Calling it one of the best mobile cameras currently available, image benchmarking firm DxOMark on Wednesday published its latest smartphone camera rankings, which place Apple’s all-new iPhone XS Max in the No. 2 slot right behind Huawei’s 40 MP, triple-lens camera P20 Pro, but still far ahead of competing devices like the Galaxy Note 9 and Pixel 2.
Even in comparison to iPhone X, DxOMark wrote on its blog that Apple made “significant improvements” to the iPhone XS Max’s camera setup, adding a number of game-changing new features such as Smart HDR, enhanced Bokeh effect, Depth of Field settings and more.
Smart HDR, the firm said, is able to produce “very good target exposure and a wide dynamic range in all conditions.”
But most notably in bright lighting environments, where the iPhone XS Max is described to have “excellent” results in both photo and video.
It’s also “spot on” when it comes to exposure in outdoor shooting environments, producing shots with stellar detail and true-to-life color.
Slipping Into Second
While it scored a high-ranking 105 in DxOMark’s testing, not all was praise and applause for Apple’s latest flagship, and the firm noted a number of weak points in the overall camera hardware/software experience.
While it gave the iPhone XS Max a score of 110 in photo, the handset received only 96 in video — with the firm noting that in-video zoom and Bokeh effects disappointed.
DxOMark said, most pointedly, that Apple’s simulated Bokeh effect on iPhone XS Max still makes mistakes in calculating depth, even though it does a better job than its predecessor.
Issues with video recording included “luminance noise” while in zoom mode, as well as “unstable” white balance with certain types of artificial indoor lighting. The firm also said iPhone XS Max occasionally exhibited issues like underexposed flash shots, shadows in images, and subtle distortion in low light settings.
Still Ahead of Its Time
Year after year, Apple releases better iPhones with improved camera hardware and software features, and the company has a penchant for flaunting and up-talking these features as some of iPhone’s strongest selling points.
This year, the rear camera on iPhone XS Max comes with a ton of new tricks. Features like focus pixels, for example, offer improved light sensitivity as well as enhanced processing thanks to a custom image signal processor (ISP) built-into the company’s zippy A12 Bionic CPU.
Thanks to a new and highly-advanced Neural Engine, Apple’s Bokeh effect on iPhone XS is also able to be adjusted after the photo has been taken now — a first-of-its kind feature for any smartphone.
In the end, Apple’s iPhone XS Max scored above multiple contenders including Google’s camera-centric Pixel 2 and Samsung’s latest Galaxy Note 9.
Huawei’s P20 Pro ranked No. 1, perhaps unsurprisingly, seeing as it’s the world’s first and most advanced triple-lens camera setup — a “triple-camera juggernaut,” in DxOMark’s own words.