The Google Pixel 4A already had the option to shoot images in RAW format, and after making an appearance in the iOS 14.3 beta, Apple ProRaw (Apple’s RAW imaging feature for Pro iPhone models) was finally released with iOS 14.3.
The RAW image format is supposed to give the user minimally processed images captured straight from their device’s image sensor, with very little adjustments made so the user has more control over the editing process.
Apple ProRaw is Apple’s own spin on the RAW image format, shooting RAW images but making small adjustments to white balance, colour noise, and sharpness.
After detailed comparisons of multiple shots, Zavitz found less colour noise on the iPhone 12 Pro Max’s RAW images, but colours on the Pixel 4A’s RAW images are livelier and relatively more saturated.
While Apple ProRaw on the iPhone 12 Pro Max definitely gets more details and makes for some downright cinematic shots, it goes a little heavy on colour noise reduction, resulting in over-sharpened areas and loss of colour in faraway objects.
The Pixel 4A was also able to capture more shadows in low-light conditions using Night Sight as opposed to the iPhone 12 Pro Max in Night Mode.
The results of the comparison are undeniably interesting, with Google’s ‘budget’ Pixel 4A holding its own quite admirably against Apple’s greatest 2020 offering, in Zavitz’s experience.