Pixel 3 XL vs iPhone Xs Max vs Note 9 Camera Shootout

Three glorious flagship phone cameras in the hands of Moment means one epic camera shootout. Here we test the Pixel 3, the iPhone Xs Max, and the Note 9.

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Which Phone Takes The Throne?

Yup, you know what’s up. Three glorious flagship phone cameras in the hands of Moment means one epic camera shootout. Here, we’ve tested the new Google Pixel 3, the iPhone Xs Max, and Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9 to oversee important differences between the three high caliber devices. Figuring out which one took the throne is a hard choice, so we’ll let the answer be up to the eye of the beholder.

So, let’s dive in...

Pixel 3 XL
iPhone Xs Max
Note 9

Pixel 3

Google Pixel just dropped their latest devices to the market — the Pixel 3 and the Pixel 3 XL. Crowds are stoked to see what sorts of tricks Google has up their sleeve for proving their latest model to outshine everyone’s uniform Apple robot. (oops, yeah… we went there). Though the Pixel 3 XL looks to be a marginally more exciting contender of the two, it’s no doubt that Google is making their name become something even more worthwhile in the tech industry.


To make up for the loss of a 2 or even 3-lens camera system, Google added a Visual Core chip to the hardware, making it easy to conceptualize advanced A.I powered photography techniques. With a combination of burst-photos, corrected exposure, less noise, and an improved dynamic range — this camera just might be the leading contender of the current smartphone market.

Low Light

Google promises that the Pixel 3’s camera will handle low light better than the Pixel 2 with their newly implemented Night Sight feature. While essentially letting the camera take several long exposure photos, it then combines them together so you get one excellent low-light photo. This coupled with their low aperture on the single-lens camera rear, this just might be the best of the three that we’ve tested.


A bold, yet realistic color profile shines bright on the Pixel 3. Of the three tested, we’ve noticed that Google’s computational outputs better represent DSLR-like images than that of the iPhone and Galaxy.

Download The Files

Pixel 3 XL | Lovely highlight profile.
Pixel 3 XL | Unbelievable clarity in the highlights and shadows.
Pixel 3 XL | Portrait mode... but on a leaf? It can be done.
Pixel 3 XL | An unedited portrait of our filmmaker, Taylor.

Pixel 3 Case

iPhone Xs Max

The phone's camera function alone makes it uniquely special amongst the crowd. The sharpness, motion blur, and dynamic range created by the phone's entourage of improved specs are hard proof. Take a look at the RAW images below, both shot on the native Wide Lens from our Moment App. The foreground is crisp, the landscapes are tack sharp, and no matter how cluttered or dynamic the range is — its details and vibrant colors are clearly seen.

Dynamic Range

The dynamic range in photography refers to the range of light intensities from the shadows to the highlights. It is — by far — one of the most important aspects to consider when searching for a good camera. With the iPhone Xs Max's new “Smart HDR” function, its entire purpose is to retain the detail and soften skin tone to portray a more pleasing effect on faces.

Low Light

It’s no doubt the XS Max holds a ton of value in its ability to shoot dark, moody scenes. Thanks to the larger range in ISO (24 ISO to 2304 ISO) and wider pixel size (1.4 microns), the phone proves to have a better advantage in low-light situations than most smartphones on the market.

Vibrant Colors

Crimson reds, sparkly golds, and emerald greens so creamy and wild the iPhone Xs Max is a gorgeous path for colorful discovery. Photographers known for their unique use of color to tell a story find it important to have the ability to retain such details in their images. Folks, we can confidently say that the Xs Max did the job well. Just see for yourself.

Download The Files

iPhone XS Max | Nice detail with realistic colors.
iPhone XS Max | Portrait of our filmmaker, Taylor.
iPhone XS Max | Yikes, the A.I didn't handle the straw too well.

iPhone XS Max Cases

Note 9

As mainly Apple users, we’re always excited to get our hands on a flagship Samsung to see the difference. And let us tell you, this baby is a sexy upgrade with some pretty sweet additional features. The camera on any new smartphone device is one of the most important features people look at in order to upgrade, but is this phone worth the $1,300 price tag?


Excellent sharpness on macro photography shots. Take a zoomed-in peak look at Caleb’s photograph featuring PNW leaves. However, the video’s sharpness capabilities are reminiscent of someone going into Lightroom and cranking up the clarity at an unnecessary level. We could do without that.

Dynamic Range

Because we shot shot during a particularly sunny Autumn day near downtown Seattle, the colors were optimized for a perfect dynamic range; nonetheless, we were pretty impressed with how the camera handled diluted highlights and soft shadows.


People have always given Samsung grief due of their super poppy colors, but they may have changed something recently as we didn’t see that during the shoot. The colors had a beautifully soft, forgiving flare that complimented various skin tones.

Download The Files

Note 9 | A portrait of Taylor.
Note 9 | Poppy, saturated greens.
Note 9 | Low grain, hardly any noise.
Note 9 | High clarity shown in buildings.

Note 9 Case

We’d love to know more about your personal thoughts and expressions between the three devices. Which of the latest flagships do you most prefer? Or can you even tell the difference? Give us some love on Instagram and YouTube and let us know.

Pixel 3 XL
iPhone Xs Max
Note 9

'Till Next Time!