Day-light vs Low-Light Camera Comparison: OnePlus 7 Pro vs iPhone vs Galaxy vs Pixel vs Huawei

Day-light vs Low-Light Camera Comparison: OnePlus 7 Pro vs iPhone vs Galaxy vs Pixel vs Huawei

With the launch of the OnePlus 7 Pro, we can finally call it the end of the first half of the year for flagship smartphones: all the major new phones have arrived and the next big wave of announcements is only coming in the fall. It's time for those long summer days and for all the memories that come with them.

But which phone has the best camera to capture those moments?

To answer that question we have taken the five most popular phones out there and captured a bunch of photos with them in all sorts of conditions, both during the day and after the sun sets. In this article, we will analyze the photos, show you the differences, give you the pictures, so you can judge yourselves and tell you our opinion at the end.

But first, let's take a quick look at the...

Camera Specs

As you can see, there are big differences in the amount of cameras. Some phones like the Google Pixel 3 rely on just one camera that has proven to capture great results in different conditions, while others rely on more and the Huawei P30 Pro, for instance, has four cameras on its back. Those are different approaches to the same task: taking great photos, so let's start by taking a look at our color poster and ISO chart. We photograph these two under the same controlled lighting conditions. The color poster is particularly useful to give you a quick idea about color science on different cameras, while the ISO chart is the perfect tool to see how cameras approach sharpness and how much detail you get. 

The big takeaway from looking at the color poster is that the OnePlus 7 Pro has much paler colors that are not as saturated as on other phones and look a bit bleak as a result. This has been something typical for OnePlus phones in the past and it has not changed much in the 7 Pro. All the other phones come with "edited" colors, so that the image you get is much more lively and "shareable" without any editing, while with most pictures from the OnePlus you might want to add a bit of contrast and saturation.

One more thing that stands out is the aggressive noise removal that the Samsung Galaxy S10+ applies to the photos. While the rest of the phones have a bit of organic noise in the image, the Galaxy smoothens everything so you get very little noise at the expense of a slightly unnatural muddy look.

The ISO chart reveals a few more interesting tid-bits: the OnePlus and the Huawei phones quickly start getting blurry when you look outside the center of the image. You can see that the iPhone, the Galaxy and the Pixel remain nice and sharp for the whole image, even at the edges, while the OnePlus and Huawei lose a lot of detail towards the edges.

These are just a few impressions from test charts, next up, we'll jump to real-life images that we will use to judge the performance of the phone cameras.

Scene 1

*For some images like this one, we provide crops of a part of a photo to better illustrate the differences. Crops, however, can be misleading and we recommend that you look at the full images below.

OnePlus 7 Pro: 6/10
The OnePlus has captured a decent image, but colors are noticeably pale and there just isn't much life in them. This is not a bad photo, but we would definitely preferred it if colors were more saturated and there was a bit more contrast in the photo, as it currently looks a bit bleak.

Apple iPhone XS Max: 7.5/10
The iPhone has shot a photo with a lot of vibrant color and contrast, and it looks pleasing right out of the gate. The golden color of the sand, the dynamics of the photo convey the summer bar atmosphere well. The image is not perfect as my face is a bit underexposed, but the overall look of the photo is very pleasing.

Samsung Galaxy S10+: 7/10
The Galaxy captures an image with pleasing colors, but it has a slightly less saturated look that does not impress as much as the previous photo.

Google Pixel 3: 5/10
The Pixel has shot an image that is noticeably underexposed and looks darker than all the rest of the phones. This darker look definitely does not suit an image that was captured during the day at the ample open space of the beach.

Huawei P30 Pro: 5.5/10
The P30 Pro camera has captured an image with very strange colors that lack vibrancy and look very flat. There is a slight yellow tint to the whole image, possibly something that has to do with the new sensor that uses two yellow pixels, but it is clear that something is not right with the colors as the whole image has a very strange look. Good news is that Huawei gets the exposure better than the Pixel and this is enough for the photo to look better than the previous one.

