The Big Barcelona Camera Comparison: iPhone X vs Pixel 2 XL vs Note 8

The Big Barcelona Camera Comparison: iPhone X vs Pixel 2 XL vs Note 8

Mobile World Congress is just about to kick off, but we've already been here for a day and we have wasted no time. Walking down the iconic La Rambla main street and sightseeing the Sagrada Familia and the rest of the amazing buildings by Catalonia-born Gaudi, we also took some pictures.

And yes, we had a fancy camera with all the bells and whistles, but we would not be PhoneArena if we just used that. Instead, we had our pockets full of phones.

To help us capture the beauty of Barcelona in photos we had the:

So which one captured the best-looking photos?

We have the pictures from the three phones right below and it's time to find out which one has the best camera.

Disclaimer: All images have been downsized for faster loading.


The hardest part of visiting a beautiful city like Barcelona is picking just a few of the tens (or rather hundreds) of pictures that you shoot. We tried to contain ourselves to only a few pictures and our conclusion is... all the three phones shoot awesome pictures. Okay, you want more specifics, right?

There are some differences that you notice when you look closer. First, is the absolutely unsurpassed amount of nicely sharp detail that you get out of the Galaxy, it really is in a league of its own when it comes to the amount of resolved detail. Secondly, you notice the stunning dynamic range of photos from the Pixel, but also you notice two weaknesses: the Pixel just kills the beautiful blue skies and turns them into a gray mess (they were certainly not gray on that day) and also you notice that it goes for somewhat less saturated, less vibrant images that lack that punch. Finally, the iPhone goes the opposite way with a clearly very contrasty and oversaturated images that are ready for sharing, but not actually realistic.


At night, Barcelona truly turns alive. This is a city that seems to sleep in the morning rather than at night, as restaurants only open at 9pm and bars and clubs habitually close at 6am. It takes time to adjust to the Barcelona lifestyle, but what is easy to adjust to is the fairy tale of shining lights and impressive architecture that comes to life at night.

Gaudi's creations look different. Some - like the Casa Batllo - look truly like something out of a fairy tale, while others like the Sagrada Familia lose a bit of their daytime shine as they lack the colors. But they are different and the way the phones capture photos of them is also very different.

At night, the Pixel 2 XL shines with its incredible dynamic range, but it is also the one with most noise in it. Samsung has the most aggressive noise reduction and it looks best in terms of resolved detail, but cannot quite match the dynamics of the Pixel. Finally, the iPhone strikes the balance between these two.

Portrait Mode

We also took quite a few pictures using portrait mode, but at the end we have excluded the Pixel from this part of the comparison. It has a much wider lens and the photos it captures are very different from the telephoto lenses on the iPhone and the Note. The wide angle is not particularly flattering as it exaggerates certain facial features and gives a quite distorted picture if you go as close as you need to in order to get a true portrait.

Comparing the iPhone and the Note, though, you do notice that both do a great job, and that both look very different both in terms of color and in the way that the iPhone gives you a pre-set background blur, while the Note allows you to control the amount of bokeh.


Next up, we have a panoramic shot of the iconic Sagrada Familia. We have downsized it for more convenient viewing, but you can easily notice the differences between the three phones.

Selfie time!

Finally, it was time to take a glorious selfie with the Sagrada Familia as the background. Results were very different and we had to tap to refocus and get the best results from each camera. The iPhone in particular would default to a seriously overexposed photo, but once you tap on your face, it would adjust its exposure and get a very good looking picture. The other two phones were much better at automatically measuring the scene and getting it from one go.

Final words

And this wraps our Big Barcelona Camera Comparison, just moments before the unveiling of the new Galaxy S9 and all the other new 2018 phones that will soon surely arrive.

A year after last year's MWC, these three phones - the iPhone X, the Note 8 and Pixel 2 XL - seem to represent the finest cameras out there.

Will Samsung be able to outdo itself? And can others rival these top three? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.



1. Humanoid

Posts: 1226; Member since: Dec 11, 2017

Sky is blue, not purple. Why cant they fix this WB?

3. Bazali

Posts: 17; Member since: Oct 13, 2017

Even hola has i before it.. so much obsessed with apple!! S/

6. MaryPoopins

Posts: 324; Member since: Jan 15, 2015

Why? Really. Do we need ANOTHER camera comparison just because it's in a different city? Next week..... another camera comparison featuring the same phones again, but this time we're in (insert random city)

9. NickHill

Posts: 388; Member since: May 07, 2016

Why does that bother you? Its their site they post what they want

10. MaryPoopins

Posts: 324; Member since: Jan 15, 2015

Sorry, I'll run all my posts past you in future so you can vet them for appropriateness.

8. blingblingthing

Posts: 980; Member since: Oct 23, 2012

Please do these comparisons properly. Have us use a single pane and we and have a mouse over effect or slider to spot the differences. These small thumb nails suck.

11. waqarzec

Posts: 77; Member since: May 09, 2013

There is no competitor to the Pixel 2 XL

12. admin_user

Posts: 33; Member since: Sep 26, 2017

Last photo in night time is missing... In daylight they offer more or less same quality. But in night time you can see that Pixel2 is better than the other two phones. Look at the lamps in the cafe scene f.e. So we only have to know if S9 and XZ2 are better than the Pixel.

13. Furkan

Posts: 552; Member since: Feb 25, 2017

iPhone X kills Note8.

17. sissy246

Posts: 7129; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

Not even close. They both take good pictures but in no way does it kill the note 8.

19. Furkan

Posts: 552; Member since: Feb 25, 2017

Im not a Samsung or Apple fanboy or not a Samsung hater. I can notice which one is better unlike you.

14. technitude

Posts: 263; Member since: Dec 19, 2013

I think the iPhone always tans (white) people up, which looks good for them. But what about people with other complexions? ... and what about at night? I have a lot of friends that don't need to be tanned up, I want to know how group photos will look with a variety of complexions. Also, you never have action shots. I have taken pictures out the window of prop planes and have had a variety of results on how the spinning propellers turn out. It is more of a fun thing, but I'd like to see how cameras handle things moving too fast for the human eye.

15. Whitedot

Posts: 866; Member since: Sep 26, 2017

Pixel 2 phone rules again. Victor is trembling.

16. scarface21173

Posts: 702; Member since: Aug 17, 2014

Pixel won easy

18. sissy246

Posts: 7129; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

They are all 3 great They all 3 have ups and downs

20. deewinc

Posts: 455; Member since: Feb 21, 2013

Somehow, Note 8 are darker. The low light scene Note 8 lags the competition real bad. It's only in PA where a comparison between Samsung and the competition results to lousy photos taken by the Samsung.

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit for samples and additional information.