Contrary to what appeared to be happening on stage at today’s Made by Google event in San Francisco, both new Google Pixel phones will not ship with OIS, or Optical Image Stabilization. For those who may not be familiar with this technology, optical image stabilization is a technique that a number of manufacturers have used over the years to help keep video and pictures more stable than on phones where this technology is not included. Generally this system works on a gyroscopic mechanism that moves with the users hands and helps keep things more stable. OIS is generally considered to be better than EIS, or Electronic Image Stabilization, if for no other reason than the fact that a hardware solution is keeping the physical camera sensor in place instead of just a digital algorithm doing it virtually.
Some manufacturers, like Samsung and LG, have opted for a combination of OIS and EIS over the years, essentially providing a one-two punch situation to tackle every obstacle that might make your camera’s video jittery or shaky. During today’s official unveiling of the Google Pixel phone, representatives from Google showed a video on stage that highlighted two videos taken with the Pixel, one with the stabilization function enabled, and one with the function disabled. The difference was stark to say the least; the video with stabilization enabled looked buttery smooth and perfectly stable. Given the leaks we saw about OIS being on board the Pixel’s camera, this was no surprise. However it seems that Google really is just keeping the same optics from the Nexus 6P as they suggested and won’t be including an OIS module on its latest phones.
This comes as a bit of a shock to say the least. First off we saw DxOMark give the Pixel phones the highest rating ever in a smartphone, with an overall score of 89, beating out the iPhone 7 by a whopping 3 points. This score includes a stabilization score of 91, which is perplexing given that Google isn’t using OIS. This means that Google must have some incredible trickery at hand and is utilizing a brand new way to stabilize images, as results we’ve seen in previous generations of EIS from any company simply don’t match up to what OIS can bring. In The Verge’s interview with Google on the Pixel, Google confirmed that the Pixel is utilizing the phone’s gyro to software stabilize the images, something that we’ll certainly be putting to the test when we review the phone in the near future.