Camera comparison: Galaxy Note 9 vs iPhone X, LG G7, OnePlus 6

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 camera comparison
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The Samsung Galaxy Note 9: there are many great reasons to pick one. The swift performance, the gorgeous screen, the large battery, and the helpful S Pen stylus are all there on the list and are sure to attract a lot of smartphone enthusiasts ready to part with a grand to own Samsung's greatest phone. But the key feature we'll focus on in this article is the Galaxy Note 9 camera, and more specifically, we'll see how it performs against several of its competitors – the iPhone X, the LG G7, and the OnePlus 6.

This is the kind of comparison where we examine the ability of a phone to take every-day still photos. We won't go into video or Portrait Mode territory, and we won't be involving selfies or the phones' secondary cameras (although we might in a future article *hint hint*). The thing is that although modern smartphone cameras come with all sorts of bells and whistles, taking regular old-fashioned pics is still their most frequent use. Now we want to see which of these four phones is best at it.

Scene 1

This is how our walk around town began: with a visit to the park's pond – a spot where children and grown-ups gather to test their paddle boat maneuvering skills. But we resisted the urge to join the action. 

Anyway, the four photos that we took turned out quite alright. Spotting any substantial differences in quality is tricky without zooming in for a closer inspection. We can point out a few, though: the OnePlus 6 handled the dynamics of the scene better than the rest, evident in the presence of more detail in the highlights and by the fact that the sky in its photo is actually blue, not white. 

Now let's look at those details. Here are crops from all four images at 100% zoom:

As we've said many times before, having lots of megapixels doesn't always translate to more detailed photos. In our case, the 12MP iPhone X camera has captured a clearer, more detailed photo than the 16MP one on the LG G7.

Scene 2

We often include a set of shots like these because smartphone cameras tend to have a hard time capturing bright, saturated colors faithfully. True, all of the images we're comparing here look pretty, but only one of them represents the color of the rose realistically. That's the camera of the iPhone X. Again, we're not saying that the other three images are unusable or something, but they've skewed the hue of the rose in a way that makes it appear pinkish, not red.

Scene 3

It didn't take us long to pick a favorite in this particular scene. That would be the OnePlus 6, which is the only phone who captured my face in a way that I can see it. We're not sure if there's some HDR action going on or a face detection algorithm taking charge of the exposure control, but the OnePlus 6's image is easily the most likeable.

Scene 4

This quartet of daytime shots once again puts us in a situation where we can't pick a winner right away. All four images look pretty good, with only minor differences setting them apart – the slightly narrower field of view of the LG G7, for example. 

But zooming in for a closer inspection shows that the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 could have toned down the highlights a bit to better capture the color of the awning.

Details are plentiful in all four images, although the LG G7 is slightly behind its rivals when it comes to detail capturing, while in this case, the OnePlus 6 appears to be ahead of the pack. 

Here are some crops at 100% zoom:

Scene 5

We're now stepping into low-light territory, and the Galaxy Note 9 is making a strong entry. Its photo instantly grabs the attention with its warm and vivid look. It is also worth noticing how well detail is preserved in the highlights, while the presence of the trees in the shadows can be clearly seen. 

Scene 6

Capturing this scene properly is more difficult than it seems. The restaurant in the background is dimly lit, but the sign in front is brightly illuminated, so setting the optimum exposure values would be rather tricky for any camera. This time around, it is the OnePlus 6 that did the best job, presumably with some clever software algorithm helping out by toning down the highlights. The Galaxy Note 9 and iPhone X deliver usable images as well, sacrificing some of that detail in the highlights in order to capture the shadows more clearly. The LG G7, however, wouldn't impress anyone with the dark image it delivered. 

Scene 7

As good as all these four cameras may be, this situation right here proved quite the challenge. The shot out of the OnePlus 6 looks a bit colder, the one from the iPhone X is a bit too warm, and the LG G7... well, that greenish blue sky we have in its photo isn't exactly natural-looking. As for the Galaxy Note 9, its image may not be flawless either, but it appears to be the best of the bunch. And if you take a closer look at the greenery in the foreground or the windows of the restaurants, you'll see that there's quite a lot of detail captured there. 

Scene 8

This was an easy win for the Galaxy Note 9 in this round of our comparison. The photo it produced easily pops out with its vivid colors – and do note how the neon sign on the left has retained its real color instead of ending up overblown as it did in the rest of the shots. The lanterns on the right are captured more clearly as well. Although it feels like the Note 9's software is somehow prettifying the scene, while phones like the iPhone X and the OnePlus 6 – which took nice photos too, by the way – have gone for a tamer, less flashy look. 


Okay, so what are the conclusions we can walk away with? One is that the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 can take great photos, especially in situations where light is scarce, putting that larger sensor and wider aperture to good use. Its competitors, however, are not lagging behind. In fact, the OnePlus 6 seems to be well capable of matching – and at times exceeding – the Note 9's camera performance. And that's remarkable for a phone costing half as much.

Looking at the images above, we'd say that the Note 9 and the OnePlus 6 are tied for the first place in this comparison. Indeed, the Note 9 had the lead in the later rounds with its solid low-light performance, but the OnePlus 6 was also a great performer overall, including in daytime shots. The iPhone X is right up there with the top cameras as well, also delivering commendable results. And looking at how well a 1-year-old iPhone performs, we can't wait to compare Apple's upcoming generation of iPhones against the latest flagships from the Android camp. 

As for the LG G7, LG's flagship phone does not disappoint with its camera performance, but its camera can definitely use some improvements if it is to go head-to-head with other top high-ends – improvements both in the hardware and software department. LG's use of a smaller-than-average image sensor is likely what's causing the G7's photos to be less detailed, and the tendency for darker-looking low-light shots could be attributed to a less-than-ideal software configuration.

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