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    Pixel 6 Pro vs. iPhone 13 Pro vs. Samsung S21 Ultra: Which zoom is best


    The Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro may be two of one of the best telephones Google has ever made. The Professional mannequin particularly has a stunning 6.7-inch, 120Hz show, a not-too-extreme value of $899 (£849, AU$1,299) and, after all, the cameras. It is all the time the cameras. The conspicuous digital camera bar on the again homes a trio of shooters: a predominant 50-megapixel digital camera, a 12-megapixel ultrawide and a 48-megapixel telephoto that provides 4x optical zoom.

    That final digital camera is especially necessary. Following the widespread adoption of Portrait mode and Evening mode, zoom is changing into the large telephone digital camera function for a lot of firms. That is notably true of Samsung, which marketed its final two Galaxy S flagships based on their 100x zoom.

    Andrew Hoyle/CNET

    So how does the Pixel 6 Professional stack up? I field-tested it right here in Sydney in opposition to the iPhone 13 Pro to seek out out. I discovered that the iPhone usually carried out higher with optical zoom — that’s, as much as 3x, the place the 13 Professional maxes out — however that the Pixel was decisively higher as you zoom out farther. I additionally in contrast the Pixel 6 Professional to the Samsung Galaxy S21 Extremely for longer zooms, and was shocked to see the Pixel 6 Professional outperform the zoom grasp. 

    iPhone vs. Pixel: Optical conflict

    Let’s begin by evaluating the iPhone 13 Professional instantly with the Pixel 6 Professional at 3x zoom. Meaning the iPhone 13 Professional is utilizing its devoted 3x optical telephoto digital camera and the Pixel 6 is utilizing its predominant wide-angle digital camera and digitally cropping in to 3x.

    My first instance is a photograph taken on a vivid, sunny day of a painted mural with vibrant colours and action-shot cricketers. 


    To set the scene, I took this photograph on the Pixel utilizing the usual wide-angle lens at 1x.

    Daniel Van Increase/CNET

    Zooming in to 3x, we begin to see how in another way the iPhone and Pixel seize pictures. The iPhone takes hotter photographs, most notably seen within the completely different shade of inexperienced produced by every telephone. Whether or not that is good or unhealthy relies upon largely on style, so I will depart that apart for the second. The Pixel photograph appears to be like prefer it’s utilized the Construction filter from Instagram and raised it considerably: Particulars that look refined within the iPhone image grow to be pronounced within the Pixel photograph. Discover the crack that runs between the art work of the bowler and the lady to his left.

    I choose the iPhone’s extra pure, vibrant look, however chances are you’ll choose the main points that the Pixel’s processing brings out. 

    Subsequent up, please get pleasure from this decaying artwork piece I discovered in an alley.


    For reference, right here is a photograph from the Google Pixel 6 Professional taken with its predominant digital camera at 1x.

    Daniel Van Increase/CNET

    Beneath are photographs taken at 3x on every telephone. Once more, the lighting situations are good. This time, although, the outcomes are much less ambiguous. The iPhone 13’s photograph was brighter, had higher distinction and captured extra. If you happen to take a look at the rips and tears within the canvas, you will discover way more element within the iPhone’s shot. Miserable element, on this case, however element nonetheless! 

    Now to a extra difficult instance. The photographs under had been taken at evening, however in a lit-up surroundings. This time it is the Pixel’s photograph that is brighter, however not essentially in a great way. The sunshine is much less balanced within the Pixel’s rendition, which leads to the iPhone’s model having higher distinction. (See the blacks within the cactus barrel.) 

    On the similar time, although, the Pixel managed to select up particulars missed by the iPhone. Most notable are the spider webs on the cactus to the precise. That is additionally an instance of one thing I observed so much within the Pixel — its dislike of shadows. The Pixel’s cameras work arduous to seize particulars in areas that come up darkish within the iPhone. And take into accout, the Pixel 6 Professional is utilizing its predominant digital camera and cropping in, which additionally offers it a little bit of a bonus.

    Beneath is just not a zoomed shot, however I needed to incorporate it for instance the purpose concerning the Pixel 6 Professional. Within the cactus photograph above, you see that it will probably backfire by lighting up areas in a manner that appears synthetic. Within the photographs under although, it impresses by catching a whole lot of data missed by the iPhone. 

    In the case of low mild, I usually discovered the iPhone did a greater job, although not all the time. Within the under photographs of a mural, the iPhone managed to seize extra mild and element. Word, although, that the Pixel’s shot has deeper colours. 


    iPhone 13 Professional versus Pixel 6 Professional, 3x zoom.

    Daniel Van Increase/CNET

    And the place the Pixel can generally produce pictures that look overprocessed through the day, at evening I discovered it was usually the reverse. Within the under comparability of a stone cross, the iPhone’s model is brighter, but in addition has extra noise and an ugly hue in contrast with the Pixel’s.

    Now let’s transfer nearer to 4x on every telephone. This implies the Pixel 6 Professional is utilizing its 4x optical telephoto digital camera, whereas the iPhone makes use of its 3x telephoto digital camera and digitally crops in to realize a 4x magnification. The completely different is not main, however it’s nonetheless noticeable. The digital zoom that takes the iPhone from 3x to 4x zoom leads to some conspicuous processing, and a few lack of vibrance.

