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Ben Sin

The LG V30, Samsung Galaxy Note 8, and Xiaomi Mi Mix 2.

With Android software becoming better and easier to figure out by phonemakers and the raw power of SoC processors plateauing (the Snapdragon 835 is better than the 808, yes, but most people won’t ever really tap into that extra power), the Android smartphone war has come down to two fronts: the battle for display supremacy (OLED panel? edge-to-edge bezel-less looks? pixel-per-inch?) and photography.

As far as display, most techies hand the crown to Samsung’s Galaxy phones by default almost out of habit, though I think LG’s OLED V30 or even Huawei’s OLED Mate 9 Pro could make a case.

Photography, on the other hand, is more up for debate. In recent years phones like the Galaxy S7, LG G4, and Google Pixel have each held the "best smartphone camera" championship belt. The competition is never ending. So I figured that since I have the three newest and most talked-about Android devices on me at the same time right now — why not do a good old fashion camera shootout?

First, let’s get the fine print out of the way:

  • I approached this test from the point of view of an amateur photographer, hence every shot was captured point and shoot style. I didn’t dive into manual controls like tweak manual focus or ISO. The point is to see which phone can produce the best shot if, say, my 64-year-old not tech-savvy mom was the photographer.
  • I took every shot back-to-back-t0-back as soon as I could to minimize variance. Obviously, this isn’t an exact science, so things like a car driving by in the background or a cloud moving a few inches could affect lighting.
  • I also shot with the highest possible resolution allowed by each phone, but due to the varying megapixel count, the photo sizes are different. The Galaxy Note 8’s photos, in particular, are extra tall or wide because it shoots photos in that 18.5:9 aspect ratio.
  • The Galaxy Note 8 has a second camera that’s dedicated to a 2X zoom (like the iPhone 7 Plus), while LG and Xiaomi’s devices do not. So for the couple of 2X zoom photos in the samples, the LG and Xiaomi shots were taken with digital zoom. In theory, they should come out inferior to Samsung’s dedicated "optical zoom," but as I wrote about in my iPhone 7 Plus review a year ago, that dedicated 2X zoom lens is mostly a gimmick. I fail to see any difference at all between the Note 8’s 2X zoom which had a dedicated button or the V30’s 2X zoom done via pinching the screen with my fingers.
  • Most of these shots were taken at night. That was by design. Smartphone photography have improved so much that any new phone can take a good photo under great lighting these days. Even $200 no-name Chinese phones can pump out a really good shot at the beach on a nice day. At night is when you can tell which camera is the real deal.
  • Finally, the photos as you see them in this article have obviously been significantly compressed, so if you’re just looking at this from a tiny screened iPhone 7, it’s basically a lost cause. But know that I exported every shot onto my computer at home and then examined them side by side by side on my dual 32-inch Dell 4K monitors.

So let’s begin.

First we’ll take a look at a typical day time shot. I’ve stitched two images side-by-side, with the left shot being a normal photo and the right a "2X zoom" shot.

Ben Sin

Taken with the LG V30.

Ben Sin

Taken with the Galaxy Note 8.

Ben Sin

Taken with the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2.

This is going to be hard to see for readers in the article, but from my monitor, with the shots blown up, the V30’s "2X zoom" shot is the best shot of the three. The street sign with Chinese characters hovering over the street looked about the same on all three phones. Where the V30 wins is in the detail below the street sign on the 2X zoom photo. Notice that building on the left side has a bit of paint peeling from the wall? The V30 showed that with significantly more detailed than the other two shots.

Ben Sin
Ben Sin

Galaxy Note 8.

Ben Sin

Xiaomi Mi Mix 2.

The tables have flipped in the above food shots. LG phones have a tendency to overexpose under the sun or bright lighting situation, and the half-rare Angus beef in the V30’s shot suffers from that. Again, you might not see this at all from reading this article (sorry). But on my monitor, with the photos blown up to 100% scale, I can see that the meat on the Note 8 and Mi Mix 2’s image looked more appetizing and closer to real life than the V30’s shot.

Ben Sin

This is making me hungry.

Ben Sin
Ben Sin

Galaxy Note 8.

Ben Sin

Samsung wins the macro shot round. None of these cameras were able to capture clearly the flower at the top, but the Note 8’s shot has the most accurate colors and details. The Mi Mix 2’s shot is very good too, but slightly artificial. Meanwhile, the V30 again overexposed, turning the color of the flowers into an unpleasant washed-out red.

