iPhone 7 Plus vs Google Pixel XL: Blind Camera Comparison [And the Winner Is …]

iPhone 7 Plus and Pixel XL

By popular request, ahead of a more formal comparison of imaging results from iPhone 7 Plus and Google Pixel XL, the top two smartphones/phablets, let’s try a ‘blind’ comparison at web/social resolution (i.e. low), with me not giving you any clues as to which snap was from which phone camera. We already know that image processing can be somewhat subjective, plus there are some physical differences here, not least the OIS and second 2x zoom lens on the iPhone 7 Plus. So this shouldn’t be too difficult, right?

Before launching into the A-B snaps, I should mention that here in the UK it’s cold, damp and gloomy. So don’t expect any gloriously sunny photos – I refer you to other reviewers in other parts of the world for those! However, sunny shots are easy to capture – as the saying goes: ‘when the going gets tough, the tough get going’. In other words, by shooting under dim and artificial light, we’re challenging the optics and image processing far more, i.e. it’s more of a test, a challenge!

Here are the six test shots then:

  • downsampled for the site here (don’t worry, you’ll get full resolution samples in the main comparison feature in a couple of days!)
  • with A and B a different phone for each, i.e. randomly switched
  • with EXIF data all stripped, so no cheating by grabbing the JPGs from the site!

Tell us which photo you liked more in the 6 tests by taking the survey at the end of the post, and I’ll reveal which is which in 24 hours by updating the article.

Test 1: Sunny detail

In a rare moment of semi-sun, I snapped this shopping plaza, with oodles of detail and texture….

Photo A

stairs-a

Photo B

stairs-b

Test 2: Gloomy landscape

It’s bleak, it’s dim, it’s the UK heading into winter. But hey, there’s an interesting aircraft in view!

Photo A

herald-a

Photo B

herald-b

Test 3: Striking architecture

OK, it’s our local Asda, I’ve always loved this apex, with all the glass and signage, against the setting sun. Except that there’s no sun this week in the UK, so again it’s rather bleaker than usual.

Photo A

asda-a

Photo B

asda-b

Test 4: Zoom time

Given that the iPhone 7 Plus features a 2x zoom lens, this would have been obvious at full resolution, but can you tell which snap is which at web/social resolution here?

Photo A

lightszoom-a

Photo B

lightszoom-b

Test 5: Christmas come early

You’ve got to love the rich colours in a Christmas display, but which phone has taken which shot?

Photo A

christmas-a

Photo B

christmas-b

Test 6: Dark of night, at the pictures

Shooting across my local multiplex car park, a great test of light handling with everything from darkest night to retina-scorching neon…

Photo A

showcase-a

Photo B

showcase-b

Update 1:

Thanks everyone for the feedback. It was the first time we were trying this format, but as many of you pointed out it would be easier if we also included a survey.

Update 2:

The survey has ended, please find the results below.

Results

OK, the survey results are in:

Test 1: Sunny detail

You voted 77% that photo A was best. ID: Google Pixel XL

Test 2: Gloomy landscape

You voted 61% that photo B was best. ID: Google Pixel XL

Test 3: Striking architecture

You voted 64% that photo A was best. ID: iPhone 7 Plus

Test 4: Zoom time

You voted 75% that photo B was best. ID: iPhone 7 Plus

Test 5: Christmas come early

You voted 62% that photo A was best. ID: Google Pixel XL

Test 6: Dark of night

You voted 57% that photo A was best. ID: iPhone 7 Plus

[For anyone trying to scribble down the photo sequence from the iPhone, it was BAABBA]

As you’ll have spotted, a 3:3 tie in ‘best’ photos means that, as I suspected, it’s really tough to draw conclusions about phone cameras based on social/web resolution images. Which is why I’ll have something much more in depth in a couple of days. Watch this space.

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