Scene 2

OnePlus 7 Pro: 7.5/10
The OnePlus has captured a good looking image, but there is a slight purplish tint to it, the sky is very slightly washed out and colors are not as lively as on other phones.

Apple iPhone XS Max: 8/10
The iPhone has shot a beautiful picture with a proper exposure, nice and lively colors, good dynamics and an overall very pleasing look.

Samsung Galaxy S10+: 6.5/10
The Galaxy has done something very strange here: it seems that the auto HDR mode was a bit too aggressive and it has flattened the look of the image. Notice how on all the rest of the images, you have half of the scene under a cloud and the rest lit by the sun... well, on the Galaxy it looks like there is one giant cloud over the whole photo! This is definitely wrong and it kills a lot of the joy and mood of this photo.

Google Pixel 3: 8.5/10
The Pixel has captured an image that is slightly underexposed and this results in a bit of a lost detail in the shadows and the darker parts of the image, but the image looks very sharp and has a lot of depth in it, and is overall our favorite.

Huawei P30 Pro: 7.5/10
The Huawei has captured a pleasing image with a bright and cheerful exposure, but there is a noticeably yellow tint to it and the sky is washed out, which ranks it slightly behind the very best here.

Scene 3

OnePlus 7 Pro: 6.5/10
The OnePlus photo is not bad, it just isn't great. It has a noticeable purple tint, but the bigger problem is that flat look and lack of visual excitement, this photo looks... a bit bland.

Apple iPhone XS Max: 8/10
The iPhone has a pleasing photo with lively colors and it captures well the dynamics between sunlit walls of the building and the darker parts of the image. You also have a nice blue in the skies, plenty of detail in the trees on the side, overall -- a good job!

Samsung Galaxy S10+: 6.8/10
Just like on the previous picture, the Galaxy has captured a very flat look, and you cannot see well the dynamic between the bright sun and part of the image that's in the shadow, it all blends without much contrast. The photo also features strangely cold colors, while in reality we were engulfed in the much wamer sunset colors. Strange!

Google Pixel 3: 8/10
The Pixel 3 here captures again a noticeably underexposed shot, so much so that there detail in the trees on the side is almost completely lost. The photo is pretty sharp, though, and you have a good amount of dynamics: the blue skies, the shadows, this dynamic range is really impressive and it would have looked so much better with a proper exposure.

Huawei P30 Pro: 7
The Huawei phone gets the exposure right, it captures a good amount of detail and the image is exposed properly, but once again, colors are washed out, the sky is completely washed out and there is that noticeable yellow tint again. This phone definitely needs to do better with color reproduction, but the overall image has some dynamics and ranks right around the middle of the pack.

Scene 4

OnePlus 7 Pro: 6/10
We could just write the same thing over and over, as this is a trend: the photo is not bad, but it's not exciting, it has a flat look, colors lack excitement and vigor. And if you really should not NEED to edit a photo you took with your phone, as is the case here.

Apple iPhone XS Max: 8/10
The iPhone photo looks much better with more dynamic colors and a nice overall look.

Samsung Galaxy S10+: 8.5/10
The Galaxy really has the most pleasing colors here. It has the richest palette of greens, a great dynamic range, a properly exposed photo, pleasingly blue sky, great amount of detail... good job, Samsung!

Google Pixel 3: 7/10
Once again, we see that darker exposure that is definitely a downside that all daytime photos from the Google Pixel share.

Huawei P30 Pro: 6/10
It's almost too easy to recognize photos from the P30 Pro at this point: if you see a sky that looks terribly washed out and with a very weird yellow color, then the photo probably came from the P30 Pro. This bizarre color tint is present on all photos from the Huawei flagship and it spoils the look. It must be the new sensor or the folks at Leica that are said to be fine-tuning the colors on the phone are doing something strange that no other camera does.

Scene 5

OnePlus 7 Pro: 6.8/10
The OnePlus has captured a good-looking image in this case that look quite realistic and well-exposed.

