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You told us: The Pixel 6 Pro cameras beat Apple and Samsung's best
Google’s camera software has long been held up as the gold standard among all smartphone manufacturers. But it seems like many brands caught up in the last couple of years, delivering software that can go toe-to-toe with Google’s best. This was also compounded by Google’s decision to stick with an aging main camera sensor for the longest time.
The Pixel 6 series represents a major hardware upgrade though, as Google brings a new main camera sensor to the table along with improved silicon. Are these upgrades (among others) enough to beat the Galaxy S21 Ultra and iPhone 13 Pro Max in your eyes? We posted our camera shootout over the weekend and asked you to pick the best phone. Here’s how you voted.
Which phone takes the best shots overall?
Just over 2,700 votes were counted in our poll at the end of the shootout, and the winner by a rather significant margin is the Pixel 6 Pro (49%). Most of the comments don’t point to a specific reason for choosing the Google phone, although our own Rob Triggs praised the phone for its portraits and zoom performance.
In saying so, there were a few areas of improvement for the Pixel 6 Pro. Rob specifically pointed to the disappointing ultra-wide camera, as well as main camera shots suffering from occasional detail issues and artifacts.
In second place was the Galaxy S21 Ultra, accruing just under 30% of the vote. Rob declared Samsung’s Ultra flagship to be the winner of this shootout, praising its versatility and the fact that it doesn’t handle anything badly. A couple of readers also agreed with our verdict, according to the comments.
More photography coverage: Want a phone with a great camera? Here’s what to look for.
Finally, the iPhone 13 Pro Max was in third place with ~21% of the vote. Rob said the Apple device struggled with exposure, HDR, and low-light shooting, and also wasn’t quite as good as its two Android rivals in terms of long-range zoom and ultra-wide colors. He did however note that it took good portrait images and that it was “phenomenal” for video recording. Reader comments also concur with the latter point.
Some reader comments also say that the images from the various phones all look very similar. So the average consumer won’t really be getting a bad camera experience if they opt for any of these three phones.
- Eoaoos: In other words, they all look fantastic. I agree with the verdict. Samsung is still the one to beat. It’s the versatility that sets Samsung apart. Can’t wait for S22 Ultra as that’ll be my next phone coming from the Note 9.
- Justin Martin: Pixel is still king
- Don Kot: I was all in on the iPhone 13 pro until I saw this excellent comparison. The iPhone 13 performs significantly poorer overall. Such a pity neither Google nor Samsung offer this telephoto lens in smaller phones. The deficit iPhone has in picture quality, it gains on video quality though.
- almon: For me, most of the cameras in most of the phones are perfectly fine, and it’s saying a lot when I’m selecting phone for buying. I really cannot tell the different apart from brightness differences.
- ANTHONYinCALI: These pictures all look really good to me. Seems only really minute differences separate them and, for me, the Punchier colors of the S21 Ultra wins it for me. Looking forward to the review on the video quality!
- thereasoner: Most all will come down to preference but the iPhone edge in video is clear, as is the “more realistic” pictures with the Pixel 6 Pro. For me, as someone who definitely will take advantage of the stunning advancements made in skin tone accuracy, the Pixel 6 Pro is the clear winner.
- spacebar2011: I didn’t expect the S21U to hold up this well almost near the end of its prime year. Definitely surprised by how unimpressive the iPhone 13 is. I still like the Pixel HDR shots the best, although the Samsung is quite close. It’s video that Google and Samsung need to seriously dedicate resources to, the iPhone is still unbeatable there.
- MrDibism: I was honestly surprised myself that I liked many of the photos by Samsung!! I thought the Pixel would beat Samsung… I guess Google Pixel is not the best around anymore when it comes to camera. And this shootout is not even comparing with phones from HUAWEI, OnePlus, OPPO and vivo. vivo X70 Pro+ says hello? lol
- moabman: Judging which photo looks better when they are so close is impossible. I looked, and would say it was Pixel; however, would need originals on a fully calibrated monitor.
Thanks for voting in our poll and for all the comments! Do you agree with the results of this poll? Let us know via the comments section.