“The Apple iPhone 8 Plus is the best-performing mobile device camera we have ever tested.” -DxOMark
DxOMark is a company that tests cameras. They’re well known for their comparisons of professional cameras, classic SLR cameras, DSLR cameras, mirrorless, and more. They’re the go-to source for camera reviews. They even make a $500 iPhone attachment that turns your iPhone into a high-end point and shoot camera. As smartphone cameras improved, they also got into testing smartphone cameras, comparing them so consumers could figure out just how good the camera on a smartphone is before buying it. If photo quality is your primary concern for a smartphone or camera, DxOMark’s rating is your holy text. They compare image quality using a variety of measurements, from sharpness, focus, contrast, color accuracy, bokeh, zoom, low light performance, differentiating light performance, and more. They attack camera reviews form both a subjective standpoint, comparing the visual quality of the photos, as well a a more scientific standpoint, comparing the exact pixels from each photo for sharpness and color accuracy. Their exhaustive test has become the industry standard.
DxOMark got their hands on the iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone 8, and put them through their rigorous test. What they found was that both smartphones blew the competition out of the water. Google’s Pixel smartphone and the HTC U11 were tied for the top spots, but they’ve been throughly dethroned, with the iPhone 8 beating them by two points and the iPhone 8 Plus beating it by four.
The Google Pixel and HTC U11 were the defacto champions of smartphone cameras. The Google Pixel uses a lot of clever software to improve what it’s one rear facing camera can do, and HTC’s focus on camera hardware and customization software made the HTC U11 and the HTC-designed Google Pixel smartphones easy winners. HTC doesn’t get enough credit for their cameras, they were the first to feature dual rear cameras on the HTC One, and they’ve been dedicated to increasing pixel size on their sensors, rather than playing into the megapixel wars of other smartphone manufacturers. They focused on photo quality and low light performance from the beginning. I’ve said it many times before, but of all the Android manufacturers, HTC is the only one that’s been able to tempt me to switch.Apple, on the other hand, was always concerned with all-around performance. They had the best sensors for years, until HTC started pushing them harder. A leap in smartphone camera quality came out of Apple, HTC, and Samsung competing for the top spot. Apple’s new dual cameras and focus on software to improve photo lighting and quality has made it a clear leader. The bokeh produced by their portrait mode is natural and beautiful, unlike the software-driven bokeh on the HTC U11 and Google Pixel. Apple’s photos are utterly beautiful, and look like they’ve been taking by professionals, even when in the hands of an ameture (though in DxOMark’s case, they certainly weren’t). Apple’s iPhone 8 camera offers solid improvement over the iPhone 7. It’s the highest rated single-camera smartphone DxOMark has tested, beating out competition from HTC, despite having a smaller rear sensor. Image processing, fantastic HDR, a f/1.8 aperture, and a quad-LED flash with slow sync made it an easy winner. Apple proved with the iPhone 8 that they don’t need two camera lenses and sensors to make a fantastic camera. HDR Mode is crisp and clear, without blowing out highlights or drastically underexposing shadows, while simultaneously revealing all the details in the photo. The iPhone 8 Plus took that one fantastic camera and added another. The second camera allows Apple to improve their HDR photos, focus, zoom, and bokeh. The portrait mode and beautiful intelligent lighting, combined with neural network processing, make the photos hyper realistic. Each shot is a vista, potentially with beautiful bokeh, great lighting, and fantastic customization modes. That second camera allows Apple to collect more light, produce a clearer and brighter image, and reveal details in photos with even mixed-lighting conditions absolutely unbelievable. I’ve never seen shots taken that impressed me like the photos DxOMark was able to take with it during their testing. Apple’s shots are beautiful, but they’re marketing materials, you expect they took them in perfect conditions. Turns out the iPhone 8 Plus can make those perfect conditions.
The iPhone 8 Plus has the best smartphone camera DxOMark has ever tested, and the iPhone 8 has the second best camera they’ve ever tested, yet all I can think of is, “How much better will the iPhone X be then?” I’m not the only one thinking it. Crowds and lines for the iPhone 8 have been smaller globally than they usually are, with more people waiting out for Apple’s better smartphone, with it’s improved camera and, of course, it’s giant screen in a small body. DxOMark says they’re excited to see the iPhone X because it has a wider aperture lens, which will collect more light, enabling better low-light photos. The iPhone X also has optical image stabilization on both the wide angle and the telephoto lens (the iPhone 8 Plus does not have this), so exposures for low light photos can be a little longer, enabling it to collect more light. It also means you can get clearer telephoto shots with the zoom lens. The iPhone X should perform better than the iPhone 8 Plus in low light (though the iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone 8 were also very good with this), meaning it’ll certainly have a significantly higher score than the iPhone 8 Plus. Currently, the iPhone 8 Plus is the number one smartphone camera in the world, but with the iPhone X on the way, it may not hold that spot for very long.