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We’ve covered a number of blind smartphone camera comparisons (and head-to-head tests) over the years, including those featuring the latest devices like Apple’s iPhone XS Max, Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9, Google’s Pixel 2 and others.
And with very few exceptions, Apple’s latest dual-lens camera-equipped handsets like the iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X, and XS have trounced even their most formidable competitors in these tests, lending further credence to Apple’s claims of only using top-notch camera hardware that’s a true cut above the rest.
But a new and wide-ranging blind camera comparison between 16 of the latest high-end (and a few mid-range) smartphones — which was conducted this week courtesy of YouTube tech personality, Marques Brownlee — has revealed a myriad of mind-bending new revelations about the actual quality of smartphone cameras, et al.
Via his official YouTube channel, MKBHD, and social media accounts on Twitter and Instagram, Brownlee used the following 16 devices to carry-out his analysis over the last week:
- Apple iPhone X and iPhone XS
- Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 3
- Samsung Galaxy Note 9
- Huawei Mate 20 Pro and P20 Pro
- Red Hydrogen One
- HTC U12+
- LG V40
- OnePlus 6
- Razer Phone
- Motorola Z Force
- Xiaomi Pocophone F1
- BlackBerry KEY2
- Palm One
The comparison, which included plenty of high-end flagships from Apple, Google, Samsung and Huawei — as well as several mid-range phones like Xiaomi’s $300 Pocophone F1, BlackBerry KEY2 and the LG V40 — received millions of votes on Twitter and Instagram Stories
And while the results reveal a number of puzzling outcomes — for example, Apple’s $1,000 iPhone X being ‘beaten out’ by Xiaomi’s $300 Pocophone F1, or BlackBerry’s KEY2 performing better than iPhone XS — there are a number of flaws with this particular test that are worth pointing out.
What’s Wrong Here?
First of all, it’s just plain ludicrous to even fathom that the camera on Apple’s iPhone XS is somehow of poorer quality than the BlackBerry KEY2’s — especially since the XS has previously bested not only its closest, ~$1,000 competitors in the high-end smartphone space, but also nearly mimicked the exposure of a ~$10K cinema camera.
Second, seeing as this was a blind camera comparison, it wasn’t as detailed as some of the more rigorous, head-to-head tests we’ve seen in recent months. As Brownlee notes, of the sampled photos they had to choose from, most people wound up preferring shots with brighter exposure, higher contrast and more color saturation — but that’s a given, isn’t it?
Worth noting perhaps most of all is that because the photos were shared via Twitter and Instagram for voting, any perceived advantage held by high-end devices like iPhone XS, Pixel 3 or Galaxy Note 9 — with relation to the cheaper, mid-range contenders — was nearly eliminated due to file compression.
And so while the results of today’s comparison might suggest that Apple’s latest iPhones aren’t as up-to-par with the rest of the industry, remember to bear in mind that when it comes to capturing and uploading smartphone photographs like these to social media, the actual, discernible differences in the quality of one smartphone’s exposures over another’s is more subjective than anything else.