Samsung's flashiest and most advanced smartphone has 3 camera lenses, but it still can't beat Google's year-old Pixel 3


galaxy note 10 pixel 3 cameras

  • The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus I’ve been using has been a fantastic phone, but I often wished I was taking photos with the Google Pixel 3 instead.
  • The Galaxy Note 10 is capable of taking great photos, but even with its three camera lenses, it doesn’t give me the same confidence that the Pixel 3 and its single lens gives me.
  • The extra lenses are for zooming and ultra-wide photos, but those great features don’t matter as much if the photos don’t turn out well. Photos from the Note 10 often look overly processed. 
  • You can edit the photos to look less processed with pretty good results, but it’s still an extra step to improve the photos. 
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The Galaxy Note 10 Plus I’ve been using has been an absolute treat, especially after using the Pixel 3 for several months. 

The Note 10 is faster, smoother, and has significantly better battery life than the Pixel 3. By comparison, the Pixel 3’s specs are sorely lacking. The 4 GB of RAM in the Pixel 3 just doesn’t cut it for speed, and the phone has notoriously poor battery life. Plus, the Pixel 3 started at $800 at launch, which isn’t cheap, especially for a smartphone with questionable performance. 

And then there’s the S Pen — I’m a big fan of the S Pen. I don’t need it, but it’s been incredibly useful to scribble down spur-of-the-moment thoughts and reminders. And the S Pen makes more complex tasks on the Note 10 less daunting by offering more precise taps.

But when it comes to taking photos, I mostly wished I had the Pixel 3 and its single lens instead of the Note 10 Plus and its three camera lenses. 

See why I wished I had the Pixel 3 instead of the Note 10 for taking photos:

SEE ALSO: Here are the coolest features of the new Samsung Galaxy Note 10 that you probably missed

First off, I want to make clear that the Note 10 can take great photos!

In fact, I actually prefer the Note 10’s photo over the Pixel 3’s here. But this is a a rarity.

I should also mention that the Note 10’s ultra-wide camera gives you options that the Pixel 3 doesn’t have. I’m a huge fan of having the option to seamlessly switch to an ultra-wide lens on the Note 10.

But there are often things about the Note 10’s photos that don’t look right. It’s like the Note 10 is allergic to shadows, contrast, depth. The lighting is completely flat, and the blue sky and buildings toward the back look fake.

The Pixel 3’s photo, on the other hand, gives you a much better sense of what I was looking at.

Thankfully, if you don’t like the Note 10’s photo, you can edit them. This is an edited version of the Note 10’s photo where I added a little contrast, toned down the brightness, and de-saturated the colors a little. Now, the photo looks like it has depth, and the buildings at the back don’t look as fake.

This photo from the Note 10 actually looks fine — until you see what the Pixel 3’s photo below. You’d never know from the Note 10’s photo that the trees and the grass are different shades of green.

The Pixel 3’s photo reveals just how much extra processing the Note 10 adds to photos, and there’s no option to turn off that extra processing. I’ve tried turning off HDR on the Note 10, but it does nothing. I also tried turning off Samsung’s Scene Optimizer to no avail.

Again, you can edit the Note 10’s photos if you don’t like the way they look. I edited this on my Windows 10 laptop with Samsung Dex.

For this edit, I hooked up the Note 10 to my Windows 10 laptop and edited the photo through the Samsung Dex software. It basically shows a desktop version of the Note 10’s Android operating system where I can use the Note 10’s apps. 

I simply opened the Gallery app in Dex and edited the photo using my mouse and my laptop’s screen. It’s easier than editing photos on a smartphone screen, even one as large as the Note 10’s 6.8-inch screen.

There are times when the Note 10’s extra processing isn’t a bad thing. The Note 10’s photo below is more appealing than the Pixel 3’s.

Sometimes the Pixel 3’s photo can look a little too dark.

Read more: I’m seriously doubting the Google Pixel 3’s dominance as the best smartphone camera after taking it on vacation

I should also note that the Note 10’s Night Mode is better than I initially thought.

At the end of the day, the Note 10 can still take great shots of things that matter.

However, I still prefer the Pixel 3’s camera. It isn’t perfect, and I’ve questioned its photos in the past. But it gives me more confidence than any other smartphone that it’ll take a great shot. When I’m testing phones these days, I often wish I was taking photos with the Pixel 3 instead.

The Note 10’s camera doesn’t give me as much confidence that the photos will turn out well. Instead, I’m usually fearing that it’ll process the photo too much.

Editing is a solution, and the Note 10 is the best phone for things like on-device photo editing. But I’d really rather not have to go back and edit photos, if I can avoid it.