Aside from having the famed AR Emoji, Samsung’s Galaxy S9 and S9+ are earning praises and accolades for multiple features. Imaging authority DxOMark has even given the S9+ (or what I call the “jumbo” version) the highest smartphone camera rating to date.
Hot off the launch event, I got to take the S9, which is the smaller handset (I dub thee the “mini” version), out for a spin. The mini S9 supposedly has the same camera specs as the S9+ including that fancy dual-aperture feature, except, the latter has a rear dual-cam setup capable of real portrait mode shooting and zoom.
On this trip, I was packing the Google Pixel 2, which used to top DxOMark’s charts and is now second only to the S9+.
Being the curious person that I am, I took the S9 and the Pixel 2 out and around Barcelona to see just how the two compare. Here’s how that turned out.
It was unusually cold and rainy in Barcelona this year but I managed to take a number of snaps of the picturesque city.
Both phones did a great job on this shot. Overall lighting was good, even on the building facades considering these areas were against the light. The S9’s photo is noticeably brighter, but the Pixel 2 shot has more building details owing to high contrasts — something the phone is known for.
Same observations may be made with this set. Color and detail is more apparent on the Pixel photo owing to contrasts. The blue sky on the S9 photo looks more saturated while the Pixel 2 photo gives a deeper, darker sky.
These photos were taken inside famed apartment building Casa Batlló by Antoni Gaudí who is the genius behind Barcelona’s Sagrada Família.
The S9’s photo is brighter but this meant that color and some parts (notice the windows) have washed out details. Notice that the same photo is also more yellow. The deeper blues in the Pixel 2’s photo make for a better take.
Yet again, both photos come out well, and this is considering that this was an indoor setting. The S9 photo won this particular round, however. The brightness and color saturation just made the overall picture more appealing.
We now move on to the true smartphone camera challenges!
This photo came out with surprising results. I’m not quite sure why color differed vastly between the two pictures — might be the white balance, or the saturation — so your guess is as good as mine.
This outdoor night time shot proves that both are capable shooters (as if it isn’t obvious enough at this point), and both samples have great detail. As has been a recurring theme in these photos, the S9’s take is a little bit more saturated while the Pixel 2’s photo has more pronounced contrasts.
The S9 impressed massively in this photo. Although the stained glass windows aren’t as colorful in this sample, the S9 was able to brighten the photo so much so that the details on the ceiling are clearly seen. This was not the case with the Pixel 2 photo.
On to the part of the review that always makes me hungry.
The S9 and S9+ have a built in Food Mode specifically built for these type of shots.
As seen in the left-most photo, the tuna is definitely redder. Obviously, saturation has been upped on the S9’s Food Mode and there’s a blur effect going on — one that’s reminiscent of Instagram’s radial blur filter. The Pixel 2’s tuna looks paler and less appealing in general, even compared to the normal S9 shot.
The same goes with this yummy piece of salmon. Although undoubtedly very, very yummy, the Pixel 2’s photo looks least appealing. The S9 Food Mode, however, seemed a little too much for this naturally orange dish. The normal S9 photo looks just right (and now I want salmon).
This is where it gets interesting. The S9 houses a single rear camera which means its bokeh mode is all software; the Pixel 2 is the same. On the other hand, the S9+ (yes, the jumbo version) packs dual-rear shooters that can do real hardware bokeh with its adjustable Live Focus Mode. The results are below:
The Google Pixel 2 still does better software cut-outs, but the S9+ and its hardware bokeh are the true winners here.
Speaking of S9+ features, there’s also an optical zoom capability thanks to the second rear shooter on this jumbo phone while the Pixel 2’s single shooter doesn’t have the same thing, so we give this round to the S9+.
Of course, the S9 and S9+ have a very detailed beauty and makeup mode (something I’ve thoroughly explored in this video) — a feature the Pixel 2 doesn’t have.
On the selfie front, here’s how the phones fared:
The S9’s photo is brighter and softer — a look I’ve noticed women are more prone to liking in their selfies as it gives faces a softer look. As expected, the Pixel 2’s high contrasts give off a much sharper look; notice the seemingly overdrawn eyebrows on the Pixel 2 sample compared to the S9’s.
The verdict is not surprising: All these phones are very, very capable shooters. As to which phone is better would depend on preference. Admittedly, the S9+ would be the best overall shooter with the added camera and shooting features. The S9, on the other hand, is a great choice if you like brighter, more saturated photos in a smaller body. And despite being released months prior, the Pixel 2 is still on par with these fresh releases. It’s still a great choice if you’re fond of great contrasts and faithful color reproduction.
Which one of these phones won you over?
Samsung Galaxy S10+ vs Huawei P30 Pro: Camera shootout
2019’s early flagship Androids
Now that Samsung and Huawei have released their respective flagships for the early part of 2019, it’s time to compare them in the funnest way we know how: a blind camera shootout.
