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General photos on the Pixel 3

Both the Pixel 3 and the iPhone XR produce photos with excellent colors, pleasing saturation and good exposures in daytime situations. This image was taken with HDR+ Enhanced on the Pixel 3.

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Published:Caption:Photo:Lexy Savvides/CNET
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HDR+ Enhanced on the Pixel

The Pixel 3 has a HDR mode called HDR+ Enhanced that you can toggle on within the default camera app. Here it is in action again.

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Published:Caption:Photo:Lexy Savvides/CNET
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SmartHDR on the iPhone XR

On the iPhone XR, Apple calls its version SmartHDR. Both phones help capture more dynamic range in images and even out shadow and highlight detail.

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Published:Caption:Photo:Lexy Savvides/CNET
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Portraits on the iPhone XR

Like earlier Apple phones, the iPhone XR has portrait mode built in to create bokeh (background blur). But because the phone only has one rear lens, it generates the effect through software. Here's a portrait shot taken on the iPhone standing close to my subject.

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Published:Caption:Photo:Lexy Savvides/CNET
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Portraits on the Pixel 3

Here's the same portrait on the Pixel 3.

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Published:Caption:Photo:Lexy Savvides/CNET
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Portrait mode wide

And here again on the iPhone XR when you stand at the same distance from your subject as the Pixel 3. The reason this looks so far away is because the XR has a 26mm wide-angle lens rather than a 28mm. You get more of the background in your shot, but for a more pleasing portrait composition you need to come in a bit closer to your subject as in the first image in this series.

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Published:Caption:Photo:Lexy Savvides/CNET
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Portraits on the Pixel 3

Another example of portrait mode on the Pixel 3. Take a look at the way the camera renders colors and the background blur (bokeh) compared to the iPhone XR on the next slide.

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Published:Caption:Photo:Lexy Savvides/CNET
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Portraits on the iPhone XR

Here's the iPhone XR's version of portrait mode on the same subject.

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Published:Caption:Photo:Lexy Savvides/CNET
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Portrait mode

The Pixel 3 lets you take portrait mode photos with background blur on just about any subject, including dogs. The iPhone XR only generates its portrait mode on humans when using the default camera app. Some third-party apps such as Halide do let you take portrait mode photos on the XR on nonhuman subjects.

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Published:Caption:Photo:Lexy Savvides/CNET
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Super Res Zoom

To make up for not having optical zoom, the Pixel 3 uses a technique called Super Res Zoom. It's better than your average digital zoom, such as that on the iPhone XR on the next slide.

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Published:Caption:Photo:Lexy Savvides/CNET
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Regular digital zoom

At the same magnification (5X) the iPhone XR doesn't produce as clean of an image as the Pixel 3 with Super Res Zoom.

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Published:Caption:Photo:Lexy Savvides/CNET
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Flash photos

This shot was taken with the flash in low light on the Pixel 3.

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Published:Caption:Photo:Lexy Savvides/CNET
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Flash photos

The same image taken with flash on the iPhone XR.

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Published:Caption:Photo:Lexy Savvides/CNET
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Low light on the iPhone XR

Here's a photo taken in low light on the iPhone XR.

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Published:Caption:Photo:Lexy Savvides/CNET
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Low light on the Pixel

The same shot on the Pixel 3. As you can probably tell, the Pixel 3 saturates the red channel more than the iPhone does, which leaves it with a more vivid-looking shot.

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Published:Caption:Photo:Lexy Savvides/CNET
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More low light on the iPhone

Another low light shot from the iPhone XR.

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Published:Caption:Photo:Lexy Savvides/CNET
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More low light on the Pixel 3

The same shot on the Pixel 3.

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iPhone XR

Back to daytime. Here's SmartHDR at work again on the iPhone XR.

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Published:Caption:Photo:Lexy Savvides/CNET
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Pixel 3

HDR+ Enhanced on the Pixel 3.

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Published:Caption:Photo:Lexy Savvides/CNET
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Pixel 3

Another shot in daylight from the Pixel 3.

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Published:Caption:Photo:Lexy Savvides/CNET
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iPhone XR

Another shot in daylight from the iPhone XR.

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Published:Caption:Photo:Lexy Savvides/CNET
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