Our smartphones and their specs have improved significantly over the last few years. Smartphone cameras have seen the most innovation. First, we got the dual camera system, then the triple camera system, and now a quad camera system as well.
But our selfie cameras are getting ignored while smartphone manufacturers focus heavily on rear shooters. Very few legitimate testers analyze selfie camera quality.
Fortunately, DxOMark is here to rank them for us. Their latest test has shown the Pixel 3 and Galaxy Note 9 devices as having the best selfie cameras. Front-facing smartphone cameras were tested on parameters including, but not limited to, skin tone and color accuracy, sharpness, contrast, and exposure.
Both the Pixel 3 and Galaxy Note 9 received a score of 92 out of 100 in the DxOMark test. Xiaomi’s Mi Mix 3, the Apple iPhone XS Max, and Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus took the third, fourth and fifth places, scoring 84, 82, and 81, respectively.
DxOMark tested subjectively and objectively in controlled environments. The tests were carried out on a dummy with realistic skin tones for consistent, repeatable scores.
Image scientists analyzed over 1,500 photos and two hours of video for every smartphone, looking for not just accuracy, but the most visually pleasing results. The scientists penalized smartphones that overprocessed images. Smartphones were scored less for over-beautifying the subjects which yielded unrealistic, smoothed out skin tones. The test noted, “Image results from both cameras are excellent, with a good balance between various image quality attributes.”
But Pixel 3 and Note 9 came out on top for different reasons. It added that Google’s phone camera focused mainly on detail and textures, so it deemed a bit of noise acceptable in its photos.
The Galaxy Note 9, on the other hand, focused on cleaner images instead of heavy textures, so Samsung made some sacrifices in terms of fine details. Note 9 took the edge for video while Pixel 3 was ahead in pictures.
Obviously, selfie cameras and rear cameras on a phone are not of the same quality. One cannot judge the quality of the selfie camera from the rear camera, and vice versa. DxOMark ranked the Huawei Mate 20 Pro as the phone with the best rear camera with 109 points, but gave its selfie camera a score of just 78, as an example. If one was to add the scores together, the Galaxy Note 9 will come out on top with 195 points, while the Pixel 3 will be the runner-up with 193 points.
DxOMark isn’t the perfect test to assess a selfie camera’s worth; there is no “perfect” way to score. Every user’s needs will vary. Some will give preference to textures and details, while others will prioritize saturation for a bit of an extra pop in their pictures.
DxOMark’s test makes it easier for consumers to decide which smartphone’s selfie camera will better fulfill their needs, depending on their use. Selfie cameras are still one of the biggest selling points of smartphones.