Apple iPhone XS Max: 7/10
The iPhone has captured the brightest photo of them all and this has resulted in slightly overblown skies, and the colors are a bit overexaggerated. Still, this is a good-looking photo that has nailed the white balance right and has a pleasing look.

Samsung Galaxy S10+: 6.5/10
The Galaxy has messed up the color temperature of the photo and it has a bad case of a blue tint and colder colors than reality dictates (just look at the white wall on the right, it looks blue!).

Google Pixel 3: 7.5
The slightly underexposed Pixel here has captured a good looking image with the best dynamic range and you can even see the clouds in the sky. The darker tonality spoils a bit the look, but still, this image impresses.

Huawei P30 Pro: 6.8
The Huawei captures a decent-looking photo but the objects in the front are inexplicably underexposed and it gets deducted a few points for that.

Scene 6

*For some images like this one, we provide crops of a part of a photo to better illustrate the differences. Crops, however, can be misleading and we recommend that you look at the full images below.

OnePlus 7 Pro: 5.5/10
In this first night-time photo, the OnePlus has managed to expose my face, but the background is blurry and there is far less detail than on other phones.

Apple iPhone XS Max: 5/10
The iPhone has sharper detail and has done a great job... capturing the background, but has completely failed to expose my face and this is the whole point of this image.

Samsung Galaxy S10+: 7.5/10
The Galaxy has captured a good looking image with a lot of color and it is the only one that has not blown out the highlights of the church in the background. What we dislike about this photo is the over-the-top colors. Colors are definitely oversaturated and don't look very realistic.

Google Pixel 3: 8/10
The Pixel has captured the best photo with a nice balance of colors and exposure, and out of all photos this is the one that we'd prefer to share with friends on social networks.

Huawei P30 Pro: 7.3/10
The Huawei P30 Pro has probably done the best job keeping me well-exposed and bright, but the whole image is a bit blurry and lacks detail.

Scene 7

OnePlus 7 Pro: 5.5/10
The OnePlus has burned out all highlights quite noticeably and while the image is decent, we consider it a bit less good-looking than the rest.

Apple iPhone XS Max: 6/10
The iPhone has captured the most "natural" looking image and also the sharpest one, but unfortunately at the expense of exposure as we just cannot see much here.

Samsung Galaxy S10+: 7/10
The Galaxy strikes a nice balance between colors, exposure and detail, and has the image that we find the most pleasing.

Google Pixel 3: 6.8/10
The Pixel has gone overboard with saturation and colors here look cartoonish and unrealistic, but it's undeniable that you also get a good dynamic range on this pic.

Huawei P30 Pro: 6.5
This photo appears noticeably artificially oversharpened and has a very strange look because of that and you lose a lot of detail because of that super-sharpened look. This is especially noticeable on a bigger screen. One thing we also see here that colors are quite ghostly and lack in warmth. 

Scene 8

*For some images like this one, we provide crops of a part of a photo to better illustrate the differences. Crops, however, can be misleading and we recommend that you look at the full images below.

OnePlus 7 Pro: 6.7/10
The OnePlus has captured a quite balanced image here that preserves the highlights and also has a plentiful amount of sharp detail, but it cannot quite extract much of those shadows and darker areas.

Apple iPhone XS Max: 6/10
The iPhone does the worst here with the burned highlights and with its inability to bring out detail out of the shadows.

Samsung Galaxy S10+: 7/10
The Galaxy captures a photo that brings a bit of that hidden detail in the shadows, but it is also clearly oversharpened.

Google Pixel 3: 8/10
The Pixel illuminates this photo with its superpowers and you get to see a lot more from this scene than with any other phone. This is some Pixel-grade magic that other phones still cannot quite pull off without using dedicated Night Modes.

Huawei P30 Pro: 6.8/10
The P30 Pro is also capable of lifting a lot of detail from the deepest shadows, but the colors are cold and lack saturation and liveliness, which brings the score down a bit.

