Which phone takes the best photos in 2019?
That is the million dollar question and to answer it, we are running a series of camera comparisons, starting with the blind tests, then focusing on features like the often-used Portrait Mode, then selfies, and now, it’s time for arguably the most important test: we have shot photos with the main cameras on the 6 most popular flagship phones of 2019.
In our hands, we have the following (in alphabetical order):
All of them are great devices, but which one has the best camera?
It’s time to find out in our completely open and honest test, where you will see 10 different scenes captured with these phones. We have gathered a small panel of photography enthusiasts as the jury and the photos were ranked blindly, without the jury knowing which phone took which photo. You can find our impressions from each phone in the conclusion at the bottom of the article, but right now, let’s jump right in and take a look at the photos.
Conclusion & Scores
With 10 different scenes openly presented to you and with quite a bit more that we looked through as we evaluated these phones, it’s time to draw some conclusions.
First of all, we should say that judging photos is no easy task: you can look at colors, dynamic range, details, exposure, noise, ease of use and so many other things. You can look at 100% crops at the center of an image, around the sides, you can look for lens vignetting, purple fringing and so on. While we did most of that, we feel that presenting all of that information piece by piece would be overwhelming and do more to confuse rather than help you understand which phone takes the best photos.
So that’s why we have settled on giving one overall score based on an estimation by a panel of judges here at PhoneArena. The phones were judged blindly to avoid any possible bias and the images were judged on a professionally calibrated monitor. With all of this in mind, here is a short summary of our impressions from each one of the phones.
Apple iPhone XS
Total score: 74.5, average of 7.45
The iPhone XS consistently captured balanced images with pleasing colors and it had plentiful detail without artificially over-sharpening the photo. Using the iPhone camera also felt reliable, safe and fast, with no surprising processing that would alter the appearance of the photo after you press the shutter button. The new Smart HDR option brings a welcome improvement to the dynamic range, so now you get more colors all across the range. Images were well exposed, white balance was spot-on and we also found that colors looked very close to reality, while other phones would often alter the tones more noticeably.
Google Pixel 3
Total score: 67, average of 6.7
Samsung Galaxy S10+
Total score: 62.8, average of 6.28
The Samsung Galaxy S10+ ranks very close to the iPhone and the Pixel in terms of photo quality during the day. Often times, it was able to strike the most pleasing balance of colors: vibrant greens, blue skies, great dynamic range, and in those cases it’s easily a winner. However, sometimes, photos out of it look artificially HDR-y or overprocessed, and those few imbalances make it a bit less predictable of a camera. We also noticed that in a few instances photos from the S10+ came out significantly overexposed, so they looked way too bright.
Total score: 60, average of 6.0
The LG G8 did not do such a great job as the top three phones in this ranking, but it was not too far behind. Given the right conditions, it can capture some great-looking shots, but not consistently. Other times, photos would turn out underexposed or the colors would look dull and/or washed out for no apparent reason. Every phone comes with its specific colors and the thing that makes the LG images stand out is the slight greenish tint that you can spot on nearly all of its photos.
Total score: 57, average of 5.7
The OnePlus 6T did a decent job, but it clearly does not yet belong in the elite club of the best smartphone cameras. It had a few good shots, but most of the time, photos from the OnePlus 6T had very dull colors, lacked contrast and had a very noticeable purple tint, and they just… did not stand out.