Camera comparison: Galaxy S23 vs iPhone 14 vs Pixel 7, the entry level dukes it out!

Camera comparison: Galaxy S23 vs iPhone 14 vs Pixel 7, the entry level dukes it out!
Nowadays, it's typical that phone manufacturers will launch their latest flagships in at least two flavors — or four, if you look at the iPhone, Plus, Pro, and Pro Max.

In any case, even the "cheapest" of these flagships should be good enough — not for the unsatiable tech enthusiast or camera aficionado, but good enough for any user that just wants a good new phone with their cellular contract.

What's one of the most important things when looking at a new smartphone? Correct — battery life. But, that aside, cameras are also pretty important in today's social-media-entangled world.

So, when we strip the "Pro", "Plus", and "Ultra" monikers from them — how do the base Galaxy S23, iPhone 14, and Pixel 7 cameras fare against each other?

Read more:

Less talking, more cameras, here we go!


Samsung is probably the only manufacturer who still puts a full-functioning triple camera module on its "non-Pro" flagship. That's wide, ultra-wide, and telephoto. Apple and Google will only give you dual lens setups on the back — wide and ultra-wide.

Main Camera

The Galaxy S23 loves to amp up colors and we can see quite a bit of saturation. Not overly aggressive or unpleasant, but definitely beyond what we would call "realistic" for that scenario.

Recommended Stories
The Pixel 7, on the other hand, struck a bit of a dull note, as if it was too scared to actually throw a splash of coloring in there. On the good end, its sky color looks the most realisting. The iPhone 14 came in the middle, and also offered the brightest exposure, which is cool.

In terms of details, it's pleasant to see that none of these phones oversharpened them excessively. That does happen later on, but they look good in all three samples here.

This tricky scene managed to get the Galaxy S23 to boost its exposure a bit too much, losing some details and intricacies around the building there. Both the iPhone 14 and Pixel 7 did a much better job here. The Pixel did cast a purple-ish shade, but on the other hand — its details look much more natural, where the iPhone 14 seems to be doing a bit too much sharpening.

Another tricky shot with a very bright item in the foreground. The Galaxy S23 is, again, a bit too bright, maybe even blowing out some highlights. The iPhone held it together better, minus the oversharpening (most visible on the tree branches). The Pixel did a great job with colors and details and its exposure can be your favorite if you don't mind the slightly crushed shadows.

This selection of delicate flowers did throw our phones off — too much exposure or too much sharpening will make them appear unnatural, with their colors washed out or mixed up in a mess. Of the three devices, the Pixel 7 did the best job of keeping it all together.

A very challenging scene, with the setting sun casting bright spots and dark shadows all around. All three phones did quite well here — a show of power. The Galaxy S23 gave us the most exposure, the iPhone 14 — the darkest picture. The Pixel 7 sits somewhere in the middle. The grass and sky look pretty good on all three photos, save for the iPhone 14 where the sky is a bit too neon blue.

Low light

In this scene, we see very clearly how the different phones treat strong light sources. The Galaxy S23 looks to flatten dynamics out, so it can give you the most detail around light sources and avoid burnouts. However, it's not entirely accurate in this specific scene since, in real life, the glowing cores in the big red lamps really were a warm white light (as in the other phone photos).

The Pixel kind of lost the plot, making everything appear too blue — those purple lights above the bar are supposed to be actually purple. The iPhone did the best with this photo, striking a balance between dynamics, colors, and sharpness.

A very challenging shot and we did expect the phones to drop the ball a bit, but they did keep it together surprisingly well. The scene you are looking at was definitely darker in real life, and the phones were hold close to the ground with some flowers in the foreground for additional depth effect. Yet, they pulled through by focusing on what they had to and by enhancing the exposure of the shot.

In this sample, the Galaxy S23's colors went a bit overboard, though that could certainly be an aesthetic that one is after. The Pixel 7 tried to expose the shot a bit too much, we feel, which caused it to overshoot the colors. The iPhone 14 got natural colors, but a bit too much of a yellow hue overall and its details are quite soft by comparison.

