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These days, it’s not about how good your phone screen is or how fast the processor is. It’s all about cameras, and Apple and Google have battled for years to be crowned champions of our Best Camera Phones page.
Which Mobile Phone Camera Is The Best
Apple’s new iPhone 14 Pro and Apple’s iPhone 14 Pro Max take Apple’s photography game to the next level, starting with a 48MP primary sensor (up from 12MP in the iPhone 13 Pro series).
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It comes with a 12MP ultra-wide camera that is almost double the size, a 3x 12MP telephoto lens and a 12MP TrueDepth camera with a fast f/1.9 aperture. A new photonic engine delivers brighter and more colorful images through all of these cameras.
Meanwhile, the Google Pixel 7 Pro packs a 50MP primary camera with a 12MP ultra-wide shooter and a more powerful 5x telephoto sensor. There is a 10.8MP camera on the front. There’s a new macro focus mode for better close-up shots and a cool photo blur trick to clean up your selections.
But which camera phone is the best? I took several photos of the iPhone 14 Pro Max and the Pixel 7 Pro side-by-side and analyzed the results to see which flagship won out.
I took this photo in Bryant Park, New York, with an ice rink in the middle. Overall, the iPhone 14 Pro Max offers a brighter and more attractive image. While the Pixel 7 Pro blends in a bit with the snow in the photo, the people skating in the iPhone shot pop out more.
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The iPhone 14 Pro Max runs slightly warmer than the Pixel 7 Pro in this case (and many others), and Google’s phone does a slightly better job of rendering shadows on buildings. But I love to share iPhone download.
Which cranberry-apple tart do you think is best? In this case, I’m drawn to the Pixel 7 Pro’s image. Both phones use their ultra-wide cameras to take macro shots, but I prefer Google Image here because of the sharp detail in the cranberries and crust.
Don’t get me wrong, the iPhone 14 Pro Max takes a great photo here, and the cranberries in the center of the frame look great, but I give the edge to Google.
I was surprised that the iPhone 14 Pro Max overexposed the left side of my face in this photo. The Pixel 7 Pro offers even more exposure, as you can see more of my blue coat on the right side of the shot. The blur effect around the foreground leaves is also better seen by Pixel.
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Both phones take a good photo of white begonia flowers, but the iPhone 14 Pro Max’s image is more detailed. See petals. They almost reflect the way the sun hits them. But I also love the bright whites in the Pixel 7 Pro shot. So in this case we come down to color versus detail.
It might be Apple’s photonic engine at work here, but I’d take a bright selfie in Bryant Park with pop-up shops and ornamental trees in the background. Also noticeable is how sharp the North Face logo is on my jacket on the right side of the frame. The Pixel 7 Pro smooths out my wrinkles a lot, which isn’t a bad thing.
There are a few things I like better about this carousel shot than the Pixel 7 Pro. For one, the lights on the iPhone 14 Pro Max are more distinct when they are slightly further away. And I can see the blue sky better, which is a bit brighter on the iPhone.
But overall, I prefer the iPhone image here because of the contrast between the brightness and the horses, the platform and the carousel. This makes Apple’s image more 3D, while Google’s shot is a bit flat.
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I wouldn’t say the camera phone dominates this Bryant Park fountain photo, but I’d still give the edge to the iPhone 14 Pro Max. The water coming out of the fountain looks sharper and the bush in the foreground looks more vigorous (if a little overdone).
The Pixel 7 Pro wins this comparison for me. Look under any light. They are more visible through the Google Camera, but they are too dark through the iPhone. Pixel 7 Pro also comes in colors. In this case it’s a good exposed shot.
I showed this picture to my son and he immediately got the Pixel 7 Pro. And I agree. Even though the iPhone 14 Pro Max shot is brighter overall, the red and white colors of the flag look great on the Google phone. The gold figure on the left side of the image also appears pixel-sharp.
In this photo of a glass Christmas tree, Google Capture captures the sparkling sparkles around the glass. When an iPhone photo is bright — and the fur in the background looks crisp — you lose some of the beautiful detail inside the tree. Brighter is not always better.
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The Pixel 7 Pro has a bright photo of Times Square. You can see the people in the picture more easily and also on the right side of the frame above the ESPN sign. These corner glasses are also not visible in the iPhone 14 Pro Max image.
The iPhone 14 Pro Max again offers a brighter image and more contrast between the clear glass ball and the second ball inside. The Pixel 7 Pro’s shot looks pretty flat in comparison.
On the plus side, decorations on the right side of the image look sharp through the Pixel, and tree branches around the lights are clearly visible. The iPhone hits this spot a bit.
This photo of the Empire State Building is zoomed in at 3x. I love the mood of the Pixel 7 Pro image and where the light is coming from in the space around the spiral. But once again the image has a blue tint and after sunset the sky is darker in the image than in real life.
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The sky is warmer and more realistic in the iPhone 14 Pro Max image, and the blue lights on the top of the building are more subtle.
Last but not least, we have a super wide shot of a nearby stream in Freehold, NJ. I’m giving the iPhone 14 Pro Max a nod in this case because of the bright greens on the left side of the photo. There is also more level in the sky. Even a large tree is somewhat lost in the water in a pixel image.
It was a very close contest if you look at the scoreboard below. The iPhone 14 Pro Max scored 8 points to the Pixel 7 Pro’s 7 points, with the two phones tied in the same round.
Overall, the iPhone 14 Pro Max delivered more convincing wins when I pitted the two phones against each other, delivering brighter and more colorful images overall. I also prefer the iPhone’s better contrast in most cases. However, the Pixel 7 Pro shines in low light and takes better macro and portrait shots.
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I think you’ll like both of these camera phones — especially since the Pixel 7 Pro costs $200 less — but I’d give the iPhone 14 Pro Max a slight edge.
Mark Spooner is Tom’s Guide’s global editor-in-chief and has been covering technology for more than 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom’s Guide, Mark specializes in all things mobile, reviewing dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He speaks at major industry events and appears regularly on television to discuss the latest trends, including Cheddar, Fox Business and other outlets. Mark is the former editor-in-chief of Laptop Mag and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science, and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.
I test computers for a living — and the keyboard I use every day is on sale for Prime Day, before the smartphone revolution, when cell phones were all about design. People don’t care much about specs, so the main competition is who has the best and most attractive designs. Finally, smartphones entered the scene and changed everything. Today, design is less important. It’s all about the details and that’s why some manufacturers give you the same design every year and still sell well.
Smartphone manufacturers have been able to gradually change consumer preferences from design to performance, screen quality, charging speed and camera phone performance. Out of all this, one area that users want to brag about is the phone’s camera.
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