Google Pixel XL vs iPhone 7 Plus vs Galaxy S7 edge vs LG V20 selfie shootout: here's how they compare


Depending on your stance towards selfies, these might either be the greatest thing since sliced bread or a plague that should be eradicated as soon as possible. 

We? Suffice to say that we are occasional selfie snappers, though not excessively so. Yet, when we feel the urge to snap a selfie, we often have a hard time picking between the phones we have at hand. This reminded us it would be a great idea to compare the selfie capabilities of some of the hottest phones out there and see how they compare against one another - the Google Pixel XL, the iPhone 7 Plus, the Galaxy S7 edge, and the LG V20.

All the selfies in this comparison have been taken under the same conditions, with all settings and features of both phones unchanged from their default state so that all phones compete fair and square. We allowed ourselves an exception to that rule of thumb in the last test, where we disabled the front selfie flashes of both the iPhone 7 Plus and the Galaxy S7 edge.

Let's jump right into it!

Disclaimer: High-resolution versions of the images used in this comparison can be found at the end of the post.

Scene 1

Violet walls, violet halls


In our first scene, we find Nicole, our cute model casually leaning on a trendy purple wall, and it doesn't take long to notice that the Google Pixel XL's photo is easily the most detailed of all. Nicole's lips are so detailed you can even discern the small chaps and wrinkles. Additionally, the scarf's separate fibers are easily discernible from one another. Skin tone rendition seems good, though the highlights employ a noticeable yellow tint – that scarf is supposed to be whiter than it is. Overall, this selfie is a tad warmer than what we'd call natural. 

The iPhone 7 Plus comes with a tighter field of view, which isolates the subject from the background better. That's vital for appealing portrait photography. Additionally, the iPhone 7 Plus has done the best job at creating an appealing selfie. The colors are true-to-life, with just a smidgen of saturation and vibrancy added by the phone to help bring out the best facial features of Nicole. That's not the case with the Pixel XL, the S7 edge, and the V20 selfies, which are somewhat bleak. However, in comparison with the Pixel XL, the Galaxy S7 edge, and even the V20, the iPhone 7 Plus selfie is lacking in terms of detail, which is especially visible with the scarf's hairs – those are a smudgy mess.


The Galaxy S7 edge selfie is quite detailed, though it's way behind the Pixel XL in terms of sharpness. Samsung's curvaceous flagship has also transformed our fashionable purple wall into a dirty pink one. Our main problem with that selfie is that it lacks any character and fails to excite. A deal-breaking combination.

The LG V20, on the other hand, has the uncanny tendency to smooth the skin, even when the built-in beautification mode is disabled. We guess this might be okay for the beauty-obsessed folks in South Korea who wish to hide away the little imperfections of their skin, but we can't say we are avid fans of such a severe skin treatment. 

Scene 1: score
iPhone 7 Plus9.0
Google Pixel XL8.0
LG V207.0
Galaxy S7 edge6.5

Scene 2

Wintry visage


In this scenario, the Google Pixel XL is clearly the superior selfie-taking gizmo if detail is what you're looking for. 

Starting off with detail, it trumps all of its rivals – a closer inspection reveals just how sharp Nicole's curly hair is in the selfie taken with the Pixel XL. The second spot in terms of detail is actually a tie between the iPhone 7 Plus, the Galaxy S7 edge, and the V20.  However, detail is seldom paramount when selfies are on the table.

Nicole's face appears brighter and thus better separated from the background in the iPhone 7 Plus selfie, as she is correctly exposed. The cost for this has been a slightly noticeable yellow-green tint that has been applied to the skin, which might not be just anyone's cup of tea. 

Meanwhile, the Galaxy S7 edge and the LG V20 have once again produced non-vibrant, undersaturated selfies that will require some post-processing in order to pop out and amass more likes on social media. The Pixel XL has gone for a more vibrant skin tone rendition, which is great, but overall, the selfie it took fails to draw the viewer's attention towards Nicole's face, which is the main goal here. The V20, however, does just this – although the skin tones are milky and slightly anaemic, the angelic appearance of the model is engrossing. That selfie earns our like.


Scene 2: score
LG V209.0
iPhone 7 Plus8.0
Google Pixel XL7.5
Galaxy S7 edge6.0

Scene 3

Indoor selfie time


The Pixel XL once again proves its mettle in terms of detail reproduction – just compare the eyebrows in the crops and you will clearly see that Google's trooper is a force to be reckoned with. Hair detail is also more prevalent in the Pixel XL selfie. Also, when it comes to true-to-life color rendition indoors, the Pixel XL definitely comes on top – skin tones look delightfully natural and realistic. You can even make out the different shades of brown on Nicole's iris in that selfie, which can't be said for the rest of the images. Extra points to the Pixel XL for that particular self-portrait!

