The Blind Smartphone Camera Test Winners!
The blind smartphone camera test winners have been announced, and the results may surprise you. In this year’s blind smartphone camera test, 20 of the best smartphones on the market were put to the test in three scenarios: daytime photos, low-light photos, and portrait-mode photos.
The winner of the daytime photo category was the Pixel 7A, with the highest Elo rating. The photo was praised for its excellent dynamic range and neutral tones. The Pixel Fold came in second place, followed closely by the OnePlus Open.
In the low-light photo category, the iPhone 15 Pro took the top spot, with the Pixel 8 Pro coming in a close second. The competition became stiff as some smartphones overexposed the photos, leading to a lower ranking in the test.
In the portrait-mode photo category, the results were also surprising. The Pixel 7A once again excelled, taking the third-place spot. The Samsung S23 Ultra and Oppo Find X6 Pro struggled in this category, producing exaggerated and unrealistic photos.
Overall, the blind smartphone camera test provided valuable insights into the capabilities of different smartphones’ cameras. The results challenged common beliefs about which smartphone cameras are the best, and revealed surprising winners and losers in each category.
The blind smartphone camera test provides an objective and real-world comparison of smartphone cameras, allowing consumers to make informed decisions when purchasing a new device. The results show that the best smartphone camera may not always come from the most popular brands, and highlight the importance of real-world testing in evaluating camera quality.
– All right, y’all have waited patiently for this. Once again, this year, we’ve run our blind smartphone camera test, scientific style. We always think we know what the absolute best smartphone cameras are, but do we actually know? Like what if we wanted an objective answer straight from real-world data?
Literally every time I review a phone, there’s some people in the comments section saying, “Oh, iPhone photos are the only good ones,” or, “I only like Pixel photos,” or, “Samsung is the only one who does good portrait mode.” But what if we put that to the test? What if we took a bunch
Of the best smartphone cameras on the planet and took them out into the real world and took the exact same photo with each and every one of them, and then strip them of all their labels, and then had you, the public, vote on which one’s photos you like the best?
That should reveal the best actual smartphone camera. So that’s exactly what we did. This year, we took these 20 smartphones, updated all of their software, charged ’em all up, got their batteries to 100%. Then we went out and took the same three photos with each one. One daytime photo, one low-light photo,
And one portrait-mode photo. Yes, it is surprisingly hard to stay perfectly still for 20 identical photos to be taken in a row, but I did it for you. Then we had to go in and import all the photos from every single smartphone camera, harder than you think,
Strip them of all their EXIF data, and then upload them to a site that we’ve built that lets us put them side by side for you guys to vote on head-to-head millions and millions and millions of times, which you did. That should give us a statistically significant winner,
And loser, we’ll get to that. And the results this year were kind of interesting, a little bit. I almost didn’t make this video, but I can tell people have been waiting, the competitive tension is high, and the actual results might be a little surprising to some of you. So let’s get into it.
So the data our site spits out all comes in these text files with matchup ratings for every single combination of smartphones. We actually had them coded by letters of the alphabet you can see, A through T. But that little number, that one right here is the most important. That is the Elo rating.
You know, the system that ranks chess players, or tennis players, basically anything head-to-head. With enough matchup information, we can sort of sort through all of these letters based on who they beat and who they lose to, and create a power rankings, and that will give us our winners.
So the question you probably all wanna know, who were the winners? And so we’ll go category by category because, like I said, there were three different scenarios, daytime, low light and portrait mode, so let’s go one by one. So daytime, for the regular daylight photos, we kinda had it set up
With just me sitting in front of this window here, but there’s a lot to this photo. The strongest light is from inside the room, but then the window light is actually a good test of dynamic range. And then there’s also a variety of colors, there’s my skin tone,
There’s the orange chair next to the blue pillow, a few other things. This is on purpose, there’s no individual variable that can dominate this test. So every single phone, we try to frame the exact same way, from the exact same spot, holding one of ’em up as a reference
So we can get as close as possible. And everything is fully auto, we just open the camera app, make sure the lens is clean and just hit the shutter button. We don’t even tap to focus, just point and shoot. It takes about six minutes to go through all 20 phones.
