What happens when we have the two best single-lens camera phones in our possession? We take them out for a shootout, of course!
Since getting our hands on the Galaxy S8, we’ve been wondering why Samsung didn’t opt for a dual-camera setup like most flagship smartphones these days. After trying it out, we realized there wasn’t any need to, considering how well it performs without any added features.
This also brought up the question: How well would the Galaxy S8 fare against last year’s single-camera king, the Google Pixel? After comparing their photos side by side, we must say, calling a winner is a lot tougher than we imagined.
Each shot was taken with Auto settings turned on and using each phone’s default camera app. This best simulates what a casual user would do, which involves quick-launching the camera and shooting away.
We’ll start with a basic building shot in daylight. You can see how the Galaxy S8 illuminates the foreground better — notice the brighter exhaust pipe to the right and slightly clearer building in the middle. And yet, this causes the background to become overexposed. The Pixel nails the exposure for the sky and building in the background.
This situation tests how well the two cameras handle sharpness across the picture. The Galaxy S8 has a much warmer tone, but it noticeably sharper on the bottom floor. The Pixel, meanwhile does a better job of balancing each detail on the brick wall to the right.
Close-up portrait time! Both phones produced a sharp subject with a creamy background, but the Galaxy S8’s colors have much more pop! to them. The warm white balance of the S8 also added more life to our Creative Director’s face while the sun was gradually setting.
How do both phones handle macro shots? Quite well, actually! The two cameras managed to focus nicely on the flower and blur out all the unneeded background elements. We just found the Galaxy S8’s shot to be a tiny bit oversaturated, and the Pixel’s a little underexposed.
Here’s another instance that tests how the cameras handle sharpness when there’s less light. Like in earlier photos, the Galaxy S8 has a sharper image throughout and livened up the tree to the left a lot more. The Pixel’s edge is in the sharpness of the trees’ reflection in the puddle.
This is where things start getting tricky. The two phones shot virtually identical photos, with the only difference being the Pixel’s slightly higher exposure. Considering the nature of Auto settings, the results could just as easily be the other way around if taken a few minutes earlier or later.
We can now tell how well each phone’s auto white balance and image stabilization comes into play in this poorly lit scene. After zooming in, we’d say the Galaxy S8 has a sharper subject and more accurate colors. On the other hand, the Pixel’s camera didn’t wash out as much and retained more details on the building’s facade.
Bright lights in near darkness is a tough test for any camera. Both phones did a splendid job overall, but the Galaxy S8 ensured the sign’s brightness didn’t spill over to the background. You can see how the S8 effortlessly kept all colors in their place.
Now we check out how well the selfie camera does at night. Like with the dark shots earlier, the Galaxy S8 once again gets the colors right while keeping skin tones lively. We have to give the Pixel a point though for not turning the scarf and strands of hair into mush.
And we’ll end this shootout with a daytime selfie! This time, the Pixel wins with a rosier skin tone and sharper details on Michael Josh’s face. The Google phone also manages to produce a more accurately colored background with all the details and proper white balance retained.
When it comes down to it, all photos are absolutely superb. Never have we seen such a well-contested match between two high-end phones. Still, we have to hand out some awards.
The Pixel retains its crown as the leader in smartphone HDR photography with a distinct advantage when it comes to illuminating all parts of each photo. It also produced more pleasant selfies in daytime, as well as sharper details for things like hair and walls.
For everything else, the Galaxy S8 is a clear winner. We love how we look on the portraits it produces, whether they were taken with lots of light or barely any. No matter what situation, colors always have so much life in them without oversaturating the subjects. Samsung made the right choice of sticking to a single camera lens and simply improving on the Galaxy S7’s already awesome shooter.
With that, we want to hear from you which camera you think wins this shootout. Leave a comment below and let your opinions be heard!