Google Pixel 7 vs. iPhone 14 camera shootout — which phone wins?

Google Pixel 7 vs iPhone 14 cameras
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

A Google Pixel 7 vs. iPhone 14 camera face-off may not be the only factor you consider when trying to figure out which phone to buy — but it's certainly a big part of deciding which one is the best phone. After all, devices from Google and Apple are mainstays on the list of best camera phones, so it pays to figure out how their latest devices compare.

For the entry-level iPhone 14, not has much changed year over year. Apple uses the same basic camera setup as before, though the sensor for the main camera is bigger than it was for the iPhone 13. Apple also made some changes to the iPhone 14's front camera and the ultrawide lens captures scene than before.

Likewise, the basic specs of the Pixel 7 camera setup haven't changed from the Pixel 6 that came before it. The difference this time centers around the new Tensor G2 sensor that uses machine learning to enhance many different Pixel features, including photo processing. That said, the front camera on the Pixel 7 sees some improvements as well.

Which phone should you trust for pictures on the go? Our Google Pixel 7 vs. iPhone 14 camera face-off compares shots both devices under a number of different scenarios to pick out the better camera phone. 

Google Pixel 7 vs. iPhone 14 cameras: How they compare

Neither the Pixel 7 or iPhone 14 can claim to be the top camera phone offered by their respective manufacturers — that would be the Pixel 7 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro (or iPhone 14 Pro Max), as those models offer a dedicated telephoto lens. Because of their lower price, though, the Pixel 7 and iPhone 14 are likely to be the devices that more people adopt, so a Pixel 7 vs. iPhone 14 camera comparison seems appropriate.

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Row 0 - Cell 0 Google Pixel 7iPhone 14
Main camera50MP, 1.2 μm pixel width, f/1.85 aperture12MP, 1.9µm pixel width, f/1.5 aperture
Ultrawide camera12MP, 114-degree FOV, f/2.2 aperture12MP, 120-degree FOV, f/2.4 aperture
Front camera10.8MP, f/2.2 aperture12MP, f/1.9 aperture

While you won't get a telephoto lens with either phone, you will get a dual rear-camera setup, with both the Pixel and the iPhone offering wide and ultrawide angle lenses. In the case of the Pixel 7, that main camera is a 50MP sensor with an aperture of f/1.85. The 12MP ultrawide lens has an f/2.2 aperture.

The iPhone 14's main camera sensor doesn't pack in as many megapixels — it's rated for 12MP — but Apple did increase the size from the sensor on the iPhone 13. The iPhone 14's main camera also has a wider aperture than before at f/1.5, while the 12MP ultrawide shooter offers an f/2.4 aperture.

As noted above, both phones feature revamped front cameras. The Pixel 7 uses a 10.8MP sensor with a wider area of view than before at 92.8 degrees. The iPhone 14 still relies on a 12MP sensor, though you can zoom in for a 7MP crop. The big story with the iPhone 14's front camera is the addition of autofocus, plus a wider aperture to let in more light.

Google Pixel 7 vs. iPhone 14 cameras: Outdoor, flowers

A lot of Google Pixel 7 vs. iPhone 14 photos will come down to which color cast you prefer. In this close-up of some geraniums shot with the main camera on each device, I happen to prefer the iPhone 14's warmer, brighter approach. The Pixel 7 shot is too cool for my tastes, and I think the blue-ish doesn't accurately showcase the colors on the flower petals.

If you want to find fault with the iPhone 14's shot, you could point those green leaves, which look a little oversaturated. I think that's the doing of the Photonic Engine, a computational photography feature that Apple added to the iPhone 14 lineup. The Photonic Engine looks to enhance photos taken in mid- to low light — I captured this shot in the evening, while the sun was still out but setting — and it may have gotten over-aggressive hyping up the green in this case.

Winner: iPhone 14

Google Pixel 7 vs. iPhone 14 cameras: Outdoor, statue

We see the same thing in this wood carving of a bear, which I took roughly at the same time as the geranium photo. The Pixel 7 image looks fine, but cool, and that has the effect of muting some of the colors. Check out that flower in front of the bear — it's dull enough in the Pixel shot to almost blend in with the statue. In the iPhone 14 photo, though, it pops. The green plants around the statue are brighter, too, so I think this is an instance where the Photonic Engine did its job.

Winner: iPhone 14

Google Pixel 7 vs. iPhone 14 cameras: Indoor, food

The temperature contrast continues even when we move inside. A bowl of chicken cacciatore over some leftover farfalle looks appetizing in both photos, despite some sunlight streaming in from a window on the right adding glare to both shots. The glare seems a little more subdued in the iPhone 14 photo, thanks to the warmer color cast in Apple's effort.

I think that warmth extends to the food itself, making the dish look a lot more homey in the iPhone 14 image, though I appreciate that the Pixel 7 also kept details like the flecks of parsley and the chunk of tomato in sharp contrast. It's a close call, but I still think the iPhone 14 shot looks slightly more shareable.

