkiwiwatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 112
    Not sure if allowed, but i made a thread on my forum regarding Xs and have collected various Youtube videos showing Xs camera: http://www.toyota-4runner.org/off-topic/264380-iphone-xs.html

    XS camera is a huge leap forward in both pics and video...Pixel is now playing catch up.

    PS: if forum admin wants to erase my post, then i am OK with it.  Sorry.
    edited December 5 watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 112
    In the past, I was trying to convince people that my XS Max is the best smartphone camera I have used and tried, including Pixel 3. Sadly I lost count the number of times I was called a liar and several other derogatory remarks. For some, the status of Pixel as the god of smartphone camera can't be disputed,  and especially if it was against iPhone.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 112
    Well, I have the XS Max and the photos are something incredible better. No other smartphone have something similar , especially the pixel. Why?because the galaxy or huawei or pixel show the same limit of smartphones camera. The iPhone bring up the level of quality. This is the real step forward to bring us into the future. Not the pixel. Look the picture in a big display or tv and you will understand the differences.
    Don't go getting ahead of yourself there.lol The iPhone Xs has a nice camera and much better than previous iPhone but..The pixels have been smoking the iPhone on camera until the Xs came out..Even now it's a toss up and matter of taste when it comes to which gives the best shot most of the time..Most people still say the pixel 3 has the edge on photos, especially low light. I'd give the iPhone video as well.
    I've taken some amazing shots with my pixel 3 XL. When I had the pics printed out at Wal-Mart the workers there couldn't belieive the pics came from a phone.
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 18 of 112
    cjpp78 said:
    Well, I have the XS Max and the photos are something incredible better. No other smartphone have something similar , especially the pixel. Why?because the galaxy or huawei or pixel show the same limit of smartphones camera. The iPhone bring up the level of quality. This is the real step forward to bring us into the future. Not the pixel. Look the picture in a big display or tv and you will understand the differences.
    Don't go getting ahead of yourself there.lol The iPhone Xs has a nice camera and much better than previous iPhone but..The pixels have been smoking the iPhone on camera until the Xs came out..Even now it's a toss up and matter of taste when it comes to which gives the best shot most of the time..Most people still say the pixel 3 has the edge on photos, especially low light. I'd give the iPhone video as well.
    I've taken some amazing shots with my pixel 3 XL. When I had the pics printed out at Wal-Mart the workers there couldn't belieive the pics came from a phone.
    Don’t get ahead of yourself here.......Pixel has been slightly better than previous iPhones ONLY in pics. iPhone has ALWAYS been ahead in video. 

    This year, XS pulled even further ahead. 
    StrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 112
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 2,888member
    Madtiger said:
    cjpp78 said:
    Well, I have the XS Max and the photos are something incredible better. No other smartphone have something similar , especially the pixel. Why?because the galaxy or huawei or pixel show the same limit of smartphones camera. The iPhone bring up the level of quality. This is the real step forward to bring us into the future. Not the pixel. Look the picture in a big display or tv and you will understand the differences.
    Don't go getting ahead of yourself there.lol The iPhone Xs has a nice camera and much better than previous iPhone but..The pixels have been smoking the iPhone on camera until the Xs came out..Even now it's a toss up and matter of taste when it comes to which gives the best shot most of the time..Most people still say the pixel 3 has the edge on photos, especially low light. I'd give the iPhone video as well.
    I've taken some amazing shots with my pixel 3 XL. When I had the pics printed out at Wal-Mart the workers there couldn't belieive the pics came from a phone.
    Don’t get ahead of yourself here.......Pixel has been slightly better than previous iPhones ONLY in pics. iPhone has ALWAYS been ahead in video. 

    This year, XS pulled even further ahead. 
    iPhones have improved but are still behind in photography. That is a consensus opinion just by reading around. IQ is only part of picture (pun intended). The flexibility of the camera (and by extension, the phone itself) also plays a part.

    Things like optical zoom, wide angle, macro, low light performance etc.

    When the Mate 10 Pro was released the CEO wanted to share some shots from Alaska and compare them to the iPhone X. It wasn't possible because the iPhone X shut down due to the cold. Of course battery life and storage space also have a big role to play.
    edited December 6 Seth2015
  • Reply 20 of 112
    avon b7 said:
    Madtiger said:
    cjpp78 said:
    Well, I have the XS Max and the photos are something incredible better. No other smartphone have something similar , especially the pixel. Why?because the galaxy or huawei or pixel show the same limit of smartphones camera. The iPhone bring up the level of quality. This is the real step forward to bring us into the future. Not the pixel. Look the picture in a big display or tv and you will understand the differences.
    Don't go getting ahead of yourself there.lol The iPhone Xs has a nice camera and much better than previous iPhone but..The pixels have been smoking the iPhone on camera until the Xs came out..Even now it's a toss up and matter of taste when it comes to which gives the best shot most of the time..Most people still say the pixel 3 has the edge on photos, especially low light. I'd give the iPhone video as well.
    I've taken some amazing shots with my pixel 3 XL. When I had the pics printed out at Wal-Mart the workers there couldn't belieive the pics came from a phone.
    Don’t get ahead of yourself here.......Pixel has been slightly better than previous iPhones ONLY in pics. iPhone has ALWAYS been ahead in video. 

    This year, XS pulled even further ahead. 
    iPhones have improved but are still behind in photography. That is a consensus opinion just by reading around. IQ is only part of picture (pun intended). The flexibility of the camera (and by extension, the phone itself) also plays a part.

    Things like optical zoom, wide angle, macro, low light performance etc.

    When the Mate 10 Pro was released the CEO wanted to share some shots from Alaska and compare them to the iPhone X. It wasn't possible because the iPhone X shut down due to the cold. Of course battery life and storage space also have a big role to play.
    If you talk about flexibility, then iPhone XS is A LOT more flexible than Pixel 3.  IQ...it comes down to preference.  P3 has more contrast; XS has less, but has better shadow details.  Look at the numerous Youtube comparisons...for pics, it’s 50/50.  But, even frequent Samsung sponsored Youtuber (SuperSaf) have to admit that XS is better than P3...and here are many Youtubers doing comparisons: http://www.toyota-4runner.org/3162329-post2.html
    StrangeDayswatto_cobra
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