Another challenge with plenty of light sources down a dark alley. The Galaxy S23 did a great job at preserving the striking effect that the underlit benches have. If you are not a fan of how dark the photo looks, the Pixel 7 did give us a much brighter take on it, plus a little lens flare to enjoy. 

The iPhone 14 photo is brighter than the Galaxy one, but doesn't stand out with much. Its details are soft and a yellow cast is present again. Arguably, the Galaxy S23 photo has the same yellowish cast, but with more contrast and sharper details, it makes for the better picture.

Wow, how does one pick a favorite here? There are some small differences in exposure and color representation, but in general — great performance from all three phones. The iPhone's details are definitely much softer and jagged than the competition. The Pixel 7, gave us details that are a bit too elaborate, too sharp. The Galaxy S23 seems to be sitting very comfortable in the middle, giving us a very balanced shot here.

Ultra-wide camera

A very challenging shot, with the sun peaking slightly from the corner up there. The Galaxy and iPhone couldn't really help it and crushed some shadows, though the Pixel does have a narrower ultra-wide lens, so it didn't get as much of the sun in its shot as the competition. We like the colors on the background building best on the iPhone shots, but detail sharpness is best on the Pixel 7. The Galaxy provided us with a very striking contrast-y look and maybe 0.1 extra saturation.

Pretty even performance all around here. Notably, the iPhone's colors came out the most pale here. It's also fun to notice how the F2.4 aperture of the iPhone 14's ultra-wide camera provides for a deeper depth of field and doesn't blur the foreground (an effect we were trying to achieve, actually), whereas F2.2 on the other two phones does the job.

A brown-ish statue under a yellow cast from neighboring night lights — this scene is no joke, and it definitely tripped our phones up. The Pixel 7 did quite poorly here, with washed out colors and a very weird HDR ghost effect. The iPhone 14 did a great job with the exposure, and its details look pretty good. Too bad the photo is so orange.

But the Galaxy S23 took it — well exposed, good coloring, and sharp details (well... for a picture in the dark, that is).

Telephoto and zoom

Out of the three phones here, only the Galaxy S23 has a dedicated zoom camera — with a focal length equivalent of 69 mm (3x zoom). In fact, the iPhone 14 only gives you 5x digital zoom with its camera, the Pixel 7 goes up to 8x, and the S23 is the only one that goes up to double digits, hitting a maximum of 30x zoom.

So... to even the playing field, here are some samples at 5x zoom:

The Galaxy S23 definitely takes this one. It does look oversharpened, but it still preserves tons of detail and looks impressive for a 5x shot. The iPhone 14 looks the softest, with most details lost — definitely looks like a digital crop. The Pixel 7 somehow managed to keep it together — it does look soft, but you can still make out the details and take in the photo.

Interestingly enough, the Pixel 7 did the best job here — in terms of details and exposure. If we are to assume what happened with the Galaxy — it's probable that the narrower aperture of its telephoto lens wasn't giving it the light it needed, considering the phone had to adjust exposure because of the bright sky in the back. So, sometimes, zooming in with your main camera isn't that bad!

The iPhone 14 also did quite good with exposure and dynamics here, but the details are way too soft and we can see some noise creeping in.

Who will be able to show us the details of the bird decal in the middle of that lamp as we zoom in?

At 3x, the Galaxy S23's dedicated 3x lens is helping it out, giving it the most natural details. Though, it's worth noting that the Pixel did respectably well, probably powered by that AI in the background. The iPhone 14 gives us a lot of noise and a greenish cast, plus the softest details for this shot.

Surprisingly, as we closed in on the subject, the Pixel 7 activated that computational wizardry to show us exactly what the lamp looks like. However, to achieve this, it dropped the overall exposure in the scene, so it's a win-loss type scenario. The Galaxy kept it together when it comes to overall dynamics balancing, but we did lose the details in the lamp. And the iPhone 14 is again, soft, noisy, and out of the contest.

Portrait mode

A dedicated portrait mode has pretty much become standard, but different manufacturers still do it differently. The Galaxy S23 — obviously — has a telephoto lens for a less distorted capture of facial features. But you can choose to take wide portraits with the main camera, too.

