Sparta Report

Does the Pixel 2 Have the Best Smartphone Camera Available?

During its event today, Google unveiled several new products, among them the new Pixel 2 smartphone. As with the original generation Pixel, the Pixel 2’s main selling point is “stock,” out of the box Android – as opposed to a version “tweaked” by manufacturers like Samsung, and early access to Android upgrades. Pixel 1 users, by way of example, received Android Oreo before anyone else did.

But beyond that, the true appeal of the phone was the top tier camera, and Google has spent the past year perfecting and improving that camera:

Well, that was quick! The iPhone 8 Plus had a short reign at camera testing outfit DxOMark as “the best smartphone camera we’ve ever tested” — the Galaxy Note 8 tied it after only a few weeks. And now Google’s Pixel 2 has bested them both.

Citing excellent video performance, great color and scene reproduction, incredibly fast and accurate autofocus, and good (if not great) artificial background blur, the Pixel 2 ended up with an aggregate score of 98, beating out the other two, which had tied at 94.

Looking through the sample photos of all these flagship phones, you may find that you prefer the look one creates more than another’s — I certainly think Apple’s portrait mode looks much better than the others, and its luminance noise in tricky situations is preferable to me. Yet I like the Pixel 2’s color reproduction (and on its OLED screen the photos should pop). Yet again the zoom performance of the Note 8 is definitely superior.

And lastly, it’s pretty clear that cameras are just going to get better from here. If you compare their results to those of a competent mirrorless today (that even with a lens may end up costing far less than a flagship phone) you will find them quite lacking. There’s lots of room to improve, and as DxOMark points out, there’s no reason their scores can’t go above 100.

Of course, this doesn’t mean the Pixel 2 is the perfect phone. It lacks the slick, attractive design of the Galaxy S8 and it doesn’t have some of the more exotic features coming in the iPhone X, such as facial recognition. The phone has no headphone jack, in a clear attempt to mimic Apple. The phones are also ridiculously expensive, with the Pixel XL with 128 GB of storage selling at a price of $950. Last but not least, Google also has notoriously godawful customer service.

What the Pixel 2 does have is what appears to be a best in class camera, so if you like taking pictures with a smartphone, this is probably the device for you.

For those interested, the full DxOMark review of the Pixel 2’s camera can be found here.

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