Results: Galaxy S9+ blind camera comparison vs iPhone X vs Pixel 2 XL vs Note 8!

Samsung says that its new Galaxy S9 series “redefines” what a phone camera is.

In a way it does: the S9 and S9+ are the first modern smartphones with a variable aperture lens that can open as wide as f/1.5, the widest ever on a smartphone, and this makes it possible to capture a ton of light at night and allows shooting videos at nearly pitch dark conditions. At the same time, this f/1.5 camera is only used in those super low light scenes, while the majority of time the phone shoots at its other, f/2.4 setting that captures actually sharper photos.

How well does this setup work in real life?

A couple of days ago, we asked you to blindly pick the best photos. We did not tell you which phone shot these photos, though, you only knew that we used one of these four:

Today, it's time for the results! Let's take a look at who wins our blind camera comparison...

Day Scene 1: Early spring at the beach

The first scene we shot was at the entrance of a beach bar in early spring. The dark hallways contrast with the bright and cheerful skies and bar, a perfect test for the phone's auto HDR capabilities.

Which photo do you like the most?

A = Galaxy S9+
B = Galaxy Note 8
C = iPhone X
D = Pixel 2 XL

Day Scene 2: Church walls on a sunny day

In this picture of an old church, you can clearly see the different ways the cameras interpret color.

Which photo do you like the most?

E = iPhone X
F = Galaxy S9+
G = Pixel 2 XL
H = Galaxy Note 8

Day Scene 3: HDR to the test

Another high-dynamic scene, this more solitary beach scene highlights good and bad HDR one more time.

Which photo do you like the most?

I = Galaxy Note 8
J = iPhone X
K = Pixel 2 XL
L = Galaxy S9+

Day Scene 4: Spring colors

The green grass and blue skies are something that will inevitably end up in your pictures, and here is how different phones capture this scene.

Which photo do you like the most?

M = iPhone X
N = Pixel 2 XL
O = Galaxy S9+
P = Galaxy Note 8

Daylight Conclusions:

The Apple iPhone X wins two rounds conclusively, the Pixel 2 XL wins one (where the iPhone trails closely), and the Galaxy S9+ wins another one.


All four phones support Portrait Mode in one form or another, but the differences really come to light when you try to take a portrait photo at night. Here are the results.

Which photo do you like the most?

Q = Galaxy S9+
R = Note 8
S = Pixel 2 XL
T = iPhone X

Night Scene 1: Neon lights

The first of four night scenes, the neon lights are a challenge for every smartphone camera.

Which photo do you like the most?

U = iPhone X
V = Galaxy S9+
W = Galaxy Note 8
X = Pixel 2 XL

Night Scene 2: Sea garden

Once again, when night settles, smartphone camera don't perform as good as during the day. But which one is best?

Which photo do you like the most?

A1 = Galaxy S9+
B1 = Pixel 2 XL
C1 = Galaxy Note 8
D1 = iPhone X

Night Scene 3: Fancy restaurant at night

The bright lights are a particularly challenging thing to photograph at night.

Which photo do you like the most?

E1 = Pixel 2 XL
F1 = Galaxy S9+
G1 = iPhone X
H1 = Galaxy Note 8

Night Scene 4: More night colors

One last night-time picture. Pick your favorite below.

Which photo do you like the most?

I1 = Pixel 2 XL
J1 = iPhone X
K1 = Galaxy S9+
L1 = Galaxy Note 8

Night Photos Conclusion:

The Pixel 2 XL, however, wins the night comparison decisively. It wins 3 out of 4 rounds, and almost won the fourth one, but the Note 8 came slightly ahead. It's clear that whatever Google is doing with the camera works much better at night than any of its rivals.

So... did you vote for your favorite phone? Are you surprised by the results?



1. iczer

Posts: 157; Member since: Oct 14, 2015

Pixel 2 XL!!

22. umaru-chan

Posts: 354; Member since: Apr 27, 2017

Pixel 2 xl Is still the best overall camera phone of 2018. Samsung's glory days are over.

23. pixel_ftw

Posts: 83; Member since: Jun 19, 2017

I certainly prefer Pixel 2's camera over other camera.

73. piyath

Posts: 2445; Member since: Mar 23, 2012

When I say something negative about galaxy S9 PhoneArena management censors me. That my honest opinion I'm expressing. I don't care how many fanboys get offended by them. I never use bad language. My comments are very relevant to the article. This is incredibly discriminating and depressing.

72. piyath

Posts: 2445; Member since: Mar 23, 2012

PhoneArena is censoring me left and right. They are deleting my comments. This is very unfair and a coalition of equal rights. I am a subscriber in this site for more than 5 years now. Everyone should get the equal opportunity to express themselves in this website without being censored. This is so outrageous!!

77. WingMan

Posts: 263; Member since: Mar 28, 2008

Probably cause you spam the same s**t in every article...