Winner: iPhone 14 

Google Pixel 7 vs. iPhone 14 cameras: Outdoor, night

When the lights go out, we get to see what impact the Pixel 7's Tensor chip has on photos. One of the changes Google touts is faster processing of Night Sight images, so you don't have to hold your phone steady for as long while the photo software brightens up the shot. When I took a photo of this Halloween scene, the Pixel 7 was a second faster than the iPhone 14, which, in theory, should make the Pixel photo less prone to include any blurs. That wasn't a problem in this instnce, but it should give Google's phone an edge in taking low-light images.

One again, the shots are evenly matched and come down to personal preference. While the iPhone 14 photo is certainly brighter, the Pixel 7 does a better job maintaining the shadows while also keeping the Halloween decorations in sharp detail. It's a more natural-looking shot than what the iPhone 14 produces, where the ambient lighting feels a little unnatural.

Winner: Google Pixel 7

Google Pixel 7 vs. iPhone 14 cameras: Outdoor, night with person

I wanted to see how the cameras fared when a person enters the low-light frame, so I added a more horrifying detail to the Halloween tableau — me. And the results were a bit scary, with cameras unable to keep my face out of the shadows. The Pixel 7 fares slightly better, as you can tell I'm wearing a green shirt and hat in that photo; those colors are a bit darker in the iPhone 14's effort.

I think the Tensor's faster night shot processing paid off here, as the iPhone 14 photo is a lot blurrier than the Pixel 7's shot. Both the skeleton in the background and the foreground are blurrier in this photo than they are in the first Halloween scene. Perhaps my daughter didn't hold the iPhone as steady when she took this shot, but that same blurriness is missing in the Pixel 7's photo.

Winner: Google Pixel 7

Google Pixel 7 vs. iPhone 14 cameras: Outdoor portrait

We've talked about the Pixel 7 and its Tensor chip, but let's not forget that Apple enjoys its own expertise with computational photography, which you can see on display in this portrait shot of my daughter enjoying some ice cream. The shot's not perfect, as the iPhone blurred strands of hair on both the right and left side of her face; the strap on her mask gets caught in the blur as well. But I like the lighting of the shot, which brightens her face without over-smoothing so that her freckles remain visible.

You do get a little bit of over-smoothing in the Pixel 7 photo, where my daughter's face also takes on a darker cast while her forehead has a more pronounced sheen. But the blur is more stylish in the Pixel 7's shot, with only the strands of loose hair on the right side of the photo falling victim to the blur. The image's left side — including that mask strap — are left untouched. 

To me, the most important thing about a portrait shot is a person's face, and I prefer the iPhone 14's effort in that regard. However, if you want to argue that the Pixel 7's more accurate blur makes it the better shot, I wouldn't argue about it too strenuously.

Winner: iPhone 14

Google Pixel 7 vs. iPhone 14 cameras: Outdoor, ultrawide

On a cloudless day, I went miniature golfing and took a picture of one of the obstcles — a very ornate castle. — using the ultrawide cameras on both phones. Perhaps the ample light was too much for the iPhone 14, as it produced a noticeably darker shot. While I like the color of the sky, the castle appears far too dark, and you lose some details in the faux bricks. Those details are still visible in the Pixel 7 shot, and you can also make out the castle's blue roof to the right of the main spire.

Winner: Google Pixel 7

Google Pixel 7 vs. iPhone 14 cameras: Outdoor, ultrawide low light

Then again, the iPhone 14 ultrawide lens doesn't fare any better right at sunset, with a lot less natural light to contend with. I live near a decommissioned Navy base and took a photo of one the jets left behind as a statue. The iPhone 14's shot is overly dark, and you can't see any details on the jet itself. I suppose if you wanted to highlight the setting sun, this is a passable effort, but the jet itself is lost in shadow.

I actually took the Pixel 7 shot after the iPhone 14, so there was even less light. Still, the Pixel 7 photo looks brighter, and you can see the star insignia on the jet's side. The trees in the background are more visible, too, though admittedly, the evening sky looks less striking than how the Pixel represents it.

Winner: Google Pixel 7

Google Pixel 7 vs. iPhone 14 cameras: Zoom shots (2x and 5x)

Neither the Pixel 7 nor the iPhone 14 has a telephoto lens, as we've mentioned. But the phones do support optical zoom — up to 8x in the case of the Pixel 7 and 5x for the iPhone 14. The Pixel's updated Super Res Zoom feature also taps into the phone's main camera to crop down to a2.5MP image for a 2x digital zoom.

To see if that gives the Pixel 7 an edge, I shot one of the buildings at the old Navy base that's been turned into a municipal office. The phones display each shot in their customary tone — warm for the iPhone, cool for the Pixel. Since both photos were taken at the end of the day, the color cast on the Pixel 7's photo better reflects the lighting conditions. Yet, the iPhone 14's zoom is better at highlighting details — you can make out the anchor that sits to the left of the stairs as a nod to the building's Navy roots, and the letters on the building are slightly more legible than they appear in the Pixel shot.

