Google Pixel 5's wimpy camera is driving me to the iPhone 12
For years, I've used Google Pixels and Apple iPhones for my daily smartphone photography needs. For most shots, I've relied on Pixels because of Google's pioneering computational photography software, which wrings superior image quality out of limited hardware. My current iPhone, an XS Max, has been relegated to occasions when I've needed a telephoto lens.
Two recent smartphone launches -- of Google's Pixel 5 and Apple's iPhone 12 lines -- have changed my mind. The midrange camera hardware on the Pixel 5, and the high-end array of cameras on the iPhone 12 Pro Max, along with the gadget's large image sensor and new software options, are pushing me to the Apple camp.
It wasn't supposed to be this way. I've been impressed by Google's ability to convert cutting-edge image processing research into superior smartphone photos. Google demonstrated how profoundly computers can modernize cameras, as it surpassed smartphone rivals and traditional-camera makers.
Google's decision to build a midrange phone with just two cameras feels like an abandonment. There's just no way to make up for the multiple cameras that rivals like Samsung, Huawei and Apple employ. Sure, rivals haven't necessarily matched all of Google's camera software, but Google isn't close to their hardware.
In 2019, Google's Pixel 4 took a step up by adding a second rear-facing camera, a telephoto option for distant subjects. That was the same year Apple added a third camera to its higher-end iPhone 11 Pro models, an ...
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