Yes, it is the iPhone that took first place in the smartphone camera blind test – the iPhone 12 Pro Max, to be precise. Of more than 15,000 votes, Apple’s flagship received an average of 37% of all votes in eleven categories. The leadership proved to be invulnerable, especially when shooting at night.
The three runners-up after the iPhone 12 Pro Max did not come up with any surprises. The Oppo Find X3 Pro won the silver medal with an average of 19% of all votes, followed by Samsung’s flagship, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra with 17.6% of all votes, while the OnePlus 9 Pro Samsung breathed down its neck with 17.3% of all Voices. Xiaomi’s contribution, the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra, performed worst with just 9% of the total votes.
A very similar pattern can be observed from a different perspective: let’s instead award points for each category according to the ranking. If we then give five points for first place and one less for each place, Apple will still take the top spot with 42 points. Oppo and Samsung will be in second place with 35 points each, while the OnePlus 9 Pro will land in fourth place with 33 points. And what about Xiaomi? With her Mi 11 Ultra he is far behind with 22 points.
One more thing to keep in mind before we look at the categories in detail: this blind test was also showing up on our global NextPit domains NextPit.de, NextPit.fr and NextPit.com.br. We have included the global votes for evaluation purposes. No major differences were found from country to country. But don’t be surprised if the image results do not exactly match the results in the blind test.
1. Main camera (daylight, city)
In the first category, the Oppo Find X3 Pro took first place. Interestingly, this Oppo smartphone is the furthest away from the DSLR in terms of image quality. On that rather dull day, the Find X3 Pro took pictures of the sky with a bluish tint, while the buildings also look much more colorful than in real life.
However, in this Instagram age, being too colorful may be interpreted as less realistic. Therefore, the more color-accurate iPhone 12 Pro Max and the Galaxy S21 Ultra have to be content with second and third place respectively.
However, one thing has been made clear here: It’s not just about image quality, but also about preferences when interpreting a category. Of course, the results of our blind test are far from objective. So don’t put too much emphasis on the voting results, but look at the photos and decide for yourself which one you like best.
2nd main camera (maximum resolution)
Is a 108 megapixel camera really necessary? That’s the question behind this image comparison, and all of your answers seem to be a big, bold “No!” To point out. The OnePlus 9 Pro takes first place here with its 48 megapixel main camera, and we could add by a considerable margin. The 20 by 20 percent excerpt from the large image highlighted in the image below was always good for a vote.
As with all categories, we photographed a motif three times with each smartphone and then selected the best photo. Before each individual photo, we used our finger to set the autofocus on the blossom of the apple tree to be enlarged. However, not all smartphones have an optimal focus system, which obviously affects the end result of image quality, while this resolution test is converted into a test that focuses more on focus.
However, this in itself is also a challenge for current, comparatively large sensors in modern smartphones: the larger the sensor, the higher the actual focal length of the lenses that have the same equivalent focal length. This in turn leads to a smaller depth of field and at the same time increases the requirements for precise autofocus.
3. Ultra wide angle (nature)
Green and Blue: These are the dominant colors in landscape photos. This category is primarily about which smartphone reproduces it in the most visually appealing way – even if the result does not necessarily correspond to reality. The winner here is the Oppo Find X3 Pro, which tends to capture very vivid colors. Whether that is good or not is a matter of taste.
4. Ultra wide angle (city)
Our city category with ultra-wide-angle shots shows very similar tendencies to categories 1 and 3: The Oppo Find X3 Pro gives the gray sky a blue tint here, with the clouds looking downright radiant. The colors in the graffiti are also much lighter than in real life. Boom!
The masses didn’t care: 45 percent voted for the Find X3 Pro. Second place went to OnePlus 9 Pro with 20 percent of the vote, closely followed by Apple, Xiaomi and Samsung – where all three were separated by less than 1 percent difference in votes.
5. Teleportrait (2x)
The iPhone 12 Pro Max prevailed in the portraits. Compared to the competition, you noticed the slightly warmer colors and more pleasant skin tones. OnePlus and Xiaomi in particular are clearly too cold here, which you also punished with your votes.
When it comes to cropping the subject from the background, no smartphone camera is perfect in this department. No wonder here: With the many strings in the foreground and the struts in the background, it is also very difficult to capture the motif yourself. However, the iPhone definitely did a very good job of cropping and, in combination with the pleasant color rendering, rightly turned out to be the clear winner in this category.
6. Tele-Nature (5x)
Does a larger zoom number help more? Not necessarily because Oppo has clearly overdone it in this department and our readers clearly disagree with its implementation. OnePlus and Samsung did best in this category with balanced color rendering, followed by the Mi 11 Ultra. The iPhone fell surprisingly short of the mark in this case.
7. Telestadt (4x)
For our next category we ventured into town again and this time achieved a pretty even result. Oppo can be recognized immediately by its oversaturated colors, which seemed to work best with the majority. Behind Oppo are Samsung and Apple, where both offer far more neutral colors.
It is possible that the two’s voices were divided equally between them and therefore were neck to neck with the voices. The contrast turned out to be surprisingly flat for the OnePlus (dark trees!), While Xiaomi showed up with rather low details thanks to the large gap in the focal length range.
8. Telephoto city (20x)
On the 20x photo, Samsung can finally make optimal use of its telephoto lens from the Galaxy S21 Ultra – and with 47 percent of votes it remains clearly ahead of the competition. However, the photo is a little underexposed.
Surprisingly, the iPhone 12 Pro Max made it into second place with a very blurred photo. While the detailed reproduction is significantly worse than, say, Xiaomi’s handcraft, it was most likely the more balanced exposure that earned your votes.
9. Night photo (main camera)
On our last three pictures, we go into the dark – and the iPhone comes out at the top. We took this photo with all smartphones in standard photo mode. 68 percent of the votes went to the iPhone 12 Pro Max. Despite the poor lighting conditions, the Apple smartphone simply managed to deliver a balanced and high-contrast photo.
10. Night photo (ultra wide angle)
The tenth category clearly shows the influence that photo processing software has today. The iPhone 12 Pro Max, with its night mode turned all the way up, was still able to let in a remarkable amount of light in such low light. This despite the fact that the competition is theoretically better, at least in terms of hardware. It’s a shame indeed, as I was expecting a lot more from Oppo’s handset.
A comparison with a Huawei smartphone would have been exciting here – and you noticed that in the comments. However, we decided against it in the run-up to the blind test, as the Huawei flagships do not play a major role for most users due to the current market situation.
11. Night photo (main camera, extremely dark)
I was very impressed with this topic and the editing that followed. Of course, the photo taken by the iPhone 12 Pro Max is not evidence of details. However, Apple’s smartphone provides more details about the image than I could get out of the photo with the 5D Mark III.
And here, too, Xiaomi has done surprisingly well. Although the photo is significantly darker, it really offers a lot of details – after a few lightening even more than the iPhone. For a handheld device, the photo of the iPhone 12 Pro Max looks just the best at first glance.
Which smartphone is your personal favorite?