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A $400 smartphone just beat the Pixel 4, iPhone 11 and Note 10 in our camera test

A $400 smartphone just beat the Pixel 4, iPhone 11 and Note 10 in our camera test

According to a report by the statistics portal Statista, 86 percent of smartphone buyers consider the camera to play an important role in their purchasing decision. In our camera blind test, we showed you photos from current flagship smartphones and let you vote which shots were best - without telling you beforehand which picture comes from which device. And the result blew our minds.

Expectations were relatively clear: the Google Pixel 4 XL, Apple iPhone 11 Pro, Huawei Mate 30 Pro, Samsung Galaxy Note 10+, OnePlus 7T Pro and the Realme X2 Pro are in a close race with each other. The result of our smartphone camera blind test is was incredible in its lack of a clear advantage for the traditional champions of smartphone cameras. 

"What the fuck?", you're certainly not the only one asking that question.

Are all smartphone cameras good enough these days?

What does this result mean now? Do AndroidPIT readers have tomatoes in their eyes? Or is Realme's budget flagship, which costs around 400 euros, taking the complex algorithms of Google & Co. to absurdity? I think the reason for this result lies elsewhere.

While our blind tests in recent years have mostly had very clear and predictable results, this time it was very close. In the autumn of 2019 there are fewer differences, the level is now simply very high across the board. The OnePlus smartphones, which have been notoriously weak in recent years (especially when it comes to night shots), have made noticeable progress during the jump from the 6-series to the 7-series.

AndroidPIT realme x2 pro back
The Realme X2 Pro has collected more points than the top smartphones from Apple, Google and Samsung / © AndroidPIT

A second aspect is the diversity of current camera smartphones: there are the special night and portrait modes and the ultrawide-angle and telephoto cameras. In each discipline you have chosen a different winner. In terms of hardware, the Pixel 4 XL with only two cameras is almost exotic.

And this is exactly how I interpret the result. Just like full-grown digital cameras, smartphone cameras are now so versatile with individual strengths and weaknesses that it is becoming increasingly difficult to choose a clear overall winner. Therefore I would like to encourage you to form your own judgment appropriate to your photographic preferences.

Below you can see all photos with the resolutions and the results of the voting.

Scenario 1: Portrait photo

Bokeh FTW? The Google Pixel 4 XL has clearly won here with clear contrasts, beautiful colors and a soft background. The Realme X2 Pro is in 2nd place, which can't zoom in portrait mode - did the actually more unfavorable picture angle possibly play a role in the vote here?


Comparative pictures: portrait

Kamera-Vergleichstest Portrait Google Pixel 4 XLGoogle Pixel 4 XL, 32%, 1st place Kamera-Vergleichstest Portrait OnePlus 7T ProOnePlus 7T Pro, 19%, 3rd place
Kamera-Vergleichstest Portrait Huawei Mate 30 ProHuawei Mate 30 Pro, 11%, 4th place Kamera-Vergleichstest Portrait Samsung Galaxy Note10+Samsung Galaxy Note10+, 6%, Place 6
Kamera-Vergleichstest Portrait Realme X2 ProRealme X2 Pro, 22%, 2nd place Kamera-Vergleichstest Portrait Apple iPhone 11 ProApple iPhone 11 Pro, 10%, 5th place

Scenario 2: High contrast image

The Samsung Galaxy Note10+ clearly wins in backlight HDR - with the strongest HDR effect. No other smartphone gets more detail in the sky, and no other smartphone brightens the underground as much. Second and third place go to the Realme X2 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro, which also work strongly against the extreme contrast.


Comparative pictures: high contrast image

Kamera-Vergleichstest HDR Samsung Galaxy Note10+Samsung Galaxy Note10+, 43%, 1st place Kamera-Vergleichstest HDR Realme X2 ProRealme X2 Pro, 16%, 2nd place
Kamera-Vergleichstest HDR Huawei Mate 30 ProHuawei Mate 30 Pro, 7%, 6th place Kamera-Vergleichstest HDR Google Pixel 4 XLGoogle Pixel 4 XL, 8%, 5th place
Kamera-Vergleichstest HDR Apple iPhone 11 ProApple iPhone 11 Pro, 16%, 2nd place Kamera-Vergleichstest HDR OnePlus 7T ProOnePlus 7T Pro, 9%, 4th place

Scenario 3: Telezoom photo 5x

In the telephoto zoom shots, the Huawei Mate 30 Pro and Google Pixel 4 XL win. The detail rendition is very good, but the balanced exposure and the pleasant color rendition were probably more important. In general, however, the outcome of the vote on this motif was very close.


Comparative pictures: Telephoto zoom photo 5x

Kamera-Vergleichstest Telezoom 5x Huawei Mate 30 ProHuawei Mate 30 Pro, 27%, 1st place Kamera-Vergleichstest Telezoom 5x Google Pixel 4 XLGoogle Pixel 4 XL, 19%, 2nd place
Kamera-Vergleichstest Telezoom 5x OnePlus 7T ProOnePlus 7T Pro, 15%, 3rd place Kamera-Vergleichstest Telezoom 5x Realme X2 ProRealme X2 Pro, 15%, 3rd place
Kamera-Vergleichstest Telezoom 5x Samsung Galaxy Note10+Samsung Galaxy Note10+, 11%, 6th place Kamera-Vergleichstest Telezoom 5x Apple iPhone 11 ProApple iPhone 11 Pro, 12%, 5th place

Scenario 4: Night scene

Five smartphones deliver a detailed night photo, only the Realme X2 Pro drops significantly. The smartphone newcomer obviously has some catching up to do here. You scored the OnePlus 7T Pro, the Galaxy Note 10+ and the Pixel 4 XL with warm colors and clear contrasts. The detailed, but pale-looking photo of the Huawei Mate 30 Pro was clearly punished.


