Galaxy S9+ Tops iPhone X as Best Smartphone Camera Ever in DxO’s Controversial Rankings

DxO today said Samsung's new Galaxy S9 Plus has the best smartphone camera it has ever tested. The device earned the highest-ever DxOMark score of 99, topping both the Google Pixel 2 and iPhone X, which scored 98 and 97 respectively.

In its review, DxO said the Galaxy S9 Plus camera lacks any "obvious weaknesses" and "performs very well across all photo and video test categories," which will make it a compelling choice for photography-minded smartphone users.
The Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus is a smartphone without any real weaknesses in the camera department. In both still and video modes, it performs well across the board, delivering consistently good photo and video image quality in all light and shooting situations, thus earning itself our highest DxOMark Mobile score to date. Add one of the best smartphone zooms and a capable bokeh simulation mode to the mix, and the Galaxy S9 Plus is difficult to ignore for any photo-minded smartphone user. With the Galaxy S9 Plus, Samsung is setting the pace for 2018. We'll see if the competition can follow suit.
While the Galaxy S9 Plus has a 12-megapixel dual-lens rear camera like the iPhone X, a key new feature is variable aperture, which means the lenses can adapt to various lighting conditions just as the human eye would, and automatically let in more light when it's dark and less when it's too bright.

In dim conditions, the rear camera uses a very fast f/1.5 aperture to maximize light capture, according to DxO. In brighter light, it switches to a slower f/2.4 aperture for optimized detail and sharpness.

DxO found the Galaxy S9 Plus produces "excellent results" in bright light and sunny conditions, with vivid colors, good exposures, and a very wide dynamic range. The autofocus wasn't the very fastest DxO has ever tested, but they said it's more than fast enough not to be an issue for any user.

Galaxy S9+

iPhone X

While the review crowned the Galaxy S9 Plus as an "excellent bright-light performer," DxO still experienced some "fairly minor issues" in those conditions. Some of its photos had "purple fringing on high-contrast edges" and "pretty noticeable" ringing halos, while others had "slight blue or pink color casts."

DxO said the Galaxy S9 Plus's performance in dimmer conditions is "equally impressive," yielding photos with "nice exposures with vivid color, accurate white balance, low noise, and good texture in low-light conditions."

The rear camera earned top marks in several other areas, including autofocus, zoom, flash, and bokeh, exposure, contrast, and color accuracy, so be sure to read the full-length review for more detailed analysis.

To determine scoring in its smartphone camera reviews, DxOMark said its engineers capture and evaluate over 1,500 test images and more than two hours of video, both in controlled lab environments and in natural indoor and outdoor scenes, using the camera's default settings. This article explains more about the methodology.

DxO's smartphone camera reviews are well known, but they've also attracted some criticism, since the overall quality of a camera is subjective. When comparing dynamic range on the Galaxy S9 Plus, Google Pixel 2, and iPhone X, for example, DxO itself said the results are "pretty much a question of personal preference."

For those interested, here is DxO's review of the iPhone X camera. But reviews from professional photographers like Austin Mann may be more valuable. Together, they provide good technical and real-world insight.

Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ can be pre-ordered starting today for $720 and $840 respectively. The smartphones launch March 16.

Discuss this article in our forums

Single-Lens Google Pixel 2 Camera Takes Top Spot From iPhone 8 Plus in DxO Labs Tests

The new Google Pixel 2 has bumped the iPhone 8 Plus and Galaxy Note 8 off the number one spot to become the top-performing smartphone camera in DxO Labs' mobile photography tests.

Just a day after Samsung's latest device matched Apple's largest iPhone 8 handset with an overall DxOMark score of 94, Google's newly launched Pixel 2 has now beaten both dual-lens devices with a score of 98, despite despite its rear-mounted single-camera design.

Its top scores in most of our traditional photo and video categories put it ahead of our previous (tied) leaders, the Apple iPhone 8 Plus and the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, despite the Pixel 2 coming in lower in the new Zoom and Bokeh categories. The Pixel 2 is also a major step forward from the Pixel (which was our top scorer when it was released a year ago), moving from 90 to 98.
The reviewers praised the Pixel 2 for excellent video performance, scene reproduction, color rendering, and fast and accurate autofocus, highlighting in particular its "amazing" ability to render detail in both the bright and dark areas of difficult scenes.

One weak spot for the Pixel 2 was said to be exposure in very low light images, which show increased noise in high dynamic range scenes, although excellent exposure and highlight preservation is still in evidence.

Despite performing very well for a single camera phone, the Pixel 2 couldn't outscore the zoom capability of the dual-lens Apple iPhone 8 Plus. The Pixel 2 also sometimes displayed aliasing and moiré artifacts in medium- and long-range zooms.

The reviewers concluded that for just about any photo or video use case, the Pixel 2 recommends itself as the phone camera with the best image quality, with the exception of zoom and bokeh (including Depth and Portrait) that dual-camera smartphones such as the Apple iPhone 8 Plus and Galaxy Note 8 can provide. The Google handset was especially recommended for videographers, since it achieved the highest video score (96) for any device tested by DxO Labs.

