Pixel 3 Night Sight compared to iPhone XS: it’s not really close (Update: Video)


Update, February 4, 2019 (5:32 PM ET): Google just published a brief behind-the-scenes video detailing its method for obtaining the low-light photographs discussed in the article below.

The video is reposted above if you want to check it out.

The video shows how Google mounted the Google Pixel 3 next to an iPhone XS so the camera lenses of each device were as close together as possible. It then shows how the photographers took every photo at the exact same time. The video also displays text that promises “no retouching, no filters,” which seems legit when you look at the screenshot below:

Google’s Night Sight — and the Pixel 3’s camera in general — continues to be one of the biggest selling points of the company’s latest smartphone.

Original Article, January 28, 2019 (01:28 AM ET): Night modes are all the rage in the smartphone industry, with Huawei, Google, OnePlus, and Xiaomi offering the option on their devices. Now, Google has compared the Pixel 3’s Night Sight mode to the iPhone XS in a low-light situation (seen above), and there’s a stark difference between the two.

Google’s Night Sight

Google marketing executive Marvin Chow posted the comparison on Twitter, showing “Phone X” on the left, and the Google Pixel 3 with Night Sight on the right. The tiny text on the left tells us that “Phone X” is actually the iPhone XS.

The scene, which shows a model standing in front of a neon-lit scene at night, seems ideal for the Night Sight mode. The Pixel 3 managed to deliver a brighter overall scene, clearly showing the woman’s face, clothing, and other elements. But the buildings in the background were also brighter and more detailed in Google’s photo, save for some blown-out lighting. Heck, you can even see a brighter (but not too noisy) sky in the Pixel 3 snap.

How did the iPhone fare?

Meanwhile, Apple’s phone was much darker overall, as the model seems silhouetted against the neon environment. The woman’s face is almost completely dark, and her clothing doesn’t retain the same rich color as Google’s effort.  The iPhone XS photo managed to tame the lighting in the background though, while Google prioritized the model instead. But based on the fact that we have an obvious subject in the viewfinder, I’d say Google’s phone certainly made the right decision.

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Still, I wonder whether the iPhone XS truly is that bad, almost as if the photographer adjusted exposure on the background instead (or simply didn’t tap on the subject’s face). But if there’s no foul play here, then it’s clearly a big win for Google.

Night mode is becoming one of the most important weapons in a smartphone camera’s arsenal these days, combining multiple exposures with smart algorithms. Apple’s iPhones lack this feature right now, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a future version of iOS offers this functionality. This could be a boon for older iPhones too, giving Apple’s legacy devices a welcome boost in low-light situations. But until then, the Pixel 3 seems to reign supreme when the sun goes down.

NEXT: Why Google bans ad-blockers, but is actually fine with ad-blocking browsers

Apple wanted Qualcomm chips in iPhone XS/XR, but Qualcomm refused

iPhone XS Max in man's hand against a white backdrop.

  • An antitrust trial against Qualcomm is happening now in California.
  • During the trial, Apple’s COO claimed that Qualcomm refused to supply modem chips for the latest round of iPhones.
  • Qualcomm’s CEO also claims that it paid $1 billion to Apple to be the sole modem supplier for iPhones.

An antitrust trial between the United States Federal Trade Commission and chipset manufacturer Qualcomm is currently in session in San Jose, California. During the proceedings, Apple Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams took the stand and dished out some notable information regarding the company’s strained relationship with Qualcomm.

According to a tweet from reporter Shara Tibken, Williams testified that Apple sought the use of Qualcomm chips (specifically modems) for use in the Apple iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR. However, Qualcomm refused the request due to the ongoing legal troubles between the two companies.

The tweet is below:

If this is true, Qualcomm likely pushed away billions of dollars with the loss of this potential sale of its modems to Apple, one of the world’s largest producers of smartphones.

However, Qualcomm likely made the decision based on the allegations that Apple doesn’t keep up with its licensing payments to Qualcomm. Recently, iPhones have had to be pulled from store shelves in various countries due to the ongoing legal fights between the two companies, as Qualcomm attempts to force Apple to pay back payments on those fees.

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Apple ended up using Intel modems instead for its latest batch of iPhones.

During the same FTC trial, according to Reuters, Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf stated that his company paid Apple $1 billion to become the sole supplier of modem chips for Apple. This 2011 deal is part of the reason Qualcomm is fighting Apple so hard on getting licensing fee payments. Under the deal, Qualcomm fronted $1 billion in cash to Apple and gave the company a per-unit discount. In return, Apple gave Qualcomm exclusive rights to supplying iPhone modems.

The FTC, however, is arguing that Qualcomm engages in anti-competitive behavior to keep other chipmakers from supplying to Apple. Qualcomm denies this.

The trial is expected to end sometime this week, although it could go for much longer.

NEXT: Apple pulls iPhone 7 and 8 models from stores in Germany, thanks to Qualcomm