Galaxy S9+ Tops iPhone X as Best Smartphone Camera Ever in DxO's Controversial Rankings

DxO today said Samsung's new Galaxy S9 Plus has the best smartphone camera it has ever tested. The device earned the highest-ever DxOMark score of 99, topping both the Google Pixel 2 and iPhone X, which scored 98 and 97 respectively.


In its review, DxO said the Galaxy S9 Plus camera lacks any "obvious weaknesses" and "performs very well across all photo and video test categories," which will make it a compelling choice for photography-minded smartphone users.

The Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus is a smartphone without any real weaknesses in the camera department. In both still and video modes, it performs well across the board, delivering consistently good photo and video image quality in all light and shooting situations, thus earning itself our highest DxOMark Mobile score to date. Add one of the best smartphone zooms and a capable bokeh simulation mode to the mix, and the Galaxy S9 Plus is difficult to ignore for any photo-minded smartphone user. With the Galaxy S9 Plus, Samsung is setting the pace for 2018. We'll see if the competition can follow suit.

While the Galaxy S9 Plus has a 12-megapixel dual-lens rear camera like the iPhone X, a key new feature is variable aperture, which means the lenses can adapt to various lighting conditions just as the human eye would, and automatically let in more light when it's dark and less when it's too bright.

In dim conditions, the rear camera uses a very fast f/1.5 aperture to maximize light capture, according to DxO. In brighter light, it switches to a slower f/2.4 aperture for optimized detail and sharpness.

DxO found the Galaxy S9 Plus produces "excellent results" in bright light and sunny conditions, with vivid colors, good exposures, and a very wide dynamic range. The autofocus wasn't the very fastest DxO has ever tested, but they said it's more than fast enough not to be an issue for any user.

Galaxy S9+

iPhone X

While the review crowned the Galaxy S9 Plus as an "excellent bright-light performer," DxO still experienced some "fairly minor issues" in those conditions. Some of its photos had "purple fringing on high-contrast edges" and "pretty noticeable" ringing halos, while others had "slight blue or pink color casts."

DxO said the Galaxy S9 Plus's performance in dimmer conditions is "equally impressive," yielding photos with "nice exposures with vivid color, accurate white balance, low noise, and good texture in low-light conditions."

The rear camera earned top marks in several other areas, including autofocus, zoom, flash, and bokeh, exposure, contrast, and color accuracy, so be sure to read the full-length review for more detailed analysis.

To determine scoring in its smartphone camera reviews, DxOMark said its engineers capture and evaluate over 1,500 test images and more than two hours of video, both in controlled lab environments and in natural indoor and outdoor scenes, using the camera's default settings. This article explains more about the methodology.

DxO's smartphone camera reviews are well known, but they've also attracted some criticism, since the overall quality of a camera is subjective. When comparing dynamic range on the Galaxy S9 Plus, Google Pixel 2, and iPhone X, for example, DxO itself said the results are "pretty much a question of personal preference."

For those interested, here is DxO's review of the iPhone X camera. But reviews from professional photographers like Austin Mann may be more valuable. Together, they provide good technical and real-world insight.

Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ can be pre-ordered starting today for $720 and $840 respectively. The smartphones launch March 16.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
31 months ago

Rating on pic is subjective rubbish.

Was DXO rubbish when the X got a higher score than the Note 8? Just saying ...... o_O
Score: 57 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
31 months ago
Why is is "controversial"? Because it didn't pick the iPhone?
Score: 40 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
31 months ago
Wonder why DxO's rankings weren't called "controversial" when they declared that the iPhone 8+ had the best camera ever tested?

https://www.macrumors.com/2017/09/22/dxomark-iphone-8-plus-best-smartphone-camera/
Score: 40 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
31 months ago
Garbage rating system. There's a reason pros don't rely on it.
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
31 months ago
Shouldn't the headline be that the S9 tops the Google Pixel 2? It makes it sound like the X was previously ranked 1st.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
31 months ago
I haven't been able to differentiate between my different phone's photos for a few years now. I guess you really got to be a photo enthusiasts.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Apple Officially Obsoletes First MacBook Pro With a Retina Display

Wednesday July 1, 2020 3:40 am PDT by
As expected, Apple's first MacBook Pro with a Retina display is now officially classed as "obsolete" worldwide, just over eight years after its release. In a support document, Apple notes that obsolete products are no longer eligible for hardware service, with "no exceptions." This means that any mid-2012 Retina MacBook Pro 15-inch models still out there that require a battery or other...