I maxed out the zoom to 5x on the iPhone 14 to see how focused the zoomed-in shot could remain. The answer, it turns out, is not as much as it was at 2x. You can still make out the sign, though the "L" in "Alameda" is tricky to spot. More to the point, some blurriness has creeped into the image, probably not helped by the lighting. Then again, the Pixel 7 had to deal with the same light, and its 5X zoom is a little bit sharper, though it's also got a difficult-to-spot "L" in "Alameda" — "City" is a lot more focused than it is in the iPhone image, though.

What we see here is that nothing's going to top a dedicated telephoto lens when its time to zoom, though both the iPhone 14 and Pixel 7 can produce reasonable shots at 2x. The more you zoom, though, the bigger the edge the Pixel 7 enjoys.

Winner: Google Pixel 7

Google Pixel 7 vs. iPhone 14 cameras: Outdoor, selfie

I've noticed front cameras on Pixel tend to redden my face so I was pleasantly surprised with the Pixel 7 kept the ruddiness to a minimum in this self-portrait. That said, I'm not entirely happy with the Pixel 7 shot, where the phone is so eager to have a consistent skin tone, it's buffed out all the rough edges of my face. My nose, for example, lacks definitive lines, blending into my cheek. The iPhone 14's coloring is far more accurate, blemishes and all, and my green hat and shirt aren't as dark as the Pixel 7 makes them out to be.

Winner: iPhone 14

Google Pixel 7 vs. iPhone 14 cameras: Outdoor, group selfie

My daughter joined me from one last selfie to see if the Pixel 7's wide field of view gives it any edge on group shots over the iPhone 14. If you could see the full photos before we cropped them to fit in this slider tool, you might notice a bit more space around the edges of the Pixel 7 photo, but not so much that my daughter and I have to cram together to fit in the shot taken by either camera.

Again, the Pixel 7's tendency to over-smooth is on display here, especially when it comes to my face. The iPhone 14 makes my daughter look a bit pale, but at least you can still see some freckles that are washed out in the Pixel shot. But group selfies are decent, but the iPhone 14 is a bit more true to life.

Winner: iPhone 14

Google Pixel 7 vs. iPhone 14 cameras: Cinematic blur

The Pixel 7 and iPhone 14 boast enough video capture features to almost merit a separate face-off, so for now, we'll focus on a video tool that both phones share — adding blurs to the background of videos, giving the footage a portrait mode-style effect.

The Pixel 7 calls this Cinematic Blur, and it adds a shallow field of view to your videos to keep the subject in focus while the background appears as a blur. In this 20-second clip of a music box, the Pixel 7 keeps the music box in sharp focus for the most part, while the rest of the video has that stylish blur. The one exception is that cat spinning on top of the piano — as the cat turns, it gets a little blurry, but the Pixel 7 quickly tweaks the effect as the cat turns into view. (You can see what I mean around the 7-second mark.)

The iPhone 14 calls this feture Cinematic Mode, and it's actually been around since the iPhone 13. For that reason, Cinematic Mode feels a little bit more polished on the iPhone — I find switching the focus of the shot easier to do, as the Pixel 7 really requires you press hard on the screen to change focus. That said, for whatever reason, the iPhone 14 didn't keep the whole music box in focus, focusing on the spinning cat. That left meant a blur for the cat in the rocking chair, though I was able to change the focus during the video with relative ease at around the 12-second mark.

Winner: Draw

Google Pixel 7 vs. iPhone 14 cameras: Verdict

I don't think a Google Pixel 7 vs. iPhone 14 camera comparison could be any closer. The iPhone 14 took six categories to the Pixel 7's five, with the video category being too close to call. You could probably show these photos to different people and come up with a different result every time.

Still, I'd be inclined to argue that the iPhone 14 offers the superior camera, over only by a smidge. I think the way it handles color and its warmer tones produce better shots more consistently than the Pixel 7, at least when you're using the main camera. The ultrawide lens on the Pixel 7 is clearly better, and if I were shooting at night, I'd want a Pixel close at hand.  The Super Res Zoom feature also makes up for the Pixel's lack of a telephoto lens.

But the iPhone seems to handle portrait effects better, especially with still shots, while its take on cinematic blurs is slightly more polished than what the Pixel can do out of the gate. I think the TrueDepth camera on the iPhone 14 is far superior to the Pixel 7's front camera.

All that said, if the Pixel 7 is behind the iPhone 14 when it comes to camera phones, it's a half-step behind at most. Factor in the Pixel 7's lower cost — it's $599 versus $799 for the iPhone 14 — and you have a much cheaper way to get photos that are very nearly on par with the iPhone 14's efforts.

Next: Also check out our Google Pixel 7 Pro vs. iPhone 14 Pro vs. Galaxy S22 Ultra: ultimate zoom shootout.

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.