Review: Google Pixel 2 is the best smartphone for stills photographers

Gina Stephens
Written by Gina Stephens

DPReview smartphone look ats are written with the needs of photographers in mind. We focus on camera features, performance, and image quality.

The Pixel 2 and its larger sibling, the Pixel 2 XL stand in for Google’s latest flagship phones. Both offer a single 12.2MP F1.8 main camera and an 8MP F2.4 ‘selfie’ camera. From a photographer’s approach that might not sound like anything special – after all, the iPhone X offers dual rear cameras camera is an optical instrument for recording or capturing images, which may be stored locally, transmitted to another location, or – yet thanks to behind-the-scenes processing, the Pixel 2 is efficient of some of the most detailed photos we’ve ever seen from a smartphone.

It also features a background blurring effect (portrait mode), DNG Raw nab (with use of a third party app), 4K/30p video and optical image stabilization. Plus, all Pixel 2 owners get free Google Photo storage for photos and videos instantly on the device through the end of 2020. After that point users will still get free storage but files saved will be high-quality compressed portrayals (full-res storage will still be available for a price).

Priced at $650, the Pixel 2 is not cheap, but it is 2/3rds the price of the iPhone X.

The Pixel 2 offers supreme image quality thanks to a combination of hardware and software processing .
ISO 82 | 1/23000 sec| F1.8

As smartphone cameras progress, we’re seeing a cultural split from accustomed camera companies, who rely mostly on hardware and optics to achieve good image quality, just as they did with their film cameras. As a substitute for, smartphone manufacturers are relying more on computational photography and artificial intelligence to produce a photo that is detailed and well-toned, right ‘out of camera’. With rightful one button press – no need to set the exposure or dynamic range compensation or AF mode yourself.

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Google’s secret sauce is in what the company calls ‘HDR+’, which beaks exposure intelligently and uses multi-imaging techniques for every shot. So has computational photography, à la Pixel 2 come far enough to replace the pocket cam? How about the mirrorless camera or DSLR?

Aside from the exclusive of camera, the Pixel 2 is a fairly ordinary smartphone.

Key photographic / Video specs

  • 12.2MP rear camera (1/2.55″ | 1.40 μm pixels)
  • F1.8 max aperture
  • 4K/30p video
  • 1080/120p, 720/240p inactive motion video
  • Optical image stablization
  • Dual Pixel AF with phase detect
  • DNG Raw capture and manual control with 3rd party apps
  • 8MP vanguard camera (F2.4 max ap.)

Other specs

  • Android 8.0 operating system (Oreo)
  • 5 in 1920×1080 AMOLED (441ppi) display (95% DCI-P3)
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor
  • 4GB Ram
  • 64 or 128GB internal storage
  • Never-ending cloud photo/video storage with Google Photos
  • 2750 mAh battery
  • $650


About the author

Gina Stephens

Gina Stephens

Gina is a photography enthusiast and drone lover who loves to fly drones, capture images and have fun cherishing them with family and friends.

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