I need a new phone.
A big chunk of my time on the iPhone was spent taking pictures, so I’m heavily basing the next smartphone on its camera capabilities. After playing around with the Pixel 4 for Brian’s review, I’m considering switching teams.
Price-wise, it would make sense to compare the iPhone 11 with the Pixel 4, as they both start at around $700, but I’m interested in the best Google and Apple have to offer.
There are a lot of fancy terms between the two — slow sync, true tone flash, phase detection, etc. I really don’t care. I just want to know which one is better as an everyday camera. To that end, here are some pictures in various settings and lighting situations (all images are clickable to view in high-res):
Brooklyn from Manhattan, right after the rain.
Arman suffused in pinkish-red light, backlit with afternoon window light. Both were shot from the same distance.
Hotpot in incandescent lighting.
Japanese and Mexican in low light.
One of these guys is an Emmy award winner.
I always find venue lighting unnatural, and unflattering. Also, put your phone down and enjoy the show.
Pixel 4 yields brighter images, but the iPhone 11 Pro kept the bar’s ambiance. Plus shooting super-wide on humans adds a certain quirkiness.
Really low lighting with moving objects. In this case, a dog.
Street photography: Manhattan skies were too cloudy that night to see stars.
Both cameras have 10x digital zoom. Digital zoom is garbage and I don’t recommend ever using it, except to creep on your friends.
Pixel 4’s photo editing tools are superior, though its image quality is slightly better than the iPhone 11 Pro by just a smidgen. The difference was so subtle that I had to check several times to make sure I labeled the images correctly. It really boils down to aesthetics. I’ve left commentary minimal for the most part so you can scrutinize the images and decide for yourself.
The two things that ultimately kept me with Apple: the super-wide lens and the immediacy of sharing high-res images via Airdrop. Until Google releases their version, texting a download link to the high-res image is just an extra unnecessary step I don’t care for.