Both brands make it clear that they’re proud of what their premium phones can achieve in the imaging department. While the Galaxy S10+ is incredibly versatile with its triple-camera setup and host of software tricks ranging from Live Focus to intelligent scene detection, the P30 Pro boosts its hybrid zoom and night mode game with a total of four rear cameras.
They rightfully deserve their scores at the top of DxOMark’s rankings, but what does the general public think about their camera output? With this shootout, you have your chance to analyze each photo and pick the better of the two without bias.
As always, every photo is shot in auto mode with default settings unless a category needs specific options applied. No post-processing was done except for resizing to keep the file sizes down. You may find the answer sheet at the end of this comparison.
#1 — Architecture
#2 — Building facade
#3 — Flower macro
#4 — Low-light indoor
#5 — Food close-up
#6 — Landscape
#7 — Ultra-wide landscape
#8 — Portrait
#9 — Colors
#10 — Food
#11 — Selfie
#12 — Dynamic range
#13 — Details
#14 — Nighttime outdoor
#15 — Nighttime indoor
Galaxy S10+: 1B, 2A, 3B, 4A, 5A, 6B, 7A, 8B, 9A, 10A, 11B, 12A, 13B, 14A, 15B
P30 Pro: 1A, 2B, 3A, 4B, 5B, 6A, 7B, 8A, 9B, 10B, 11A, 12B, 13A, 14B, 15A
Like past premium shootouts, the results here can often go either way. The Galaxy S10+ seems to shoot a little wider with its ultra-wide lens and tends to raise exposure more in certain situations; the P30 Pro, meanwhile, is slightly better at retaining detail in daytime and controlling light in dark areas.
Redmi Note 7 vs Realme 3: Camera shootout
A true budget battle!
We love pitting premium phones against one another to see which ones rule the mobile camera space, but every now and then, we need to see how well the budget options perform with their entry-level shooters.
For this installment of our long-running series, we’re comparing the Redmi Note 7 and Realme 3, which are undeniably the most popular phones in the sub-US$ 200 segment. Being affordable doesn’t mean performing cheap, however; they have surprisingly good image sensors on them as proven in our reviews.
To make this interesting, we’re presenting yet another blind shootout so you can play along with us. Everything is shot on auto mode and no post-processing was applied except for resizing to keep the file sizes bearable.
You can find the results at the end of this article. Let’s begin:
#1 — Detail
#2 — Moving animals
#3 — Macro
#4 — Portrait mode
#5 — Selfie
#6 — Food
#7 — Landscape
Redmi Note 7: 1A, 2A, 3B, 4A, 5B, 6A, 7A
Realme 3: 1B, 2B, 3A, 4B, 5A, 6B, 7B
There’s no doubt that both phones shoot well at their price points, and some of the rounds could go either way depending on individual taste.
If we were to nitpick, we’d say that the Realme 3 provides more detail and produces better dynamic range, while the Redmi Note 7 is smarter when it comes to background blur and has more realistic colors on subjects.
What do you think? Connect with us on our social media channels and let us know which phones you’d like us to compare next.
Samsung Galaxy S10+ vs Huawei Mate 20 Pro: Camera shootout
Wide, regular, and zoom!
We’ve come to a point wherein three rear cameras on a smartphone are becoming the norm and all three must serve an individual purpose.
That’s the case with the Galaxy S10+ and Mate 20 Pro, which are Samsung and Huawei’s most versatile camera phones to date. They both have the ability to go wide and zoomed in, on top of their regular high-resolution shooters.
As always, we’re turning this into a blind shootout so you can play along. The order of each round is random, and everything has been shot using auto settings to give both phones a fair chance to shine. The results are found at the end of this article.
#1 — Flower
#2 — Building
#3 — Graffiti
#4 — Ultra-wide
#5 — Regular
#6 — Zoom
#7 — Background blur
#8 — Backlit
#9 — Bright sky
#10 — Moving subject
#11 — Macro
#12 — Landscape
#13 — Dynamic range
#14 — Portrait
#15 — Sunset
#16 — Artwork
#17 — Twilight
#18 — Food
#19 — Vegetation
#20 — Nighttime
#21 — Total darkness
Galaxy S10+: 1B, 2B, 3A, 4B, 5A, 6A, 7B, 8A, 9A, 10A, 11B, 12B, 13A, 14A, 15B, 16B, 17A, 18A, 19B, 20A, 21B
Mate 20 Pro: 1A, 2A, 3B, 4A, 5B, 6B, 7A, 8B, 9B, 10B, 11A, 12A, 13B, 14B, 15A, 16A, 17B, 18B, 19A, 20B, 21A
How do you feel about the results?
Truth be told, it’s as close as you’d expect from the two top mobile camera performers on DxOMark (for now, of course). Each round could go either way, and it ultimately comes down to personal preference — like if you prefer warmer tones or greater contrast in your photos.
Let us know which smartphone you think won in the comments section below.
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