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Best smartphone cameras compared: HTC U11 vs Galaxy S8+, iPhone 7 Plus, LG G6

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Best smartphone cameras compared: HTC U11 vs Galaxy S8+, iPhone 7 Plus, LG G6

Those of you who have read our HTC U11 review already know what makes this smartphone worth owning. It is fast, it is loud, it is shiny, and right on top of this stack of goodies is one of the best cameras you can get on a smartphone today. And we only used "one of" there because we've yet to compare its 12MP shooter against those on other high-ends. Actually, that's what we're about to do right now. We took a Galaxy S8+, an iPhone 7 Plus, and and LG G6 out for a camera shootout against the HTC U11, and we're now going to comment on the results. 

But before we proceed, here's a quick look at the specs:

Camera Specs
HTC U11Samsung
GalaxyS8+
iPhone 7 PlusLG G6
Resolution,
aspect ratio
12MP@4:3
4032x3024px
12MP@4:3
4032x3024px
12MP@4:3
4032x3024px
12MP@4:3
4160x3120px
Sensor and
pixel size
1/2.6"
1.4μm
1/2.55"
1.4μm
1/3"
1.22μm
1/3"
1.12μm
ApertureF1.7F1.7F1.8F1.8
Focus and
stabilization
Dual-pixel AF
OIS
Dual-pixel AF
OIS
PDAF
OIS
PDAF
OIS

At a glance, all four phones appear to be in the same technical ballpark. All of them pack 12MP image sensors, so they should all produce equally clear and detailed photos, right? Well, not necessarily. Аs the rest of the numbers indicate, the HTC U11 and the Galaxy S8+ have larger sensors, larger pixels, and wider apertures, meaning that they absorb more light and with greater fidelity. This should translate to clearer images with less noise, especially in low-light situations. Now let's see if that's the case.

Scene 1: The pond in the park


Best smartphone cameras compared: HTC U11 vs Galaxy S8+, iPhone 7 Plus, LG G6

Let's start with a set of images that I took in the late afternoon, about an hour or so before sundown. What's interesting about the photos is that they show how the image you end up with depends not only on the camera hardware, but also on its software – image processing algorithms don't always go for the most faithful appearance if they decide that a few tweaks could make a certain scene pop. For example, notice how the Galaxy S8+'s photo is more colorful than the rest. Too colorful, perhaps. 

The HTC U11 and the iPhone 7 Plus deliver a much more natural representation of the scene. While the iPhone has captured the highlights in the trees a bit better, the U11 shines with the amount of detail it has preserved. Meanwhile, the LG G6 has produced a slightly colder photo, neutralizing the natural warmth of the setting sun, so we have to knock down a few points for that.

Scene 1: score
HTC U118.0Galaxy S8+7.0
iPhone 7 Plus8.0LG G67.0


Scene 2: The field of flowers


Best smartphone cameras compared: HTC U11 vs Galaxy S8+, iPhone 7 Plus, LG G6

As it did in the previous scene, the HTC U11 sticks to a natural image representation. In fact, its photo is the most pleasing to look at with its neutral tone. The other phones didn't do so well. For example, the G6's photo could use a bit more warmth, while the shot out of the iPhone has an excessive amount of contrast. But our least favorite image of all is the one shot with the Galaxy S8+ – unnecessarily saturated beyond all boundaries. 

Scene 2: score
HTC U118.0Galaxy S8+6.0
iPhone 7 Plus7.0LG G67.5


Scene 3: Fun by the fountain


Best smartphone cameras compared: HTC U11 vs Galaxy S8+, iPhone 7 Plus, LG G6

We're starting to notice a pattern here. Once more, the HTC U11 delivers a detailed, faithful image – the blueness of the fountain blending with the warmth of the setting sun have been captured very accurately. Meanwhile, the iPhone is a little heavy on the contrast, and even though its image looks fine, details in the shadows appear to be missing. The LG G6, again, went for a slightly colder look than it should have. As for the Galaxy S8+, its photo looks pretty good this time around. The only thing we would have changed about it if we could is the amount of sharpening – there's a bit too much of it in the shot.

