Zoom test: Pixel 6 Pro, Galaxy S21 Ultra, iPhone 13 Pro Max

Latest Google Home Releases – Pixel 6 Pro – billed as the first Pixel actually designed to compete with big market hitters – such as the iPhone and Galaxies.why? A perfect storm between having a Google-branded chip, a cool and premium design, a major update to Google’s Android UI, a major camera upgrade, and a very reasonable price (considering the market) comes to mind.

We’ve already put the Pixel 6 Pro through a series of tests:

But there are still little things to have, even if it’s just for fun. The Google Pixel 6 Pro may have a fresh new camera module, but Google hasn’t even tried to tackle any of the super zoom options other Android phone manufacturers are following. So, with a cover on 20x, how does the Pixel 6 Pro’s camera work with zoomed photos vs. Galaxy S21 Ultra and iPhone 13 Pro Max?

scene 1

Create a snapshot

When capturing the Pixel 6 Pro at 1x, we will zoom in at the head of the ship in the center distance there.

First, we move to 3x magnification. Now, here, the Pixel 6 Pro is at a disadvantage — the Galaxy S21 Ultra and iPhone 13 Pro Max both have 3x optical zoom lenses, so they don’t need to be cut short. That’s – at 3x – we’re still looking at the main camera’s digital zoom.

And you can see this – the Pixel 6 Pro’s shot here is the softest, the Galaxy S21 Ultra the sharpest. The iPhone 13 Pro Max falls somewhere in the middle.

Moving on to 4x zoom, the Pixel 6 Pro now comes with a telephoto lens and the picture actually looks better. However, the S21 Ultra is much sharper. The iPhone 13 Pro Max has also done some software sharpening and we can see halos around the edges of the objects.

Let’s raise it to 10x. The Pixel 6 Pro and Galaxy S21 Ultra are still in the neck. The Pixel picture looks softer, but the Galaxy S21 Ultra is starting to introduce a bit more noise. The iPhone 13 Pro Max seems to be falling apart here, as the image is starting to look like a pastel painting.

At 15x, the iPhone clicks – this is the maximum it can reach, and almost the entire image has turned into an abstract art. The Pixel 6 Pro also started to lose some detail for excessive smoothing and noise reduction, but the image still looked good. The Galaxy S21 Ultra has the best of it, although the grainy picture is steadily increasing.

20x is as far as the Pixel 6 Pro can go. At this point, we can see some noise from the excessive noise reduction the Pixel had to do. On the other hand, the Galaxy S21 Ultra gets lighter with less noise and you can see more and more graininess. However, both phones perform great, with the S21 likely doing a slightly better picture here.

Just for fun: Only the Galaxy S21 Ultra can beat 20x, so here’s a 100x shot of the same goal.

scene 2

Create a snapshot

We’ll zoom in on the clock tower over there in the distance

At the 3x zoom level, we have the same story – the Pixel 6 Pro’s telephoto doesn’t turn on until the 4x zoom. So, it’s a pretty straightforward digital crop with some artifacts introduced by software sharpening. Once again, the Galaxy S21 Ultra looks sharper, although perhaps too much. The iPhone 13 Pro Max picture is perfectly balanced here.

Moving on to 4x, the Pixel 6 Pro’s telephoto is now on, and the other two phones are having to crop up a bit. The Pixel 6’s picture looks the most balanced and natural. The iPhone image is starting to get soft, while the Galaxy S21 Ultra image is nice and sharp, but you can see a few outlines around the tower, due to software sharpening.

When dialed up to 10x, the iPhone – again – gets smoother and softer with every step. Galaxy S21 Ultra retains the most sharpness. But I feel the Pixel 6 Pro deserves credit for the color of the picture – it was a pretty tough shot and phones tend to muddy colors and exposures at such extreme zooms. The Pixel 6 Pro picture here looks better overall.

scene 3

Create a snapshot

We’ll zoom in on the text on top of the central building.3x Zoom – We already know the deal. The Pixel 6 Pro uses digital cropping at this point, and the other two phones use the optical zoom of the 3x telephoto cameras. Results? The Galaxy S21 Ultra is the sharpest and most manageable in terms of good exposure. The iPhone 13 Pro Max image looks normal in terms of sharpness, but the hard shot hampered its exposure a bit.

At 4x, all three phones are more or less on the same level. The iPhone is starting to offer some softening around the edges, and the S21 Ultra has quite a bit of noise. The Pixel 6 Pro’s telephoto camera is at its original 4x in size, so it’s the cleanest photo.

