Cinematic video comparison between Pixel 7 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro

Cinematic video comparison between Pixel 7 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro
google pixel 7 pro vs apple iphone 14 pro tilted angle rear view.

Ryan Haines/Android Authority

One of the defining characteristics of large lenses on traditional cameras is the stunning bokeh effect they produce. The stylistic choice creates a segmentation between the subject and the background and adds to the overall cinematic appeal of the video sequences.

Now that some of the best camera focused phones can achieve close to DSLR levels of portraiture, it’s no surprise that the next big challenge is bringing that same DSLR-like shallow depth of field to video. This years pixel series 7 joins a relatively short list of phones, including the iPhone 14Pro, to support a cinematic video feature. In fact, Google claims that Tensor G2’s machine learning intelligence is key to enabling convincing bokeh blur. However, the proof is in the pudding.

Related: Google Pixel 7 Pro vs. Apple iPhone 14 Pro

android authority Take on the cinematic blur of the Pixel 7 Pro with the cinematic mode of the iPhone 14 Pro for a quick shootout. Here are the results.

How does cinematic mode work?

Photo of books in cinematic mode of Pixel 7 Pro

Dhruv Butani / Android Authority

While you can check out our deep dive for all the essential details on how the Google Pixel Cinematic Blur Effect works, the premise is quite simple. Similar to portrait mode photography, cinematic video modes apply machine learning algorithms to each frame of video content to give it an artificial bokeh effect.

Cinematic mode applies algorithms similar to portrait mode to video content.

Unsurprisingly, the real-time processing requirement to enable this is significantly higher than for taking portrait photos. Traditionally, the results have not been as convincing as what you would get with standard portrait photography. But with more powerful processors and ML-focused chipsets like the Tensor G2 SoC, there is potential to improve the feature dramatically.

Can the best of Google and Apple do a convincing job? go to our Google drive link for a closer look at full resolution video clips.

follow up shot

In videography parlance, a tracking shot is one where you would be following a moving subject. It also tends to be one of the most popular shots in smartphone photography. Have you ever shot a video of yourself walking around with a Starbucks drink in hand? That’s a tracking shot.

I had a cup of tea to simulate that stylistic shot and walked around my front balcony. The Pixel 7 Pro’s video blur implementation seems natural enough at first glance, but a closer look tells a different story.

The Pixel 7 Pro struggles to maintain the illusion of bokeh segmentation with moving objects.

You will notice very noticeable artifacts and a halo around my thumb as well as on the outer wall of the cup. In particular, these are the areas where the phone is constantly trying to draw the bokeh drop off. The halo is an artifact of the phone struggling to blur constant motion around the edge of the region in focus.

Overall results are presentable, but between the brightened exposure levels and less-than-perfect bokeh separation, it’s not a perfect start for the Pixel 7 Pro.

Switching to the iPhone 14 Pro shows some key differences. For one thing, Apple’s color processing is radically different. Compared to the Pixel 7 Pro, the footage here seems almost subdued in comparison. However, what the footage loses in pop, it makes up for in detail and color accuracy.

The iPhone 14 Pro misses the gap between the glass handle, but generally does a much better job of creating a convincing depth-of-field effect.

Going back to the separation of the bokeh, the difference is day and night. There’s no halo, and the iPhone never loses focus on the subject. Bokeh falloff is also perfectly marked around the boundaries of my hand and the mug. Compared to the Pixel, the iPhone 14 Pro’s rendering of bokeh tends to fall between the handle of the cup. Overall, though, the iPhone wins this round.

portrait shots

For this second shot, it was time to flip the camera. Combining a tracking shot and a human subject is one of the most difficult scenarios to pull off, but it’s one of the most common use cases for cinematic videography.

Exploiting Pixel 7 Pro images taken on a large screen shows the same issues as our first test. The camera struggles to draw the edge of the bokeh along the far edge of my face and sunglasses. Not only that, the camera can’t measure the gaps between my hair and opts for a much wider boundary line around my head. The Pixel 7 Pro’s hesitant approach further takes away from cinematic immersion.

The iPhone 14 Pro offers a cinematic mode on both the standard and telephoto lenses, and for this shot, we went with the standard lens. It’s a much broader look compared to the cropped image on the Pixel 7 Pro. Like the first test, the iPhone 14 Pro opts for more natural color reproduction with much more detail across the board. This is most apparent in my five o’clock shadow, which is much more pronounced in the footage.

The natural color processing and solid focus of the iPhone 14 Pro make it a better bet despite the flaws in bokeh separation.

