Google Pixel 2 camera magic explained

The Google Pixel had one of the best cameras ever put in a smartphone. The Google Pixel 2? It promises to bring it to the next level.

The new Pixel 2 still comes with a single rear camera, but it uses some software tricks so it achieves portrait photos even without a secondary camera on the back, and it uses a new sensor (it's actually smaller) with a better dynamic range. Google shot some images with the Pixel 2 and while we still haven't tested the camera ourselves, we are impressed by what we see.

So... how did Google pull all of these impressive camera tricks?

The first keyword to understanding the magic of the Pixel 2 camera is auto high-dynamic range images, or simply HDR+. This feature allows the camera to capture better dynamics, meaning that even a bright sky won't appear overblown in a picture, and those really dark shadows will still come with plenty of detail in them.

But also, the Pixel 2 now supports Portrait mode that blurs the background and lets the subject in a photo stand out. And it works not only with people and faces. This is possible due to Dual Pixel technology. Dual pixel means just what it says: every pixel on the camera sensor is actually two pixels. This is traditionally used for faster auto-focus, but Google uses it in a clever way: it creates a depth map of a scene and allows separation of an object from the background.

To understand more about the details in the Google Pixel 2's cameras, check out the two videos right below.

Related phones

Pixel 2
  • Display 5.0" 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Camera 12.2 MP / 8 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, Octa-core, 2350 MHz
  • Storage 128GB
  • Battery 2700 mAh



1. Xperia14

Posts: 1208; Member since: Sep 01, 2015

It actually has a smaller sensor. The Pixel had a 1/2.3" one while the Pixel 2 has a smaller 1/2.6" sensor.

3. samgsam

Posts: 152; Member since: Mar 24, 2017

I don't think it will matter much. If a company can do some amazing things like using just one lens for amazing portrait shots then they would have used some software tricks to overcome the smaller sensor size problems.

8. Victor.H

Posts: 1104; Member since: May 27, 2011

Good point, thanks!

10. MeGustaHC

Posts: 12; Member since: Dec 18, 2013

The Pixel had a f/2.0 aperture, this one has a f/1.8 aperture which will compensate for the smaller pixels.

11. TheStanleyFTW

Posts: 252; Member since: Feb 20, 2013

Exactly. The sensor reduction is kind of 1/3 stops reduction, but you gain 1/3 stops from the aperture changes + OIS, better ISP and better HDR+ algorithms. So overall a better camera.

14. combatmedic870

Posts: 987; Member since: Sep 02, 2015

It's the exact same camera as the s8 and note 8. The note 8 camera is very good. So I would this camera to ATLEAST match it regardless.

2. samgsam

Posts: 152; Member since: Mar 24, 2017

That camera is gonna blow every phone out of the competition.

4. uncle_gadget

Posts: 1050; Member since: Sep 20, 2017

Nice! The first video basically explains what all the OEM's seem to be doing equally. Dual pixels has proven to be a great feature in cameras, but Samsung takes it further by adding it to the AutoFocus as well for quicker focusing and less blurred shots from rushing to get a shot. Nice to see all the improvements. If the Pixel didn't run Vanilla Android and didn't look so much like an iOS device I already own, I would get one. Anyone with a Pixel and have AIDA installed can say what sensor is in the phone? Is it a Sony sensor?

5. samgsam

Posts: 152; Member since: Mar 24, 2017

In what way does it look like an iOS device to you?

7. Hama22

Posts: 60; Member since: Jul 17, 2015

The OG Pixel phones have an IMX378

6. jack11141

Posts: 73; Member since: Sep 30, 2015

To be fair there is hardly any real improvement in cameras apart from some clever tricks used by google. I don't think Raw files will be that much different than that of Note8 or htc u11.But final product will tell the reality.

15. combatmedic870

Posts: 987; Member since: Sep 02, 2015

This is the truth....if the v30's optics truly are really good. Then in day light, it will put some hurting on this camera in raw.

9. Joosty

Posts: 494; Member since: Mar 14, 2013

FusedIS, Sounds awesome.

12. abdoualgeria

Posts: 928; Member since: Jul 27, 2015

Camera on smartphone has improved a lot since late 2016 .....

13. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

More like it improved much since 2015 when we began going beyond f/2.0, along with color spectrum sensors and whatnot.:))

16. Tythas

Posts: 38; Member since: Jul 30, 2015

Is there a link to the full size images?

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