Let me state the obvious. Today’s smartphones are personal computers that fit into a pocket. That makes the iPhone the first super computer that fits into a pocket. It’s also becoming a DLSR that fits into your pocket.
The folks who measure such things have declared the iPhone 8 Plus, “The best smartphone camera we’ve ever tested.” That’s high praise, of course, but it seems Samsung and Apple, Google Pixel and HTC brands leapfrog one another every six months or so with the latest and greatest camera improvements. How great?
Camera testing isn’t for amateurs though we can weigh in on what we think constitutes a good photo from an iPhone. I’ve marveled at the photos I can take with an iPhone 7 Plus, but DxOMark’s latest test comparison– complete with photos– make my iPhone 7 Plus look anemic compared to iPhone 8 Plus.
The Apple iPhone 8 Plus is the best-performing mobile device camera we have ever tested. Its overall DxOMark Mobile score of 94 sets a new record, beating out the 90 points for both the Google Pixel and the HTC U11, as well as the 92 that its sibling iPhone 8 just scored. Its Photo score of 96 is also a new record, blowing past the Pixel’s 90. For Video, its score of 89 is among our highest, but tied with the HTC U11 and slightly below the Pixel’s 91.
High praise, right?
What this tells me, and how close the scores are between various devices, is that we’re heading into a new era of photography. We’ve had film photography. Now we have digital photography. We’re entering the era of computational photography whereby whatever the lens and sensor capture can be enhanced to perfection and beyond thanks to software– and fast, even real time– computations.
Make sure to check out DxOMark’s camera and photo comparisons of Google Pixel and iPhone 7 Plus, vs. iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. Every such shootout has a measure of subjectivity as to image clarity, color, etc., but each year we see these smartphone cameras get better and better. I view photos on my iMac which has a 5K Retina display which seems to produce image quality from mediocrity, so which device you view the photos on make make a difference in your judgement.
One of the things that always bothered me about Samsung Galaxy phones with OLED displays was the overblown contrast, artificial and over saturated colors– bright and gaudy vs. iPhones which tend to look more realistic. Caveat? That’s realistic to my eyes and experience.
For now, iPhone 8 and 8 Plus have the best overall smartphone cameras– according to an official test– but times change and six months from now there may be a new champ. It doesn’t matter. Photo and video quality coming out of smartphone cameras these days are crazy good; especially when considering all a smartphone can do.