    You may see the latter impact within the comparability under. The Pixel’s photograph is barely clearer, however the iPhone’s digital zoom makes its photograph look much less saturated. For instance, the inexperienced within the bushes is way richer within the Pixel photograph.

    It is a lot the identical for these photographs of a statue head under. Discover once more the Pixel’s tendency to mild up shadows, on this case on the man’s face. But additionally see how far more vivacious the colours within the Pixel’s shot are. 

    Within the photographs under of a canine park signal, the iPhone’s digital zoom results in some apparent heavy lifting by picture processing. The blades of grass, the ripples within the water and the feel on the signal all look artificially sharpened up. 

    The lengthy view

    In the case of longer zooms, the Pixel 6 Professional is the winner — by a big margin. 

    The comparability under is of photographs taken by the iPhone 13 Professional and Pixel 6 Professional taken at 10x magnification. We return to the water cooler adorned by cricket figures, however from a higher distance. The distinction is important. The iPhone’s shot has extra noise and is blurrier. (Additionally word: The iPhone’s “10x” zoom was recurrently deeper than the “10x” zoom on each the Pixel and Samsung Galaxy.)

    Beneath are 10x zoom pictures taken by the Pixel 6 Professional and the Samsung Galaxy S21 Extremely, which has constructed its model on zoom. Contemplating how amazing the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is at zoom, I used to be shocked to see that it was outdone right here at 10x zoom by the Pixel. The Pixel 6 Professional appeared sharper and had extra vibrant colours, as you’ll be able to see within the greens on the sector and the water cooler. The Pixel 6 Professional is digitally cropping its 4x telephoto digital camera, however it has a neat software program function known as Tremendous Res zoom to enhance the picture. The Galaxy S21 Extremely is counting on its 10x optical zoom telephoto digital camera.

    The photographs under of my Booker DeWitt Funko Pop had been taken in a much less sunny surroundings. The Pixel 6 Professional photograph appears to be like way more balanced — each in colours and in lighting. The iPhone’s zoomed photograph has an unnatural heat glow to it. The improved readability on the Pixel is not restricted to Booker both. Evaluate the textual content on the guide spines.

    The Galaxy S21 Extremely did higher than the iPhone, however nonetheless fell sufferer to most of the similar points. It additionally had a heat glow, albeit much less distorted, and fewer particulars each on Booker and the books behind him. The Pixel wins once more.

    OK, arduous mode. See that tree with the lilac flowers all the way in which to the opposite facet of the sector? Let’s zoom in 10x.


    For reference, I took ths photograph at 1x with the Pixel 6 Professional’s predominant digital camera.

    Daniel Van Increase/CNET

    The photographs under had been taken at 10x digital zoom on each the Pixel 6 Professional and iPhone. This can be a robust photograph for any telephone to seize, for the reason that leaves on the bushes present an ample alternative for noise. And, boy, is there noise. Nonetheless, the iPhone pic is extra distorted, as you will discover the the foliage appears to be like a lot finer on the Pixel. 

    And under is a comparability of images from the Pixel and the Galaxy S21 Extremely of the identical scene taken at 10x. The photograph from the Pixel outdoes the one from the Galaxy, which appears to be like flatter and fewer vivacious as compared.

    That the Pixel 6 Professional beats the S21 Extremely on 10x zoom is spectacular, since deep zooms are what the S21 Extremely is understood for. Word, although, that digital zoom on the Pixel goes as much as “solely” 20x, in contrast with the Galaxy’s 100x. 

    For extra on the Pixel 6 Professional, take a look at the in-depth Pixel 6 Pro review by my colleague Andy Hoyle.

    Stephen Shankland/CNET

    The Google Pixel 6 Professional’s distinctive design, nice software program additions, very good digital camera high quality and stable all-around efficiency have already earned the telephone a wonderful score in our full assessment. With efficiency that is each bit nearly as good as its design, it is one of the best telephone Google has ever made. The primary digital camera is on par with these of one of the best iPhones. And at $899 for the bottom 128GB mannequin, it trounces its premium telephone rivals in value. Read our Google Pixel 6 Pro review.

    Stephen Shankland/CNET

    The iPhone 13 Professional is one of the best telephone Apple produces and it obtained a stellar rating in our assessment. The brand new smartphone provides a 3rd rear digital camera with 3x optical zoom (up from 2x on the iPhone 12), a stainless-steel physique and a ProMotion display screen with refresh charges as much as 120Hz for smoother scrolling. Read our iPhone 13 Pro review.

    Sarah Tew/CNET

    As Samsung’s elite flagship telephone for 2021, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Extremely incorporates a sensible 6.8-inch AMOLED show with an ultrasmooth 120Hz refresh price that additionally helps Samsung’s S-Pen stylus, an superior rear digital camera with unbelievable zoom abilities and 5G connectivity for extra-speedy information. It is powered by the top-end Qualcomm Snapdragon chip for superb efficiency. That is one of the best in cellular expertise that Samsung has to supply, and it is the Android telephone to go for if you happen to’re eager to place cutting-edge cell phone tech in your pocket. Read our Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G review.

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