In 2018, the title of best mobile camera belongs to the Pixel 3. Google unveiled the device at an October event and though a lot of the initial talk was centered around its polarizing notch, all the attention is now focused on the fantastic camera.
It consists of only one 12MP shooter in a sea of dual and triple camera systems. And to be honest, it’s not missing out on much. Google makes up for the missing hardware with the best camera software around. From Night Sight to HDR+, the Pixel 3 XL proves Google is at the top of its game.
Huawei’s Mate 20 Pro is trying to prove otherwise with raw hardware. It has three cameras: a main 40MP shooter, a 20MP ultra-wide shooter and an 8MP telephoto shooter. That delivers the most versatility any smartphone camera can offer.
Not to be outdone by the Pixel 3 XL’s impressive camera software capabilities, the Mate 20 Pro has some tricks up its sleeve with Night Mode and Master AI processing.
Let’s see how the Pixel 3 XL and Mate 20 Pro cameras compare.
The pictures the Pixel 3 XL produces come out looking very dynamic and detailed. Colors are more saturated, which contrasts nicely with the balanced colors around it. The HDR+ also does a great job of capturing the crisp details of a setting.
With Night Sight, Google does some impressive wizardry to bring out details in even the darkest of scenes. In sunset shots, the colors of the sky retain a striking level of colors. Where other smartphones completely fall apart, the Pixel 3 XL can make something out of nothing, producing faithful subjects.
Much of this impressive performance is carried over to the front-facing camera system, which benefits greatly from a wide-angle lens that captures much more of a scene.
The Mate 20 Pro camera produces impressive images that stand their ground with the Pixel 3 XL—for the most part. In well lit conditions, it delivers pictures that slightly differ on dynamic range and color reproduction that is less saturated.
One unexpected difference between the two cameras is how much wider the Mate 20 Pro main shooter is over the Pixel 3 XL. The main effect is that pictures capture more of the scene, and it’s something I suspect many will enjoy.
Where the Mate 20 Pro struggles to match performance is in low-light, even with Night Mode. It performs better than just about every other camera, except the Pixel 3 XL. In sunset pictures the colors look a little muted while in night shots the detail captured isn’t as vivid.
In selfie mode, as well as other pictures of humans, the Mate 20 Pro offers a slightly brighter take on skin. It’s not as natural as on the Pixel 3 XL, which handles tones much better.
Check out the camera comparison between the Pixel 3 XL and Mate 20 Pro in the gallery above and decide which one you prefer.