As it stands, the mobile market has reached a plateau, where very nearly every device features a beautiful design, powerful specs, and excellent battery life. It's more or less been that way for the past few years, with companies attempting to differentiate through things like software and innovations like in-display fingerprint sensors.
While most phones are on the same playing field when it comes to aesthetics and features, not all cameras are created equal. Sure, for the purposes of social media, the quality between mobile cameras is pretty miniscule. But there are good cameras and then there are great cameras. These two phones fall into the latter category, but one is clearly better.
This year, we didn't so much see hardware improvements as we did with software. The iPhone XS and iPhone X have similar camera specs, but the iPhone XS features a delicate integration of systems that makes Smart HDR an incredible addition to Apple's arsenal.
Samsung's latest devices, including the Galaxy S9 Plus, have made fewer hardware and software improvements compared to its closest competitors. But the Galaxy S9 Plus's camera is still no slouch. With a 12-megapixel sensor, 4K video recording, and portrait mode support, Samsung's device takes excellent photos and continues to improve with new updates.
If you're like me, you'll take a lot of images when you're outdoors where there's plenty of light. But just because there's an abundance of light doesn't mean your images will come out beautifully. Depending on where the light source is, camera can struggle to properly expose a scene, with either blown out highlights are shadows that aren't detailed.
With HDR capabilities, phones are able to account for more challenging lighting situations. Some of the images above are pretty straightforward, but others demonstrate how phones process scenes differently. Pay attention to highlights and shadows in these outdoor shots.
Not only do you want your photos to be properly exposed, but detailed, too. The images above were taken to showcase how each phone retains detail. The pictures we take with our phones tend to look awesome on smaller displays, but things are a different story when viewed on a computer. For this gallery, I'd recommend changing the gallery to full screen to really see what the details look like.
LOW LIGHT AND PORTRAIT
The bane of every camera's existence is the lack of light. Even professional cameras struggle in bad lighting conditions, so it's not exclusive to mobile devices. However, the size of mobile sensors is what makes low light particularly tough for smartphones—something companies like Google are actively combating against with features like Night Sight.
The low light conditions in the images above aren't the most challenging ever, but they showcase how these cameras perform in an indoor setting without ample light available. For good measure, we also shot a portrait image, and the results are… not great.