Samsung Galaxy Note 8 vs Pixel 2 cameras: This was the toughest comparison yet

galaxy note 8

Corey Protin/Business Insider

People looking to upgrade to a new Android phone have a pretty tough choice to make. 

One of the things that used to help prospective Android phone buyers make their choice was the phone's camera. But camera quality is so similar and so good among most top Android smartphones that it's no longer a deal-breaker.

I took photos with Samsung's new Galaxy Note 8 and Google's new Pixel 2 XL, the latter of which has the same camera as the regular Pixel 2, and I'm cautious about declaring a winner. Both have their ups and downs in different areas, and I'm confident that you'd be happy with either phone if you're looking for great camera quality. 

Check out the photos I took with both phones, and you can decide for yourself which one fits your bill:

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Overall, I'd be happy with either the Note 8 or the Pixel for taking photos.

Both smartphones shoot great photos. If I want to be nitpicky about it, I prefer the Pixel's photos over the Note 8's. However, if I were to pick a phone purely for its camera, I'd pick the Note 8. The Note 8 has features that the Pixel doesn't have, like a second 2x zoom lens and a Pro mode that gives me more control over the camera's settings. The Note 8's portrait mode is also more consistent than the Pixel's at this stage.

The Note 8 and the Pixel brighten up a dark situation pretty equally, but the Note 8 adds a yellow-ish tint.

Samsung's phones have been the clear leaders for low-light photography, but the Pixel does an equally good job of brightening up the scene. With that said, the Note 8 made the colors warmer than they should be in this particular shot.


Another look at a different portrait mode suggests the Note 8 takes better portrait shots overall.

Under certain circumstances, the Pixel can take portraits with too much contrast. Here, the Note 8 does a better job of lighting up my face evenly. 

Both the Pixel and the Note 8 took great portrait shots. They just differ in brightness.

Both portrait shots from the Note 8 and Pixel differ pretty dramatically in brightness, but I'd be happy with either. 

The Pixel undeniably does better in this shot.

This is apparently a tough shot for high-end smartphone cameras, as both the Note 8 and the iPhone 8 Plus just couldn't get the details on the white bottle caps. The Pixel, on the other hand, does a great job. 

I tapped the screen to focus on the bottle caps on both phones, and both the Note 8 and Pixel focused as quickly as each other. 

Both phones did a great job with colors in this indoor shot.

The Note 8's photo has slightly more saturated and vibrant colors than the Pixel, but both phones did well in this indoor lighting situation. Still, if you were to be nitpicky, the Note 8 would come out on top.  

The Note 8 did something strange here.

The Note 8 took an oddly soft photo of these flowers compared to the Pixel, and the Pixel photo is better as a result. Contrary to what the Note 8 usually does, its colors aren't as saturated or rich as the Pixel's.

The Note 8's photo captures the scene well, but the Pixel's is better here.

Notice how the sky down the street on the Note 8's photo is white and overblown compared to the Pixel photo. The Pixel also did a better job of keeping details in darker, shadowy areas of the photo. 

Here, both phones are zooming in all the way, and the Galaxy is clearly winner here.

There's no contest here, where both phones are zooming in with digital zoom instead of optical zoom. Digital zoom isn't as good as optical zoom because it's simply enlarging the pixels to zoom in, which robs a photo of fine detail.

The Note 8 does better here because its digital zoom is piggybacking off its second 2x zoom lens, whereas the Pixel is zooming in from its single regular lens. 

Next up, the Note 8 has a second lens with a 2x optical zoom, which the Pixel doesn't have.

Next up, the Note 8 has a second lens with a 2x optical zoom, which the Pixel doesn't have.

Both phones took great photos here, but there are subtle differences.

The major thing to note in this photo is that the Pixel did a better job of retaining details in darker, shadowy areas of the photo.

Apart from that, the Note 8 photo's colors are a little deeper, but things like the trees and skin tones are a little warmer than they should be, as they look somewhat yellow compared to the Pixel photo. 

The Galaxy Note 8 does amazingly well in this photo.

The Note 8's photo has a gorgeous deep blue sky, better colors, and better contrast than the Pixel's photo. The Pixel also seems to add a yellow-ish tint to the photo, which gives the photo a warmer color "temperature."

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