We wish we could say the iPhone 7 Plus selfie was shot with the Transfer filter selected, but sadly, that's not the case. The color temperature in the iPhone selfie is way warmer than it should be, which leads to a mostly unnatural and oversaturated image. We can't say that this selfie will earn our "like", especially when it's viewed side-by-side with the one snapped by the Pixel XL. 

The S7 edge has produced a slightly bleak image that looks a bit uninspiring to us, with skin tones a bit under-exposed. Skin detail fades away in a waxy mess. The V20 has properly exposed the model's face and is once again drawing our attention towards the various facial features of Nicole. Ditto about the milky tones, as LG's smoothing algorithms have once again kicked in and have done away it most fine details. We can't say we are fans of such smudged selfies – they look artificial and over-processed. 

Scene 3: score
Google Pixel XL9.0
LG V208.0
Galaxy S7 edge8.0
iPhone 7 Plus6.0

Scene 4

Low-light affair


Occasionally, the need arises for the average male to snap a selfie. We are not sure why, but this particular male has chosen to take a selfie in very bad lighting conditions, which often lead to disappointing results. But hey, at least we get to see how the four phones fared at this daunting task. 

Once again, the Pixel XL comes forth with a way more detailed, and arguably, a better-exposed selfie in comparison with all its rivals, with little to no noise despite having shot the image at the highest ISO setting among the four. The iPhone comes at the second spot in terms of overall detail. There's a noticeable amount of noise creeping in the iPhone selfie, courtesy of its smaller aperture which lets less light hit the camera sensor. 

While both the Galaxy S7 edge and the V20 are paying tribute to Madame Tussauds' wax museum as our male model looks like an artificial wax figure with smudged skin in the selfies they came up with. We are sorry if you are fans of such selfies, but we don't find them appealing at all.


Scene 4: score
Google Pixel XL9.0
iPhone 7 Plus8.0
Galaxy S7 edge7.0
LG V206.0

Conclusion


The Google Pixel XL definitely stirred the pot with its exceptional selfie-snapping capabilities of its Auto HDR+ front-facing camera. Not only does its camera consistently produce detailed images, but these are almost always rather appealing to look at due to the detail aplenty as well as the great skin tones. That's a respectable combination that is given to garner lots of positive buzz on any social media. 

As far as the iPhone 7 Plus is concerned, we find its narrower field of view to be perfect for selfies since it helps isolate the subject from the background. Granted, this might not be that great for group selfies but works wonders for regular auto-portraits. Depending on where you stand, the iPhone's often incorrect and way vibrant color rendition could be either a pro or a con. 

The Samsung Galaxy S7 edge is an able-bodied shooter that is a bit lacking in terms of fine detail and tends to smoothen skin way more than necessary, even when its numerous beautification gimmicks are turned off. The same applies to the V20, which is mostly in the same ballpark as the Galaxy S7 edge – it simply loves to make your skin waxy and smudged, which might look okay on Instagram, but zooming in quickly reveals a hazy mess of detail. 

So, at the end of the day, every single one of these phones will take a decent selfie, especially if you take into consideration your surroundings and the lighting. However, the Pixel XL is ahead of the curve right now.

Final score
Google Pixel XL8.4
iPhone 7 Plus7.8
LG V207.5
Galaxy S7 edge6.9

FEATURED VIDEO

65 Comments

1. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

1st pict. S7e 6.5? why? it's obviously better than that washed out V20... and it capture the most detailed fur scarf among all.. just look at 4pic right above first score.. it's so obvious

2. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

last pict. even worse (low light) iPhone capture the most grainiest, and darkest photo with terrible detail, and get 8.0 at least pixel win :D

4. bobby84

Posts: 595; Member since: May 13, 2016

PhoneArena are Samsung haters you should've known that.

42. Finalflash

Posts: 4063; Member since: Jul 23, 2013

The whole point of this comparison was to get people to think "iPhone". All of the pictures are pretty bad on the iPhone but they make excuses to keep the iPhone relevant in each case while easily deriding the others. They also let the iPhone have second place because first would be a dead giveaway to the bias, so keep the iPhone in top 2 while moving its main competitor, S7 in popularity, as low as possible. Look, lets not be surprised that this BS is happening all over the tech media these days. They all want "access" to Apple and their events. They get free gear and review units early for bowing to power and they are desperate for attention. They have to show Apple in a positive light no matter what and mention them on a certain number of articles per day in order to stay on Apple's good side lest they become the next ComputerBild. Just watch the following admission from David at PhoneBuff and he isn't the only one to openly admit this sort of bribery. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S0jSlsCm2HA

43. BlackhawkFlys

Posts: 914; Member since: May 07, 2014

Their is something really wrong with the scoring on scene no.4 iPhone 6 Plus should have been given 6.0 in that case.

