Google exec sparks controversy with Pixel 3 vs. iPhone XS photo tweet

google exec shares pixel 3 night sight iphone xs news vs
Marvin Chow/Twitter.com

Google vice president of marketing Marvin Chow has sparked debate on Twitter after sharing an image comparing the cameras on the Google Pixel 3 and the Apple iPhone XS. Rather than a shot of a dramatic landscape, or a bokeh-filled portrait, the picture is of a low-light street scene, and demonstrates the difference between the iPhone’s camera and Night Sight mode on the Pixel 3.

The controversy comes from the considerable difference between the two, and whether one is really “better” than the other. Chow writes in his tweet, “Night Sight on the Google Pixel 3 — pretty much speaks for itself,” and adds an explosion emoji to indicate the photo’s supremacy over the iPhone, in his humble opinion.

Looked at quickly, the Google Pixel 3’s Night Sight shot reveals more about the scene, including the female model’s clothes and facial features, but it takes on an almost hyper-real look. Without being present when the photo was taken, it’s impossible to know what it really looked like at the time, but it’s hard to imagine the scene looked like this to the naked eye. The iPhone XS’s photo shrouds the model in shadow, with moody lighting behind her from the neon signs, potentially making it more realistic.

Differences debated

Both are very different photographs. Why? The Google Pixel 3 uses Night Sight to take its photo, a special camera mode that combines the HDR+ mode with some artificial intelligence magic to boost the colors and brightness in low-light photos. (Read our complete guide to Pixel 3 photography for more info.) The results aren’t always as instantly dramatic as the one shared by Chow, but are rarely anything other than visually impressive.

The controversy comes from just how different the two are, and whether the Night Sight photo really is an improvement over the iPhone’s photo. Replies to Chow’s tweet and picture include complaints about Night Sight’s tendency to over saturate and overexpose a shot, and to introduce noise following aggressive software enhancement. We noted in our Night Sight launch story that it can, “Strip away the ambiance or mood of the image,” and some may feel this is what has happened in the example image shared on Twitter. The iPhone does not have a similar mode, and the Smart HDR feature introduced on the iPhone XS does not affect low-light images.

The Pixel 3’s picture looks astonishing, however, and would be the image most would instantly share online. The iPhone XS’s picture requires some editing to make it more shareable. Both have their merits and downsides. Which do you prefer?

Photography

The 2019 class of camera phones is great, and we tested them to find the best

It's the middle of the year, which means it's time for a mid-year camera shootout to find the best among our top phones of 2019. We pit six phones against each other, including the OnePlus 7 Pro, Pixel 3a, and Galaxy S10 Plus.
Mobile

Renders claim to show a mint green Pixel 4 -- but are they what they seem?

Rumors abound about the Google Pixel 4, Google's next Pixel phone following the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3a. Getting around the leaks, Google straight-up teased an image of the back of the phone. Here's what you need to know.
Product Review

Motorola’s excellent One Vision is cheap phone royalty

If Motorola’s mission with the One Vision was to make a dependable, capable smartphone at a price that’s affordable, then it’s definitely mission accomplished. Here’s our full review.
Mobile

We tried all the latest and greatest smartphones to find the best of 2019

Smartphones are perhaps the most important and personal piece of tech on the planet. That’s why it’s important to pick the best phone for your individual needs. Here are the best smartphones you can buy.
Mobile

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 has smart card-equivalent security certification

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 is Qualcomm's flagship processor for the year, and it's available in a range of smartphones. Now, the chip is certified with a smart card equivalent security rating.
Deals

Best smartphone deals for June 2019: iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, and LG

Need a better phone but don't want to spend a fortune? It's never a bad time to score a new smartphone and save some cash. We rounded up the best smartphone deals available that can save you as much as $900.
Mobile

Oppo’s exciting new tech hides the selfie camera under the phone screen

Oppo has revealed impressive new technology where it can hide the selfie camera on a smartphone beneath the display itself, taking its devices another step closer to providing an unspoiled and completely immersive viewing experience.
Mobile

Vivo’s new charging tech rockets phone your battery to full in only 13 minutes

Vivo has made another leap forward in battery charging technology with the introduction of Super FlashCharge 120w, which is capable of sending enough power through to your phone’s battery cell to recharge it in only 13 minutes.
Wearables

Xiaomi’s Mi Smart Band 4 is a desirable, cheap fitness band/smartwatch mash-up

Xiaomi has announced the availability of the Mi Smart Band 4 in the U.K., which despite a low price, manages to squeeze in a massive amount of functionality, bridging the gap between fitness band and smartwatch.
Mobile

The Nokia 1 gets Android P, providing a Pie-flavored option for every budget

Android 9.0 Pie has been released. But is your phone getting Android 9.0 Pie, and if so, when? We've done the hard work and asked every device manufacturer to see when their devices would be getting the update.
Mobile

The best travel power adapters for international jet-setters

We recently tried out several of the best travel adapters on our journeys around the globe, and these are our favorite models so far. If you want to keep your gadgets juiced on the go, then snag one of these.
Mobile

Visible is removing its 5Mbps data speed limiter (for a limited time)

Visible, the Verizon-owned carrier aimed at offering a no-frills approach to the modern carrier experience, has announced that for a limited time it's removing the 5Mbps data speed cap.
Mobile

Sony's Xperia 1 flagship will be available to pre-order starting June 28

Sony took the wraps off of three new phones at Mobile World Congress 2019, including the new Xperia 1, which is the company's new flagship phone and the first with a 4K OLED display with a 21:9 aspect ratio.
Deals

Apple’s 10.5-inch iPad Air with Wi-Fi is on sale now at Walmart

Now that Summer is here, it's the perfect time to catch up on summer reading, play video games, and relax. Walmart is having a great deal on Apple's 10.5-inch iPad Air with Wi-Fi that will save you $30.