Opinion

Google Pixel 3a makes Galaxy S10 Night mode camera look even worse

Google has announced its first mid-range Pixel smartphones, the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL, and these phones make the Galaxy S10’s nighttime photography skills look even worse. While the Pixel 3a and 3a XL have mid-range specs and single rear and front cameras, Google has equipped them with Night Sight, the software feature that lets the company’s flagship Pixel phones take detailed and well-lit pictures in extremely low-light conditions. The Galaxy S10 has a dedicated Night mode in the camera now but it doesn’t come close to Night Sight, and now, Google is offering the latter on phones that cost less $500.

A $400 phone’s camera night mode beats the Galaxy S10’s

At $400, the Pixel 3a is considerably cheaper than the Galaxy S10e, which retails for $749 in the US. Now, as an overall package, the Pixel 3a falls in the mid-range category and can’t match the Galaxy S10 lineup as far as the specs and features are concerned. And being able to take great photos in the dark without having to tinker with camera settings may not be too important for everyone, but in my opinion, Samsung now has no excuse to not offer something like Night Sight to its consumers as soon as it possibly can.

Samsung probably won’t be able to fully match the capabilities of Night Sight, as Google is using data from the billions of photos it has on its servers (through Google Photos and other services) to make the algorithms that power Night Sight. There’s no reason Samsung can’t do better, though. The Galaxy S10 camera’s Night mode can make a difference in low-light conditions, but it’s just a basic night mode and not truly impressive compared to what the Pixels can do with more basic camera hardware.

The Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL might not do too well outside the US, but with Google now offering a flagship-grade camera on a mid-range phone and Chinese OEMs already breathing down Samsung’s neck, the Korean giant needs to pick up the pace. My colleague Danny thinks the Galaxy S11 to be a flagship ‘camera’ phone, but now that Google’s mid-range Pixels have come into the picture (no pun intended), Samsung would do well to bring something impressive in the camera department this year itself with the Galaxy Note 10.

  • Model: SM-G970F
  • Dimensions: 69.9 x 142.2 x 7.9mm
  • Display: 5.8” (146.5mm) Super AMOLED
  • CPU: Exynos 9820 Octa
  • Camera: 12 MP, CMOS F1.5/F2.4 (77°) & 16MP, CMOS F2.2 (123°)Ultra Wide
  • Model: SM-G973F
  • Dimensions: 70.4 x 149.9 x 7.8mm
  • Display: 6.1"(157.5mm) Super AMOLED
  • CPU: Exynos 9820 Octa
  • Camera: 12 MP.CMOS F2.4 45° Telephoto & 12MP F1.5 77° & 16MP F2.2 123° Ultra-wide
  • Model: SM-G975F
  • Dimensions: 74.1 x 157.6 x 7.8mm
  • Display: 6.4"(162.5mm) Super AMOLED
  • CPU: Exynos 9820 Octa
  • Camera: 12 MP.CMOS F2.4 45° Telephoto & 12MP F1.5/F2.4 77° & 16MP F2.2 123° Ultra-wide

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Samguy2
Samguy2

Someone else pointed to this. Night Sight is a great feature and it works great……..IF YOU DONT MOVE. 7 seconds is not how I take photos. I dont have time to, me hold still and the subject holding still to get a shot that takes 1/2 sec on S10. I did load the Google camera on my S10 and compared the modes with the same lens. The mode works very well and DID offer a better photo but again. 7 seconds to capture something is like going back 10 years in camera capture. Who cares if it takes a better… Read more »

musmax
musmax

The new Google Pixels are not even a hair on the ass of the Galaxy S10.

PookiePrancer
PookiePrancer

“Samsung would do well to bring something impressive in the camera department this year itself with the Galaxy Note 10”

THIS is the real danger here, because it’s probably NOT going to happen. Even the $2,000 Fold would have gotten trounced in low-light photography, by a $400 phone. Luckily, it was delayed; not lucky: it’ll magnify how inadequate the camera is when it finally is released.

All that said: I am hoping for a genuine surprise from Samsung on the Note 10. But knowing Samsung’s iterative path lately….

o0MHJ0o
o0MHJ0o

Night sight is impressive… But its really not a big deal, when you have pro mode, that does the same thing, but even better because you can actually control everything about the lighting. It’s a shame people forget what pro mode is capable of for this, dare I say gimmicky, feature. It let’s more light into the picture, that is all. It is still grainy, and noisy. That’s not changed. If you have a recent Samsung device and are complaining about the lack of night sight. Either turn the bloody flash on, or take a min to learn how to… Read more »

locarno
locarno

Pixel 3a 12.2 MP, f/1.8,
S10 12 MP, f/1.5-2.4,

S10 have better hardware.

ghdjib
ghdjib

Yes but software is also important

locarno
locarno

“with the Galaxy Note 10.”