59. BaffledTruffle

Posts: 523; Member since: Dec 07, 2013

I think the scoring's fair for that one. Pixel is obviously the winner, whilst the iPhone is a lot sharper than the S7 Edge's and the V20's (the two, for some reason, are really soft). Though I would say that the last place in that scene should be the V20, the guy looks really out of focus.

61. kerginaldo17 unregistered

When I saw the results of test 1 (violet wall) I stopped. And iPhone without distinctness wins the S7, the test don't deserve credibility.

6. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

Pic.2.. although Pixel produce great color and detail, then you said this "The V20, however, does just this – although the skin tones are milky and slightly anaemic, the angelic appearance of the model is engrossing. That selfie earns our like." and what's the point of making comparison article if it's just based on your personal preference? lol... detail, color reproduction, and other photographic aspects doesnt even matter in this comparison..

15. SYSTEM_LORD

Posts: 1168; Member since: Oct 05, 2015

I agree with their choices on the V20 and iPhone 7. The Pixel and the Galaxy don't highlight the person, which is THE point of a selfie. I could believe a glowing wintery scene like the V20 and iPhone produced, but the dark, non human centered photos the other two didn't feel right for a selfie. Galaxy was better than the Pixel, but the iPhone I think had the best balance.

35. willzzz

Posts: 36; Member since: May 27, 2015

If you want more face just hold the phone closer..

20. sissy246

Posts: 7111; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

"although the skin tones are milky and slightly anaemic" That's just it to, none of use know what the skin tone of these people truly are. So there is no way of us knowing how close any of there are to true color. But I am sure scene 4 is way off.

7. Rampage_Taco

Posts: 1060; Member since: Jan 17, 2017

"However, in comparison with the Pixel XL, the Galaxy S7 edge, and even the V20, the iPhone 7 Plus selfie is lacking in terms of detail, which is especially visible with the scarf's hairs – those are a smudgy mess" iPhone 9.0..... yep

3. peace247 unregistered

Who even let this guy review photos? He's colour blind or something i think. Clearly pixel is best, s7 and iphone both 2nd, lg is last.

5. peace247 unregistered

Exposure on pixel and edge is spot on.

8. Diego!

Posts: 871; Member since: Jun 15, 2009

Oh well... another biased article by iPhoneArena.com How come we are still getting mad about it? Please...

9. sissy246

Posts: 7111; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

So true OMG what F-ing joke 14 is in no way better then 15. But yet the iphone placed higher. GOD PA is showing how bias they are with this one against the Samsung phone

10. sissy246

Posts: 7111; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

Hell, he looks like a light skinned African American man with the iphone.

13. sissy246

Posts: 7111; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

Scene #4

22. sissy246

Posts: 7111; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

"How come we are still getting mad about it? Please" Flustering Not Mad

11. Plasticsh1t

Posts: 3106; Member since: Sep 01, 2014

The s-sheep will cry.

14. sissy246

Posts: 7111; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

OMG even you can see that the iphone did not do better then the Samsung phone. You just refuse to admit it.

29. Plasticsh1t

Posts: 3106; Member since: Sep 01, 2014

Zero f**ks given for the iPhone. Now go back to bed princess.

38. sissy246

Posts: 7111; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

Awww, thanks I know I am a princess. You can at least admit that.

12. bucky

Posts: 3784; Member since: Sep 30, 2009

lul at all the crying fanboys.

16. sissy246

Posts: 7111; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

Personal in scene 3 I do like the iPhone better. So I think that is wrong too. See I can admit it, it easy try it.

17. sissy246

Posts: 7111; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

There is also no why the v20 wins a any of those over the Samsung.

18. ShadowHammer

Posts: 204; Member since: Mar 13, 2015

I would have liked a more objective approach to grading these pics. More comparisons to what the actual eye interprets the colors as, compared to what the phones capture. Also, is the grading based on how accurately the phones capture the actual image/person, or does "it makes them look nicer" trump accuracy?

19. wando77

Posts: 1168; Member since: Aug 23, 2012

A TERRIBLE comparison. For this to be fair the subject should be framed the same. Either hold the s7 closer or the iPhone further away and then see what happens. You then go on to have all the crop comparisons framed the same. Unbelievable

21. Rampage_Taco

Posts: 1060; Member since: Jan 17, 2017

Now I wonder user took advantage of the Beauty Face on the S7 to help add focus to the Users face

26. bucky

Posts: 3784; Member since: Sep 30, 2009

If i recall, that would haze the skin over to look cleaner/brighter. I dont think its meant to be accurate but rather uploaded to instagram.

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