Night Sight on the Pixel 3 makes an incredible difference

We tried the Night Sight mode on the Pixel 3 XL and the results are amazing.

Juan Garzon Section Editor / Reviews - CNET en Español
Juan Garzon was a Section Editor, CNET en Español. He managed the reviews and how-to sections and reported the latest tech news. Juan started at CNET as a Senior Editor and previously he helped develop Gabatek - Tecnología. See more of Juan's work here or follow him in Twitter (@onegarzon) and Instagram (@onegarzon).
Juan Garzon
2 min read

The Night Sight mode in Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL brings great improvements to the automatic mode of the cameras of these Google phones.

Juan Garzon/CNET

The  Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are Google's newest flagship phones , each with improved cameras among many other new features. However, one of the most important new features, Night Sight (essentially, a night mode) wasn't slated to arrive until November. Members at XDA Developers however managed to activate the Night Sight mode for the Pixel 3, Pixel 2 and the original Pixel and made the modified APK available to download.

First off, CNET does not recommend downloading APKs if it's not from the original developer, in this case, Google. You are solely responsible for the repercussions that this could bring and there's probably a good reason Google hasn't yet officially enabled it in its Pixel 3 phones.

We, however, installed the modified camera app on the Pixel 3 XL to show you a little of what to expect from the Night Sight mode once it's officially released.

Keep in mind that this may change a bit once it is officially available, but the improvements we noticed in our tests are remarkable -- we could almost say the difference is night and day (literally) from how the camera behaved previously.

The photo at the top is just an example, but click on the gallery below from our sister site, CNET en Español to see more about how Night Sight behaves and how it radically improves lighting in low light situations.

Pixel 3's Night Sight brightens tough low-light scenes

See all photos

Some things I've learned with Night Sight on the Pixel 3:

  • In order to capture as much light as possible, Night Sight takes multiple photos (up to 15, according to Google) and then combines them into one image. It feels like an enhanced version of HDR, which uses a similar technique.
  • The number of photos it takes in the mode is dictated by the level of darkness in the space you're taking it.
  • When taking a Night Sight photo, you need to keep the phone as stable as possible to get the best results. If you're moving around too much, there's a good chance the image will be blurry.
  • If you have the camera in automatic mode, the app will recommend you activate night mode to get more light in the shot, especially when it is too dark.
  • Currently, the app does not seem to be totally ready, as two photos that I took cut off half of the image with a solid grey color.
  • Night Sight doesn't just address darkness, it enhances different aspects of the photo to offer more detail and better color reproduction.
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