32. Scott93274

Posts: 6032; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

Wow! I own the Pixel 2, and I absolutely love the camera, but I was shocked to see it so overwhelmingly preferred in a blind camera comparison, especially with the portrait mode. My portrait photos always come out looking amazing, but I have to be honest and say that it is sometimes hit and miss with the blur effects.

49. piyath

Posts: 2445; Member since: Mar 23, 2012

S9+ couldn't win even a one single picture......Omg lolzzzzzz That's so revolutionary!!!

52. Macready

Posts: 1817; Member since: Dec 08, 2014

Scene 4, try glasses.

67. piyath

Posts: 2445; Member since: Mar 23, 2012

Oh thanks for pointing it out to me. I almost missed it......LOL

53. Icosahedron

Posts: 2; Member since: Mar 15, 2018

This comparison is rigged. The S9+ and the Note8 generate very similar photos. Therefore, all the votes favoring Samsung's photo qualities will almost always split into two groups in this survey. This has been a known trick used by survey manipulators.

57. bur60

Posts: 981; Member since: Jul 07, 2014

This is true, but also. The software is too soft, and overexposes shots. I made the most beautifull shots with pro mode. Never seen any pictures like my pro shots on sites like phonearena.

71. Icosahedron

Posts: 2; Member since: Mar 15, 2018

The photo qualities are the direct result of the photo taker who has 100% control over the visual outcomes. I understand why people call phonearea iPhoneArena now. I can see how easy it can be for media to manipulate public opinions.

60. snidf

Posts: 5; Member since: Mar 15, 2018

You may be right about the trick but it doesn't apply here. Go check all the data. In all photos where Samsung is not the best, the sum of S9+ and Note8 is still less than the first place.

62. hansip87

Posts: 226; Member since: Nov 10, 2015

Fine, maybe it's a rigged one, but sum those two Sammy's and i don't think they win all round against the winner still.

59. Mr.Pussy

Posts: 348; Member since: Feb 16, 2017

Pixel 2 still my favorite camera. Wished the phone had a better screen then I would be all over it.

70. IronTech

Posts: 153; Member since: May 27, 2016

Pixel 2 XL is too much for the rest!

2. Ciro1900

Posts: 591; Member since: Dec 17, 2017

S9 + epic fail!

12. Penny

Posts: 1847; Member since: Feb 04, 2011

Hey...I, for one, am happy to see that they actually seem to have the least aggressive processing of their photos. They don't look oversharpened or oversaturated compared to some of the others. If you were to do post processing, the S9+ actually might be a good choice.

42. jacky899

Posts: 430; Member since: May 16, 2017

Samsung glory days in the camera department ended with the S6. Theres hardly any improvement since the S6 to now. Now all the major manufacturers have better cameras than Samsung

3. NateDiaz

Posts: 1084; Member since: Mar 03, 2018

You all love iPhone X, who doesn't?

9. bucknassty

Posts: 1325; Member since: Mar 24, 2017

you only saw the first 2 results huh? and that first picture seems suspect as the contrast in lighting can easier skew results, you can move any phone by millimeters and get completely different results based on where the focus is.

14. NateDiaz

Posts: 1084; Member since: Mar 03, 2018

15. bucknassty

Posts: 1325; Member since: Mar 24, 2017

so basically... you're here to start s**t... nice work bro

16. NateDiaz

Posts: 1084; Member since: Mar 03, 2018

You appreciate s**t? Nice work bro

4. libra89

Posts: 2271; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

I was surprised with some of the results. I really didn't expect to actually like the iPhone X photos more for daytime, aside from the last picture and the church. I knew that the best picture for the Portrait would be from the Pixel 2, though. With nighttime, I knew that the Pixel 2 would probably do very well. This shows that all cameras are pretty good, but different ones might have different strengths so you have to choose what works best for you.

11. Penny

Posts: 1847; Member since: Feb 04, 2011

I actually didn't like the Pixel 2's portrait as much in this comparison, because I feel like the blur looks visibly artificial in this case. The picture actually starts to look sharper toward the top. But I think that comes down to the way they shot it too. They seem to have stood further back with the Pixel 2, which would make separation between the subject and the background harder for the phone. I've seen great portrait results with the Pixel 2 otherwise.

5. drunkenjay

Posts: 1657; Member since: Feb 11, 2013

wow iphone x did pretty well. pixel 2 is a beast though. maybe s9+ need some more software updates.

6. darkkjedii

Posts: 30966; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

All of them got some great shots in. I'd be happy with all their quality, but the Galaxy's have some sick features, that I have to have.

7. Jason2k13

Posts: 1459; Member since: Mar 28, 2013

You must be a fanboy to think one phone is better than the other.. The results is soo similar that the average consumer wouldn't care. They all look good in my opinion and it all comes to personal preference if people prefer warmer, brighter, darker pictures.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit for samples and additional information.