The iPhone 14 only has the wide and ultra-wide cameras, so you can only take wide portraits (no zooming in to simulate a telephoto lens).

The Pixel 7, on the other hand, will crop into its main wide camera to simulate a bit of a telephoto. Then, it will give you another 2x step, which digitally zooms in even further.

So it's a bit of a challenge to line up any type of comparison shots with these, to say the least!

Great colors from the Galaxy S23 here. Unfortunately, it struggled to make out what's in the foreground and what's in the background in this particular shot (it IS Portrait Mode, we double-checked on the phone), hence why there isn't a lot of blur applied.

The iPhone 14 did much better, and also notice how the depth of the blur changes as we get closer to the subject. A couple of jagged lines around the doggo, where the algorithm struggled, are — unfortunately — still a thing.

The Pixel 7 did fantastic here — with colors, exposure, and subject separation. Yes, the photo is a bit more zoomed in, but this is the Pixel's "wide" portrait setting — it always crops in. Distance from the subject was same on all three photos.

This is a zoom portrait sample, so the iPhone is out of the game. 

The Galaxy did give us a colder cast here, but dynamics are well preserved and details are sharp. The Pixel 7 gave us warmer colors, but you can see a highlight in the background being blown out and softer details in the fur.

The depth effect, subject separation, colors, and exposure look great on the Galaxy and iPhone here. The iPhone's details are only slightly softer, but we have to get nitpicky. The Pixel 7 portrait is also not bad at all, but the bokeh is less convincing.

But overall, it was a very well-lit shot, and all three phones did a fantastic job.

Now with the zoom crop-in of the Galaxy and Pixel only. 

Great job from both phones, but you can definitely see that the Galaxy S23's details are much smoother — thanks to that optical zoom. The Pixel 7 goes in digitally for that closed shot, and you can tell. But exposure, colors, and background separation are great on both samples.

All three phones did great with subject-background separation here, though the Pixel 7 did drop the ball a little (watch the empty space between the person's arm and body).

Colors look great on the Galaxy S23 shot, though it's a bit bright. Facial details on the Pixel 7 are pretty good, but the iPhone 14 seems to be giving us the best balance with this shot, we feel.

This is a zoomed-in portrait, so no iPhone here. Both phones were quite challenged by the lack of lighting here and the Galaxy photo looks very, very soft. The Pixel did get sharper details — somehow — but missed the colors of the background, as these lights are supposed to be purple (towards the pink-ish spectrum, not blue). We still have to give it to the Pixel here for the details, though.

Another wide portrait here. The Pixel 7 got tripped up again — a part of the background visible through the subject's arm is not blurred. That aside, we really like the colors and contrast from the Pixel 7 here — good balance for a dramatic portrait shot. The Galaxy S23 went for something similar, but it got spoiled by a yellow-ish cast. The iPhone shot doesn't strike us with anything in particular, though its faux bokeh does appear the most convincing here. We feel like the other two phones have more "fake" telltales here — the amount of blur doesn't change with depth, various lines around the subject.


Its surprising that, by itself, the Galaxy S23's camera often wows us. However, in this comparison, we found ourselves liking the output of the Pixel 7's camera more often. It does lack that telephoto lens, so it loses out on some nifty tricks when you go in for portraits or enhancements. But for "pick up and shoot" camera — we feel the Pixel 7 was much more consistent across the daytime samples.

For night photos, we lean towards the Galaxy S23 and iPhone 14 here. And yeah, the iPhone 14 did consistently give us the softer details and maybe the occasional underexposed shot. But, it was quite often giving us a balancing act between compromise and photo quality. Let's say — it had the least offensive results from every test.

Is there a "best" one in this competition? We are leaning towards the Pixel 7 but it did fail us on a couple of night shots. The Galaxy S23 most often goes and tries to achieve a "wow factor", but in doing so overshoots with color saturation. And the iPhone 14 is sometimes playing it just too "safe", so it can either give you a perfectly balanced shot or land on "uninspiring".

Which one was your favorite?

Recommended Stories

Loading Comments...
FCC OKs Cingular\'s purchase of AT&T Wireless