Taking a closer look, it’s obvious that the iPhone 14 Pro’s artificial bokeh isn’t rock-solid either. It is also possible to see some brightness on the far edge of the face. That said, it does a marginally better job with my hair. Plus, it doesn’t have any of the focus issues we’ve seen with the Pixel, making it a clear winner.

panoramic shot

For our next test, we did a simple pan through some garden accessories hanging from plants. The intention here was to test how well the camera captures focus between a complex variety of leaves and floating objects located at different distances.

There are no two ways to do it, the Pixel 7 Pro fails miserably on this one. The camera constantly pans in and out of focus throughout the panning sequence. Edge detection is surprisingly poor even when it manages to lock focus on the main object.

The Pixel 7 Pro struggles to lock focus and bokeh separation with layered objects.

You’ll also see significant sections of foliage where the Pixel opts out of depth estimation altogether. It doesn’t look very good for the Pixel 7 Pro.

The results of the iPhone 14 Pro are not perfect either. In particular, the camera tends to blur the corner edges of the garden accessory. However, this can be corrected to some extent by opting for a narrower f-stop before or even after you’ve finished shooting, something you can’t do on the Pixel. Elsewhere, the iPhone 14 Pro did a much better job of blurring leaves in the background. Another victory for the iPhone.

Drawing focus across multiple objects

For our final test, we placed a series of objects on a table to measure how well the two phones can approximate the attracting focus while on the move.

There’s a place for dramatic transitions between subjects in a high-action shot, but the Pixel 7 Pro’s faltering focus clearly draws attention away from slow-moving images. Reiterating our observations from the previous test, the phone has issues with bokeh segregation when it comes to layered objects. The phone also didn’t detect the chandelier accurately and omitted it altogether in its artificial bokeh generation.

The iPhone 14 Pro generally fares better in its ability to generate bokeh falloff as we move across the table. Unlike the Pixel 7 Pro’s abrupt jumps in focus and out of focus, focus change is much more gradual here, simulating real-world cinematic-style focusing. While even the iPhone loses focus on the glass chandelier and loses the fine edges of the plants, the results are generally better overall.

Pixel 7 Pro vs iPhone 14 Pro, which cinematic video implementation do you prefer?

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Few hits, many more misses

Pixel 7 Pro vs iPhone 14 Pro cinematic mode screen

Dhruv Butani / Android Authority

While the Pixel 7 Pro’s cinematic blur mode is a welcome addition to the phone’s imaging set, our testing indicates we’re still at least a generation or two away from the Pixel catching up with the competition, let alone get over it. And that’s not just because of the dubious bokeh effect.

The Pixel 7 Pro’s bokeh drop-off isn’t quite as convincing and it misses out on basics like 4K mode, as well as front-facing camera support.

For starters, the iPhone 14 Pro’s Cinematic Mode implementation can record up to 4K/30fps. That’s a noticeable improvement over the Full HD/24fps that the Pixel achieves. I’m not overly concerned about choosing 24fps as a stylistic option, but the resolution gap is certainly noticeable. Similarly, the iPhone allows you the flexibility to shoot cinematic video with both regular and telephoto lenses. Pixel’s cinematic option only works with the primary lens.

Finally, unlike the iPhone, the Pixel doesn’t support portrait-style videos on the front camera, a situation that’s likely to be a popular use case among social media and vlogging enthusiasts.

Cinematic mode Google Pixel 7 Pro vs iPhone 14 Pro: the verdict

google pixel 7 pro vs apple iphone 14 pro cameras

Ryan Haines/Android Authority

There is no competition between the Pixel 7 Pro and the iPhone 14 Pro for capturing cinematic video. The iPhone outperforms the Pixel in all test scenarios, to varying degrees. Despite its computational photography and ML-infused implementation, the Pixel 7 Pro’s cinematic blur doesn’t go much further than the very basic video bokeh implementations we’ve seen on Samsung and Huawei phones.

The Pixel 7 Pro’s cinematic video is a first-gen product, and it feels that way.

The constantly faltering approach puts the Pixel behind the iPhone’s rock-solid approach, and its iffy edge detection is often worse than Apple’s too. Add to that missing features like a 4K mode and cinematic blur on the front camera, and the Pixel 7 Pro falls even further behind.

While adding the feature is a decent start for the Pixel 7 series, it will take a lot more for the phone’s cinematic mode implementation to catch up with the competition.

Apple iPhone 14

Apple iPhone 14

Powerful A16 SoC
Interesting features of Dynamic Island
Improved main camera

Google Pixel 7 Pro

Google Pixel 7 Pro

best google camera
high quality screen
great battery

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