The Pixel XL hasn’t just got a good camera, it has a great camera. The camera app itself might be pretty basic, but with just a simple tweak you can get the best low-light photos I think I’ve ever had on a phone.

Yes of course there’s noise, but come on everyone – it was pitch black out there, with the clouds lit up partly by the lights on the ground. Trust me, it was dark and yet the phone’s HDR+ mode makes it easy to grab shots without even requiring a long exposure that would make everything blurry, or give the usual artefacts that come from merging multiple images.

The way the Pixel phones manage HDR is nothing short of amazing, as it uses multiple shots to add data and remove noise from a single image – that can keep things sharp.

With some tweaking of the exposure, you can easily bring things down to a point where most of the noise disappears, but these images are exactly as the camera took – making it easy to quickly share without fiddling with filters and adjusting levels.

And there’s always RAW saving for anyone that does fancy a bit more control, but do you really need that when you can get images like this for minimal effort?

Video slideshow (4K)

Gallery

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Written by Jonathan Morris

Writing about mobile technology and other things of interest in the world of technology, for here and elsewhere - since the early 1990s! Former editor of What Mobile magazine, writer for The Telegraph, Stuff, Know Your Mobile, Pocket Gamer, Smart TV Radar and more. Forum moderator, regular Tweeter and occasional YouTuber.

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