Smartphone cameras are pretty amazing. Even without a giant DSLR lens, phones like the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra can zoom in up to 100x away or capture moments at 8k resolution, making videos ultra future-proof. But what about capturing a photo of your kids, who just don’t seem to be able to sit still no matter how many times you tell them?
That’s why, for the last year (opens in new tab), I’ve been recommending Google’s Pixel line of phones for parents. When it comes to capturing objects in motion — whether that’s your kids or your pets — no phone can do what a Pixel can do. Google further enhanced that trait this year with Photo Unblur (opens in new tab) which can take older photos and flour them even if they weren’t taken by a Pixel phone. That’s nothing short of incredible.
That, and many other reasons, are why we’ve consistently ranked the Pixel series as one of the best Android phones (opens in new tab) you can buy. But here’s the thing. We don’t say the Pixel 7 Pro (opens in new tab) has the “best smartphone camera.” Instead, it’s the “most reliable camera” on a smartphone because, nine times out of ten (or maybe higher), you’re guaranteed to get a good photo with just a single shot. Most other phones simply can’t compete in that area.
Hold still, dang it
Every parent (or pet owner) is familiar with this line. Whether it’s trying to get your kids to pose for a picture or just sit and do their schoolwork, kids have a hard time sitting still like an adult. It’s perfectly natural and something we should absolutely expect from children, but it doesn’t make the fact any less maddening to an adult who just wants to get something done.
With a Pixel 7 or Pixel 7 Pro, you can feel more confident in letting kids be kids and still be able to snap a photo that’s worth sharing.
Case in point, my son is a ninja and regularly climbs and jumps off of stuff that every kid just isn’t comfortable with. No, I don’t mean the assassin-type ninja from legend, I’m talking American Ninja Warrior with obstacles and that sort of thing. As such, many of the photos I take of him are action shots and, quite frankly, I almost always have a Pixel with me even if I’m using another phone for review. Here are a few examples of why.
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For all the shots you see above, I held both phones side-by-side and pressed the shutter button on each phone at the same time. So why don’t the images line up 1:1 with the same pose? The answer lies in how modern smartphones process images when you tap that little shutter button in the camera app.
You might not know it, but smartphones actually take photos before and after you press the shutter button. When movement occurs, many modern smartphones will look through this series of photos captured and use AI to determine which one was the best. Oftentimes, if you’re quick enough and tap that little thumbnail right after taking a picture, you can see your phone swap out the image with one it deems of higher quality.
You can see the results of that in the images above. Even though I tapped the shutter button on both phones at the same time, the end result image doesn’t display the exact same moment. In Google’s case, features like Face Unblur ensure that my son’s face is clear and visible even when the rest of his body might have motion blur.
In Samsung’s case, unfortunately, no such face blur technology exists. In a nutshell, that means shots taken in any light that isn’t direct sunlight outdoors will almost certainly have some kind of image blur. Even in the same lighting conditions, Google’s photos are monumentally sharper and more detailed. Heck, even the overall exposure of the frame is far better on the Pixel 7 Pro, while the Galaxy S22 Ultra’s shot is unnaturally bright and looks incredibly soft as a result.
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In broad daylight, however, the gap closes significantly. If you scrutinize the two comparisons above, you’ll still see that the Pixel 7 Pro takes a better overall shot, including better sky color, better overall exposure on objects like the tree bark, and even some nicer bokeh — that’s a nice crisp foreground and an out-of-focus background, basically — caused by better focus from the camera lens and sensor.
Now, another feature I love is called Photo Unblur. It’s one of those features that only works sometimes because AI is only so smart but, when it works, it’s straight-up magic. Check out this before and after example below to see what I mean:
This was a photo taken several months ago on a phone that shall not be named (because it doesn’t really matter). The original photo, unfortunately, missed the moment a bit because it was out of focus. Not only that but it’s also blurry because of the kids swear pets were all moving while my wife was trying to take the picture.
With a single button press, the Pixel 7 cleaned up the image in a substantial way. My son’s eyes are now magically in focus, the cat looks sharper, and the entire image looks a lot less blurry than before. Magic. Sheer magic, powered by AI from Google’s Tensor G2 processor inside the Pixel 7.
And that doesn’t even cover cool modes like Motion Mode, which can take motion photos to the next level. Action Pan, in particular, is wild to use when taking a picture of your children in motion.
I took this one last year on the Pixel 6 Pro and the effect is still as good this year. Essentially, the phone takes a series of photos of your moving child (or any moving object) and identifies a focus — in this case, his face. It then takes any movement between those captured frames and blends them together to create an image that looks cinematic in every way.
Case in point, the Google Pixel 7 Pro is the best smartphone for parents and pet owners. It can intelligently identify faces and make sure to keep them “unblurred” even when a ton of action is happening around them.
Get the phone that gets the right picture every time, even when you’ve got active kids or pets that just won’t hold still. The best part is that the Pixel 7 is actually quite affordable compared to other flagship phones like it.