With the latest smartphone having been unveiled, there will definitely be considerable focus on the Google Pixel 2 camera. The first generation of the Google Pixel series with seriously praised for the photographic capabilities of the device, and Google has attempted to build on this with the second generation snapper.

Google Pixel 2 camera
Image Source: Google Store (screenshot)

Inevitably, comparisons will be drawn with the iPhone 8 Plus, with the Apple smartphone still being an iconic handset. The iPhone 8 Plus offers outstanding photographic performance as well, being based on a dual-lens setup, even though the new iPhone X is now the premium and most expensive version in the series.

If Google is to establish itself in the smartphone niche then the Google Pixel 2 camera must stand up to the major players in the marketplace. This is easier said than done when competing against an established brand such as the iPhone range, but Google must entice loyal consumers away from the Apple brand if it is to establish yourself as a serious hardware manufacturer. Something it is clearly extremely keen to do having bought out HTC’s smartphone division for over $1 billion recently.

Dual-lens vs single

The first area of note with the Google Pixel 2 camera is undoubtedly the fact that the developer has opted for a single-lens design. With the smartphone zeitgeist undoubtedly heading towards joule-cameras, this can be viewed as somewhat surprising. And it is definitely a disadvantage for the Google Pixel 2 in the camera department, with the major players all shifting to a dual-lens approach.

There is a flexibility to the dual-camera that cannot be matched by a single-lens unit, and points must undoubtedly be deducted from the Google Pixel 2 camera for this omission. But elsewhere there is much better news for fans of the Google Pixel range, as the performance of the camera included in the Google Pixel 2 has already been significantly praised.

DxOMark rating

Google has strongly promoted the artificial intelligence technology included in its range of cameras, and this is reflected in the outstanding mark that has been afforded the camera by DxOMark. This website provides image quality ratings for standalone cameras, lenses, and mobile devices that include cameras. The DxOMark Sensor Overall Score consists of three components:

  • Color Depth for Portrait photography
  • Dynamic Range for Landscape photography
  • Low-light ISO for Sports, wildlife and other action photography

With the Google Pixel 2 camera already having been given the once over by this organisation, it is extremely interesting to note that the snapper scored an almost unimaginably impressive 98. When the Google Pixel 2 camera was unveiled, the manufacturer strongly promoted the rear camera included in the device, suggesting that it was capable of increasing dynamic range and reducing blur. It certainly seems that these were not unfounded claims based on the early testing of the device.

It is also possible to compare the Google Pixel 2 camera directly with the iPhone 8 Plus in this department, as the Google phablet scored 94 when it was tested previously. This is still an excellent rating, but it is clear that the Google Pixel 2 camera is superior in the eyes of DxO Labs.

Apple iPhone 8 Plus Camera
Image source: Apple.com (screenshot)

Specs

The specs of the Google Pixel 2 camera are also impressive, whether one is referring to the smartphone version, or the Pixel 2 XL phablet. The front-facing camera included has also impressed with its selfie-capturing capabilities, and the snapper is set to capture millions of social media photographs in the coming months.

With its 12.2MP rating, the Google Pixel 2 camera undoubtedly outperforms the iPhone 8 Plus in raw spec terms. Of course, many other factors must be taken into consideration, but this once again points to the Google Pixel 2 camera being the best smartphone unit available on the market. However, the aperture of the front camera included in the iPhone 8 Plus is superior to the Google Pixel 2, indicating that it will tend to take better photographs in darker conditions.

Bokeh feature

Both the rear and front cameras in the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL offer a portrait mode for bokeh effect photography. Bokeh is defined as “the effect of a soft out-of-focus background that you get when shooting a subject, using a fast lens, at the widest aperture, such as f/2.8 or wider.” In short, bokeh is the pleasing or aesthetic quality of out-of-focus blur in a photograph.

The iPhone 8 Plus also offers this feature, but it has been suggested in early testing that it is not as impressive as the Google Pixel 2 performance. All of the evidence really points to the notion that the Google Pixel 2 camera is particularly impressive, and probably the strongest smartphone performer yet.

Other factors

However, the iPhone 8 Plus has been praised in certain departments, and shouldn’t be written off as a useless camera phone by any means. The portrait mode included in the Apple device has been rated particularly highly, with the luminance noise of the photography produced by the iPhone 8 Plus also impressing in tricky shooting conditions.

But the color reproduction of the Pixel 2 is generally considered to be superior to the iPhone 8 Plus, while its zoom performance has also been praised. So those purchasing a smartphone for the photographic capabilities of the device will be well-advised to take several factors into consideration. The quality of smartphone cameras is already extremely impressive, but it is clear that it will only get better in the coming years. There is still room for improvement when compared with compact standalone units.

Nonetheless, at the time of writing the Google Pixel 2 camera certainly seems to outperform the iPhone 8 Plus, and can perhaps be considered at the apex of smartphone photography.