In case you missed it, Samsung Galaxy S9+ launched at MWC 2018, scored a record 99 on DxO mark, beating the previous best of 98 by Google Pixel 2. While you definitely can’t miss the big Apple out of the camera game. So now you must have this burning question in mind, how do these titans of the smartphone world pit against one another, especially with regards to their camera performance.
Smartphone cameras have been gaining more importance and attraction every year, customers when spending a fortune to get a great smartphone also keep a tight eye on camera performance, so checking all the boxes and bailing out on cameras isn’t a choice anymore. With Google taking the game to Apple and Samsung’s backyard with the Pixel lineup, cameras have been quite the showstopper for many customers.
So while you keep wondering and scrapping the web for the best camera out there (for now), we have done the hard work for you to bring out the most lucid and honest camera comparison among the best of smartphone cameras, right now. So without further ado, let’s sing along.
The Ultimate Camera Comparison: Google Pixel 2 vs Samsung Galaxy S9+ vs Apple iPhone X
Before we take a look and compare real snaps, let’s read through the camera specs on each of the candidates here.
Google Pixel 2 Camera
Google presented the best amalgamation of software and hardware in smartphone photography with Pixel 2 back in October 2017. The Pixel 2 scored an awe-spiring 98 on the DxO mark. What makes this camera so admirable is that it does all of it with a single lens. In a world where dual cameras are sort of a norm, Google went out bold with Pixel 2 believing on Its Machine learning prowess. The Pixel 2 showcases a 12.2 MP single sensor at the back with f/1.8 aperture and 1.4micron pixels.
The camera has all the usual specs you would expect from a flagship such as OIS, EIS, PDAF, and LDAF. At the front, the Pixel 2 is equally impressive with a single 8MP, a f/2.4 sensor with the same 1.4micron pixel size. What’s not on paper is software and that is Google’s magic sauce with the Pixel 2 camera. The Image processing is superb and takes a lot of Machine learning into its implementation. Google is the king of data has that impressive array of machine learning techniques and models which help to take the camera a cut above everyone else. Hail Software!
Dual Camera on the iPhone X
Apple launched the much touted 10th anniversary iPhone in September 2017 and the man everyone was just blown away by this beauty. I still am. This smartphone presents the best of everything, though there are still people who hate the notch, I think It has kind of grown on me. Talking camera, iPhone X features a vertical dual camera organization, with a primary 12MP, f/1.8 sensor and a secondary 12MP, f/2.4 wide angle lens. Apart from that, It has got all the things like PDAF, OIS and more.
On the front, iPhone X bears a 7MP, f/2.2 sensor which captures naturally great photos. Apple has been always great with image procession on the iPhone. What they essentially lack is data to have Machine learning on board like Google. Nevertheless, iPhone X posts a great nemesis to the Pixel 2 with quality camera performance and a few new tricks like the new lighting effects which are still in Beta but are a great add-on. iPhone X scores 97 on the DxO mark. Just a shade below Google Pixel 2. Tough fight indeed!
Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus
As of today, Samsung Galaxy S9+ is the best Samsung has got in the market. With Its camera, ‘reimagined’ Samsung is eyeing the top spot in the camera race for 2018. Its hard and ambitious given its a long time in September and October when the next iPhone and the Pixel 3 drop off. Meanwhile, Samsung has put some efforts in the camera. Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ feature the first variable aperture camera, which can physically switch between two different apertures - f/1.5 and f/2.4. The S9+ has a dual camera organization and has a primary 12MP variable aperture sensor while the other one is a 12MP, f/2.4 wide angle lens.
It features OIS and PDAF. The pixel size of the primary sensor is 1.4micron versus 1micron on the wide angle one. At the front, Samsung has retained the camera from last year’s Galaxy S8 which is an 8MP, f/1.7 sensor with autofocus which is kind of unique to Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S9 now. Samsung Galaxy S9+ brings the impact of variable apertures into smartphone photography which was seen on DSLRs only. You can find my full review of the S9 here. The S9+ scores a whopping 99 on the DxO mark displacing Google Pixel 2 as the best camera at least according to DxO Mark but Is it?
Let’s Go Out For A Camera Shootout
So let’s start with a bright beach bar scene. There’s ample light and the shot has been taken from a dark hallway. As you can see, the Galaxy S9+ softens the image so the image appears grim whereas the iPhone X does a great job of handling contrast and light. The Pixel 2 does better than Galaxy S9+ owing to better sharpness in the picture. Overall, the iPhone X wins the scene with the best HDR capabilities.
Next up, again we have a bright daylight scene with some dark portions as well. The variable aperture of S9+ allows it to capture more light than the rest and hence the image appears more bright and detailed. The iPhone X and Pixel 2 do a similar job but the image from Pixel 2 appears more balanced than iPhone X. So Samsung Galaxy S9+ wins this scene.
Okay, so we know Bokeh or Portrait mode has gain quite the popularity in recent years. Here we put all the candidates to test, with the iPhone X doing the best and most natural job among all. The Pixel 2 messes up towards the bottom of the image while Galaxy S9+ over-blurs the background. We think iPhone X does a good token more consistently than others, Pixel 2 occasionally misses out but does an extremely good job when it hits. Samsung still kinda struggles with Bokeh and that’s quite visible.
With all the chatter about who’s the best low-light champion. We got a few night-time shots as well with all the 3 smartphones and this is a tough one. Galaxy S9+ clearly does a better job but softens the image too much here with Pixel 2 just behind it with a sharp and well-balanced exposure. iPhone X stands last here.
So the last one, also a night shot of a cathedral. The S9+ leverages the big f/ 1.5 aperture and stands out on top while the Pixel 2 is not far behind. The iPhone X surprisingly does a better job than Pixel 2 here. The reduced noise of S9+ makes it a clear winner here.
Here's a video of in-depth camera comparison of these 3 smartphones from C4Etech:
SuggestPhone’s Verdict: Which Camera is Better?
Well, I got to say its tougher than ever to point out the best camera. Photography is highly subjective and a camera I love might be the one you hate. So Its okay, we live in a democracy for that sake. I find the Galaxy S9+ to be a really good low-light camera and the one which you might pick up seeing the low-light shots but the tradeoff which takes place with the f/1.5 sensor is light-vs-sharpness while the S9+ gets more light in with the bigger aperture, It also gives away a lot of sharpness. The reduced noise on the S9+ really adds on to the low-light championship. But the thing is we have to take daylight. performance into consideration as well. Giving too much weight to low-light isn’t good as most of your photos come in daylight.
When we talk about scenes with good lighting, iPhone X and Pixel 2 are noticeably better than Galaxy S9+ which is something you should pay huge attention too. Pixel 2 has the best dynamic range, unarguably and iPhone X produces stunning colours with tons of details. It is getting tougher for Pixel 2 out there as the lead it once had is fading away rapidly and that’s the beauty of technology. I feel Google needs to put a lot of work to make Pixel the president again the same is for Apple.
If Apple needs to get back that crown of best smartphone photography it once had - It really needs to up its game in software where Google is leading as of now. I am delighted with the camera performance of each of these flagships and really smartphone cameras have come a long way. I’ll let you decide here because, again - Photography is subjective. Which smartphone is the best camera on the market, overall? Do tell us in the comments, we’ll be waiting to hear it from you.
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