Should You Buy Your Next Smartphone Based On DxOMark Ratings?

DxOMark has essentially become mainstream when it comes to providing ratings for cameras and smartphones. Anytime a new smartphone is released now, there’s a good chance that the overall camera rating from DxOMark is provided to demonstrate how much better this latest camera is. A growing number of individuals consider DxOMark to be biased and unscientific in its methods. The question is, how reliable is the overall rating or is it reliable at all. 

MKBHD a popular tech reviewer on YouTube gives his thoughts and provides what I think is a very useful explanation behind the overall rating. For the most part, he describes how the overall rating is unreliable is helping you decide which camera or smartphone is going to be best for you. Take for instance the current highest rated smartphone the Google Pixel 2, on the surface, one could assume that it is a better performer than the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 due to the overall score, however, it depends more on your requirements. If you shoot portraits, then the lesser rated Note 8 would be a much better option. 

Brownlee also explains how the overall score is determined and the fact that it is not an average and is based on a number of internal algorithms. He also goes on to discuss how DxOMark works as consultants with a number of companies to help them develop better. This may actually be a conflict of interest and undermine their objectivity to some extent. It’s difficult to say how this impacts their results and how manufacturers are incentivized when it comes to developments and improvements to their devices. 

Its safe to say, however, that the overall rating is not a clear way of determining a better device, although I don’t see how it’s going away anytime soon. 

Check out the full video for a more detailed explanation. 

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19 Comments

Nope. For me, smartphones don't have the versatility of DSLRs of interchangeable lenses, autofocus speed, control, etc. I evaluate my next smartphone purchase on processor speed, memory capacity, battery life, and other additional features, but photography is not in my criteria.

Kyle Medina's picture

Should You Buy Your Next Camera Based On DxOMark Ratings?

Usman Dawood's picture

Probably not lol

William Howell's picture

Heck no, it all about the operating system for me!

Elan Govan's picture

Like it or or ratings are here for good. My last laptop was bought on the basics of it's RAM capacity....and how much more I can add to it.

To be honest, I hardly use my mobile phone for photography. I take some snaps with it because it is the only camera I carry around all the time. But I prefer my Sony a6300 or even my Nikon a900 compact camera.
They are just nicer tools to take pictures with. The fact is that I don't like taking pictures with a smartphone.

And, I'd rather spend the enormous amount of euros these modern smartphones cost on a better lens or a better camera body.
Nowadays, high end smartphones cost a fortune, and although I could spend 1000 euros on a high-end smartphone, I am not willing to do that. I tend to drop them from time to time and I hardly ever use them for a period longer than 16-17 months.

And not to go into an Android/Iphone debate, the new Iphone X will cost around 1200-1300 euros in my country and the Note 8 starts at a 1000 euros. That is much more than a lot of people spend on a laptop which will last a heck of a deal longer.

I sometimes don't get the point of the design of these smartphones. Great design and beautiful materials, glass back and front which will shatter, regardless of the brand. So in the end, we buy ugly cases to protect them.

Not the DXO mark would be the determining factor, but a large battery and sturdy materials. Those glass backs and bezelless displays are great, probably most for manufacturers of spare parts. But they will all break fairly rapidly.

Another question. Will you change your phone eco system for a better mobile camera? Not in a million years.

The only reason why I would ever change to an Iphone is for the better update system. Pure android phones as my older Nexus 6p don't have any problems getting updates but for all the skinned devices, getting updates is by far the weakest point of Android. Which should stop before long because of a a different system of updating phones.

Both Android as Iphones have excellent cameras so there can't be a real reason to switch the os.

Joel Hernandez's picture

Mobile Photography is taking OVER.
This is really weird for me. I just got a LG V30 and currently in vacation in Italy. I also brought along with me a 5D mkIII with a Canon 24-70 f/2.8 L v.II and a simple Canon 85 f/1.8 but I have taken like 500 pictures with my phone and only 5 pictures with my DSLR.

The LG V30 so far makes my trip so far. Probably the best phone camera out right now for travelers because of the wide angle (comes in handy with videos as well). Wide angle is just so good and so fun if one has experience with them. While always being on foot most of the day, it's lovely traveling light and taking pictures and video with a phone.

I figured, I'm probably just going to share couple photos on social media and the LG V30 is good enough for that. Unless I see a really good photo opportunity (something that is "print worthy"), I will take out the DSLR, bust out the small tripod I brought along with and take that photo.

Just get yourself something like a Sony a6300 or the pocketable Sony RX100 IV or V camera. You'll have something far more compact than the Canon but with much better image quality and capability than the phone. The a6300 will also give higher resolution even with the compact kit lens at lower ISOs than the Canon.

Usman Dawood's picture

Ahh no I had to get rid of my a6300.....

Only to buy the a6500 lol

Joel Hernandez's picture

I don't feel like spending more money on a smaller camera system right now. I already have small older rebels and can shoot with the 10-22 0r 85 1.8 but I love the challenge of mobile photography. I love showing people what is capable with smart phones. I'm a big believer proving to people it's mostly has to do with the person behind the camera.

My Instagram account is dedicated to just mobile photography: joelh3
Feel free to stop by if you would like :)

I haven't posted any pictures with the LG V30 but I will soon.

Does DxO even test phone cameras for RAW quality? That's the only way I would shoot any camera for best quality. A shame Apple still doesn't support that with their camera app.

Usman Dawood's picture

Hey Bob, if I’m not mistaken Apple allow raw shooting now but you need a separate app. I know it’s a bit of a pain cause I think Samsung allow it in their native app.

DXO is absolutely the worst, unless you shoot primarily Macro. Everything is done at minimum focus distance. Absolutely irrelevant for a landscape shooter. Just compare DXO's results for the Sony 16-35/2.8 with the results gotten by LensRentals.com on their test bench. The test bench tests at infinity.

If DXO could ever update their testing methods to include several focus distances, their results would matter. But MFD? Great for Macro and Close Focus wide angle photography. For anyone else, the results can be definitely taken into account, but by no means should they be the end-all and be-all (just like LensRentals shouldn't if you never shoot at Infinity).

Usman Dawood's picture

Really? I had no idea that’s how they tested their lenses. I could be wrong but when focused at the closest point the lenses elements are furthest away form the sensor right? I don’t know myself, but could this give the most information about how the lens performs?

It could in a theoretical sense, but just compare Lensrentals testing of the Sony 16-35/2.8, an excellent optic. Then look at DXO'S. The results are very different, particularly when one realizes that LensRentals incorporates variance from several copies.

Wait... this YouTuber, because that is all you credit him for, is using a $30,000 Red Helium 8k to shoot his vlogs??!!!!

Usman Dawood's picture

He’s one of the bigger YouTubers and he normally makes high end tech reviews. I don’t know if he’s ever done a vlog.

Pretty awesome what he shoots on though :).