Google Pixel cameras have always been widely lauded as some of the best in the business. And Google recently announced the next generation of Pixel cameras at its keynote event this week.
At one point during the Pixel event, the company showed a side-by-side comparison of the same photo snapped on an iPhone XS and a Google Pixel 3. Google says the iPhone XS-shot image was unedited, and the results are striking.
In fact, the results are a little too striking — to the point where the iPhone XS image comes across as manipulated or faked. Which was promptly noticed and pointed out by quite a few across social media.
To be clear, the comparison photo was shown during Google’s announcement of Night Sight, an AI-powered feature that artificially enhances low-light photos.
Because of that, the iPhone XS photo probably accurately depicts the time and setting of the image — likely a backlit, shadowed scene or an image taken at dawn or dusk. The Pixel 2, on the other hand, makes it seem like broad daylight when it isn’t.
Look I’m so excited for the pixel 3 camera but that iPhone XS photo looked purposefully bad lol. Like they dragged the exposure all the way down 😂
— Jonathan Morrison (@tldtoday) October 9, 2018
It isn’t really a fair comparison. The iPhone XS shows the scene exactly how it is, without the use of flash or any other artificial lighting. The Google Pixel 3, on the other hand, specifically uses AI to virtually manipulate the scene.
But there’s still a case to be made that something fishy is going on. All phones suffer in low-light conditions, Apple’s included. But the iPhone XS is certainly not that poor in low-light conditions.
The photo looks a lot like Google intentionally underexposed the image — for example, by tapping on the bright skyline in the background to auto-set the exposure or by dragging down the exposure after the photo was taken.
At the very least, it appears the image was shot without Apple’s Smart HDR, which would have evened out the exposure.
In other words, the iPhone XS photo probably still is unedited. But while intentionally underexposing a photo may not strictly count as “editing,” it is undoubtedly underhanded.
Even some Google Pixel fans agree that the iPhone XS photo is pretty sketchy.
As we mentioned, Pixel cameras have always been praised for their quality. But so have iPhones. And it’s not a stretch to say that this year’s Pixel lineup was a bit underwhelming, particularly when compared to other flagship-level Android devices.
Without a top-notch camera, all the Pixel has is a clean and admittedly good AI and software experience.
That isn’t enough to keep up in the Android smartphone industry these days (if the Essential phone’s demise is any indication). It seems like there are amazing Android phones coming out every day that can stand up to the likes of Samsung and Google but at far lower price points.
And that’s just comparing the Pixel to other Androids. Google’s software is neck-in-neck with Apple’s iPhone, which also has a similarly tight control over the hardware and software integration.
To offer a comparison like this, whether it was manipulated or just exaggerated, just shows how desperate Google may be.