Pixel 3 vs iPhone XS, Galaxy Note 9: which camera takes better portrait photos?

In our latest camera comparison we test the Google Pixel 3 against the Apple iPhone XS and the Samsung Galaxy Note 9. We try to find out which phone takes the best portrait mode photos by comparing a bunch of shots taken in various conditions. Come see the results!
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42 Comments

1. midan

Posts: 2557; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

IPhone definately, Pixel photos look like those are Photoshopped, subject and background just doesn't belong together, it looks like edited fake photo. But well that's exactly what it is and shows the problem having only one cam. About Note camera there's not much to say except, what is Samsung thinking and what happened to their camera quality?

4. wickedwilly

Posts: 540; Member since: Sep 19, 2018

Nothing happened, iPhone Arena just took bad shots. I always get better shots than these.

10. sissy246

Posts: 6959; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

I have also seen why better photos then what PA take with the note 9.

21. Finalflash

Posts: 4062; Member since: Jul 23, 2013

Don't know what you guys are talking about, it's right along what your would expect. The pixel won outright as even the authors admitted. The iPhone and Note were neck in neck with the iPhone failing contrast and Samsung over doing the face smudging beauty mode as usual. Both of the latter also have the bubble problem.

28. Atechguy0

Posts: 918; Member since: Aug 03, 2018

Everyone including Phonearena left off on specic thing when it comes to portrait mode for the Pixel 3's. They have a wide angle portrait mode as well. Which none of the others offer. Hands down the Pixel 3's win. There is no contest because the 3's win, but Phonearena made it a contest.

34. midan

Posts: 2557; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

"with the iPhone failing contrast" contrast is very natural with iPhone, wouldn't say it's failing. That's how the reality looks. If you want more contrast you can add it later for your own taste. With pixel there's way too much contrast and photos looks like heavily edited photos, but again this is just matter of taste.

14. Vancetastic

Posts: 746; Member since: May 17, 2017

Hey, buddy, we are all looking for ya on the bent iPad article!

26. Peaceboy

Posts: 640; Member since: Oct 11, 2018

My ipad 11” doesn’t have a bend. If so, people can return right away, its not Samsung that you need to argue to costumer service or they can replace it after a year. Bad services is bad company

39. Vancetastic

Posts: 746; Member since: May 17, 2017

“It’s not a manufacturing defect”. 14 days to return it, dingbat. After that, you’re SOL.

40. wickedwilly

Posts: 540; Member since: Sep 19, 2018

It seems your experience is the opposite of mine. Samsung service has always been superb across their product range. Apples, on the other hand, is awful. Always arguing the fault is yours and even if you do get through their avoidance tactics, it takes a month or two to get a replacement and that is usually a second-hand product.

16. f_u_006

Posts: 112; Member since: Mar 19, 2014

Are you really surprised that PhoneArena made iPhone look good?

33. midan

Posts: 2557; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

yes it's quite hard to make iPhone cam look bad knowing how great it is ;)

2. notfair

Posts: 687; Member since: Jan 30, 2017

sorry guys, but did you smudged the note 9 camera on purpose? all the photos taken by then 9 look like trash and the reality says otherwise.

6. wickedwilly

Posts: 540; Member since: Sep 19, 2018

They did something, I always get better shots than they have come up with and I am not a pro by any description.

7. wickedwilly

Posts: 540; Member since: Sep 19, 2018

They did something, I always get better shots than they have come up with and I am not a pro by any description.

11. Aruminiumaian

Posts: 209; Member since: Jul 22, 2017

Well, they ARE pretty trash compared to Pixel or iPhone when it comes to Portrait Mode. Loads of blown up highlights in many scenes thanks to the lack of always-on HDR, it seriously needs some work.

18. Victor.H

Posts: 1026; Member since: May 27, 2011

Yeah, of course, let me explain what we do in detail. First, we take lard. Good old lard. Yes, I know this sounds strange, but that's our secret so bear with us. We put it in a tiny mason jar that you can easily carry with you in your jacket. Anytime we take a picture with the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 we open the jar and spread lard generously over the camera. It's a little gross, but you know, we are stubborn like this and we apply this every single time we take a picture with the Note 9. That's how we get the softer detail. For the Pixel, we have a different technique. In order to get a different effect we use breaking fluid. For this one you need gloves. We put it in a small container and just dip the Pixel's camera every time we take a picture. And that's how they all come out underexposed. Of course, for the iPhone we use a pristine clean cloth every time with a special Carl Zeiss fluid to meticulously clean the lens and we also jailbreak the phone and turn on the secret super camera mode. And that's how the iPhone always wins. You are welcome!

20. midan

Posts: 2557; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

Haha well played, i wonder if these secrets are used by others too

23. Plasticsh1t

Posts: 3090; Member since: Sep 01, 2014

Didn't expect this response. Thanks for the laugh

24. whatev

Posts: 2115; Member since: Oct 28, 2015

LMAOOOOOOOOOOOO, he got owned!!! That’s the way to deal with trolls elegantly and deadly at the same time, even though this is a funny way to shut trolls mouths, I think PhoneArena should be more active in terms of getting rid of this population, you just have to see apple articles in general, the thing is getting out of control, it’s toxic as hell, personally, I have realized I visit this site less frequently in the last weeks because of this, it’s a really annoying and repulsive experience, it’s like a playground instead of what it should be a nice chat about tech

31. mootu

Posts: 1373; Member since: Mar 16, 2017

Thats rich! One of the biggest trolls on here complaining about trolls. I've seen it all now.

38. whatev

Posts: 2115; Member since: Oct 28, 2015

That’s right, I couldn’t expect more from a well known troll, tell me when I’m present on android articles trolling android users? Compare that to your own behavior, if defending and actually attacking trolls on apple articles because they kill our peace and patience everyday by insulting us, if that is trolling to you, well then I’m a troll, if you read most of my post are just reactions to stupid people like you who are always coming to Apple articles just to insult, you feel like the big bullies at school behind those screens, it’s sad, and because of people like you this site is extremely toxic and it certainly will take a hit on PhoneArena audience, it’s not really a nice experience to come here lately

35. jefff

Posts: 23; Member since: Dec 29, 2013

"Breaking" fluid. I know journalism is dead, and you're... uh... pretty poor writers who cannot construct grammatically correct sentences, but can you at least learn homophones? It's brake. Brakes stop your car and use brake fluid. Fun fact: brake fluid is a yellowish to brownish color, so your "snappy comeback" doesn't even make sense.

41. Aruminiumaian

Posts: 209; Member since: Jul 22, 2017

And what are you exactly trying to prove here?

3. pokharkarsaga

Posts: 545; Member since: Feb 23, 2012

Pixel freakin XL.Pixel is the PORTRAIT king.

5. hurrycanger

Posts: 1754; Member since: Dec 01, 2013

Pixel all the way. Then XS. I feel bad for Samsung's portrait mode. Somebody please install Google Camera on that beach so it can shine.

8. cmdacos

Posts: 3818; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

Time to stop doing pixel camera comparisons and just agree that they kill everything else. Throw something else in the mix like a Hauwei or One Plus

9. sissy246

Posts: 6959; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

Have to agree Pixel kicks azz and apple and Samsung needs to take lessons from them.

22. warcraft

Posts: 7; Member since: Oct 03, 2017

Totally agree. Pixel is the king of photography, nightshot and portrait.

12. Lukino

Posts: 31; Member since: May 04, 2018

Before making photos, please clean the lens. Note 9 it's not so bad as you want to "tell" us.
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