Smartphone camera showdown: Google Pixel vs. LG G6

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

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Clarity

When we talk about clarity, we’re looking at both the sharpness of the image (resolution and fine detail) as well as image-processing artifacts. We want to see an image that retains small details and fine textures, without introducing a lot of noise or edge artifacts from over-sharpening.

Let’s start by looking at this picture of a brick wall.

pixel xl wall Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

Zooming in on this brick wall should prove interesting...

When we look closely, we see it’s no contest. The Pixel retains a ton more detail in the bricks.

pixel g6 brick comparison Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

Up close, we can see a lot more detail in the bricks in the Pixel shot.

Let’s take a look at this macro of a gin bottle.

g6 gin Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

Let’s take a close look at the label...

Zooming in close, we can see that not only is the Pixel sharper, but the G6’s image processing has introduced a lot of artifacts around the text on the label.

pixel g6 gin comparison Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

Again, the Pixel delivers a sharper image, and with far fewer artifacts, too.

The situation totally reverses when we get into the dark. The wider aperture in combination with OIS gives the G6 a huge advantage. Let’s look at this shot down the storage area of our offices. 

lg g6 cage Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

Our grungy IDG storage area makes a great low-light detail test.

Just look at the fence in the background. It’s a blurry mess on the Pixel, and you can barely make out the door handle. On the G6, while it doesn’t look amazing, it’s still perfectly usable. 

pixel g6 cage comparison Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

A wide aperture and OIS give the G6 an edge in low light detail.

The Pixel comes out on top in bright light, but all the image processing mojo in the world can’t overcome a wider aperture and OIS in low light. For the clarity test, it’s a tie. Finally, let’s look at range.

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