Here we are, then, taking a look at photos from the best camera on a smartphone versus the best value in a smartphone in the world.
I’m talking about the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, which cost $US800 to $US900, respectively, and the OnePlus 6T, which starts at $US550.
To buy a Pixel smartphone, including the Pixel 3, is not usually a decision based on design. In my experience, it’s a decision based on using the purest form of Android, getting the latest Android updates as soon as they’re released, and having the best camera on any smartphone.
The Pixel 3 does, indeed, have a better overall camera than the OnePlus 6T. But the difference isn’t that stark. After my test shoot, I’m wondering if one of the Pixel’s main propositions as the best smartphone camera is diminishing.
Check out photos taken with the Pixel 3 XL (which has the same camera as the smaller Pixel 3) and the OnePlus 6T:
The Pixel 3 does what Pixels do: Take contrast-y shots with deeper colours and more detail than other phones. But it doesn’t always look significantly better.
Here’s a perfect example of when the Pixel’s strengths work against it. The OnePlus 6T’s shot is clearly better with its brighter colours. The Pixel’s photo looks positively dull here.
And the same goes here.
Both cameras have optical zoom, and Google’s software-enhanced zooming clearly shows how powerful software can be.
Both phones have HDR to reveal details in shady areas when there’s lots of surrounding light. The OnePlus 6T reveals more detail, but the photo looks artificial. Both phone aren’t immune to lens glare, either.
The Pixel 3 captured the incredibly deep purple colour of this skull, as well as its intricate details, a lot better the OnePlus 6T.
The art gallery where I found this skull and the following art pieces is pretty cool, and its director graciously allowed me to take photos of some of its installations. If you find yourself up in southwestern Connecticut and you like art, check out the VW Contemporary gallery in Greenwich. Here’s the gallery’s Instagram account.
The Pixel’s signature contrast-loving camera also does better in revealing details on this clear acrylic art piece. Yes, it’s a bag of trash.
Neon is tough for cameras to capture, and the OnePlus 6T completely nailed it compared to the Pixel 3.
Neither phone did terribly well in a very low-light situation. The Pixel’s photo is too dark and the OnePlus 6T’s photo is grainy.
Both phones have night modes for their cameras, and it’s clear that Google’s Night Sight for its Pixel phones produces better results in very dimly lit conditions.
But both cameras perform about equally at night in a town/city setting with more surrounding light.
You’ve seen the photos, so you can decide for yourself which phone has the better camera.
This competition is tough. Each phone has certain areas where its camera does better than the other. Overall, I’d say the Pixel 3 still has the top camera on a smartphone because of its versatility with Night Sight, better zoom, and generally better performance indoors.
Outdoors, however, the $US800 to $US900 Pixel was somewhat disappointing compared to the $US550 OnePlus 6T.
The OnePlus 6T overall is a happy medium between the Pixel 3 and Samsung’s phones, which tend to process photos a little too much and makes them look unnatural.
Something you should consider …
With that said about both the Pixel 3 and OnePlus 6T, you can easily edit the photos in either phone’s gallery apps to make them look better, or at least make them look the way you want them to.
Take the Pixel 3’s autumn path photo, for example, which was bested by the OnePlus 6T. With a couple taps in Google Photos and selecting the “Auto” enhancement, I was able to give the Pixel’s comparatively dull photo some life:
And the same goes for the OnePlus 6T, where I can easily edit photos to look closer to the Pixel 3’s photos.
Take the purple skull, for example, where the Pixel 3 did a much better job in capturing the deep, rich colour and detail. I’m able to use the OnePlus 6T’s editing options in its gallery app to give the skull the richer colour that it actually has:
I’ll be taking photos with phones from Samsung, OnePlus, LG, and anything else I can get my hands on, and I’ll be using the Google Photos app to edit their photos to look like they were taken with the Pixel.