google pixel and pixel xl first look hands on aa-42

Earlier today, Google unveiled its new Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones alongside several other products as the company expanded into the hardware market in more ways than one. During the launch, Google spent time focusing on the new camera but is it any good? A rating of 89 on DxOmark suggests it’s the best smartphone camera ever but how does it hold up against the Galaxy Note 7, iPhone 7 Plus and LG V20?

Of course, 10 minutes with a phone isn’t enough time to form any conclusive opinion and with shooting conditions limited, it’s not going to test all the various elements of the camera either. What this very quick shootout will do is give you some of the first photos captured by the Pixel and while we’ve compressed the photos you see here, you can check out all the full-res pictures in our gallery.\

On paper, what does the new camera offer? It’s a new 12.3MP megapixel snapper that comes equipped with f/2.0 aperture, should shoot excellent low light photos thanks to the 1.55µm pixel size and offers 4K or 1080p video recording. There’s also stabilisation but not optical image stabilisation as we know it; instead Google says the camera samples the gyroscope 200 times per second, which allows it to compensate for shaking and rolling shutter.

Now that’s the boring stuff out the way, let’s take a look at these photos. As mentioned, we barely had 10 minutes to conduct this test so take all ‘results’ with a grain of salt. If you want the full-res photos, they’re available in this gallery!

The focal point for this was the middle of the Google logo and the results are quite interesting. The Pixel XL does seem to do the best job overall and certainly holds its own against these other four contenders.

The focal point was the champagne glass and although the angle changed between some of the shots, the focal point always remained the same. I like how the Pixel XL captured the bubbles but the rest of the glass looks a little weird, especially where the bottom of the glass meets the stem, no?

Not exactly a lot light shot but the focal point was the very top of the structure – where Daydream View was on display – and the Pixel XL and iPhone 7 Plus both seem to do well to accurately capture the colors, although the iPhone 7 Plus captures more details of the structure itself.

Again the angles changed slightly (mainly as this was quite a crowded room) but the focal point was the little anomaly in the first column on the table. The details do seem to be quite good on most of these phones and it’s tough to pick a winner between the iPhone 7 Plus, Pixel XL and LG V20.

How does the Pixel XL handle faces? Well we tested this with both a front and a rear camera shot, although in this one the subject didn’t quite time his blink right! Nonetheless, the focal point is obviously the face and while the Galaxy Note 7 and LG V20 both favor warmer tones, the Pixel XL and iPhone 7 Plus opt for a more natural look.

Although the LG V20 shot is reversed (which is a ‘feature’ of the camera), all of these pictures were taken at the same spot. Given it’s the front facing camera, there was no focal point and instead the camera was left to pick on its own. The result? The Piel XL seems to take the most natural, while the iPhone 7 Plus is close behind, the Galaxy Note 7 makes a few adjustments to try and smooth out the features and the LG V20 captures a great shot, but one that’s nothing like the actual scene.

What about Google’s stabilisation and is it as good as they claim? Capturing the same video on four phones simultaneously is rather difficult so instead we’ve got a quick video shootout between the Pixel XL (left) and the iPhone 7 Plus (right) below. Check out the videos then hit the jump.

And that’s a wrap! A quick shootout to give you a very small glimpse at the Pixel XL camera and I’ve got to say, I’m intrigued to test it in a lot more detail. From first glance, the camera does seem to do rather well in most conditions, with natural looking photos with less of the flourishes that are apparent on other smartphones.

Yet, there’s still a lot more testing to do before we can definitively say just how good the camera is and you can look forward to a major camera shootout in the near future! In the meantime, don’t forget to check out the full resolution photo gallery (if you want to dig into the camera further), and if you want to know more about the new devices, check out our guide to the Pixel and Pixel XL! Which of these cameras do you think is the best? Vote in the poll and let us know in the comments below!

Nirave Gondhia
Nirave is a Managing Editor at Android Authority with a background in technology that dates back over ten years.