I was blown away by how well this $530 phone's camera compared to Google's $650 Pixel 2, the best smartphone camera in the world

Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

What better way to test out a couple of the best smartphone cameras than on a casual stroll through town.

I was curious to see how the $US530 OnePlus 6 fared against the $US650 Google Pixel 2 – the latter of which sports the best camera on any smartphone at the moment. The OnePlus 6 performs way better than its price would indicate, so perhaps a significantly superior camera would help account for the the price difference with the Pixel 2.

At least, that’s what I was expecting. After testing both smartphone cameras, though the Pixel 2 is still the leader for taking the best shots, but the OnePlus 6 isn’t very far behind at all. I can’t say the Pixel 2’s camera is $US120 better. Its camera even captures colours better than the Pixel 2, in some cases.

And as a sidenote, the OnePlus 6 has better overall specs than the Pixel 2, a larger screen, and it has a much, much better design, too. And yet, it costs $US120 less than the Pixel 2.

To be fully transparent, I actually used the larger $US750 Pixel 2 XL for this comparison, as it was the device I had on hand. But that doesn’t affect anything, as the smaller Pixel 2 has the exact same camera as the Pixel 2 XL.

Check out photos taken with the OnePlus 6 and the Pixel 2 XL to see how close the cheaper OnePlus really is:


Let’s start with a nice, easy photo. Both photos are great, but I prefer the Pixel 2 XL’s.

I’d be happy with either photo, truthfully. However, I prefer the Pixel 2 XL’s photo here because it has more “depth,” and better contrast between the focus of my shot and the surroundings.

It’s great that the OnePlus reveals more of the nearby tree’s detail, but it’s not the focus of my shot, and it can distract you from what I’m really trying to capture here: The pond.


As you would with any good stroll, I came across dinosaurs. Both phones took great shots, but they have different colours. It’s a matter of preference.

I prefer the OnePlus 6’s colours here, as the Pixel 2 XL’s shot looks comparatively yellow overall. However, the Pixel 2 shot has more detail. You can see details like ribs and the spots on the dinosaurs’ backs more clearly with the Pixel 2 XL’s photo. In fact, you can see more detail in just about everything in the Pixel 2 XL’s photo, including the grass and trees.


And with this totem pole, the Pixel 2 XL shows how good its HDR mode is.

Both phones have high dynamic range (HDR) functionality, which takes multiple shots at different exposures to capture details in light and dark areas and combines them for the best of all worlds.. Both have the HDR mode on “automatic.”

The Pixel 2 XL reveals more details of the figures on the totem pole than the OnePlus 6, while keeping the background just as bright.


This guy gets me every time I walk past this gallery. Again, the Pixel 2 XL gets more detail, but I prefer the colour from the OnePlus 6.


Neither of the phones I’m testing were bought here, but they take great photos of the Apple store regardless. From further away, the OnePlus 6 wins for its better colour, and there isn’t as much detail to capture, which is where the Pixel 2 XL excels.


This is a good example of the Pixel 2’s amazing contrast, which gives so much depth to its photos. The Pixel 2 XL’s photo looks more dynamic and you get a better sense of where the shade is than the OnePlus 6’s photo, which is still good.


In bright sunlight, the OnePlus 6 enhances the colours a little bit, which makes for a nicer photo than the Pixel 2 XL and its more accurate colours. I’d pick the OnePlus 6 photo here.

Oddly enough, the OnePlus 6 added a yellow-ish hue to this photo, which is something the Pixel 2 XL does more often. I prefer the green on the Pixel 2 XL’s photo, but the OnePlus 6 makes the flowers look better.


In the shade, the OnePlus 6 also makes the flower look better than the Pixel 2 XL’s photo, which shows the flowers as they truly are. The Pixel 2 XL clearly captures more detail here, however.


When it comes to zoom, both phones are pretty similar, with the Pixel 2 XL capturing more detail and better contrast.


Here’s the church door without zooming. The Pixel 2 XL’s photo has more detail, colour, and contrast than the OnePlus 6’s photo, which looks flatter and less dynamic.


In a sunset scenario, both phones do great, so it comes down to personal preference whether you mind the yellow-ish hue from the Pixel 2 XL’s or the OnePlus 6’s cooler hue.


And how about people and faces? Honestly, I think I look better on the OnePlus 6 photo. Details like wrinkles aren’t as defined on the OnePlus 6, and I look less scruffy than with the Pixel 2 XL.


I was shocked by how good the OnePlus 6’s camera is. The Pixel 2 XL’s photos really aren’t that much better, and I’d be perfectly happy with the OnePlus 6 photos. Really, though, now that you’ve seen the photos, you can decide for yourself.

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