Camera Shootouts

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 vs Note 8: Camera shootout

Is there any improvement?

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It was made clear that the brand-new Galaxy Note 9 has the same set of cameras as that of the Galaxy S9+ — they were released in the same year, after all. But there’s a more pressing concern: How much of an improvement is there over the Note 8?

Being the curious techies that we are, we took the two S Pen-equipped smartphones around New York City to see how they fare against each other. To make this shootout more interesting, we’re turning it into a blind comparison.

How blind? All rounds are in a random order, so you won’t know which phone shot Photo A and Photo B without checking the answer sheet at the end of this article.

To make things fair, all samples were shot using the default camera app on auto settings. No post-processing or editing was done, except for resizing so that they load faster.

Here we go:

#1

 

#2

 

#3

 

#4

 

#5

 

#6

 

#7

 

#8

 

#9

 

#10

 

#11

 

#12

 

Now it’s time to see which phones you actually picked:

#1: Note 8 (left) vs Note 9 (right)

#2: Note 9 (left) vs Note 8 (right)

#3: Note 8 (left) vs Note 9 (right)

#4: Note 9 (left) vs Note 8 (right)

#5: Note 9 (left) vs Note 8 (right)

#6: Note 8 (left) vs Note 9(right)

#7: Note 8 (left) vs Note 9 (right)

#8: Note 8 (left) vs Note 9 (right)

#9: Note 9 (left) vs Note 9 (right)

#10: Note 8 (left) vs Note 9 (right)

#11: Note 8 (left) vs Note 9 (right)

#12: Note 8 (left) vs Note 9 (right)

As you can see, the differences are minor except for specific instances. The Note 9 seems to perform slightly better when it comes to portraits using either the front or rear cameras. Skin tone is more accurate and the photos look sharper up close.

Although the Note 8’s output is often too warm, it does surprisingly well, especially in low-light environments. And despite lacking the Dual Aperture feature of the Note 9, the predecessor can keep up in terms of overall exposure and dynamic range.

Do note that the Note 8 has had a year to refine its cameras, whereas the Note 9 just came out with its fresh software. These results could easily change in a few months with software updates.

Camera Shootouts

iPhone XR vs Pixel 3: Camera shootout

Which single-camera setup takes better photos?

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In an age where dual and triple cameras have become a standard, two premium flagship smartphones with a single-camera setup can still compete. Google’s Pixel 3 is regarded by many as having the overall best smartphone camera because it produces well-balanced colors and clean cutouts on portrait mode. Apple’s iPhone XR has almost the same camera setup and features as the more expensive XS and XS Max, including the TrueDepth camera in front.

In this comparison, we pit the two against each other to find out which smartphone you think takes better photos. This is once again a blind test so get your pen and paper ready! Do note that all photos were taken on Auto or Portrait mode (when applicable) and have only been resized for faster loading times. They are labeled Photo A and Photo B randomly. Swipe left to see the photos in full and take note of your picks!

#1

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#2

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#3

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#4

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#5

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#6

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#7

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#8

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#9

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#10

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#11

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#12

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#13

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#14

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#15

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Ready to find out which phone took your picks? Here’s the answer key:

#1
Photo A: iPhone XR
Photo B: Pixel 3

#2
Photo A: Pixel 3
Photo B: iPhone XR

#3
Photo A: Pixel 3
Photo B: iPhone XR

#4
Photo A: Pixel 3
Photo B: iPhone XR

#5
Photo A: iPhone XR
Photo B: Pixel 3

#6
Photo A: iPhone XR
Photo B: Pixel 3

#7
Photo A: Pixel 3
Photo B: iPhone XR

#8
Photo A: iPhone XR
Photo B: Pixel 3

#9
Photo A: iPhone XR
Photo B: Pixel 3

#10
Photo A: Pixel 3
Photo B: iPhone XR

#11
Photo A: Pixel 3
Photo B: iPhone XR

#12
Photo A: iPhone XR
Photo B: Pixel 3

#13
Photo A: Pixel 3
Photo B: iPhone XR

#14
Photo A: iPhone XR
Photo B: Pixel 3

#15
Photo A: Pixel 3
Photo B: iPhone XR

There’s no clear winner in this shootout; both phones did a great job in capturing images even in low-light scenarios. Choosing which one is better boils down to preference.

The Pixel 3 produces photos with higher contrast and sharpness, which sometimes turn out darker so photos tend to look more dramatic than they are in real life.  The iPhone XR, with its Smart HDR technology, balances out highlights and shadows really well, so much so that backlit images look like they have more than one light source.

In the portrait mode department, neither of the phones did a perfect job — how the cutouts turn out varies depending on the hair’s texture, how busy the background is, and even lighting.

When it comes to selfies, the Pixel 3 offers a wider field of view, an option to switch to a secondary wide-angle lens, as well as a feature called Night Sight that’s also available on its rear camera. One complaint we’ve always had with iPhones is how tight selfies are as seen in sets #13 and #14, although the iPhone XR selfies look more pleasing compared to those taken with the Pixel 3, where my skin tone tends to look more dull.

What do you think of this comparison? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Camera Shootouts

Huawei Mate 20 Pro vs Google Pixel 3: Night mode shootout

Seeing in the dark

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Smartphone manufacturers have always been upping their camera games, whether it’s by adding more sensors to the setup or increasing pixel count. But one of the bigger revolutions was Huawei bringing a true night mode to the P20 Pro earlier this year.

Since then, Huawei’s Mate 20 Pro followed up on the trend, only to be challenged by another camera-centric smartphone: the Pixel 3. Google’s latest flagship also has a well-received night mode, but the feature came out a couple of months after the phone’s launch.

Now that Google’s Night Sight is official and we have a Mate 20 Pro on hand, it’s time to compare their performance and answer the question lots of people have been asking: What’s the best smartphone for nighttime photography?

For this shootout, I brought the two phones around Taiwan and took photos only on their respective night modes. No post-processing was done except resizing, so the images would load a little quicker on this page.

Here we go:

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One thing’s for sure: Both perform really well in any situation, exceeding expectations in most cases. Although, a lot of the comparisons come down to personal taste.

For one, the Pixel 3 often removes a layer of warmth and makes nighttime scenes look more like daytime. On the other hand, the Mate 20 Pro is better at preserving how the environment actually looks in low-light spots.

In the most extreme cases, however, the Pixel 3 can see better in total darkness. The secret sauce Google applied here works wonders for when sufficient lighting is out of the question. At the same time, Huawei’s phone can apply motion blur to moving subjects, making them feel more like a long-exposure shot.

With no clear winner, it’s safe to say that both sides prove that their leaders in the night mode realm. Which one do you prefer? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Camera Shootouts

OPPO F9 vs Vivo V11: Camera Shootout

Which midrange contender comes out on top?

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Two brands that impressed us this year with their unconventional take on the borderless design are OPPO and Vivo. These two are always neck and neck when it comes to performance, design, and even cameras. So in this video, we set out to find which of these midrange contenders takes better photos.

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