Next page: night time photos and video…

“>

Ben Sin

The LG V30, Samsung Galaxy Note 8, and Xiaomi Mi Mix 2.

With Android software becoming better and easier to figure out by phonemakers and the raw power of SoC processors plateauing (the Snapdragon 835 is better than the 808, yes, but most people won’t ever really tap into that extra power), the Android smartphone war has come down to two fronts: the battle for display supremacy (OLED panel? edge-to-edge bezel-less looks? pixel-per-inch?) and photography.

As far as display, most techies hand the crown to Samsung’s Galaxy phones by default almost out of habit, though I think LG’s OLED V30 or even Huawei’s OLED Mate 9 Pro could make a case.

Photography, on the other hand, is more up for debate. In recent years phones like the Galaxy S7, LG G4, and Google Pixel have each held the “best smartphone camera” championship belt. The competition is never ending. So I figured that since I have the three newest and most talked-about Android devices on me at the same time right now — why not do a good old fashion camera shootout?

First, let’s get the fine print out of the way:

  • I approached this test from the point of view of an amateur photographer, hence every shot was captured point and shoot style. I didn’t dive into manual controls like tweak manual focus or ISO. The point is to see which phone can produce the best shot if, say, my 64-year-old not tech-savvy mom was the photographer.
  • I took every shot back-to-back-t0-back as soon as I could to minimize variance. Obviously, this isn’t an exact science, so things like a car driving by in the background or a cloud moving a few inches could affect lighting.
  • I also shot with the highest possible resolution allowed by each phone, but due to the varying megapixel count, the photo sizes are different. The Galaxy Note 8’s photos, in particular, are extra tall or wide because it shoots photos in that 18.5:9 aspect ratio.
  • The Galaxy Note 8 has a second camera that’s dedicated to a 2X zoom (like the iPhone 7 Plus), while LG and Xiaomi’s devices do not. So for the couple of 2X zoom photos in the samples, the LG and Xiaomi shots were taken with digital zoom. In theory, they should come out inferior to Samsung’s dedicated “optical zoom,” but as I wrote about in my iPhone 7 Plus review a year ago, that dedicated 2X zoom lens is mostly a gimmick. I fail to see any difference at all between the Note 8’s 2X zoom which had a dedicated button or the V30’s 2X zoom done via pinching the screen with my fingers.
  • Most of these shots were taken at night. That was by design. Smartphone photography have improved so much that any new phone can take a good photo under great lighting these days. Even $200 no-name Chinese phones can pump out a really good shot at the beach on a nice day. At night is when you can tell which camera is the real deal.
  • Finally, the photos as you see them in this article have obviously been significantly compressed, so if you’re just looking at this from a tiny screened iPhone 7, it’s basically a lost cause. But know that I exported every shot onto my computer at home and then examined them side by side by side on my dual 32-inch Dell 4K monitors.

So let’s begin.

First we’ll take a look at a typical day time shot. I’ve stitched two images side-by-side, with the left shot being a normal photo and the right a “2X zoom” shot.

Ben Sin

Taken with the LG V30.

Ben Sin

Taken with the Galaxy Note 8.

Ben Sin

Taken with the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2.

This is going to be hard to see for readers in the article, but from my monitor, with the shots blown up, the V30’s “2X zoom” shot is the best shot of the three. The street sign with Chinese characters hovering over the street looked about the same on all three phones. Where the V30 wins is in the detail below the street sign on the 2X zoom photo. Notice that building on the left side has a bit of paint peeling from the wall? The V30 showed that with significantly more detailed than the other two shots.

Ben Sin
Ben Sin

Galaxy Note 8.

Ben Sin

Xiaomi Mi Mix 2.

The tables have flipped in the above food shots. LG phones have a tendency to overexpose under the sun or bright lighting situation, and the half-rare Angus beef in the V30’s shot suffers from that. Again, you might not see this at all from reading this article (sorry). But on my monitor, with the photos blown up to 100% scale, I can see that the meat on the Note 8 and Mi Mix 2’s image looked more appetizing and closer to real life than the V30’s shot.

Ben Sin

This is making me hungry.

Ben Sin
Ben Sin

Galaxy Note 8.

Ben Sin

Samsung wins the macro shot round. None of these cameras were able to capture clearly the flower at the top, but the Note 8’s shot has the most accurate colors and details. The Mi Mix 2’s shot is very good too, but slightly artificial. Meanwhile, the V30 again overexposed, turning the color of the flowers into an unpleasant washed-out red.

Next page: night time photos and video…

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