16 amateur photos taken with the Google Pixel 2 XL

Does Google’s best phone really make decent photography a no-brainer?

In this social media age, everyone wants to be a good photographer – and fast.

But is it really possible to take great images without putting in the requisite hours of practice and study that professionals do? Is there a magic piece of equipment that can help you consistently capture awesome pics simply by snapping on the go, without the need for a proper setup or prep?

Well, no. You’ll never be able to turn into, say, a Daniel Kordan merely by owning a piece of great equipment. Like with any other skill, it won’t happen without sinking more than a little effort, time and money into bettering your photography and editing capabilities.

But if you’re looking to improve your photography game so that the pics you take are clear, with decent lighting, and are attractive enough to score a few likes on Instagram, a good camera or smartphone can take you there.

To prove our point, we took the Google Pixel 2 XL – a phone touted for its excellent photo-taking qualities – for a jaunt around town. The rules: we didn’t edit any of the pics using third-party apps (we just used a couple of in-house filters on some of them). We didn’t use any of the manual settings available, like adjusting the exposure or locking the focus. We also held back on the flash because the phone’s advanced HDR+ processing works brilliantly on night/low-light shots so you’re really better off without the spot glare of a flash.

Check out the images below to see what the Google Pixel 2 XL can do for folks (like some of us here at Stuff) who want to take nice photos but can’t be bothered to spend hours planning a shot or even minutes fiddling around with complicated settings.

Daytime dazzle

For photos taken in the day, colours really popped whilst not venturing into lurid or garish territory – perfect for Instagram. When it came to close-up shots (like that of the beer bottles), depth-of-field wasn’t the best, but the vibrancy of the images made up for that. 

Night vs day

These unfiltered shots show how the Pixel 2 XL’s camera filters light during the day for a rich, vivid shot, and picks it up at night for a brilliant, almost luminescent effect.

Eats low-light conditions for breakfast

Shooting at dusk without a filter produced images that appeared clear and decently well-lit, even in extremely low-light conditions like in a cinema (where we managed to capture a surprisingly bright photo of our snack) or a club.

Indoor moments

Photos snapped indoors were better than true-to-life, their colours appearing just a tad richer. Light distribution was also more even. 

While none of these photos is going to snag a World Press Photo Award, it's worth noting that we spent barely 20 seconds framing and snapping each of them. Which means the effort-to-result ratio with the Google Pixel 2 XL is huge. And if that doesn't qualify as being a no brainer, what else will?