Google announced its entry in the race of the best smartphones with the Pixel 6 Pro. They were working for years on a ‘tensor’ chip for improved performance and some AI features. But the claim of introducing the ‘best Pixel camera ever’ has also been put forth by Google, which is something we keep hearing from rival companies like Apple and Samsung on every update.
But there can only be one camera that wins the debate of ‘best camera ever, so we think we have to get to the bottom of this with some technical comparisons.
General Camera Specs
Google’s Pixel 6 Pro and Samsung’s Galaxy S21 Ultra both use Pixel binning to take photos with the main camera, and the iPhone 13 Pro Max directly takes 12MP shots. Google’s camera combines 4 pixels into one by default and creates a 12.5MP photo from its 50MP sensor. Galaxy S21 Ultra does ‘nona-binning’ and combines 9 pixels into 1 for a 12MP shot.
|Pixel 6 Pro||iPhone 13 Pro Max||Galaxy S21 Ultra|
|Main Camera||50MP, 26mm, f/1.85||12MP, 26mm, f/1.5||108MP, 24mm, f/1.8|
|Ultra-wide Camera||12MP, 0.7X 18mm, f/2.2||12MP, 0.5X 13mm, f/1.8||12MP, 0.6X 14mm, f/2.2|
|Telephoto Camera||48MP, 4X zoom 104mm, f/3.5||12MP, 3X zoom 77mm, f/2.8||10MP, 3X zoom 70mm, f/2.4|
|Extra Camera||/||/||10MP, 10X zoom 240mm, f/4.9|
When you take a full-resolution photo with your Galaxy S21 Ultra, you will get an even better resolution image file with more detail. The unique zooming feature of the Galaxy S21 Ultra camera is worth noting, with two zoom lenses, a 10x periscope camera that can take long-range photos and videos.
Pixel 6 Pro offers more colors and offers a photo that looks more edited and enhanced. So, Pixel stands out when it comes to color reproduction. Shots captured during the day have colder tones and sometimes it looks cool, but usually, the photos look very bland. Moreover, Pixel keeps lifting the shadows in a photo which makes the photos look more flat.
iPhone 13 Pro Max takes photos with a lot of warmth and contrast, and this is a very consistent theme. The resulting look of those photos is so ready-to-share that you can put them out on social media right after capturing.
Samsung is somewhat in the middle here because it does not have the warmth of the iPhone 13 Pro Max but does not take photos with cold tones like Pixel. It also picks more details for shadows and does not edit photo results as much as Pixel.
We should mention the new photography styles of the iPhone 13 Pro Max 13 here, which are unique and allow you full control over customization. Do you want your iPhone 13 Pro Max to take photos that don’t change shadows that much? Just slide the toner up. Want cooler photos? You can set that before clicking the photo. No other phone offers this much control before taking a photo that once set, and the settings apply to every photo you take afterward.
A halo goes around objects when you take photos from the Pixel, which is due to the oversharpening effect. iPhone 13 Pro Max and Galaxy S21 Ultra have the edge here. however, Galaxy S21 Ultra is a little aggressive in smoothening out objects and removing grains. iPhone 13 Pro Max doesn’t go this far, but it gives the best result out of the three.
The higher resolution option in Galaxy S21 Ultra also allows you to take better photos. But we do not recommend using this resolution for taking every shot from the Galaxy S21 Ultra. For some memorable shots, this feature must be used.
It is good to see that the 4x zoom lens of Pixel 6 Pro is comparable to iPhone 13 Pro Max and Galaxy S21 Ultra. It loses the race in 3x where you have a native zoom on iPhone 13 Pro Max and Galaxy S21 Ultra but wins again in 4x where objects look cleaner. Everything falls apart for the iPhone 13 Pro Max in the 10x zoom shot, so the lack of detail is obvious. Galaxy S21 Ultra has clearer details but a weird glow and white effect. So the Pixel wins in this department with its clean zoom details.
All three phones have the 1x mode for portrait photos. iPhone 13 Pro Max and Galaxy S21 Ultra are ahead of Pixel in this department and offer much better results in portrait mode, and Pixel gives a grainier, mushy effect.
A cool thing about Pixel is its front camera, which is so wide that you can easily use it to take selfies with a large group of people. The picture quality is also very impressive in the Pixel. However, exposure is darker on the Pixel. In our opinion, Galaxy S21 Ultra has the best result in this category. But it is also a personal preference and something that varies from person to person.
See Also: Android 12 vs iOS 15 Comparison
So does Pixel 6 Pro have the best smartphone camera? Although we think it came close, there’s still more to be down. For instance, images taken from this device sometimes turn out surprisingly flat. Although iPhone 13 Pro Max and Galaxy S21 Ultra do look a bit more consistent and refined, Pixel has a great super wide front a camera and zoom feature.