Blind test smartphone cameras – The outcome

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What do you look for when you compare photos to choose the best? People who voted in our blind test of smartphone cameras on Sunday and Monday will each have looked at the different photos in a different way. Is it about sharpness, white balance, colors, dynamic range, or something else entirely? Or is it about the total picture and do you choose based on feeling?

How someone judges photos, he or she can decide for himself. What we do know now is the result. Let’s go back a little bit and get the candidates out. We’ve chosen four phones that are known as the best smartphone cameras on the market right now.

Smartphone Apple iPhone 11 Samsung Galaxy S10 Google Pixel 4 Huawei P30 Pro
Primary camera sensor size Approx. 1/2.55″ 1/2.55″ 1/2.55″ 1/1.75″
Primary sensor camera resolution 12Mp 12Mp 12Mp 40Mp, default 10Mp photos
Aperture F/1.8 F/1.5 – f/2.4 F/1.7 F/1.6
Camera resolution (front) 12Mp 10Mp 8Mp 32Mp
‘Optical Zoom’ 2x 2x 2x 5x
Ultra wide angle camera Yes, 120 degrees Yes, 123 degrees no Yes, 120 degrees
Current starting price €769.89 €610 €708 €629

The winner of these four has become the Apple iPhone 11. Now you can interpret ‘winner’ in various ways, and that’s what we do. Let’s start with a relatively easy measurement method. These are the average percentages of votes each device received over the eighteen different situations.

The iPhone 11 scores highest with 30 percent, followed by the Google Pixel 4 with 27.6 percent. The Samsung Galaxy S10 and Huawei P30 Pro differ little from each other, with 21.5 percent and 20.9 percent respectively. All in all, you can say that the iPhone 11 is a clear winner, but the victory is not by force majeure.

We had not seen this coming. The Huawei P30 Pro, with its large and light-sensitive sensor, gets fewer votes for the evening photos than for the photos taken during the day. It loses out to all other phones in the evening photos, while it takes a neat second place in the daytime photos. The figures also show that the iPhone 11 owes its victory to its performance in lower light.

But average percentages are not everything. So let’s look at it differently: which camera has won the most times, and which has lost the least? Even then the Apple phone comes out as the winner, as we can see.

The iPhone 11 won in seven of the eighteen test photos, but three times the device came out last. The Pixel 4 won less often, but also wore the red lantern less often. The Huawei P30 Pro most often received the fewest votes. In half of the test photos, you found those of the P30 Pro the least.

Of course, this is not a scientific test and there is a lot to be said about it. We like to do that ourselves. The focal lengths of the primary cameras differ slightly, so you have to choose between either the same distance or the same framing. We have tried to equalize the framing as much as possible, but neither is completely fair, of course.

We did try to challenge the telephones. The daytime portrait shots might have been easy, but the phones struggled with daytime shadows and twilight shots with bright lights. The Christmas tree – a very everyday scene to photograph at this time of year – also proved to be a challenge for some phones.

If we look at the individual photos, the iPhone 11 stands out in a positive and negative sense. The photo with the most votes is the last photo, the detail photo: 63.5 percent chose the iPhone 11. However, the Apple phone completely messed up the ninth photo – with the car on the cloudy day. He received no more than 3 percent of the vote for this photo; no photo received fewer votes than this one.

It is difficult to determine what most voters paid attention to. It seems that a photo should at least be sharp and the white balance should look a bit natural. The lighter photos also seem to win and the contrast plays a role, but the differences are smaller with these factors.

There were a total of around 150,000 votes for the photos. We thank everyone who voted. Of course we read many suggestions in the comments to do better next time, and we take those suggestions to heart.

If you want to draw a conclusion from this test, take a good look at each situation to see which photo you think is the best and consider, for example, in which situations you often take photos yourself. Take your notes from the test, because here they come again, so that you can determine for yourself per situation which smartphone camera gives the best result. Do you agree with the majority?

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