Like I said, it’s kinda hard to sit still for six minutes straight, but we did it. So for this regular daylight photo situation, the winner with the highest Elo rating is the Pixel 7A. That’s pretty impressive. So this is the photo that you guys, for the most part,
Voted as the winner in most of its matchups. Pretty neutral photo, to be honest, not too bright, not too dark, pretty excellent dynamic range. And it’s also not a fluke because the second-highest Elo rating came from the Pixel Fold. So the Fold took a very similar photo.
And then finishing up on the podium was the OnePlus Open, one of those high-end folding phones. So I will say, my personal favorite photo and the one that actually won for me when I blind tested myself was this one. This is the fourth-highest Elo rating, this is the OnePlus 11.
It’s definitely a little on the contrastier side, but a little more confident with nailing the exposure and having dynamic range. Nevertheless, it’s definitely interesting here. A lot of people pointed out that the sun behind me looked a little different in each photo. It might’ve been setting, so the background was a little different,
Which is a little bit true, but it wasn’t late enough in the day for that to actually affect the photo. I think the fact that the 7A is the only one with this little lens flare is actually just a coincidence. And then fun fact, in dead last with the absolute bottom-lowest Elo rating
For this daytime photo is the iPhone 15 Pro. Not a terrible photo. I mean, you can’t really get a horrible photo in normal-looking lighting for most of these smartphones, but when you put it up against the others, it’s mostly just the darkest one. And so when you put it up side-by-side
Against these much brighter photos, people just picked the brighter one almost every single time. Funnily enough, though, you can absolutely overexpose for this competition, as the second-lowest Elo rating belongs to the Galaxy S23 Ultra for producing this weirdly overexposed masterpiece. So here are all the photos side-by-side with their Elo ratings.
Feel free to pause it if you’d like to make some more observations, but let’s move on to the nighttime photos. So low light, low light is a much more challenging shot for a smartphone camera, especially with a tiny sensor and tiny optics trying to take in as much light as possible.
But computational photography has come a long way, and even in this pretty dark rooftop where the only light source was like 40 feet away from me, these cameras still managed to do a good job. And if you’re ready for the plot twist, the highest overall Elo rating for the low-light photo
Comes from, dead last from the daylight photo, it is again the iPhone 15 Pro, with another totally reasonable photo. Now, following it very closely in second place was the Pixel 8 Pro. And actually the Pixel 7A coming in third. And to be honest, I fully agree with all of these.
It’s starting to get ridiculous how much some of the other smartphone cameras started to pump up the light, like literally the second you get outside the top four, you get straight into bad HDR territory. Like this is the fifth-place photo from S23 Ultra, which is definitely too bright.
And also, you can see this little HDR halo-y effect starting to show up around my head. And then if you scroll all the way down to the Oppo Find X6 Pro, just, my God, what happened? Like these cameras are going nuts. It looks like in this one they literally painted sloppily over me
And just dragged up the exposure. Matter of fact. Yep, see? That’s exactly what it looks like. The Zenfone did this, too, along with a few others. And I honestly think the OnePlus Open not only made me brighter, but then it also identified the sky and made the sky darker, which just then starts to look ridiculous.
I mean, real life looked nothing like this. So here are all the nighttime photos, and their Elo ratings. Pause it if you need it. And now we can move to the last-but-not-least category, portrait mode. So portrait mode kind of turns out to be the hardest test, like this to run
Because they all kinda do portrait mode a little bit differently. If you just open the camera app and switch to portrait mode, some of ’em do 2X, some of ’em are 3X, some of ’em say 1X, but they’re actually like 1.5X, it’s kinda weird.
