Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus camera knocks the Google Pixel 2 off its top spot

Mar 2, 2018

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Mar 2, 2018

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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It seems that with every new smartphone release, DxO has to offer up a new standard. It’s not surprising, though, really. Mobile phone camera technology is advancing at a pretty ridiculous pace. So, it makes sense that with each new flagship phone release, things get better and better.

But it’s happening with alarming frequency. Less than 6 months ago, the iPhone 8 Plus achieved the highest DxOMark score ever of 94. Less than two weeks later, the Google Pixel 2 hammered it by 4 points bringing the top score to 98. And now, the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus has just pipped it to the post with a 99. DxO’s current highest mobile score ever. Until the next new phone announcement.

As with most new phones today, the S9 Plus features dual rear cameras. What makes this one particularly special, though, is that the wide angle lens has a variable aperture. It opens up to f/1.5 in low light conditions and stops down to f/2.4 when it’s brighter. This wide angle view uses a 12MP 1/2.55-inch sensor. The second lens is a 2x telephoto with a constant f/2.4 aperture and a slightly smaller 1/3.6-inch sensor. Both cameras have optical image stabilisation, and the main camera has dual pixel phase detection autofocus.

Also of note is that this phone can shoot 4K video at 60 frames per second. And when you want really slow motion it can shoot 720p all the way up to a crazy 960 frames per second. Played back at 24 frames per second, that slows things down to 1/40th of their regular speed. One can only hope that the phone offers the kind of bitrate that sort of footage would require.

The key features of the S9 Plus’s cameras, at least the ones DxO Mark keep going on about, are the bright colours and low levels of noise. They say that the vivid colour, white balance, noise levels and texture look great, even in low light conditions. Of course, when the conditions are too dark for even an f/1.5 lens to handle, the S9 Plus has a built-in LED. Of course, if Godox can get their act together and release an Android app, the Godox A1 may also eventually be an option to get the light “off camera”.

The autofocus system, while seemingly decent, still apparently leaves a little to be desired.

The Galaxy S9 Plus autofocus system is not the very fastest we have tested, but close to the best, and also produces very repeatable results. That said, we did find the occasional out-of-focus image in our samples in all light conditions.

They also say there are some occasional exposure instabilities, noticeable colour fringing, and slight colour casts when shooting stills. On the video side of things there’s a loss of fine detail in most conditions, this doesn’t bode well for the slow motion abilities, with visible residual motion and strong ringing and moiré.

Overall, though, it scores a 99, and DxO Mark says that “Samsung sets the pace”. They say it has no real weakness, but I suppose this is relative. In some of the side-by-side comparisons shown on the DxO Mark report, though, subjectively speaking both the iPhone and Pixel 2 do look better in certain conditions.

Check out the complete report to find out more and make up your own mind.

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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11 responses to “Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus camera knocks the Google Pixel 2 off its top spot”

  1. Markó Richárd Avatar
    Markó Richárd

    Great! I sell my DSLR gear… :P

  2. Batman Avatar
    Batman

    And when is the time when DxO will tell us what those numbers mean … 104 on Photo ? 104 what .. % .. jumping beans .. dingleberries ? This is getting super funny :)))))

  3. Jim A. Avatar
    Jim A.

    This is not a gripe about your article, but in general why can’t we just state the physical dimensions of a sensor instead of the cryptic 1/2.55 or 1/3.6? Why not say, 2mm x 4mm or whatever the actual dimensions are? this 1/x description is madness.

    1. Huge Dom Avatar
      Huge Dom

      1/2.55-inch is already pretty clear, just not in metric.

      1. Jim A. Avatar
        Jim A.

        Sp tell me Huge, how many inches by how many inches is that sensor?

          1. Jim A. Avatar
            Jim A.

            Man, you’re proving my point. Rather than just call out the sensor size, or at least the active area, you point me to a page to work it out. How is that a simple solution? I’m not griping at you specifically, you’re at least trying to provide info, but it’s unnecessarily complex. It’s like using medical terms to describe a stomach ache. It’s not that I’m not tech savvy, I work in an engineering slot in an optics R&D lab. I just don’t understand why we come up with all these cryptic systems to describe a simple plane surface with two relevant dimensions, X and Y. If I know the number of pixels, and the X and Y dimensions, I can calculate the pixel size, etc. I can literally compare camera sensor A with Camera sensor B and not be forced to look up a chart and find the chip size somewhere. That’s all I’m asking for. It’s just dumb to make it complex without an underlying logical reason. It’s like calling a wall stud a 2×4 when it’s really 1 1/2″ x 3 1/2″. It’s just silly.

          2. Huge Dom Avatar
            Huge Dom

            Well, don’t forget the other common sensors sizes are even worst, “Full Frame”, “Medium Format”, “APS-C”… The whole sensor industry relies on charts and tables, lol.

          3. Richy Avatar
            Richy

            Worse not worst. Well worth getting your English correct when explaining a point.

          4. Huge Dom Avatar
            Huge Dom

            *Spelling. Well worth getting your choice of word correct, when explaining a point.

  • das Avatar
    das

    yet they say 35mm ? metric is the worldwide standard ,hel with usa and its backward ways