DXOMARK Rates the Google Pixel 4 Camera System

Posted on October 22, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Google, Mobile with 9 Comments

DXOMARK has given Google’s Pixel 4 camera system a top-10 ranking, but the handset suffers from its lack of an ultra-wide lens.

“Achieving a Photo sub-score of 117 points, Google’s latest device offers a nice step forward for stills over its predecessor, with noticeable improvements in most areas and a notable jump in the quality of zoom shots,” DXOMARK notes in its review of the Pixel 4’s camera system performance. “[But] the Pixel 4 remains slightly behind such recent top performers as the Huawei Mate 30 Pro (131 points), largely due to the lack of both an ultra-wide camera and a time-of-flight (ToF) sensor. These omissions put the Google device at an immediate disadvantage compared to the triple- and quad-cam devices in our wide-angle and bokeh testing, and that affects its overall ranking.”

This is pretty much what I expected, and I pointed out my disappointment with Google poo-pooing its missing ultra-wide capabilities during its launch event last week; Google is only downplaying ultra-wide shots because its latest handset doesn’t offer this crucial feature.

Interestingly, the Pixel 4 also scored highly for its video performance, despite not offering storage-hungry 4K/UHD at 60 fps like other modern flagships. DXOMARK hailed the handset’s excellent noise reduction, color, white balance, autofocus, and gyro-EIS stabilization, and awarded it its highest-ever video score of 101 points, tied with the Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ 5G.

While I understand the Pixel 4 not beating out the Huawei Mate 30 Pro, given how good that firm’s recent handsets have performed, I cannot for the life of me imagine how the lackluster camera systems in entries like the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 or OnePlus 7 Pro outscore it.

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Comments (9)

9 responses to “DXOMARK Rates the Google Pixel 4 Camera System”

  1. Stooks

    Smartphone camera's are so over rated. They are limited by the form factor and software is used to make up the lack of hardware ability.

    Just listening today to This Week in Tech and Leo had someone for the Android show on as a guest. She was showing off her pictures from her new Pixel 4. Everyone agreed that the zoomed in shots where......wait for it.....pixelated. OMG Shocking....I say SHOCKING!!!!!

    Every smartphone I have owned has pixelated images when zoomed in. Each of those smartphones where supposed to have "amazing camera's". I thought for sure my iPhone X was going to be the one, with its dual lens. Nope....nada....no dice. I have since downgraded to the iPhone XR, with a single lens and honestly I can't tell a difference between the two.

    My fear is that these vendors will so rely on software that they will give you unrealistic picture outputs and that will become the norm. Almost like having FaceTune or whatever that narcissistic app is called, built into the camera software from the vendors.

    • wolters

      In reply to Stooks:

      You make some good points...I think I am reaching a point where these camera comparisons are all subjective and up to the eye of the beholder. And do we really trust a reviewer of an Android phone wearing an Apple Watch?

      Going from a Note to a Pixel the last several years, I will say the Pixel is still a lot better but I'm reaching the "Good Enough" point to where I want a good camera but I don't want to sacrifice features and performance.

    • bluvg

      In reply to Stooks:

      Agreed, I think at some point you're physics-limited by optics at this size and price point. The MP sensor count is kinda ridiculous when the resolving power of the lens(es) is nowhere near it. Still, the software angle is interesting, and the photos these things take even without enhancement is darn impressive, considering.

    • Skolvikings

      In reply to Stooks:

      I went from the iPhone XS Max to the iPhone 11 Pro Max and the photo quality difference is definitely noticeable. Yes, at the end of the day, the tiny smartphone camera sensors can only let in so much light. And you can't get true physical bokeh from the lens. But, DSLR and mirrorless cameras depend on in-body software processing too. And most photos are relatively crap SOOC, especially ones taken in RAW. It takes a pass through Lightroom or Photoshop to really make them look good. So I'm not sure what you can do about software. Even old photographers who used film used tricks in the blackroom to modify their photos.

      I'd say that smartphone cameras are getting better, and they're taking photos today that a person would have needed an expensive camera to take 10 years ago.

  2. wolters

    I've quit paying attention to DXOMARK when each Samsung phone debuts at the top and they are never as good as a Pixel.

    Quick note on the Pixel's 4K abilities...I never could get a good 4K video from the Pixel 3XL...it would either be out of sync with the audio or it would just be jumpy and skip a lot of frames. I could live with 30FPS if it were reliable.

    I'm in that position I find myself each October...using the latest Note Phone and loving it's power and features but missing the camera of the Pixel. My Pixel 4XL will be here tomorrow and I am not as excited for it as past Pixel's. Maybe it was the lackluster Made With Google Event...maybe it has been the early reviews that seem to say too many corners were cut. Maybe because the Note 10+'s cameras, along with 4K 60FPS, make it feel that it is "good enough" to live with. I look forward to testing it out and to see if it may become my primary phone again.

  3. bluesman57

    I ordered a Pixel 4 XL mainly for the camera and I could care less about an ultra-wide angle lens, camera phones are already very wide angle. If I want a panoramic shot, I use that setting or take a photo sphere.

    • Skolvikings

      In reply to Bluesman57:

      That's what I would have said one year ago. Now I have the iPhone 11 Pro Max and the wide angle lens is awesome. One can take some really cool photos/videos with it. I'm really glad I have it.

  4. minke

    DXOMARK reminds me of the old days when each month's photo mags would test the latest greatest cameras and lenses. But, if you checked out what equipment was used by top photographers it was often something older and less sexy. All the top phones are capable of great photos, and I think the average snapshot is higher quality today than it was a few years ago. However, look at the crummy photos published in phone reviews to see that the photographer is still the most important factor.