Pixel 4 XL vs iPhone 11 Pro vs Galaxy Note 10+ vs LG G8X: Which phone takes the best portrait photos?

Pixel 4 XL vs iPhone 11 Pro vs Galaxy Note 10+ vs LG G8X: Which phone takes the best portrait photos?
Which is the best phone for taking portrait photos?

If you take lots of photos of your loved ones, this will be one of the foremost concerns you have when looking for your next smartphone, and today, we have taken the four most popular handsets out there to see which one has the best camera to take pictures of people.

We have the Pixel 4 XL, the iPhone 11 Pro Max, the Galaxy Note 10+, and the LG G8X ThinQ. These have different camera setups, the Pixel adds a telephoto camera to the mix this year, the iPhone has three cameras (it uses the telephoto one for portraits), the Galaxy also has a triple camera system and on it, you can use either the main one or the telephoto for portraits, and finally, the LG is the only one that lacks a telephoto lens and shoots portraits with the main camera.

With all this in mind, let's waste no time and take a look at the actual pictures that we have captured on each of these phones:

Scene 1



In this first shot, the Pixel 4 XL takes a sharp image with an excellent dynamic range. This photo looks full of color and life, and it's hard to find much to criticize here.

The iPhone, on the other hand, has a lot less detail, there is a lot of sunflare that makes the whole photo look hazy and blurry, and the skin tones are unnaturally warm with a yellow-orangey tonality.

The Galaxy features the least amount of detail so far, as everything just looks kind of hazy. Colors have lost their vibrancy on that photo and appeal pale, lacking liveliness. 

Finally, the LG G8X photo is the absolute worst of the bunch. The phone only has a wide camera that it uses for portraits, and this is definitely not a good idea as the proportions on this photo look mistaken. Worse yet, the dynamic range here is terrible: the brighter, left part of the image is completely blown out.

Score card:
Pixel 4 XL: 9/10
iPhone 11 Pro: 8
LG G8X: 5

Scene 2



In the next scene, we see the Pixel excel in terms of dynamic range as it is able to capture the beautiful greens and not overblow the white t-shirt. It's a great looking image that feels just a bit underexposed, considering that it was captured in very bright sunlight.

The iPhone photo also looks nice, but we would say it's a bit overexposed and lacks the detail that the Pixel offers. The Galaxy again has very pale colors that are not that impactful and lacks the detail compared to the first two. Finally, the LG is again behind the pack: the amount of background blur doesn't seem enough to make the object pop as much, but worse of all, the white T-shirt is completely burned out.

Score card:
Pixel 4 XL: 8.5
iPhone 11 Pro: 8
Galaxy Note 10+: 7
LG G8X: 5

Scene 3



We see the same theme repeat itself in this next series of shots: the slightly underexposed image from the Pixel, the yellow-y tonality on the iPhone with its brighter and more cheerful exposure, the soft detail on the Galaxy and the poor dynamic range and inappropriate wide lens for portraits on the LG. It's all reflected in the scores below.

Score card:
Pixel 4 XL: 8
iPhone 11 Pro: 8
Galaxy Note 10+: 7
LG G8X: 6

Scene 4



Charlie's Angels are back! Oh wait, it's our own Peter K and Georgi Z! Nevermind, let's look at the photos.

You see that there are a few artifacts around the hands on pretty much all phones, but what we are looking is the colors and the big picture, and the Pixel once again excels in that. It captures the richer colors, with most depth. The iPhone is a close runner-up, and then, the Galaxy goes once again in the same direction with soft detail and paler colors than the rest. The LG is overly contrasted and doesn't look quite as good as the rest.

Score card:
Pixel 4 XL: 8
iPhone 11 Pro: 7.5
Galaxy Note 10+: 6.5
LG G8X: 5.5

Scene 5



We see something peculiar here: a defect on the Pixel that ruins some images, namely the absolutely incorrect white balance that turns the image orange.

This defect allows the iPhone to come at the top: it captures the most balanced image, with nice colors and a good amount of detail. The Galaxy is not bad per se, but again it suffers from that smudged out, soft detail and pale colors. The LG once again fails miserably with an image that simply doesn't belong in this elite league of top camera phones.

Score card:
Pixel 4 XL: 6
iPhone 11 Pro: 8
Galaxy Note 10+: 7
LG G8X: 4

Scene 6



Here, the rich colors of the Pixel again win the day and we also like the sharp detail. The iPhone turns the whole image to a yellow-y tonality, a recurring theme for this phone. The Galaxy again features pale colors and soft detail, and finally, the LG this time around does decently as there is no bright light in the shot and it manages to keep colors in check.

Score card:
Pixel 4 XL: 8
iPhone 11 Pro: 6.5
Galaxy Note 10+: 6
LG G8X: 6

Final Score



So... do we have a winner?

Of course we do: one phone pulls ahead of the pack and that phone is (drumroll!)...

Pixel 4 XL: 47.5
iPhone 11 Pro: 46
Galaxy Note 10+: 40.5
LG G8X: 31.5

Yes, the Pixel 4 XL wins this one with a small lead. Apart from the one cases where it erred with the white balance, it captured images with the best dynamic range and the best amount of detail.

The iPhone is a close runner up: its images are quite nice, they have a good amount of detail, and you can easily customize the portrait effect from the viewfinder, but we found that most of the photos had an annoying, yellow-ish tint.

The Galaxy ranks third with paler colors that just don't look quite that good and detail on it is a bit on the soft side.

Finally, the LG G8X ends this comparison in the last spot. It's just not on par with the rest: whenever a brighter object appears in the scene, it all gets messy and highlights get burned. The wide camera this phone uses is also not suitable for true portrait shots as it makes heads and noses look unnaturally big, and photos look like caricatures.

And if that's not enough portraits for you, don't hesitate to also check out our low-light portrait comparison to see how the best phones do in those more challenging conditions.

Related phones

Pixel 4 XL
  • Display 6.3 inches
    3040 x 1440 pixels
  • Camera 12.2 MP (Dual camera)
    8 MP front
  • Hardware Qualcomm Snapdragon 855
    6GB RAM
  • Storage 64GB, not expandable
  • Battery 3700 mAh
  • OS Android 10
iPhone 11 Pro Max
  • Display 6.5 inches
    2688 x 1242 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP (Triple camera)
    12 MP front
  • Hardware Apple A13 Bionic
    4GB RAM
  • Storage 64GB, not expandable
  • Battery 3969 mAh
  • OS iOS 13.x
G8X ThinQ
  • Display 6.4 inches
    2340 x 1080 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP (Dual camera)
    32 MP front
  • Hardware Qualcomm Snapdragon 855
    6GB RAM
  • Storage 128GB, microSDXC
  • Battery 4000 mAh
  • OS Android 10
Galaxy Note10+
  • Display 6.8 inches
    3040 x 1440 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP (Quad camera)
    10 MP front
  • Hardware Qualcomm Snapdragon 855
    12GB RAM
  • Storage 256GB, microSDXC
  • Battery 4300 mAh
  • OS Android 10
    Samsung One UI

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