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iPhone 13 Pro vs. Pixel 6 Pro: Which phone has the best camera? – CNET


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Andrew Hoyle/CNET

The Google Pixel 6 Pro’s attractive design, its solid processor performance and its easy-to-use Android 12 software earned it a coveted CNET Editors’ Choice Award. Some even called the new Google phone surprisingly more exciting than the iPhone 13. When it comes to photography, however, which one reigns supreme? As a professional photographer, I was impressed at how good the Pixel 6 Pro’s triple rear-camera system is in the full review, capable of taking stunning images day or night and offering amazing zoom skills with its 4x telephoto lens. 

But the competition is fierce in the photography arena and the iPhone 13 Pro also packs an incredible system that, like the Pixel 6 Pro, offers a standard, ultrawide and telephoto camera lens. 

Read more: The best camera phone for 2022

To see which one takes better images, I headed out across Edinburgh, armed with both phones. All images in this piece have been taken in JPEG format using the default camera app. For more, check out which cameras take better photos on the Pixel 6 Pro compared to the Pixel 6.

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Pixel 6 Pro, main camera


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

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iPhone 13 Pro, main camera


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

The golden colors of the leaves have been captured beautifully here by both phones, with a rich blue sky visible behind. There’s little to choose between them. But if I were being hypercritical, I’d say that the white balance on the Pixel 6 Pro has resulted in a warmer, more orange tone on the tree trunk that I think looks slightly better. 

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Pixel 6 Pro, main camera


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

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iPhone 13 Pro, main camera


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Both phones have again done a great job at capturing this complex scene with its bright sky and shadowy areas. I think the iPhone’s shot is a touch more subdued in its colors, while the Pixel’s has less deep shadows, which gives a slightly more HDR appearance to the scene. The iPhone’s image is arguably more natural-looking than the Pixel’s vivid approach, though choosing which is better is largely a question of taste here. 

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Pixel 6 Pro, main camera


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iPhone 13 Pro, main camera


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Great colors and exposure from both phones here. The Pixel’s is a touch warmer on the white balance side, which I personally prefer.

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Pixel 6 Pro, ultrawide lens


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

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iPhone 13 Pro, ultrawide lens


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Using the ultrawide lens, the Pixel 6 Pro’s shot again has gorgeous colors and a spot-on exposure, yet the iPhone has a much wider view that packs a lot more of the scene into the frame. The Pixel’s is certainly wider than its main lens, but if you love taking those superwide shots of sweeping landscapes or city skyscrapers towering overhead, you might find its focal length limiting.

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Pixel 6 Pro, telephoto lens


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iPhone 13 Pro, telephoto lens


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

What the Pixel 6 Pro lacks in wide angle, it makes up for in telephoto. Offering a superb 4x zoom lens, the Pixel gives a much more close-up view than the iPhone 13 Pro’s 3x zoom. I’ve really enjoyed using that extra zoom range to find unique photographic compositions while I’m out and about. 

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Pixel 6 Pro, telephoto lens


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

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iPhone 13 Pro, telephoto lens


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Both telephoto cameras have captured great images here, but the Pixel’s additional zoom length has allowed me to really fill the frame with the beautiful big tree. As we saw with the main camera, the Pixel’s telephoto also brightens the shadows a lot, which I think works well here though it might not always be to your taste. 

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Pixel 6 Pro, telephoto lens


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

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iPhone 13 Pro, telephoto lens


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Both great images, but again the Pixel 6 Pro’s extra zoom has resulted in a closer view. 

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Pixel 6 Pro, main camera


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

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iPhone 13 Pro, main camera


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

With their main cameras, both phones have captured gorgeous images here. I personally prefer the look of the iPhone’s, which has a slightly warmer color cast that complements the evening setting. The Pixel seems to have tried to counter the evening tones with a cooler white balance. 

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Pixel 6 Pro, night mode, main camera


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

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iPhone 13 Pro, night mode, main camera


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Both phones have the ability to take great photos even in the middle of the night by using longer exposures and AI to keep the images nice and sharp. There’s little to prefer between the two phones in this shot, as both images appear bright and clear.

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Pixel 6 Pro, night mode, main camera


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

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iPhone 13 Pro, night mode, main camera


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

The iPhone has done a better job here. It’s not quite as bright, but it has better detail, higher contrast and less flare from the two light sources. 

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Pixel 6 Pro, night mode, main camera, 100% crop


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iPhone 13 Pro, night mode, main camera, 100% crop


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Cropping to 100% on the same image, it’s very clear that the iPhone 13 Pro’s night mode has produced a sharper, clearer shot with better contrast. 

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Pixel 6, night mode, ultrawide camera


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

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iPhone 13 Pro, night mode, ultrawide camera


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

The Pixel 6 Pro’s ultrawide night mode shot isn’t as sharp as the iPhone’s, but it’s brighter and has better colors — particularly the orange streetlight on the left of the frame, which looks deep red on the iPhone’s image. 

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Pixel 6 Pro, night mode, telephoto camera


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

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iPhone 13 Pro, night mode, telephoto camera


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

The story is the same with the telephoto cameras. The Pixel’s shot is brighter but less sharp than the iPhone’s. It’s really impressive that the phones are able to capture such good photos at night, and they’re definitely at the top for night-mode imagery. If you’re debating which phone to get based on night mode alone, you’ll have to ask yourself whether you want the brighter image from the Pixel 6 Pro or the sharper image from the iPhone 13 Pro. 

Personally, I think the iPhone 13 Pro takes the win in the night-mode test, but the Pixel 6 Pro comes out on top everywhere else. Its 4x telephoto zoom is superb, and I’ve loved some of the more artistic images I’ve been able to get with it. The Pixel’s main camera leans a little heavier on the saturation than the iPhone’s, but it offers gorgeous, well-exposed images that anyone would love to share on their social feeds. 

Of course, the iPhone 13 Pro has the wider view on its ultrawide lens, which many of you may prefer, so that’s another point in the iPhone’s favor. 

Overall, it’s almost impossible to consider either phone much better than the other. They both have superb cameras, so choosing between them should come down to a preference over Android versus iOS, rather than based on camera quality alone. 



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