The Pixel 7 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max are at the top of our list of best camera phones, but which device is the best performing at night? To find out, we tested both flagships in a wide range of scenarios at home and abroad.
As you’ll see in our Pixel 7 Pro review, Google’s latest device is a phone with a massive camera. It features a 50 MP (f / 1.85) main lens, a 12 MP (f / 2.2) ultra-wide-angle lens, and a 48 MP (f / 3.5) 5x telephoto lens. Google has made a number of improvements to Night Sight photos, including new ML noise reduction and noise reduction technologies because exposures are now twice as fast.
But our iPhone 14 Pro Max review makes it clear that Apple isn’t slack when it comes to its night mode. This phone has a 48MP (f/1.78) main lens, 12MP (f/2.2) and a 12MP (f/2.8) 3x telephoto zoom lens. There’s a new optical engine designed to deliver brighter images through every camera, thanks to the A16 Bionic chip.
So which camera phone wins the night? Let’s find out.
For this first comparison, I photographed this fountain in Bryant Park with the New York City skyline in the background. The iPhone 14 Pro Max and Pixel 7 Pro both produced excellent photos.
However, I’ll give the iPhone an advantage here because its image is much brighter, especially when you look at the water just below the top of the dripping fountain. Water droplets also look sharper.
The Pixel 7 Pro does a better job with the left side of the bezel, although it doesn’t turn off the lights coming from the nearby store.
Talk about the challenge. This room was completely dark with very little ambient light coming from the hallway. And I think the iPhone 14 Pro Max wins this round. You get a brighter picture, even though there is a lot of noise in the shot.
The Pixel 7 Pro’s photo is definitely on the dark side, but if you look closely, this photo is more noticeable in the dog’s paws and in the blanket.
In this night selfie, the Pixel 7 Pro struggles to take a sharp picture of my face. Meanwhile, a shot of the iPhone 14 Pro Max makes my face brighter, and you can spell out more details in my shirt and jacket. We actually took two shots with the Pixel because the first photo also appeared blurry.
glass christmas tree
This is a case where I think the Pixel 7 Pro is ahead. In this photo of a glass Christmas tree, Google Shot does a better job of capturing the glitter swirling in the glass. Yes, the iPhone photo is a bit brighter – and the fur in the background looks more crisp – but you lose some of that nice detail inside the tree.
How about some Christmas decorations? iPhone 14 Pro Max again presents a brighter picture, and there is a greater contrast between the transparent glass sphere and the second sphere inside. The Pixel 7 Pro’s shot looks a little flat by comparison.
On the plus side, the motifs on the right side of the image are more visible through the pixel, and the tree branches look more crisp around the lights. The iPhone blows this area up a bit.
This tour is a little tricky. The Pixel 7 Pro, on the other hand, takes a brighter shot of Times Square. You can identify the people in the photo more easily and also check the right side of the frame above the ESPN flag. These angled glass panels are invisible even in the iPhone 14 Pro Max photo.
The iPhone 14 Pro Max image is closer to what I’ve seen with the naked eye, and there’s a blue mold above the Pixel 7 Pro image that doesn’t exist with Apple. However, I’ll give the Pixel a thumbs up here.
Royal District Building
This image of the Empire State Building at 3x magnification is another close up tour. I like the mood of the Pixel 7 Pro’s picture, and the fact that the area around the tower is more visible where the light is emitting. But again, there is a blue tint to the photo, and the sky is darker in the photo than in real life, as it was just after sunset.
The sky in the iPhone 14 Pro Max image looks much warmer and more realistic, and the blue lights toward the top of the building are more subtle. However, I’ll likely share a Pixel 7 Pro photo given the choice between the two. The buildings around the Empire State Building are also more visible in the Pixel shot.
There was a little light to the right in the night mode photo of a home bar, and the iPhone 14 Pro Max comes out with a brighter picture of the bottles. You can make more bottles in the second row because it shows brighter.
However, the Pixel 7 Pro’s camera captures sharper text in the Don Julio tequila and in the 1800 Coconut poster. The rims on the tequila bottle are more defined, too.
Which phone wins?
Overall, I would give the iPhone 14 Pro Max a slight advantage simply because it offers brighter photos in most conditions. But brightness isn’t always better, and the Pixel 7 Pro does a better job of dealing with bright lights in a dark scene.
The good news is that none of these phones will let you down when the lights go out. Which phone do you think wins? Let us know in the comments.