Blind Smartphone Camera Test Reveals Interesting Differences in Top 5 Models

Your phone takes the best pictures, right? That’s why you bought it.

Not so fast, says tech vlogger Marques Brownlee in a YouTube video, where he pits the top five smartphone cameras on the market in a blind test against one another to see which one comes out on top.

In his YouTube video, Brownlee compares the OnePlus 3T, the Samsung Galaxy S8, the Google Pixel XL, the iPhone 7+ and the LG G6, but doesn’t let you know which camera took which photo until the end.

While not entirely scientific (every smartphone camera’s resolution, features, and software will differ, as will a manufacturer’s JPG processing, not to mention differing focal lengths, sensor sizes, and lenses), it does provide a look at what average users see as they make their smartphone choice.

It’s interesting to note that the biggest differences center around how each manufacturer approaches color, and that some apply a lot heavier sharpening than others (check out some of the moire on the backpack photos).

At one point, Brownlee talks about the dynamic range of the phone cameras in a shot that includes the interior of a car mixed with an exterior scene, but this perhaps reveals more about the flaring characteristics and shadow/highlight recovery of the cameras and software than anything else. You’d probably need a Xyla Dynamic Range Test Chart to truly see what the differences between the cameras are.

At the end, Brownlee has the big reveal and talks about how, most of the time, it’s confirmation bias driving which camera ends up being the “favorite.”

Check it out and keep track of what your picks are for each photo. Did it match what your favorite smartphone camera actually is? Let us know in the comments below.

[via Marques Brownlee]

Wasim Ahmad's picture

Wasim Ahmad is an assistant teaching professor teaching journalism at Quinnipiac University. He's worked at newspapers in Minnesota, Florida and upstate New York, and has previously taught multimedia journalism at Stony Brook University and Syracuse University. He's also worked as a technical specialist at Canon USA for Still/Cinema EOS cameras.

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Nice post, Wasim, and nice work by the blogger. I was favoring D and then in some shots B, C and D. As it turns out, I own D... not that I take many pics with my phone!

I picked different ones each time! Sometimes I felt B's colors reminded me a bit of Fuji, but sometimes that didn't work either.

I def preferred C the most.

C stood out in each of the comparisons. Wow that Google Phone has a nice camera.

I picked C and that really surprised me because I LOVE my Iphone. Great video. Off to check out the google phone, lol.

I definitely liked C the most. Color, sharpness, contrast and dynamic range. Although I own B (Samsung Galaxy 8 Plus).

So I went back and wrote down my answers (and because I have the memory Dory the Fish, I didn't remember what letter was which phone), apparently for the backpack and brick wall portrait photos, I picked the iPhone. For the car exterior and the close up portrait of the host, I went Google Pixel. For the interior car photo and the photo showing the red memory items, I went Samsung Galaxy S8. LG G6 got Groot and OnePlus got the City Scape.

I own an iPhone, so I'm not sure what any of this says except that it's all situational?

I personally liked C the best, the colour was a bit nicer in some of the pictures from camera D but overall C was my style for sure.
I still don't know what camera was what brand, but that's probably for the best

Looks like C was the Google Pixel and D was the iPhone.