The reviewers signed off by noting that their scoring system has "plenty of headroom" to go beyond 100, so we'll have to wait and see if Apple's iPhone X can break that ceiling when it's released next month.

You can read the full DxOMark Pixel 2 camera review and view all of the full-resolution images here. Do you agree with DxO Labs' assessment? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Related Roundups: iPhone 8, iPhone X
Buyer's Guide: iPhone (Buy Now)

Discuss this article in our forums

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Ties iPhone 8 Plus in DxO Labs Camera Test

Samsung's Galaxy Note 8 produces generally better results than the iPhone 8 Plus when shooting still photography, but falls short of Apple's handset when it comes to recording video. That's according to the latest comprehensive smartphone camera test conducted by Dxo Labs, in which the two phones essentially came out tied overall.

The reviewers singled out Samsung's device for its "phenomenal" photo sub-score, which as the first smartphone to achieve 100 points in the category, "breaks new ground and makes the Note 8 the current class-leader for stills, thanks to excellent zoom quality, good noise reduction and detail preservation, and fast and accurate autofocus".
The Note 8 is Samsung's first foray into the world of dual cameras and is a great success, offering the best zoom capabilities of any mobile device we've tested to date. Add to that PDAF autofocus, optical image stabilization, Auto HDR, and a massive 6.3" Super AMOLED display, and there's plenty for smartphone photography enthusiasts to get excited about.

Overall, Note 8 achieved a DxOMark mobile score of 94 points, making it the joint-leader for smartphone image quality alongside Apple's iPhone 8 Plus, which the site previously praised for having the best smartphone camera they had ever tested. The Note 8's low-light photos showed less noise and more detail than its rivals, although HDR mode tended to clip highlights and highly backlit subjects didn't always turn out very clear.

In terms of video, the Note 8 was notable for offering good exposure with fast convergence, fast and stable autofocus, as well as good noise reduction, white balance, and color rendering. However, while the Note 8 trumped Apple's phone when taking stills, its video performance suffered due to residual motion when holding the camera still during recording, earning it a video sub-score of 84. In comparison, the iPhone 8 Plus achieved 89 in the same tests.

DxO says it has analyzed the image and video quality of over 10,000 cameras, lenses, and mobile phones, and its tests are generally respected within the industry. The company also sells some consumer-facing products like the DxO ONE camera, which can be plugged into an iPhone's Lightning connector.

The full review is worth checking out, and includes additional photos and analysis of the Samsung Galaxy Note 8's dual cameras compared to its rivals.

Related Roundup: iPhone 8
Tags: DxOMark, Galaxy Note 8
Buyer's Guide: iPhone (Buy Now)

Discuss this article in our forums

DxO Labs Says iPhone 8 Plus Has Best Smartphone Camera They’ve Ever Tested

DxO Labs has declared the iPhone 8 Plus has the best smartphone camera it has ever tested in a new in-depth review.

iPhone 8 Plus set a new record with an overall DxOMark Mobile score of 94, two points higher than its smaller iPhone 8 sibling. iPhone 8 Plus also topped the Google Pixel and HTC U11, which both scored 90 points, as well as last year's iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus which scored 88 and 85 points respectively.

DxO said iPhone 8 models do a better job of capturing HDR scenes. In the comparison below, it found the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus offer better detail preservation and overall exposure than the iPhone 7 Plus. The performance matches that of the Google Pixel, which was released nearly one year ago.

In low light, DxO said the iPhone 8 Plus camera's exposures are generally accurate, with some underexposure in very low light.

iPhone 8 Plus

DxO said the iPhone 8 Plus is the highest-performing smartphone camera it tested in relation to the bokeh effect, which makes the subject in the foreground sharp while creating an out-of-focus blur in the background.

iPhone 8 Plus

Google Pixel

DxO said the iPhone 8 Plus improves slightly over the iPhone 8 in its color performance by completely avoiding visible color shading, even in low light.

DxO said, overall, the iPhone 8 Plus is an "excellent choice" for the needs of "nearly every smartphone photographer."
It features outstanding image quality, zoom for those needing to get closer to their subjects, and an industry-leading Portrait mode for artistic efforts. It is at the top of our scoring charts in nearly every category — and in particular, its advanced software allows it to do an amazing job of capturing high-dynamic range scenes and images in which it can recognize faces.
DxO says it has analyzed the image and video quality of over 10,000 cameras, lenses, and mobile phones, and its tests are generally respected within the industry. The company also sells some consumer-facing products like the DxO ONE camera, which can be plugged into an iPhone's Lightning connector.

The full review is a worthwhile read for additional photos and analysis of the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus cameras.

Related Roundup: iPhone 8
Tag: DxOMark
Buyer's Guide: iPhone (Buy Now)

Discuss this article in our forums