Smartphone camera showdown: Google Pixel vs. LG G6

It's a tight race, but LG takes the Best Smartphone Camera crown from Google.

lg g6 vs google pixel
Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

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Last year, we named the Google Pixel the king of all smartphone cameras, besting the Samsung Galaxy S7, LG V20, and iPhone 7. This year it has to defend its top spot against a whole slew of new phones, the first of which is the LG G6. Let’s put these cameras head to head!

One camera versus two

First, let’s go over specs. The Google Pixel sports a 12.3-megapixel sensor, an f/2.0 lens, and some serious image-processing muscle. LG’s G6, meanwhile, sports two cameras on the rear. Both use the same 13-megapixel sensor, but the main camera has an f/1.8 lens and optical image stabilization, while its wide-angle brother has an f/2.4 lens and no OIS.

For our tests, we primarily concerned ourselves with the superior standard-format camera on the G6. But as we saw last year with the V20, specs only tell half of the story, and great software can overcome superior hardware. 

It’s important to note that we tested these cameras the way most people use them, in auto mode. That means straight out of the pocket, using the stock app, with HDR set on auto. If a phone defaults to something less than full resolution, we rectify that, but otherwise this is the “out of box, out of pocket” experience. I should also mention that the Pixel does have a wider field of view, so we tried our best to match framing when possible.

We’re going to look deeply at the cameras across three areas: color, clarity, and range. We took dozens of photos with each phone, and what you see here is just a representative sample.

Color quality

When examining the color quality of the shots these phones produce, we’re concerned with accuracy, vividness, and how well the camera balances color temperature.

Our first test is of a back alley in San Francisco. You can immediately see that the G6 produces a more vibrant and colorful image. However, it also missed the white balance a bit, producing a somewhat orange tint.

lg g6 alleyway Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

The G6 is vibrant, but slightly orange.

pixel xl alleyway Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

The Pixel is a little more dull, but white balance is more accurate.

This shot of a storefront tells a similar story. The G6 is a bit more vivid, but the color temperature is too cool, making it bluer than reality.

lg g6 storefront Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

The G6 produces vivid colors, but the white balance is a little on the blue side.

pixel xl storefront Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

The Pixel isn’t quite as saturated but the color accuracy is spot-on.

Finally, this broad cityscape shot once again shows more vivid colors from the G6, but a bluish cast that doesn’t quite reflect the real scene.

lg g6 city Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

Again, pumped-up color saturation from LG, and a somehwat bluish cast.

pixel xl city Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

Google’s phone produces more natural and accurate color.

When it comes to color, the vividness of the G6 is nice, but the Pixel is more accurate—and so it wins. Next let’s look at clarity.

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