How Far We’ve Come: Two Camera Samples From Every Nexus and Pixel Phone

Google Pixel 7 Pro

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Google’s Pixel line of smartphones have become synonymous with good cameras. Someone asks for an Android phone recommendation and they want a good camera? You probably recommend the Pixels. At least, that’s what Kellen and I do. However, I wouldn’t say this has always been the case for Google, not by a long shot. Looking at a timeline, Google’s camera game wasn’t quite solidified as top shelf until the first Pixel in 2016. That’s when it started getting good.

People can argue about that last part, but what I wanted to do is take a look back at past camera samples across both the Nexus and Pixel line of Google devices. Two shots from every phone Google has released, just to see how far we’ve come. Now, as a technical note, there was that period in the Pixel line where Google refused to change camera sensors. One could argue that the Pixel 2 to the Pixel 5, all had the same camera (Sony’s IMX 363, but Pixel 2 had an almost identical IM362), so you may notice not a humongous difference in that time period. Regardless, this should still be a fun exercise.

We didn’t review the Nexus One or Nexus S, so the two shots below for both devices are courtesy of Redmond Pie and Phone Scoop. Now, on with the show.

Nexus One (2010)

Nexus S (2010)

Galaxy Nexus (2011)

Nexus 4 (2012)


Nexus 5 (2013)

Nexus 6 (2014)

Nexus 5X (2015)

Nexus 6P (2015)


Pixel (2016)

Pixel 2 (2017)

Pixel 3 (2018)

Pixel 3 Camera Quality

Pixel 3a (2019)

Pixel 4 (2019)

Pixel 4a (2020)

Pixel 5 (2020)

Pixel 5a (2021)

Pixel 6 (2021)

Pixel 6a (2022)

Pixel 7 (2022)

Pixel 7a (2023)

Pixel 7a Camera Samples-8

It becomes quite clear, to me at least, that something major happened when Google introduced the Pixel line. Sure, they used the same sensor in six phones, but the quality still seemed to improve year-over-year. I suppose that comes down to the magic of software. What we can also take away from this series of shots is that many burgers were consumed during the smartphone testing period. Yum.

Look how far we’ve come.



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