Scene 3: score
HTC U118.5Galaxy S8+8.0
iPhone 7 Plus8.0LG G68.0

57 Comments
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posted on 20 Jul 2017, 09:48 1

1. Podrick (Posts: 1142; Member since: 19 Aug 2015)


Popcorn time!

posted on 24 Jul 2017, 11:06

57. w1000i (Posts: 116; Member since: 22 Jul 2015)


HTC 11, should get even higher.

posted on 20 Jul 2017, 09:49

2. ph00ny (Posts: 1507; Member since: 26 May 2011)


Are you guys not looking at your own crops?

posted on 20 Jul 2017, 11:17 1

22. trojan_horse (Posts: 4928; Member since: 06 May 2016)


Technically not.

posted on 20 Jul 2017, 09:55

3. nikhil23 (Posts: 174; Member since: 07 Dec 2016)


I like the pic from S8+ in the first picture. IP7 did a good job in scene 2 where S8+ pic looked a little overblown. I like s8+ and U11 in scene 3. They have more details in shadows

posted on 20 Jul 2017, 10:02

4. Nitmare64 (Posts: 12; Member since: 28 Jun 2017)


I swear! Not only the ratings are not accurate according to the Pictures.
Im sure they just make these "Articles" to piss people off!
Click Bait!

posted on 20 Jul 2017, 10:22 1

12. MrShazam (Posts: 292; Member since: 22 Jun 2017)


Yeah, these kind of articles are completely subjective, and are good as useless with only 1 person's perspective. Was wondering why they simply can't make a blind camera comparison like GSMArena, but as you say, probably just clickbait.

posted on 20 Jul 2017, 11:33 1

26. strbckboy (Posts: 10; Member since: 13 Jul 2016)


Blind camera comparisons are extremely subjective, as well. There is no way to know what the scene actually looked like in person. It's east to look at a photo that makes colors or light look unrealistic, and say that it's the best picture. I want a camera that captures the scene in the most accurate way. You can always edit later...

posted on 20 Jul 2017, 13:37 1

41. MrShazam (Posts: 292; Member since: 22 Jun 2017)


Blind camera comparisons allow everyone give their unbiased opinion of which photo they think is best, regardless of what the scene is. If you think one photo is more "natural"/"accurate" than others, you simply select that one and move along. Doesn't really matter what the "real" scene looked like in the dark or on a very sunny day if the photo of the scene is sh*tty to most.

posted on 21 Jul 2017, 02:17 2

55. Finalflash (Posts: 3527; Member since: 23 Jul 2013)


You must be new here but iPA had a very traumatic experience with blind camera tests. The Nexus 6 demolished the iPhone 6 plus in one of their blind camera tests and they then tried to cover it with a subjective piece to keep from getting blacklisted by Apple. This was after all the "reviewers" wrote of the Nexus 6 camera and praised the hell out of the iPhone camera.

Original defeat
https://www.phonearena.com/news/Nexus-6-beats-the-iPhone-6-Plus-by-a-mile-in-our-blind-camera-comparison_id64437

Subsequent defense
https://www.phonearena.com/news/Nexus-6-vs-iPhone-6-Plus-camera-comparison-where-Googles-smartphone-shines-and-where-it-lags-behind-the-iPhone_id64760

posted on 20 Jul 2017, 19:04

50. ecmedic4 (Posts: 420; Member since: 02 May 2013)


Very good point. We don't know what the scene looked like to the naked eye. Plus not to mention not everyone is gonna be using the same computer/tablet to view this site and the pics. They could look markedly different between a non high res screen vs a HD screen. So as you said, its all subjective. The author is the one to best decide which pics look best as they are the one that know what the scene looked like in person and can compare it to the pics. Ppl get way too bent out of shape over these comparisons to the point its ridiculous. Pick the phone that best suits you and don't worry about what other ppl decide. Glad to see a level headed commentor thank you.

posted on 21 Jul 2017, 08:41

56. Nitmare64 (Posts: 12; Member since: 28 Jun 2017)


Its funny how our thumbs up just "disappeared" lol

posted on 20 Jul 2017, 11:42

28. ebilcake (Posts: 957; Member since: 16 Jul 2016)


Pretty much.

posted on 20 Jul 2017, 10:03 1

5. maherk (Posts: 4845; Member since: 10 Feb 2012)


It still boggles my mind how you don't do any tests on moving objects. That's a main criteria that many reviewers fails to test. Those who have kids or pets would love such tests.

posted on 20 Jul 2017, 11:50

32. miketer (Posts: 256; Member since: 02 Apr 2015)


The XZ Premium would have the cake here for moving objects, if it was in the mix.

posted on 20 Jul 2017, 14:57

44. maherk (Posts: 4845; Member since: 10 Feb 2012)


My bet is on the U 11 and S8, they have the fastest focus speed out of the bunch.

posted on 20 Jul 2017, 15:33 1

45. Lumberjack (Posts: 192; Member since: 04 May 2017)


Focus is not only to point, remove and point again to see how fast it look good.
Also when you want multiple shots..

