Here's the best smartphone camera you can buy

The Samsung Galaxy Note8, the iPhone 8 Plus, and the Google Pixel 2 all claim to take incredible photos. But we wanted to know which one was the absolute best — here’s what we found out. The following is a transcript of the video:

Antonio Villas-Boas: So we have three new phones. In testing these things, we took into account how you would be using it. We left all the settings untouched. Just like they would, straight out of the box. So we’ve got these phones the iPhone 8 Plus, the Galaxy Note8, and most recently the Google Pixel 2 XL.

Colour: this one was kind of a no-brainer actually. The Pixel 2 XL was clearly the winner here. It might not have produced the most accurate colour, but it did produce the best colour. As in I can just take the shot without really worrying about editing at all. The iPhone 8, specifically and surprisingly, kind of had muddy-ish colours. And this was also somewhat surprising, the iPhone 8 Plus seemingly had issues reproducing the correct colour. And that’s especially noticeable with the colour white. It just doesn’t want to do the colour white.

Sharpness: as you can see the iPhone 8 Plus, and Galaxy Note8 also, takes very nice sharp photos. Google’s Pixel 2 XL however, lacked a little bit on the sharpness side. Mostly with zooming in, because it doesn’t have a zoom lens. It has one single lens. For that, we had to zoom in digitally. It’s just sort of an artificial zoom, that just sort of makes the pixels bigger or appear bigger at least on the screen. Because it doesn’t have that extra lens it just didn’t perform as well as the iPhone and the Note8.

Auto-focus: they all focus pretty fast; however, there is a perceivable difference in how fast each phone focuses. The iPhone 8, it was noticeably slower. As you can see, it sort of pulls in and out a little bit more than the other phones. And an autofocus that’s fast, and responsive, and speedy … that’s really important I think on a smartphone, because it’s not something that you really have much control over. You just sorta gotta whip out your phone and then take the shot.

Dynamic range: dynamic range is important because that’s how well a smartphone can keep as many details in the brightest part of the photos, as well as keeping many of the details or as many details as possible in the darker areas of the photo. And we found that the iPhone 8 Plus did a really good job at this. You can see that in the scaffolding. You can see that in sort of the general darker areas.

Flash: we saw that the Galaxy Note8 did really well here. My face was just, evenly lit basically. And then the Pixel 2 XL, I don’t know what was going on there.

Portrait mode: all these phones have a “Portrait Mode,” where the phones add a blurry effect around in the background, around you, and makes you really pop out. Looks like a sort of professional photographer took the shot. But, either way, they all do a pretty decent job. But, we found that the Galaxy Note8 actually had a really good portrait mode here.

Low-light: so in a low-light situation, which is pretty important because we’re not always in perfect lighting or not always outdoors, the Pixel did really, really well. It had the brightest shot as well as the best colour in that dark setting. And the iPhone … not so much.

Final thoughts: there was one important thing to think about with all these phones, is that they actually all take really, really good photos. There’s really … you know we really have to nitpick and really study these photos to sort of see which one does best in each certain scenario. And none of them are perfect. That’s the other thing to think about. None of them are perfect. However, if we were to pick one, I think we have to go for the Galaxy Note8. It rarely ever ranked at the bottom in any of our tests. It also has great sort of extra features that other phones don’t have. Like sort of a “pro mode” in there where you can adjust sort of a few settings here and there if you wanted to. And in this round it’s the overall winner.


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