It’s not really about the quality of your phone’s screen or the speed of the processor these days. It’s all about the cameras, and Apple and Google have been trading blows for years to be crowned champions on our best camera phones page.
It’s joined by a 12MP ultrawide camera that’s almost twice as large, a 12MP 3x telephoto camera and a 12MP TrueDepth camera with a faster f/1.9 aperture. A new photonic engine delivers brighter, more colorful photos through all of these cameras.
During this time, the Google Pixel 7 Pro packs a 50MP primary camera with a 12MP ultrawide shooter and a more powerful 5x telephoto sensor. There is a 10.8 megapixel camera on the front. There’s a new Macro Focus feature for better close-ups and a cool Photo Unblur trick to clean up your picks.
So which camera phone is the best? I took plenty of photos of the iPhone 14 Pro Max and Pixel 7 Pro side-by-side and analyzed the results to see which flagship wins out.
I took this photo at Bryant Park in New York, which has a skating rink right in the middle. Overall, the iPhone 14 Pro Max delivers a brighter, more inviting image. The people skating show up more in the iPhone photo, while they sort of blend into the ice in the Pixel 7 Pro photo.
The iPhone 14 Pro Max heats up a bit compared to the Pixel 7 Pro in this case (and many others), and Google’s phone does a slightly better job rendering shadows on buildings. But I prefer to share the snapshot of the iPhone.
Food (close-up macro)
Which cranberry and apple pie do you think is the most delicious? In this case, I’m drawn to the Pixel 7 Pro photo. Both phones take advantage of their ultra-wide cameras for taking macro shots, but I prefer the Google image here due to the sharper cranberry and crust detail.
Don’t get me wrong, the iPhone 14 Pro Max takes an appetizing shot here, and the cranberries in the middle of the frame look great, but I’ll give Google the edge.
I was surprised that the iPhone 14 Pro Max overexposed the left side of my face in this image. The Pixel 7 Pro has a more even exposure, as you can make out my blue coat more on the right side of the photo. The blur effect around the leaves in the foreground also looks better across the Pixel.
Both phones take a great shot of those white begonia flowers, but the iPhone 14 Pro Max’s image is even more detailed. Discover the petals. They seem almost translucent with the way the sun hits them. But I also like the brighter white in the Pixel 7 Pro photo. So in this case it’s all about details versus color.
It could be Apple’s photonics engine at work here, but it captures a considerably brighter selfie of me in Bryant Park with pop-up shops and decorative trees in the background. Also worth noting is how sharper the The North Face logo is on my jacket, on the right side of the frame. The Pixel 7 Pro smooths out my wrinkles a bit more, which isn’t a bad thing.
There are some things I like best about Pixel 7 Pro’s shot of this carousel. For one, the lights are more distinct, while they fade out a bit on the iPhone 14 Pro Max. And I can make out the blue sky more, which is a bit too bright on the iPhone.
But overall I prefer the iPhone image here because of the brightness but also the contrast between the horses, the platform and the center of the arena. This makes Apple’s photo more 3D, while Google’s photo is relatively flat.
I wouldn’t say a camera phone dominates in this photo of the Bryant Park fountain, but again, I’d give the iPhone 14 Pro Max the edge. The water coming out of the fountain looks sharper, and the bush in the foreground looks more vibrant (although a bit oversaturated).
stained glass lamps
The Pixel 7 Pro wins this comparison hands down for me. Check the bottom of each light. They’re much more visible through Google’s camera, while they’re too dark through the iPhone. Colors are also richer thanks to the Pixel 7 Pro. It’s just a better exposed photo in this case.
15x zoom flag
I showed this photo to my son and he immediately chose the Pixel 7 Pro. And I tend to agree. The flag’s red and white look richer through Google’s phone, even though the iPhone 14 Pro Max photo is brighter overall. The golden figure on the left side of the image also looks a bit sharper through the Pixel.
Glass Christmas tree
In this photo of a glass Christmas tree, Google’s photo better captures the glitter swirling in the glass. While the iPhone photo is brighter – and the fur in the background looks sharper – you lose some of that detail inside the tree. Brighter is not always better.
The Pixel 7 Pro captures a brighter shot of Times Square. You can more easily distinguish the people in the photo and also check the right side of the frame above the ESPN sign. These slanted windows are not even visible in the photo of the iPhone 14 Pro Max.
There’s a bit of blue in the Pixel’s shot, but overall it wins this round.
The iPhone 14 Pro Max once again offers a brighter image and there is more contrast between the transparent glass ball and the second ball inside. The Pixel 7 Pro’s shot looks a little flat in comparison.
On the plus side, decorations on the right side of the image look sharper through the Pixel, and tree branches look sharper around lights. The iPhone explodes this area a bit.
Empire State Building
This 3x zoom shot of the Empire State Building is pretty close. I like the moodiness of the Pixel 7 Pro photo and the fact that the area around the arrow is sharper where the light is coming from. But again, there is a blue cast in the image, and the sky is darker in the photo than in real life, as it was just after sunset.
The sky in the iPhone 14 Pro Max image is warmer and more realistic, and the blue lights towards the top of the building are more subtle.
Finally, we have this ultra-wide shot of a nearby creek in Freehold, NJ. I’m winking at the iPhone 14 Pro Max in this case because of the brighter greens on the left side of the image. There is also more gradation in the sky. The big tree in the water also gets a bit lost in the Pixel photo.
iPhone 14 Pro Max vs Pixel 7 Pro: big winner
It was a very close contest if you look at the scoreboard below. The iPhone 14 Pro Max scored 8 points to the Pixel 7 Pro’s 7 points, with the two phones tied in one round.
|Line 0 – Cell 0||iPhone 14 Pro Max||Google Pixel 7 Pro|
|Rink||X||Line 1 – Cell 2|
|Macro closeup||Row 2 – Cell 1||X|
|Portrait||Row 3 – Cell 1||X|
|flowers||X||Row 4 – Cell 2|
|Selfies||X||Row 5 – Cell 2|
|Carousel||X||Row 6 – Cell 2|
|Fountain||X||Row 7 – Cell 2|
|Glass lamps||Line 8 – Cell 1||X|
|Flag (15x zoom)||Row 9 – Cell 1||X|
|Glass Christmas tree||Line 10 – Cell 1||X|
|Times Square||Row 11 – Cell 1||X|
|Decorations||X||Line 12 – Cell 2|
|Empire State Building||X||X|
|Ultra wide||X||Row 14 – Cell 2|
Overall, the iPhone 14 Pro Max scored more convincing wins when I pitted the two phones side-by-side, as it delivered brighter, more vibrant images overall. I also preferred the iPhone’s better contrast in several scenarios. However, the Pixel 7 Pro shines in low light and it needed a better looking macro and portrait shot.
I think you’ll love both of these camera phones — especially since the Pixel 7 Pro is $200 less — but I’d give the iPhone 14 Pro Max a slight edge.