Well-known tech YouTuber Marques Brownlee recently put together an ultimate smartphone camera test complete with a proper white board bracket, millions of blind votes on social media, and more. But when a Blackberry beats an iPhone XS, you know there's more to take away from this than pure camera specifications.
The iPhone XS and Google Pixel 3 are widely considered to have today's best smartphone cameras. But neither camera made it past the first round in Brownlee's camera phone tests. Instead, both of the respective flagships were knocked out in the very first round. While some features on other manufacturers' phones may be better, it is fairly well accepted that these two phones really do provide the best overall mobile image quality money can buy. So, how does this happen?
Of course, the obvious issue here lies in the same place most issues today do: social media. To get as large of an audience as possible, the blind tests were performed on images posted and viewed on Twitter and Instagram. While Twitter features arguably worse compression than Instagram, both platforms heavily compress images in ways that remove detail of all kinds by the time an image hits a viewer's eye. Furthermore, most people viewing these images are viewing them on smartphone screens. And that quickly, improved resolution, sharpness, contrast, and overall detail are all almost simultaneously thrown out the window, because on the platforms where, by far, most images in the world are consumed, you just can't tell at all.
Granted, better image quality does matter in other applications, but by the end of these tests, it was clear something other than objective image quality was playing a role (at least for the platforms that serve the most images views by far). There's obviously a massive subjective component: people like brighter, warmer, punchy photos. So when the image quality playing field is leveled, it's the light, golden, and contrasty photo that reigns supreme. Fair or not, this information is something we can use to our advantage. While some of you may have darker styles, ensuring you at least have true whites and slightly warm-shifted images will undoubtedly help increase your engagement. For you die-hard Apple, Google, Huawei, and Samsung fans, all is not lost. Your camera phones simply expose properly and don't add orange filters over raw images. But sadly for us, that's how people like them, apparently.
Thankfully, this is generally considered to be relative. So if blue is your thing or if you love those crushed blacks, that's fine (although your faded blacks make you a terrible human being). But consider warming and brightening up your images just a bit compared to what you would normally do, and you'll likely see greater social media growth. So now you know: increase your exposure to increase your exposure!