Still Pretty As A Picture, But No Longer The Prettiest Pictures

Recent reviews of the Nexus 6P highlight a particular bit of territory that Apple and its iPhone have long ruled with an iron fist. This is David Pierce for Wired:

Where Google really went above and beyond was the camera. Nexus cameras traditionally have fallen somewhere between bad and worse—not where things should be for what is, to most users, the single most important feature. The Nexus 6P (and 5X) went all-in on the camera. It has a 12.3 megapixel sensor, which is big; its pixels are 1.55 microns each, which also is big. The combination of the two is huge. Using this camera forced Google to design its phones around it—the hump on the 5X, the stripe on the 6P—and make it the centerpiece of the whole experience.

Good thing, too. The Nexus 6P is one of the best smartphone cameras I’ve ever used. At points, I’d have called it the best, but the truth is it’s ascended into the space where all that matters is personal preference. I like the slightly saturated colors; you might prefer the iPhone’s more muted look, or the slight brightening you get from the Galaxy S6 Edge. That’s all fine! What matters is the 6P, like those other phones, takes excellent pictures.

Review: Google Nexus 6P | Wired

That an Android phone (and the 6P is not the first) has achieved subjective image qualtiy equality with even the newest (and far more expensive) iPhone is somewhat disarming, but more unsettling is that when it comes to camera hardware, the 6P — with its faster lens and bigger pixels — can objectively claim technical superiority:

With a DxOMark Mobile score of 84 the Google Nexus 6P is the new number three in the DxOMark smartphone rankings, slotting in between the Samsung Galaxy S6 and the LG G4. The DxOMark testers particularly liked the impressive detail preservation in low light and the accurate and fast autofocus. Points of criticism were highlight clipping in high-contrast scenes and some exposure and color irregularities introduced by the HDR+ mode in low light.

DxOMark Mobile Report: Google Nexus 6P

True, DxOMark ratings are largely technical, and in my experience aren't necessarily indicitive of overall image quality, but I can't help thinking that no one at Apple is comfortable playing caboose in the mobile photography top 10.