These days, it’s not really about how good your phone’s screen is, or how fast your processor is. It’s all about the cameras, and Apple and Google have been trading punches for years to be crowned a champion on our site The best camera phones page.
It’s joined by a 12MP ultrawide camera that’s nearly twice the size, a 12MP 3x telephoto lens, and a 12MP TrueDepth camera with a faster f/1.9 aperture. A new photonic engine delivers brighter, more colorful images through all of these cameras.
Meanwhile, the Google Pixel 7 Pro It has a 50MP main camera along with a 12MP ultrawide shooter and a 5x more powerful telephoto sensor. There is a front camera with a resolution of 10.8 megapixels. There’s a new Macro Focus feature for better close-ups and a cool Photo Unblur trick for cleaning up your selections.
What is the best camera phone? I took a lot of side-by-side photos of the iPhone 14 Pro Max and Pixel 7 Pro and analyzed the results to see which one would win.
This photo was taken at Bryant Park in New York City, which has an ice skating rink in the center. In general, the iPhone 14 Pro Max provides a brighter and more attractive picture. People skating more are shown in the iPhone shot, while they kind of blend in with the snow in the Pixel 7 Pro photo.
The iPhone 14 Pro Max runs a little warmer than the Pixel 7 Pro in this case (and many others), and Google Phone does a slightly better job of rendering shadows on buildings. But I’d rather share an iPhone snapshot.
Food (close-up macro)
Which cranberry and apple tart do you think looks the most delicious? In this case, I was drawn to the Pixel 7 Pro’s image. Both phones take advantage of their ultra-wide cameras for macro shots, but I prefer Google Photo here because of the sharper detail in the cranberries and shell.
Don’t get me wrong, the iPhone 14 Pro Max takes an appetizing shot here, and the cranberries in the middle of the frame look great, but I’ll give Google the edge.
I was surprised that the iPhone 14 Pro Max overexposed the left side of my face in this photo. The Pixel 7 Pro provides a more even exposure, as you can spot more of my blue coat on the right side of the shot. The blur effect around the leaves in the foreground looks better through the Pixel, too.
Both phones take a great photo of these white begonia flowers, but the iPhone 14 Pro Max’s photo is much more detailed. Check out the petals. It looks almost transparent the way the sun hits it. But I also like the brighter whites in the Pixel 7 Pro’s shot. So in this case it’s about detail versus color.
The Apple Photon Engine may be at work here but it takes a brighter selfie of me in Bryant Park with the pop up shops and ornate trees in the background. Also of note is how visible The North Face logo is on my jacket on the right side of the frame. The Pixel 7 Pro smoothes out my wrinkles a little more, which isn’t a bad thing.
There are a few things I like about the Pixel 7 Pro’s take on this circular display better. On the one hand, the lights are more noticeable, while on the iPhone 14 Pro Max they turn out a bit. And I can make the blue sky a little brighter on the iPhone.
But overall I prefer the iPhone photo here because of the brightness but also the contrast between the horses and the platform and the center of the carousel. It makes Apple’s photo more 3D-like, while Google’s is relatively flat.
I wouldn’t say one camera phone dominates this photo of the Bryant Park fountain, but again I’ll give the iPhone 14 Pro Max the edge. The water coming out of the fountain looks sharper, and the bush in the foreground looks more vibrant (if a little saturated).
Stained glass lamps
The Pixel 7 Pro wins this comparison for me. Check the bottom of each light. It’s much clearer with the Google Camera, while it’s much darker with the iPhone. Colors come out much richer with the Pixel 7 Pro, too. It’s just a better exposed shot in this case.
Mark 10x magnification
I showed this photo to my son and he picked the Pixel 7 Pro right away. And I tend to agree. The red and white in the flag looks richer with a Google phone, though the iPhone 14 Pro Max shot is brighter overall. The golden shape on the left side of the image also looks more visible through the Pixel.
Glass Christmas tree
In this photo of a glass Christmas tree, Google’s shot does a better job of capturing the glitter swirling in the glass. While the iPhone photo is brighter—and the fur in the background looks crisper—you lose some of that great detail within the tree. Brighter isn’t always better.
The Pixel 7 Pro takes a brighter shot of Times Square. You can more easily identify the people in the photo as well as check the right side of the frame above the ESPN sign. These angled glass panels are not even visible in the iPhone 14 Pro Max photo.
There is a little bit of blue in the Pixel’s shot but overall it wins this round.
iPhone 14 Pro Max once again presents a brighter picture, and there is more contrast between the transparent glass ball and the second ball inside. The Pixel 7 Pro’s shot looks a little flat by comparison.
On the plus side, the textures on the right side of the image look more visible through the Pixel, and the tree branches look crisper around the lights. The iPhone blows this area up a bit.
The Empire State Building
This photo of the Empire State Building at 3x magnification is a close-up. I like the moodiness of the Pixel 7 Pro’s photo, and the fact that the area around the tower is more visible where the light is emitting. But again, there is a blue tint to the photo, and the sky is darker in the photo than in real life, since it was just after sunset.
The sky in the iPhone 14 Pro Max image looks warmer and more realistic, and the blue lights towards the top of the building are more subtle.
Last but not least, we have this super fast photo of a nearby stream in Freehold, NJ. I’m giving a nod to the iPhone 14 Pro Max in this case because of the brighter green on the left side of the photo. There is also more gradation in the sky. The big tree is also lost in the water in the image of Pixel.
iPhone 14 Pro Max vs Pixel 7 Pro: The overall winner
This was a very close contest if you look at the scorecard below. The iPhone 14 Pro Max scored 8 points against 7 for the Pixel 7 Pro, tying the two phones in one round.
|Row 0 – cell 0||iPhone 14 Pro Max||Google Pixel 7 Pro|
|skating rink||X||Row 1 – cell 2|
|Macro close up||Row 2 – cell 1||X|
|Portraits||Row 3 – cell 1||X|
|flowers||X||Row 4 – cell 2|
|Selfie||X||Row 5 – cell 2|
|circular||X||Row 6 – cell 2|
|Fountain||X||Row 7 – cell 2|
|glass lamps||Row 8 – cell 1||X|
|Marker (15x zoom in/out)||Row 9 – cell 1||X|
|Glass Christmas tree||Row 10 – cell 1||X|
|Times Square||Row 11 – cell 1||X|
|decoration||X||Row 12 – cell 2|
|Empire State Building||X||X|
|super wide||X||Row 14 – cell 2|
Overall, the iPhone 14 Pro Max wins more convincingly when I hold the two phones side by side, as it delivers brighter, more vibrant photos overall. I also preferred the iPhone’s better contrast in multiple scenarios. However, the Pixel 7 Pro shines in low light, taking better-looking macro and photos.
I think you’ll love both camera phones — especially since the Pixel 7 Pro costs $200 less — but I’d give the iPhone 14 Pro Max a slight edge.
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