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iPhone XR vs Pixel 3 Camera Comparison: Battle of the Single Shooters

by Brandon Russell | November 3, 2018November 3, 2018 12:30 pm PST

While most of the industry has moved to dual- or even triple-camera systems, Google is holding strong with a single lens. What the company is doing is putting resources behind its legendary machine learning technology, which allows devices like the Pixel 3 to use features like Night Sight and Top Shot.

Apple’s newest iPhone XR takes a similar approach. Instead of relying on a dual-camera setup, the device features a single 12MP lens. With a system that integrates the image signal processor (ISP), Neural Engine, and Apple’s advanced algorithms, the affordable device takes some incredible shots—but which single lens device reigns supreme?

We took some comparison photos between the iPhone XR and Pixel 3 to find out. When we compared the Pixel 3 to the iPhone XS, Apple’s device had a slight advantage in that it features a more flexible camera system. People really under-value its secondary telephoto lens, which is what also helps the iPhone XS take such convincing portrait photos.

With the iPhone XR, it’s a more straightforward battle. Apple’s device features a 12MP wide-angle camera with an f/1.8 aperture; Google’s Pixel 3 comes equipped with a 12MP wide-angle camera and f/1.8 aperture. The cameras are pretty similar in execution, so it really just comes down to software and processing.

This year, Apple touted its Smart HDR technology, which promises to bring more detail to highlights and shadows. Additionally, Apple’s camera sensor features larger pixels, allowing the device to take improved images in low light situations. It’s an improvement all around compared to last year’s iPhone X.

Google’s Pixel 3 takes a similar approach, using HDR+ and machine learning to provide users with the best images possible. Not only that, but Google’s device comes with a multitude of excellent camera features, including Night Sight. You can see examples of what Night Sight can do right here.

We took both the iPhone XR and Pixel 3 around our office, and you can see how the camera stack up in the gallery above.

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Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell likes to rollerblade while listening to ACDC.