They need software, not hardware !

SAMgalaxyXXX
SAMgalaxyXXX

I’d rather Samsung keep focusing on the front facing camera for selfies and portraits indoors and especially at night to the level of the pixel.
Also, on the shutter speed with moving subjects at night. I rarely take night shots but when I do I can improve them massively using Samsung’s editor pro.

SAMgalaxyXXX
SAMgalaxyXXX

And after just watching Mrwhosetheboss camera comparison between the P30, Galaxy S10+ and the Pixel 3a I stand by my previous comment even more. Samsung is not really that far behind as some might want to make it look and it’s topping the other 2 in other areas.
Front facing camera has improved a lot but I think it is still its biggest weakness in the camera department.

locarno
locarno

Where did you find editor pro on Android Pie ?

SAMgalaxyXXX
SAMgalaxyXXX

Well, I haven’t updated my Note 9 to android pie just yet but I’m guessing that on android pie it should also be in the gallery. On each picture, 3 dots on the right top, scroll down “Open in Photo Editor Pro”/ advanced / backlight (and adjust it from 0 to 100). With night shots I usually set it on 70-100 and bring in a lot more light and details to the pictures and for what I’ve seen in lots of camera comparisons up to the level (or very close) to the Pixel or Huawei’s. Unfortunately I can’t install the… Read more »

locarno
locarno

Why you can’t install Gcam ?

SAMgalaxyXXX
SAMgalaxyXXX

I can instal it but it doesn’t work. I tried to use the same excellent Google pixel camera app I had on my Note 8 last year (android 8.0). It also works on my Note 5 (7.0) but it doesn’t work on Note 9 (8.1) exynos. I downloaded a couple more and the same. I haven’t found any that works as good with the exynos version.

locarno
locarno

So it works only on Qualcomm Note 9 ?

SAMgalaxyXXX
SAMgalaxyXXX

Yes and probably with android pie

locarno
locarno

Ok.

lfcrodrigues
lfcrodrigues

Like I said before, even the 1st Pixel generation is better than the newest Samsung with the Night mode. I had the Pixel 2 XL And Google is ahead. If course Google has billions of users to train the IA but what about Huawei? Even Xiaomi does better sometimes with their night mode. Samsung is getting lazy and they are really in danger because I AM Pretty sure That even OnePlus 7 can do better with a lot less money and resources

juliograziano
juliograziano

My comment was deleted but I’m going to post it again. It’s a free world and I’m a consumer. Samsung’s competitors are updating their smartphones longer. Are S7 and S8 going to be update to Android Q? I think they should rush about it and extend their updates longer otherwise they’ll be beat out of the market soon by US$399 phones like the new pixels.

Dcdaniel
Dcdaniel

Was anyone surprised that Google was capable of beating samsung in this regard? Samsung hasn’t really upgraded in ANY major regard its software in the low light spectrum since the s8, even the camera sensor hasn’t really been improved that much, all other manufacturers are truly pushing sofware to utilize the hardware to the max, yet samsung didn’t even truly worked on a night mode, they just dumped the half ass version outside of the scene optimizer.

ghdjib
ghdjib

The last year, Samsung introduced scene optimizer on Note 9 so I think Samsung will push AI with Galaxy Note 10 to give a real night mode. Is not a feature very necessary (iPhone still very bad) but to stay 1st , Samsung must give same performance as Google and Huawei

juliograziano
juliograziano

Not only in the camera department but also on updates and also on fluidity. They need to update their phones to at least 3 years now + keep polishing OneUI and app optimization.

VIRGIN KLM
VIRGIN KLM

Yet they didn’t hesitate at all to essentially double the price of their flagships making the whole industry giving excuses for why they did that… This price bump of current flagships will be a historical fact that it’s not going to age well, people will be talking about it with shame on the manufacturer’s side greed, with minimal to zero innovation and effort being the main subject. Just mark my word. It’s not the first time such thing happens in the technology world, it’s a reoccurring theme with companies getting greedy and overpricing their products without doing something they didn’t… Read more »