Google Pixel 5 Pixel 4 Pixel 3 cameras close

Credit: Robert Triggs / Android Authority

There was little doubt that our Google Pixel camera showdown was going to involve some close, difficult comparisons. Google has been using largely the same primary rear camera across generations, relying on AI and software wizardry to produce high-quality photos that hardware alone couldn’t manage. The Pixel 3, 4, and 5 have their differences, but the gaps aren’t as cavernous as they might be for other manufacturers.

However, you might not have expected the shootout to be quite as close as it was. We found the results very close, with the Pixel 4 and Pixel 5 claiming only slight advantages and still falling short of the Pixel 3 on occasion. If all you care about is photography, there’s precious little reason to replace your 2018- or 2019-era Google phone.

And you clearly agreed. We conducted a poll asking for your verdict on the Pixel camera comparison, and it was as close to a tie as you might expect.

Which Pixel phone takes the best photos in our camera comparison?

Google Pixel Photo Shootout

Credit: C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

Results

A whopping 39.5% of you said you couldn’t tell the difference between Pixel generations in the camera comparison. Not only that, but the results were close even among those of you who picked clear favorites. Just seven points separated the Pixel 3 (16.7%) from the leading Pixel 5 (23.8%), with the Pixel 4 sitting squarely in the middle at 20%.

Is this a good thing? It’s really a mixed bag. The camera comparison is a testament to Google’s software know-how when a Pixel 3 can still take photos that compete with the latest models. Simultaneously, though, it suggests that Google hasn’t found much room for improvement in recent years. That’s a real problem if the company wants people to upgrade, especially when competitors like the Galaxy S20 series and iPhone 12 have caught up in some respects and boast their own advantages.

Here’s what you had to say

  • Meh…: So in other words, wait for the Pixel 6 if you have a Pixel 4.
  • Arsene’s zip: The [Pixel 3 XL] does everything I want it to very well, will get at least another year of updates, and [the cost] of contracts these days is insane. The microscopic benefits of upgrading are not worth the ridiculous increase in cost.
  • Asmodeus: You can’t beat any of these phones for quick snapshots […] and they even make phone calls!
  • Joe Black: [I] find quite difficult to pick one I like more – even when I take a photo [with] my old Pixel 1 and compare it [to the] Pixel 5 – I kinda like both.
  • Synthguy: I have stuck with my Pixel 3 XL for this go round […] Not enough of an improvement and more of a downgrade.