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Pixel vs. iPhone 7 Plus camera comparison

Does the Google Pixel have a better camera than the iPhone 7 Plus? Here are the side by side results of our day-long shootout in California's wine country.

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vanessahandorellana.jpg

Vanessa Hand Orellana

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Here you can see the side-by-side results of our photography tour through California's wine country as we tested out the camera on Google's new Pixel XL phone and the dual lens camera on Apple's iPhone 7 Plus.

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Landscape

The Pixel shot looks sharper, with better texture on the leaves and clouds, while the iPhone looks flat and muted in comparison. Winner: Pixel.

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Same distance, different shot

The lens on Google's phone is wider making the shots appear farther away despite having been taken from the same spot as the iPhone.

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Brighter colors

The colors on the Pixel photos consistently appeared to be more saturated than those of the iPhone. Winner: Pixel. (Thanks to the Napa Valley Horse Company for the adorable subjects here!)

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Action shot

Both phones were able to capture the horse mid-air, but the Pixel shot looks sharper with greater contrast and details on the vineyards behind the pen. Winner: Pixel.

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Closer shot, harder verdict

As the shot gets tighter, it becomes harder to pick out a clear winner. The difference in these shots is minimal and both were good at capturing the hint of fall in the vines here at Jarvis Estate.

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Close-up or toss up?

The deeper blues on the iPhone image make the shot appear more dimensional, while the golden undertones of the Pixel's image allow you to see more detail on the grapes. And here it's a matter of taste.

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Richer vs. brighter

The lily pad on the iPhone looks brighter, but slightly overexposed. The light seems more balanced on the Pixel, but it's a flatter shot. Winner: Pixel.

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Extreme close-up

The narrower angle on the iPhone's lens gave it an advantage over the Pixel when photographing food up close. It was able to focus on the first fruit tart without any hesitation, while the Pixel was only able to focus on the second tart from that same position despite my many attempts. Winner: iPhone.

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Produce rainbow

The difference between the shots is practically imperceptible -- it almost looks like a continuation of the other.

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Portraits

Both camera apps have a built-in depth effect that blurs out the background when taking portraits, but only one does it well. The Pixel had a hard time distinguishing between the subject and the background while the iPhone made it seem effortless. The edges aren't perfect, but it succeeds at the bokeh effect. Winner: iPhone.

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No competition

The iPhone uses the telephoto lens for its Portrait mode which is why the subject appears so much closer in these shots. The Pixel actually reduces the size of the image taken in its "blur effect" mode lowering the overall quality of the shot. Winner: iPhone.

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Selfies

The Pixel has an 8-megapixel front-facing camera compared to the iPhone's 7-megapixel shooter. In this selfie you can see the difference in resolution as the Pixel's looks sharper with more vibrant colors. Winner: Pixel.

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Low light selfies

The difference is even more apparent in low light. Even though the iPhone has that "retina flash" (which illuminates the screen to light up your selfie), the picture shot on the Pixel looks brighter and clearer. Winner: Pixel.

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Flash test

Had it not been for the hint of red in the model's eye, it would've been hard to tell that the image shot on the Pixel was taken with a flash. The Pixel distributes the light evenly across the entire space while the iPhone only focuses on the subject. Winner: Pixel.

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Indoor low light

The phones were placed on a tripod for this shot to avoid blur. Both images are impressive for how dark it was inside the cellar, but the Pixel's photo is better lit and closer to what we saw in real life. Winner: Pixel.

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Outdoor lowlight

By the time we finished up in the cellar, the light outside had nearly gone. This dusk shot shows just how great the Pixel is at handling lowlight as everything in the image looks sharp and in focus making it hard to tell how late in the day it actually was. Both phones have incredible cameras, no question about it, but there can only be one winner. The iPhone 7 Plus is miles ahead of the Pixel in terms of portraits, but the Pixel takes the crown in nearly every other category. Overall winner: Pixel.

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