Which smartphone takes the best photos? That’s what we want to find out. However, we’re not going to evaluate the image quality. You are. The smartphones taking part in this test are the Google Pixel 2, the LG V30, the HTC U11, the Huawei Mate 10 Pro, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, the iPhone 8 Plus and the OnePlus 5T.
The HTC U11 and, of course, the Google Pixel 2 are definitely among people’s favorites, but both use the same image sensor, even though they differ in how they process the image. When it comes to software, our HTC U11 is already at the state at which the U11 Plus was released. Due to the identical sensor, the image quality may also be identical.
Two additional exciting models are the Galaxy Note 8 and the iPhone 8 Plus, which also had excellent image quality in our tests. The Huawei Mate 10 Pro with Leica optics and the LG V30, a luminosity champion with a f/1.6 aperture, also set the bar high. Lastly, the OnePlus 5T is significantly cheaper than its competitors and, with its improved camera compared to predecessors, aspires to compete with full-blown flagships.
Camera testing conditions
The seven smartphones had to go head-to-head with each other in a total of seven different situations. We took three photos of each subject using each smartphone’s default camera settings in automatic mode. Out of these pictures, we looked for the ones that turned out the best. If necessary, we used Photoshop to do some adjustments to the image detail so that we wouldn’t reveal the smartphones through their different focal lengths.
A quick note before you start voting: We have re-shuffled the order of photos in every subject, so image 1.1 does not necessarily come from the same smartphone as image 2.1. Have fun voting – we eagerly await your results!
Blind Test Scene 1: Still life, daylight
Our first subject is a fall-themed still life with pumpkin and mandarins. Together with both apples and lighting from only one side, there are plenty of orange and red tones that definitely pose a challenge for a few smartphones. It’s also interesting to see here how the smartphones deal with the shaded areas differently and either brighten them up very strongly or leave them largely untouched. Lastly, the banana and leek represent the colors yellow and green.
Blind Test Scene 2: Cityscape, sunshine
The second picture shows a Berlin district. Here we took pictures of the old buildings during a rare sunny morning, which was not so easy for a few of the phones. Namely, the partially bright yellow or white old buildings tend to throw off the white balance. Furthermore, the smartphones’ dynamics were put to the test here: Partially high brightness differences between light and shadows are compensated in different ways by the different phones.
Blind Test Scene 3: Night shots
The objective here is clear; take bright photos with as little noise as possible using the tiny smartphone sensor. However, it’s always a risky proposition for the developers of image processing algorithms: Excessively strong noise reduction eliminates details and colors. Furthermore, there are also other challenges such as brightness differences in the image and proper white balance.
Blind Test Scene 4: Cityscape, cloudy sky
Our fourth subject is a typical November scene in Berlin: a gray sky and gray buildings with a few remnants of green in between. Can any of our seven contenders make this dreary subject look appealing? Tell us which picture in this scene you liked the most.
Blind Test Scene 5: Macro shots, mixed light
The next subject is all about details—and colors. We took a picture of this plant in mixed light, and there was a bright daylight lamp on the left that emitted incandescent light from above. Ideally, the wall behind the flower should appear white, and the leaves exhibit numerous tones of red and orange along with delicate details.
Unfortunately, there was one phone during this comparison that did not want to focus on the middle of the image in any of the three photos. Accordingly, the detail taken from the middle of the image is unfortunately a bit blurry. To keep the conditions the same for all phones, we intentionally refrained from adjusting the focus (and consequently, the lighting) by tapping on the display.
Blind Test Scene 6: Interior shots, mixed light
The last subject is also a typical winter scene where artificial light with different light colors meets daylight, and the white balance is put to the test here. Furthermore, thanks to the different light sources, there are also quite stark brightness differences in the image in some instances. In this scene, vote for the smartphone that delivered the most consistent scene overall.
When will we find out the results of the blind camera tests?
First of all: Thank you very much for participating and voting! We are already looking forward to the results and are excited about finding out which smartphone you think takes the most beautiful photos.
We will keep the polls open until next weekend and then tally up the votes on Monday. So, tune in next week to find the result!