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.

galaxy s9 plus
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 plus bright

Galaxy S9+

iphone x bright
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

LIVEFRMNYC Avatar
39 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)
Rafterman Avatar
39 months ago
Why is is "controversial"? Because it didn't pick the iPhone?
Score: 40 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Rigby Avatar
39 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)
OldSchoolMacGuy Avatar
39 months ago
Garbage rating system. There's a reason pros don't rely on it.
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)
joeblow7777 Avatar
39 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)
The Don Onez Avatar
39 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

iphone 6 in hand

Apple Faces Another iPhone Lawsuit Over 'Programmed Obsolescence'

Monday March 1, 2021 6:44 am PST by
Apple faces a new class-action lawsuit that accuses it of deliberately releasing iOS updates that slowly reduce the performance of an iPhone, forcing customers to upgrade their devices. The lawsuit comes from the Portuguese Consumer Protection Agency, Deco Proteste (via Marketeer), which in a statement says that it will proceed with a case against the Cupertino tech giant because it...
PIA23764 RoverNamePlateonMars web

NASA Mars Perseverance Rover Uses Same PowerPC Chipset Found in 1998 G3 iMac

Tuesday March 2, 2021 3:21 am PST by
NASA's Perseverance rover, which recently made history landing on the surface of Mars, is powered by the same processor used in an iMac more than 23 years old. Image Credit: NASA As reported by NewScientist (via Gizmodo), the rover includes the PowerPC 750 processor, the same chip used in the G3 iMac in 1998. The main chipset is the same; however, there are differences between the...
magsafe charging brick feature

Prosser: iPhone 12 MagSafe Battery Pack to Feature Reverse Charging

Monday March 1, 2021 1:18 pm PST by
Apple is working on MagSafe-compatible battery packs that will be compatible with the iPhone 12 models, and leaker Jon Prosser today said on the Genius Bar podcast that one version of the battery pack will feature "reverse charging." According to Prosser, Apple is working on two versions of the battery packs, one that's a standard version and one that's a premium version with reverse...
rosetta 2

Rosetta May Be Removed From M1 Macs in Some Regions on macOS 11.3

Tuesday March 2, 2021 5:20 pm PST by
Installing the upcoming macOS 11.3 software update on an M1 Mac may result in Rosetta 2 being removed in one or more regions around the world. In the third beta of macOS 11.3 seeded to developers for testing today, MacRumors contributor Steve Moser uncovered new strings in the beta's code indicating that "Rosetta will be removed upon installing this update." Another new string reads "Rosetta ...
iphone 12 pro display video

iPhone 13 to Include 1TB Storage Option and LiDAR Across the Board, Says Wedbush Analyst

Monday March 1, 2021 4:00 am PST by
Apple's forthcoming iPhone 13 could include a 1TB storage option for some models and LiDAR Scanners across the entire lineup, according to a report from Wedbush analysts. In a new note to investors, seen by MacRumors, Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives said that initial Asian supply chain checks gave the firm "increased confidence" that Apple's 5G-driven product cycle would extend well into 2022,...
Apple Prefer Lightning Over USB C Feature

iPhone Sticking With Lightning Port Over USB-C for 'Foreseeable Future'

Tuesday March 2, 2021 9:32 am PST by
Apple will retain the Lightning connector on the iPhone for the "foreseeable future," with no intention of switching to USB-C, according to reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In spite of much of the industry moving toward USB-C, Apple will not be using it to replace the Lightning connector on the iPhone 13, or indeed on any iPhone model for the time being. In a note seen by MacRumors yesterday,...
iphone 12 120hz thumbnail feature

Kuo: iPhone 13 Lineup to Feature Smaller Notch and Larger Batteries, 120Hz Display for Pro Models, and More

Monday March 1, 2021 7:50 am PST by
iPhone 13 models will all feature a smaller notch, while the two Pro models will be equipped with low-power LTPO display technology for a 120Hz refresh rate, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said today in a research note obtained by MacRumors. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Several other sources have previously claimed that some iPhone 13 models will support a 120Hz refresh...
Screen Shot 2021 03 03 at 11

MagSafe Charging Port for iPhone Appears in Apple Patent

Wednesday March 3, 2021 1:30 am PST by
In a newly granted patent, Apple envisions a type of connectivity port using an iteration of its magnetic MagSafe charger to charge an iPhone, potentially paving the way for a future without Lightning. Submitted to the United States Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday (via Patently Apple), the patent outlines a three-pinned MagSafe charger, similar to the ones found in older MacBook...
apple transfer google photos 1

Apple Launches Service for Transferring iCloud Photos and Videos to Google Photos

Wednesday March 3, 2021 12:04 pm PST by
Apple this week introduced a new service that's designed to make it quick and easy for iCloud users to transfer their stored photos and videos to Google Photos. As outlined in an Apple support document, you can go to Apple's privacy website and sign in to see the "Transfer a copy of your data" option. If you select this and go through all the steps, Apple will transfer your iCloud photos and ...
galaxy s21 iphone 12 pro max front feature2

Kuo: Some 2022 iPhones to Abandon Notch in Favor of 'Punch-Hole' Display

Monday March 1, 2021 8:05 am PST by
At least some 2022 iPhone models will abandon the notch and switch to a "punch-hole display design" instead, similar to Samsung's recent high-end Galaxy smartphones, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said today in a research note obtained by MacRumors. Kuo said the hole-punch display design will be adopted by high-end 2022 iPhones at a minimum, and if production yields are good enough, all 2022 iPhone...