iPhone XS vs. Pixel 3 – camera reviews round up

Pixel 3, like it’s predecessor, has been receiving a ton of praise for its camera. Thanks to computational photography, Pixel 3 can take photos that can rival the best smartphone cameras currently available in the market. How does it compare to iPhone XS in the camera department though? Let’s find out.

iPhone XS and XS Max were announced on September 13th, 2018 and have been on store shelves since 21st September. In its time on the market, the camera has garnered plenty of praise from content creators and other reputed sources.

Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL were also recently announced, on October 9th, and their camera reviews have been making the rounds on the Internet. Let’s find out which camera takes home the prize and whether Google’s gambit with relying on a single camera over Apple’s dual-camera choice works in its favor or not.

The Verge

The Verge has been all praises for Pixel 3 and declared it the best smartphone camera this year. Their comparison pit the Pixel 3 against Pixel 2 and iPhone XS and put their HDR and Portrait mode capabilities to the test. Interestingly, they did not compare video recording at all, where iPhone XS outshines the competition.

Vlad writes for The Verge:

“In any given photo, you might prefer another phone, but on the whole, I’m finding that the Pixel 3 is just more consistent. It gets confused by complicated lighting less often and puts more detail into the shot without overdoing it on HDR effects. Most of all: I trust the Pixel 3 more. The Pixel 2 was the best phone camera for all of last year, and it seems like the Pixel 3 will be the best camera for this year.”


CNET was highly impressed with the image quality of both phones but ended up siding with the Pixel 3 when it came to photo capture, while they chose iPhone XS as their top-pick for video recording and ‘natural looking photos’. 

Lexy Savvides Writes for CNET:
“I think the Pixel 3 just has the edge for overall still images, especially in extreme low-light conditions, and if you like images to look ultrasharp and vibrant straight out of the camera without any editing. For more natural-looking photos and video recording, I would choose the iPhone XS.”

For portrait mode, Lexy preferred the shots captured by iPhone XS.

“The iPhone XS portraits can look more flattering on faces because Smart HDR evens out shadows and highlights. The XS also has a more natural-looking blur that simulates the falloff from a shallow depth-of-field effect from a DSLR lens, rather than the stark contrast between subject and blur like on the Pixel 3.”


TheNextWeb also weighed in that both phones were able to take remarkable photos, but the crown ultimately went to the Pixel 3 due to the consistency. They also praised the portrait mode on the iPhone XS.

Ivan Mehta writes for TheNextWeb: 

“There are hardly any ‘bad photos’ if you’re using either of these phones. Results from the Pixel 3 are more consistent – but that doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy photos from the iPhone XS.”


This is another photo-finish for the Pixel 3 and the iPhone XS, but the Pixel 3 once again rises up as the winner. Technobuffalo praises iPhone XS’ SmartHDR. They say photos taken by the Pixel 3 are sharper and look really good without any editing, but the iPhone relies on some minor editing to give you the ideal photo.

Brandon Russel Writes For Technobuffalo:

“What’s clear is that the Pixel 3 and iPhone XS are pretty much deadlocked in a lot of scenarios. Apple was able to gain a lot of ground with its new Smart HDR feature, but Google’s Pixel 3 still takes images that are sharper and more pleasing right out of the phone, whereas the iPhone XS images can do a lot with a little editing.” 

Tom’s Guide

Caitlin McGarry starts her closing thoughts on the two phones by favoring the iPhone XS with its ability to take natural shots and photos that are closer to DSLR quality over the Pixel 3. What really turns the tide and makes the Pixel 3 her pick is the phone’s strong software, especially at night with low-light photos. She has high hopes for Night Sight as a game changer for the phone.

Caitlin McGarry Writes for Tom’s Guide: 

“The iPhone XS takes more natural shots with colors that are more true to life. Its dual-lens shooter takes portraits that also are more DSLR-like than the Pixel’s. But the Pixel 3 edges out the iPhone XS thanks to the help of software that turns out bright, crisp and colorful photos, even in the night. We’re betting the Pixel 3’s low-light images will look even better when the promised Night Sight features debuts in a software update. With Night Sight, the Pixel will then combine several low-light frames to fill in details and make the final image look brighter.”

Digital Trends

Digital Trends put Pixel 3, iPhone XS, Note 9 and the Pixel 2 through their paces. The final verdict favored the Pixel 3 over the iPhone XS, which ended up in second place.

Julian Chokkattu Writes for Digital Trends: 

“The Pixel 3 is the best camera phone, at least according to this test. But keep in mind that out of its 10 wins, the margins were thin for many, and the iPhone XS was often close behind. Apple’s phone comes second with four wins, the Pixel 2 got three, and Samsung’s phone only got one. All four cameras took some stunning photos, and while have many more photos to share, we’re calling an end to this comparison for now.”

You may also like: