Yep, we’re doing it. A massive camera comparison with every single high-end flagship smartphone we could get our hands on. Six handsets, seven different tests, and one table.
This is SoyaCincau’s epic flagship smartphone camera comparison. Want to know which flagship smartphone takes the best photos? Well, now you can see and decide for yourself.
There will be six participating smartphones:
These phones will be compared in seven different conditions:
2. Colour reproduction
3. Dynamic range
4. Low light
5. Macro ability
Which handset will reign supreme? Well, that’s where you guys come in. Photography is about as subjective as it gets because everyone’s definition of what makes a good photograph differs. Some might like it more saturated while others might like a more realistic colour profile. Some might prefer a little more post-processing to make the edges of the subject really pop while others might like it less.
I think you get the point.
So, for this test, we will be presenting each photo taken by each phone in each scene to you so you can compare them directly in identical location settings. Once you’ve done that, definitely let us know in the comments below which one was your favourite snapper.
Before we begin, here’s a quick rundown of the specs for each handset’s camera:
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Here are the scenes. Click on each image to view a larger comparison photo. At the end of each scene, you can also click on the smartphone’s name to view the full resolution of the photo that that smartphone took.
The methodology behind this test is rather simple. We picked a single well-lit corridor with text and markers that can be easily identifiable alongside smaller, more intricate details that might need a little more deciphering.
Besides general sharpness, we would also encourage you to take a look at how each camera white balances the scene as phones like the XZs and U Ultra are a little on the warmer side, while the ZenFone 3 Zoom goes super cool.
Here, each image is captured under the same lighting conditions — a single white LED unit — with a variety of different coloured objects. White balancing here is also key to the accuracy of colour reproduction.
For this test, we threw the phones into a scene with rather challenging light. The houses at the back were very brightly lit while the interior of the restaurant was very poorly lit. Be sure to check out the full resolution photos and really zoom in to see how the phones handle details in the shadows and highlights.
You would probably have noticed that the Sony Xperia XZs is missing for this test. First off, we’d like to apologise for that. The files for the XZs’ low light images were corrupted when we tried to access them. Perhaps it was an error during copying or an error somewhere in between, the files were unusable. The reason the other XZs photos were not affected is because this particular test was shot on a different day from the other tests and there were no problems with the first copy.
We have reached out to Sony to try and get the phone back but unfortunately, they had no units available for us. We will try our best to get the phone back so we can update this test with the XZs. Once again, we would like to apologise for this technical error.
In any case, we’ve included a monochrome shot from the P10 Plus which does reveal some interesting things because the image looks a lot cleaner in this mode than it does in colour.
What you want to look for here is noise management (both colour and luminance). Faster aperture numbers (like the S8, iPhone and P10 Plus) allows the camera to shoot at lower ISOs. But, these are small sensors so it’s really up to the post processing to cut down on the noise.
The macro test is designed to let you know, in excruciating detail, which phone can focus the closest to its subject. Typically, this is measured by determining the distance between the subject and the camera’s lens, but we were unable to do that without including too many variables stemming from lens position as well as the protective glass covering some of the phones’ lenses.
So, to make it as fair as possible, we strapped the phones to a camera slider and used its measurements instead. That way, the common denominator is the same for all phones and the results can be benchmarked against each other device for a fair comparison in this test.
The winner here is pretty obvious, with the Samsung Galaxy S8 being able to get the closest to the subject without losing focus. Huawei’s P10 Plus came in second place with the iPhone 7 Plus in third. On the other hand, the ZenFone 3 Zoom flopped the hardest of the lot.
This is a test of the smartphones which claim to have good zooming capabilities. ASUS’ ZenFone 3 Zoom and Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus come with dual camera setups which have one lens on a short telephoto distance.
Huawei’s P10 Plus, however, utilises the company’s Hybrid Zoom technology first introduced in the Mate 9. With this, the P10 Plus combines high-resolution photos taken with both sensors and digitally zooms in so the image doesn’t lose the detail you usually lose when digitally zooming.
Finally, we have the Selfie test. Pretty simple test, all beautification was turned off and everything was set to the highest resolution. It’s worth noting that the P10 Plus does have a portrait selfie feature while the Galaxy S8 has some cute Snapchat-like features that you can play around with.
Looking through the photos, we’re amazed at how good smartphone photography has come. At the top of the pack, the differences are really quite marginal (the S8 and iPhone, for example) and it often won’t matter too much which phone you choose, you will most likely get a solid smartphone camera at this price point.
By far the biggest underdog this time around was the ZenFone 3 Zoom, coming in at just RM2,099 but it still did passably well. It certainly wasn’t as snappy as the other cameras here, with the HTC U Ultra just ahead of it in terms of response time and snappiness.
So which phone took the best photos? Drop a comment with your thoughts below and let us know which phone you think produced the most pleasing images.