At 10x, it’s the same story we’ve seen before. The iPhone 13 Pro Max is thinner around the edges, the Pixel 6 Pro is a bit more lifelike, and the Galaxy S21 Ultra is sharper, but offers more grain. Overall, the latter two still work well, considering it’s a 10x shot.

15x is the maximum for an iPhone and you can see it can’t do much more than that – it just gets soft as the details and colors disappear. The Pixel 6 Pro’s shot is two steps ahead, but it also seems to lighten a lot. The sharpness of the S21 Ultra at this level is still impressive – you can see the wire on the roof and the grilles in the air conditioners.

At 20x, the exposure of the S21 Ultra drops quite a bit — a behavior we noticed while making samples for this comparison. interesting. However, it’s more noticeable than the Pixel 6 Pro, which is entering the drawing territory at this point. At 20x, the Pixel 6 Pro takes off.

So, just for fun, here is the S21 Ultra camera with 100x shot of this topic:

scene 4

Create a snapshot

We’ll zoom in on the gray building in the far middle there

At 3x, both the iPhone and Galaxy’s telephoto cameras are underexposed, but sharp enough so you get an idea of ​​what you’re looking at. The Pixel 6 Pro performed better with exposure, but the red wire decoration around the building is visibly distorted and jagged due to digital zoom.

At 4x, the Pixel 6 Pro’s telephoto camera kicks in and turns the tables. Not only is the Pixel 6 shot here the brightest, but it also has the best details. The red wire around the building is distorted in the iPhone 13 Pro Max and S21 Ultra photos, and the low exposure doesn’t do anything.

At 10x, iPhone photos fade into soft detail. The Pixel 6 Pro picture here looks a bit brighter, sure, but it’s gone a bit over the top. There is a lack of contrast and it makes it look kind of ‘fake’ and very ‘fake’. You can also notice some sharp outlines around bright objects. The Galaxy S21 Ultra makes a little noise, but it looks sharper and more balanced.

At 15x, the iPhone 13 Pro Max clicks very frustratingly. The Pixel 6 Pro and Galaxy S21 Ultra are choppy again, and they both have some artifacts and noises introduced. But they still held up very well.

20x is the limit for the Pixel 6 Pro, and it’s starting to soften. There are jagged edges around the red wire, more artifacts due to sharpening. The Galaxy S21 Ultra takes this and hasn’t taken a breath yet.

Just for fun: a 100x shot with the S21 Ultra

Scene 5

Create a snapshot

Believe it or not, there is a statue in the middle over there. We’ll zoom in on it

Now, we know how it goes. At 3x, the Pixel 6 Pro is at a disadvantage, as the telephoto hasn’t started yet. The Galaxy S21 Ultra is the sharpest, and the iPhone 13 Pro Max looks balanced, albeit not detailed.

At 4x, the Pixel 6 Pro’s telephoto lens is triggered and the picture looks more pleasing. With so many leaves and branches that require very fine detail, it’s very clear that the iPhone 13 Pro Max and Galaxy S21 Ultra have had to crop up digitally.

At 10x the iPhone 13 Pro Max washes out, while the Pixel 6 Pro looks strangely fuzzy/soft. The Galaxy S21 Ultra, at its end, offers some weird blooms around the statue. Overall, this scene seemed to be the most challenging of all – perhaps because of the thick vegetation around a brightly colored statue in the distance?
At 15x, the Pixel 6 Pro is a bit more blurry and blurry for some reason. The iPhone 13 Pro Max has reached its limit and is out of the race, looking like a fingerboard. The Galaxy S21 Ultra is also starting to offer some weird smoothness and artifacts, but it’s bringing it together even more here.
20x is the maximum pixel. Here, the Pixel 6 Pro picture is very soft, and the Galaxy S21 Ultra is very noisy. The winner in this case will be your legs – as in, get closer to the subject.

Just for fun – Galaxy S21 Ultra 100x shot of this scene


While the iPhone 13 Pro Max’s camera is usually pretty impressive, here we can see that Apple is really far behind on the zoom front. Admittedly, it’s a niche feature, but hey – if that’s what you’re after, you’ve got it. The Pixel 6 Pro does surprisingly well, considering Google didn’t really market it as a crazy zoom camera or anything. Up to 15x you can get usable photos out of it. Moreover, they are still fine, but the blur is starting to seep in. And the Galaxy S21 Ultra, with its 100x zoom, has plenty of magnification on tap. Yes, it introduces noise and artifacts, or can have trouble with proper exposure at times, but it was still best and sharpest at the most extreme zoom settings.

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