Comparative pictures: night shot

Kamera-Vergleichstest Nacht-Modus OnePlus 7T ProOnePlus 7T Pro, 39%, 1st place Kamera-Vergleichstest Nacht-Modus Huawei Mate 30 ProHuawei Mate 30 Pro, 4%, 5th place
Kamera-Vergleichstest Nacht-Modus Samsung Galaxy Note10+Samsung Galaxy Note10+, 23%, 2nd place Kamera-Vergleichstest Nacht-Modus Apple iPhone 11 ProApple iPhone 11 Pro, 11%, 4th place
Kamera-Vergleichstest Nacht-Modus Google Pixel 4 XLGoogle Pixel 4 XL, 19%, 3rd place Kamera-Vergleichstest Nacht-Modus Realme X2 ProRealme X2 Pro, 3%, Place 6

Scenario 5: Ultrawide-angle

Granted: the Pixel 4 XL was doomed to fail here. Therefore, we would like to explicitly point out again that without the fifth scenario, the Google smartphone would have been at the top of the podium with the OnePlus 7T Pro. The iPhone 11 Pro and the Galaxy Note 10+ can score points in the ultrawide-angle test, both of which clearly bring the most detail to the photo.


Comparative pictures: ultrawide-angle

Kamera-Vergleichstest Ultra-Weitwinkel Apple iPhone 11 ProApple iPhone 11 Pro, 43%, 1st place Kamera-Vergleichstest Ultra-Weitwinkel Realme X2 ProRealme X2 Pro, 13%, 3rd place
Kamera-Vergleichstest Ultra-Weitwinkel Google Pixel 4 XLGoogle Pixel 4 XL, 1%, 6th place Kamera-Vergleichstest Ultra-Weitwinkel Samsung Galaxy Note10+Samsung Galaxy Note10+, 27%, 2nd place
Kamera-Vergleichstest Ultra-Weitwinkel OnePlus 7T ProOnePlus 7T Pro, 8%, 4th place Kamera-Vergleichstest Ultra-Weitwinkel Huawei Mate 30 ProHuawei Mate 30 Pro, 8%, 4th place

For the sake of completeness: in the votes in this camera blind test article on the individual photos, 1st place always received six points, 2nd place five points, and so on until the last place with only one point. If two devices achieved the same percentage value in the vote and thus the same place, the next place in the evaluation was omitted in each case. Then we added the scores over the five scenarios and came to the above result. The time of the evaluation was November 5 at 10:15 am.

And how about for you?

What is your personal winner now that you know the assignments to the photos? Do you agree with the overall result or do you perhaps even have a completely different interpretation? I am looking forward to your comments!

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4 comments

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  • I find it interesting that the spread from 1st to 6th is only 5 points. It's no surprise that the iPhone 11, Pixel 4, & Note 10 all scored the same. The surprise was the top 2, particularly OnePlus. The reality is that our choices are selective based on our preferences. But then maybe that works as an equalizing factor. My two pfennig.....


  • A real camera is simply a different and much better thing to take photos.


  • For me, it's not just the camera, but also photo management. Users certainly want a great camera, but we also want intuitive editing and storage features.

    I was a Samsung Galaxy user for 7 years, starting with the S3, updating to the S5, the the S7. The camera took great photos, but I loved their native, and very robust, Gallery app. Photos could be edited on the fly with the camera app, but I'm guessing most users snap away, then go back to edit their photos. Two great features of the Galaxy Gallery app were that 1) edited photos are stored in the same folder as the original, and 2) edited photo retain the same time stamp as the original, and thus appear next to the original in the folder.

    I moved to Google Fi mobile service in July, opting for the Moto G7, an economy phone made for this service. They also offered two variants of the Pixel, but I prefer phones with an expansion slot for a micro-SD card for default photo storage. The native photo viewer/editor on the G7 is Google Photos, but this app is short on features, and wants to sync all my photos to the cloud, which I will do only when I'm ready. I loaded about a dozen different 3rd-party viewing/editing apps and, while unsettled on one that had good (not great) features, edited photos are stored in a separate internal folder. Then when I tried to move the photos to the appropriate folder on the SD card, the phone tells me it is a prohibited action. WTF?!

    I contacted Google Fi, they suggested that I attach my phone to my computer (which, by the way, requires a Moto app on the computer), download the edited photos from the phone, then try moving them to the SD card. Oh, and I might have to remove the SD card and insert it into my computer to upload the photos. This really turned me off the Moto G7.

    Any suggestions you have for a gallery app would be appreciated... thanks!


  • Smartphone cameras, are GOOD ENOUGH. If you want better image quality, stop messing with pinhole sensors and get a better camera, ie: something with a LARGER image sensor, and not all these multi-sensor/gimmick software stuff. In some cases, it produces a cartoonish, overprocessed, over saturated image. If the entire smartphone world would get over the "slim, colorful & stylish" nonsense (along with the insane prices), stick ONE larger sensor and a retractable zoom lens, it would completely kill off what is left of the compact camera market. And, make for a better looking REALISTIC photo.

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