Which Android smartphone has the best camera and sets the benchmark that other manufacturers need to aim for? We set out to answer this question with an impromptu camera shootout in San Francisco a couple of weeks ago, and in traditional fashion, YOU chose which smartphone had the best camera!
Our search for the answer to this question saw us put Samsung’s latest, the Galaxy S8, up against the best from its rivals, including the LG G6, Sony Xperia XZs, Huawei P10, Google Pixel XL and OnePlus 3T! Now the votes are in and have been counted, let’s reveal the winner!
Top row (l-r): Google Pixel XL, Huawei P10, LG G6
Bottom row (l-r): OnePlus 3T, Samsung Galaxy S8 and Sony Xperia XZs.
Now over to our resident photo guy Edgar for his take on which smartphone took the best photos.
Photos like this one are tricky for most smartphone cameras. There is a harsh light in the back, often causing high contrast or a silhouette effect. It’s not easy for a camera to decipher what it should do. The easiest step would be to jump into HDR mode. Regardless, these photos were taken with stock settings and it is up to each phone to decide what it should do. Which one does it better?
Votes say the Google Pixel XL is the clear winner, but in this specific shot we do feel the shadows and contrast are too harsh. The Huawei P10, OnePlus 3T and Sony Xperia XZs managed to catch more details in dark areas and the skin, but they also had to compensate with a hazy effect we often see with overly lit backgrounds.
Overall, the Pixel XL did make for a more striking image, but if you want to see more details you should go with the phones mentioned above.
We actually feel like the LG G6 may have done a better job here, mostly because it closely emulates how things looked to the naked eye. This shot has a good contrast, is nice on the details, the shadowed part of David is bright enough and the whole frame looks more evenly exposed.
You may notice how the Google Pixel XL and Sony Xperia XZs show less of the details in the background trees. The OnePlus 3T used many effects to fix this, but it also made the photo a bit washed out while doing so.
Things are looking better when the light source is hitting the subject directly, but you can see very clear differences here. Which phone better captured our inspiring poses? We would understand why you picked the Google Pixel XL.
The warm tones and saturated colors really add to the ambiance and almost make the image look like a painting. Google definitely makes a more dramatic shot. In terms of white balance, we feel Sony did do a better job. And if what you want is details in the shadows I would go for the Huawei P10 (just take a look at Edgar’s beard).
Photographing food is a little tricky. It is often done in low light, has both bright and tamed colors, and the white balance can be hard to measure. We like that the Google Pixel XL and Sony Xperia XZs show more details in the rice and sauce, but the LG G6 was better at catching the right white balance and color. Overall, though, the differences are not too far off.
We gotta give it to the Samsung Galaxy S8 here. The image is crisper than most competitors. The contrast is also much better, as is detail in the shadows. It was a great food shot from Sammy!
We also like the Galaxy S8’s performance with this shot. White balance is good, colors are well saturated and everything looks crisp. Especially in this one you can see other cameras just seem to display a mush of colors, while the Galaxy S8 differentiates more between ingredients. There is a slight purple tint, something the Google Pixel XL was much better at handling.
We would agree with those who voted for the Google Pixel XL or the Samsung Galaxy S8. These seem to display a much more true-to-life shot. Other photos were too dark or washed out. It’s hard to catch good shadows under trees while keeping details visible, but we feel these two handsets did a great job without making the photo look over-processed. It is all about that balance.
We happen to like the Samsung Galaxy S8’s image due to the fact that you get enough details in the trees, while also catching pretty colors of the sky and green lawn. It is well saturated, but not over the top. And colors are still quite accurate.
The Samsung Galaxy S8 offers a prettier sight here, with vibrant greens, great shadows and a crisp look at this pond in the Golden Gate park. The Google Pixel XL also did a great job, but the image looks a bit less striking because it looks more true-to-life. Those who prefer something more natural looking will probably go for the Pixel’s image.
This one is a little trickier than we thought, which would explain why votes are not as polarized in this section. We have to say our favorite is the Samsung Galaxy S8, as it managed to at least get the exposure right and catch the details well. Look at the turtle’s texture, you can see that grainy surface. The P10 also did pretty good in that department, but outputs more striking shadows.
The Google Pixel XL takes this one by far. Colors are most natural, detail is crisp and the shadows stay relatively visible.
In a high-contrast image the real test is to try to catch the details in the dark, which was easy with this photo, given that there is plenty of blocks to look at in this building.
The Google Pixel XL, LG G6 and Samsung Galaxy S8 are about the best in the bunch. Then discard the Google Pixel XL for that hazy effect and the LG G6 for the purple tint. The winner is the Samsung Galaxy S8, in our opinion.
It’s a little hard to rate selfie shots, just because which one is best is a very subjective topic. The Google Pixel XL has great colors, but the shadows are a bit harsh. Then you have the LG G6, which does a great overall job, but it gives off that luminance effect that makes skin looks too smooth (like porcelain). The Galaxy S8 does a good general job at exposure, color balance and post-processing. Ultimately, it is a matter of preference.
This one is not exactly a selfie, but it is a close-up of a face, taken with the rear camera. Regardless, it is a tricky shot due to the contrasting light between the subject and the background, making it a good test photo.
The Google Pixel XL and Samsung Galaxy S8 are the closest competitors here. These did a better job balancing the light in the shadows and highlights. The Google Pixel XL does show an overblown sky, but the colors and shadows in Lanh’s face look very natural. Meanwhile, the Galaxy S8 catches brighter colors and a more uniform exposure, with less contrasting shades.
That wide angle on the LG G6! You simply can’t beat it. And it also helps that the camera is pretty good at capturing selfies. The Samsung Galaxy S8 does show a better image, but there is one issue most images had: the lit part in both Nirave’s and David’s faces.
The Google Pixel XL and Sony Xperia XZs were the best at handling that harsh light difference, but they did it in different ways. The Google Pixel XL simply darkened the whole image, while the Sony sensor was better at brightening the shadows and lowering the highlights.
So that’s our opinion, but which smartphone did YOU think won the shootout? Tallying up the votes, here’s how each phone ranked and the votes cast in each poll:
|Phone||Poll 1||Poll 2||Poll 3||Poll 4||Poll 5||Total votes||% of votes|
|Google Pixel XL||1509||501||790||521||859||4180||41.90%|
|Samsung Galaxy S8||535||526||441||208||346||2059||20.61%|
|Sony Xperia XZs||288||155||114||95||184||836||8.38%|
With a whopping 41% of the overall votes, the Pixel XL is a clear winner followed by the Galaxy S8 in second place with 20.61% and the LG G6 in third with 15.14%. Sony’s Xperia XZs comes in fourth place with 8.38% of the votes, while the OnePlus 3T (7.15%) and the Huawei P10 round off the scoring (6.82%). It’s surprising that so many people voted for the Pixel XL as we feel it was a lot closer between that, the Galaxy S8 and the LG G6.
Of course, we also read the comments on every shootout in a bid to make each one better than the last and with this shootout, we tried a couple of new things (such as multi-page and group voting) based on the feedback provided in the last blind camera shootout we conducted. While it’s not possible to please everyone, we do want to make each camera shootout the very best it can be so we’re asking YOU, the readers, to give us your thoughts on how we can improve.
Please help us by filling in the survey above – it won’t take more than a couple of minutes of your time and we’ll be using the responses to help shape our camera tests and camera shootouts going forward! If the embed isn’t loading for you or you’re on mobile, please check out the survey here! You can also share your thoughts in the comments below!