Google Pixel

Portrait mode shootout: iPhone 8 Plus vs Google Pixel 2

Portrait mode shootout: iPhone 8 Plus vs Google Pixel 2

Like it or not, 2017 is the year that background-blurring Portrait Modes gained major traction in smartphone photography. Apple and Google both offer improved versions of the mode in their latest devices, making for better-looking results all around. But the two manufacturers take somewhat different approaches to the process, each with different limitations and strengths. Take a look some side-by-side shots to see how they square up.

Portrait mode shootout: iPhone 8 Plus vs Google Pixel 2

Pixel 2 XL
F1.8 1/60sec 4.459mm ISO 382

Because the Pixel 2 back cameras use both a depth map (stereo) generated from the split pixels as well as ‘segmentation’ (which uses machine learning to identify people / faces vs. background), both subjects in this photo are largely in focus. This is a result one wouldn’t expect from real optics, since the person behind should also be blurred. This doesn’t always happen with the Pixel 2, but sometimes it does if the subjects are close to one another and both identified as people / faces. Sometimes it’s actually desirable, but at other times it can feel unnatural.

Portrait mode shootout: iPhone 8 Plus vs Google Pixel 2

Pixel 2 XL
F1.8 1/40sec 4.459mm ISO 400

Because of the F1.8 lens and HDR+ noise averaging (with alignment of images), the Pixel 2 can take photos of even slightly moving subjects in low light. Again note the progressive blur here: the back of the baby seat is only slightly blurred as are the switches in the background but the trees against the sky very far away are far more blurred.

Portrait mode shootout: iPhone 8 Plus vs Google Pixel 2

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