So we tried to just keep it simple for this test and just open the camera app, switch to portrait mode, and then move our feet forward or backward to try to match the focal length with all of these shots. It kinda worked, and they all kinda also have different bokeh levels,
Some of ’em are adjustable, some of ’em aren’t. But like I said, we’re just going with the default, the point and shoot that most people will get when they do it. And the portrait-mode, point-and-shoot winner with the highest Elo rating is the Pixel 8 Pro.
This was followed pretty closely by Samsung Z Fold 5, which I actually think had a better cutout. And then the third-highest Elo here was the iPhone 15 Pro, which I think had the most natural-looking blur. But basically all of these podium finishers have relatively subtle portrait modes, nothing too dramatic,
And then pretty good detail and overall balance in just the rest of the photo. I say this because the losers here in this particular category were nothing like this. (laughing) They were some of the wonkiest, weirdest photos in the entire competition. And the loser with the absolute lowest Elo rating for this category,
And actually in any category, was the Sony Xperia 1 V with this photo, with that, that’s the photo? Like, okay, this one looks like a mistake. We all actually thought it was a mistake as we shot it, like, “This can’t possibly be right, right?” We clean the lens, we take it again,
It does it again. And then it did it again and again. So I mean, I guess, for whatever reason, this $1,200 Android flagship phone in its auto portrait mode just could not handle this lighting, it had some weird issues. Anyway, here’s all of the portrait-mode photos and their Elo ratings. You’re welcome.
I’d like to give out some awards. Now that we have all of our matchup data and all of our voting and all of our Elo ratings from across every single person for what you guys voted for for more than 20 million total votes, there’s some pretty interesting stuff here.
So we have our winners and losers in each of the three categories, which is cool, but if you average it all together, we have the highest overall average Elo rating. We’ll call this one the People’s Champ. And with the highest average of 1,660, that’s pretty competitive. It was the Pixel 7A.
So this one won the daytime photo, as you probably remember, but then it also came in third place in the nighttime photo and fourth place of all 20 in the portrait-mode photo. So that’s pretty strong. But here’s the kicker, the second-highest average Elo rating was the Pixel 8 Pro,
And the third-highest average Elo rating, again, this is your votes, is the Pixel Fold. So Pixel, Pixel, Pixel, it’s a perfect Pixel podium. So here you can see the whole list from top to bottom. The three Pixels at the top, surprisingly in reverse price order.
(laughing) And then bringing up the rear for total Elo is the Sony Xperia 1 V and the Xiaomi 13 Ultra. Then I also had to bring back the Bang for the Buck Award, which I did this last year also, it’s basically just most votes from you guys divided by MSRP at launch.
So most votes per dollar, basically. And so your winner, again, is going to be the Pixel 7A. This was a phone that launched right around 500 bucks. It did incredible on the tests. But in second place in votes per dollar is the Nothing Phone 2. So a pretty good-performing phone,
And it actually launched like upper mid-range price. So this is a good phone bang for the buck-wise. And then in 3A, 3B, right next to each other underneath these two, you have the OnePlus 11 and the Zenfone 10. And then impressively, actually the Sony is not dead last in this category,
It is expensive and it did perform horribly, but not worse bang for the buck-wise than a super-expensive folding phone, the Z Flip5 overall average did worse for the dollar, the more you know. So what did we learn with all this? Well, I’ll leave you with this. First of all, the Pixels killed it,
They had the one-two-three finish, they’re great bang for the buck. It was weird that they’re inverse price order, but fine. But also there’s a lot more to a smartphone camera, of course, than just a sitting-down, staged photo of a person. We learned a little bit about how it shoots my skin tones.
There’s a whole bunch of other things you might care about, from auto-focus speed, to the UI, to the actual file format, how editable it is, to videos, like there’s a bunch more to it. But at the end of the day, I think we were still pretty not shocked by the slightly brighter photos
Beating the slightly less bright photos. And maybe we’ll run it back again next year and learn something new. Either way, thanks for watching this one. Catch you guys next time. Peace.
Video “The Blind Smartphone Camera Test Winners!” was uploaded on 01/09/2024 by Marques Brownlee Youtube channel.