Xperias are faster than Galaxies

posted on 20 Jul 2017, 16:04

48. maherk (Posts: 4845; Member since: 10 Feb 2012)


You might be correct on this matter, it has been a while since I owned a Sony smartphone, the last one I bought was the Xperia S.
I can speak about my experience with the S7, Note 7, and S8 cameras, and I never missed a shot of my babies, it focus almost immediately that I never ended with a blurry picture when they're running or moving.

posted on 20 Jul 2017, 10:04

6. Tipus (Posts: 171; Member since: 30 Sep 2016)


So galaxy s7 was better than iphone 7 in photo comparison, but s8+ with same camera is not? Make up your mind PA. Bias is strong in this one :))

posted on 20 Jul 2017, 10:23

13. Lumberjack (Posts: 192; Member since: 04 May 2017)


S8 and s7 do not use same sensor.
Specs are the same.

posted on 20 Jul 2017, 11:07

21. TechieXP1969 (Posts: 14501; Member since: 25 Sep 2013)


Clearly the S8 takes a better picture over the iPhone 7 most of the time, but not all of the time.

But in 2 of the photos where they scored the iPhone over the S8, is pure B.S.!

Like with the very firat. The U11 an iPhone were maybe more color accurate, but the S8 made the picture look more alive. the U11 and iPhone makes the leaves look dull. The S8 actually catches the sun shining on the leaves making them lively.

With the flowers I also still take the S8.

posted on 20 Jul 2017, 19:10

51. ecmedic4 (Posts: 420; Member since: 02 May 2013)


No it wasn't pure B.S. your just butthurt that the S8 scored lower. Just because your opinion is different from the authors doesn't make you automatically right. Thats why its called an opinion. I for instance would rather have a more color accurate picture of a scene than one with overblown colors, as I want the pic to represent what I saw with my own eyes. Also the flower scene, the S8 was way too bright, your totally showing your bias for samsung and hate for Apple with that comment. It looked like crap and doesn't represent the scene at all. But again your entitled to your opinion, but it doesn't make it a universal opinion.

posted on 20 Jul 2017, 10:09

7. Lumberjack (Posts: 192; Member since: 04 May 2017)


G6 and i7+ should not be included.
If the test is for the Best available

posted on 20 Jul 2017, 10:30

16. MrShazam (Posts: 292; Member since: 22 Jun 2017)


i7+ I can understand that, but G6, it's definitely one of the best available, just like the LG G5:

http://m.gsmarena.com/blind_shootout_iphone7_galaxy_s7_xperia_xz_lg_g5-review-1508.php

posted on 20 Jul 2017, 10:54

18. PHYCLOPSH (Posts: 541; Member since: 28 Jun 2014)


True, and the G5 actually still outperforms the G6 in many scenarios.

posted on 20 Jul 2017, 11:20

23. trojan_horse (Posts: 4928; Member since: 06 May 2016)


Care to elaborate the scenarios in which the G5's camera outperforms the G6?

Just curious.

posted on 20 Jul 2017, 11:47 1

30. PHYCLOPSH (Posts: 541; Member since: 28 Jun 2014)


Under "Image quality" PA themselves state that the G6 lacks detail when compared to the G5:

https://www.phonearena.com/reviews/LG-G6-vs-LG-G5_id4330/page/3

If you don't believe them, I implore you to compare some of my rather appealing G5 shots to everyone else's impetuous G6 cat photos on XDA:

https://forum.xda-developers.com/lg-g6/how-to/share-lg-g6-photography-t3587677/page2

posted on 20 Jul 2017, 11:36

27. Lumberjack (Posts: 192; Member since: 04 May 2017)


Pixel and XZ Premium instead of G6 and i7+...

http://m.gsmarena.com/iphone7plus_htc_u11_xperia_xz_premium_shootout-review-1625.php

Even gsmarena admits XZP was better than u11 in most situations, mainly auto mode

posted on 20 Jul 2017, 15:36

46. Lumberjack (Posts: 192; Member since: 04 May 2017)


Read the comments..

People say XZ has iso 8000 for daylight shots.. They say EXIF says that.
My z3+ never gets above 64 in daylight.. Impossible to reach 8000 ..

I do not trust completely

posted on 20 Jul 2017, 10:15

8. Lumberjack (Posts: 192; Member since: 04 May 2017)


G6 has 13MP, the board says 12..

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