Scene 9 

OnePlus 7 Pro: 6/10
This shot features a slightly lower exposure than all others and it looks a bit moody and interesting, but also you objectively get far less information in the shadows.

Apple iPhone XS Max: 6.8
The iPhone XS Max has captured a pleasing image with a nice amount of details and you get information both from the shadows and from the brighter parts of the image.

Samsung Galaxy S10+: 6.4/10
The Galaxy is a bit darker and loses a bit of information in the shadows.

Google Pixel 3: 7.2
The Pixel again captures a great amount of dynamic range and the image from it is actually quite similar to the photo from the iPhone.

Huawei P30 Pro: 7/10
The Huawei has also captured a good-looking image here with a lot of detail and a great dynamic range. It also looks the sharpest (maybe at the expense of a bit of oversharpening).

Scene 10

*For some images like this one, we provide crops of a part of a photo to better illustrate the differences. Crops, however, can be misleading and we recommend that you look at the full images below.

OnePlus 7 Pro: 5/10
The OnePlus features a dark exposure and a LOT of noise, and while the image is a bit more usable than the one from the iPhone, it's far from great.

Apple iPhone XS Max: 4/10
The iPhone is simply incapable of capturing a usable photo in such a dark environment and ends up with a severely underexposed photo.

Samsung Galaxy S10+: 6
The Galaxy S10+ is able to extract a good amount of detail from the shadows and captures a decent photo, but again, it's not quite great.

Google Pixel 3: 7.5/10
The Pixel is the big winner here: it impresses with colors and a bright exposure where all others fail.

Huawei P30 Pro: 5.7/10
The Huawei captures an image that looks usable, but again it's not great and we would rank it just slightly below the photo from the Galaxy.


Comparing cameras is such a daunting task simply because different people have different priorities. How often do you shoot at night? Are you willing to wait for 10 seconds or so take photos with a dedicated night mode? Are you taking portrait photos? Some phones in this comparison did great in good light, but not so well at night, and for many people who don't take many photos in low-light this will not matter. Others, might value a photo at a bar at night more than a daylight photo. Those are just a few nuances that you have to consider when looking at the cumulative score below. With this important disclaimer, let's take a look at who ranked best overall in our ultimate camera comparison of the best phones in the first half of 2019!

Cumulative Score:

  • Google Pixel 3: 73.5
  • Samsung Galaxy S10+: 69.2
  • Apple iPhone XS Max: 66.3
  • Huawei P30 Pro: 66.1
  • OnePlus 7 Pro: 62.3

Google Pixel 3: the winner
The Google Pixel 3 consistently snapped the most impressive photos at night and those images often were head and shoulders above the competition, which gave it the edge. During the day, we noticed that it regularly underexposed photos and this is one area we would like to see Google improve in the future.

Samsung Galaxy S10+: good in all conditions
The Galaxy S10+ proved itself to perform well in all sorts of different conditions. Samsung has done a great job with colors as images from the Galaxy often turned out very pleasing right out of the gate, without the need to fine tune anything, just as it should be.

Apple iPhone XS Max: low-light performance brings it down
The iPhone captures great images during the day, with pleasing colors, but it was significantly challenged at night and the lack of a dedicated night mode meant you sometimes just could not get a usable picture when lights were low.

Huawei P30 Pro: struggles with color
The Huawei P30 Pro captured decent images, but decent does not cut it when you compare it with the very best out there. Probably because of that brand new RYYB sensor with two yellow pixels (all other phones use two green pixels instead), photos consistently turned out yellow-ish and colors were lacking in vibrancy and did not look as lively and animated as on other phones, and the phone just could not reproduce the natural blue color of the sky!

OnePlus 7 Pro: pale colors and softer detail
It is the OnePlus 7 Pro, however, which arrives in the last place in this comparison and if you've looked through the photos you know why: images from the OnePlus just look pale, bleak and a bit washed out. Detail is also a bit on the soft side and we hope that OnePlus works on those issues in future software updates.

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