New Mac Ransomware Found in Pirated Mac Apps

Tuesday June 30, 2020 11:44 am PDT by
There's a new 'EvilQuest' Mac ransomware variant that's spreading through pirated Mac apps, according to a new report shared today by Malwarebytes. The new ransomware was found in pirated download for the Little Snitch app found on a Russian forum. Right from the point of download, it was clear that something was wrong with the illicit version of Little Snitch, as it had a generic installer...

Unreleased iMac With 10-Core Comet Lake-S Chip and Radeon Pro 5300 GPU Shows Up in Geekbench

Wednesday July 1, 2020 10:48 am PDT by
Benchmarks for an unreleased iMac equipped with a 10th-generation Core i9 Intel Comet Lake-S chip and an AMD Radeon Pro 5300 graphics card have surfaced, giving us an idea of what we can expect from a refreshed 2020 iMac. The Geekbench benchmarks, which appear to be legit, were found on Twitter and shared this morning by Tom's Hardware. The iMac in the benchmarks would be a successor to the...

Leaker: Future iPhone Models to Come in 'Exquisite' Thinner Box

Wednesday July 1, 2020 1:57 am PDT by
Leaker L0vetodream this morning posted a tweet corroborating recent rumors that Apple's "iPhone 12" lineup won't come with EarPods or a charger in the box, adding that this will also eventually apply to the existing second-generation iPhone SE. L0vetodream also claims that future iPhone packaging will be "thinner" and "exquisite," which would make sense if Apple's handsets are set to come in ...

Apple's A12Z Under Rosetta Outperforms Microsoft's Native Arm-Based Surface Pro X

Monday June 29, 2020 10:31 am PDT by
Apple's Developer Transition Kit equipped with an A12Z iPad Pro chip began arriving in the hands of developers this morning to help them get their apps ready for Macs running Apple Silicon, and though forbidden, the first thing some developers did was benchmark the machine. Multiple Geekbench results have indicated that the Developer Transition Kit, which is a Mac mini with an iPad Pro chip, ...

Kuo: iPhone 12 Models Won't Include Charger in Box, 20W Power Adapter Will Be Sold Separately

Sunday June 28, 2020 7:56 am PDT by
iPhone 12 models will not include EarPods or a power adapter in the box, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said today in a research note obtained by MacRumors. This lines up with a prediction shared by analysts at Barclays earlier this week. Kuo said that Apple will instead release a new 20W power adapter as an optional accessory for iPhones and end production of its existing 5W and 18W power adapters...

Rosetta 2 Benchmarks Surface From Mac Mini With A12Z Chip

Monday June 29, 2020 7:48 am PDT by
While the terms and conditions for Apple's new "Developer Transition Kit" forbid developers from running benchmarks on the modified Mac mini with an A12Z chip, it appears that results are beginning to surface anyhow. Image Credit: Radek Pietruszewski Geekbench results uploaded so far suggest that the A12Z-based Mac mini has average single-core and multi-core scores of 811 and 2,781...

Display Analyst Once Again Says No 120Hz ProMotion Display Coming to iPhone 12 Pro

Wednesday July 1, 2020 11:29 am PDT by
Apple's iPhone 12 models will not feature an upgraded 120Hz ProMotion display, according to display analyst Ross Young. Young previously said that Apple would not implement ProMotion technology until it adopted low-power LTPO display technology, a move Apple is not expected to make until 2021. In a tweet shared this morning, Young said that the none of his contacts have been able to...

Apple Seeds Third Betas of iOS and iPadOS 13.6 to Developers [Update: Public Beta Available]

Tuesday June 30, 2020 10:06 am PDT by
Apple today seeded the third betas of upcoming iOS and iPadOS 13.6 updates to developers, three weeks after seeding the second betas and over a month after releasing iOS/iPadOS 13.5 with Exposure Notification API, Face ID updates, Group FaceTime changes, and more. iOS and iPadOS 13.6 can be downloaded from the Apple Developer Center or over the air once the proper developer profile has been...

The New York Times Ends Apple News Partnership and Pulls All Articles

Monday June 29, 2020 11:17 am PDT by
The New York Times today announced that it is pulling out of Apple News, as the service does not "align with its strategy of building direct relationships with paying readers." Starting today, articles from The New York Times will no longer show up in the Apple News app. The news site says that Apple has given it "little in the way of direct relationships with readers" and "little control...