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Blind smartphone camera test 2018

Week 58.0 — 3rd December '18

Including a range of smartphones form different price points, MKHD kicked off a 16-way smartphone camera blind test. Using the traditional and well known knock-out formula, 16 started but only two would remain for the final three days layer with phone 'B' being crowned the winner.

There were major upsets in the first round and I'm sure all the way to the final. This is how things stood when the final started.

I had my own predictions for the eventual outcome once we knew which phone was which. While I'm not sure what my confidence levels would be, they were that at least one of the phones in the final...

  • ... would use a single camera system (AI driven?)
  • ... isn't amongst the top 5 most expensive phones
  • ... isn't in the top 5 from DxOMark

Whether it's a multi-camera or AI driven camera system, the results are generally very good right now. There was plenty of praise for the iPhone XR's single camera when it was first released and I've seen some great results from the Pixel 2 too.

This test threw in a range of price points so I'd be surprised if only the most expensive made it to the top. Similarly, I don't DxOMark to be a massive factor here either, although the Pixel 3 isn't listed yet so that could change if the improvements year-on-year were big enough. These are three things that would also turn smart phone photography on its head. As I've said before, I'm all in on the Apple ecosystem so having an iPhone take excellent photos is a real plus, but that's not to say phones like the Pixel 2 XL aren't tempting.

My votes

I picked 12 out of the 15 victors correctly, but until we know which phone was which it's hard to know how I feel about that it. You can see my votes below, with the winner in bold:

Round 1

Round 2



And the real winner is...

You can watch the video below to see who the winner was or scroll down to get a simplified version of the outcome, but surprising to me was that two dual camera iPhones were used rather than pitting the XS against the XR


One thing worth mentioning is that I didn't realised that Instagram stories were also used to capture votes which meant that the results were not always what they seemed.

The phones

With the video released we can finally look at which phone was which

  1. Palm
  2. Mate 20 Pro
  3. Razer 2
  4. OnePlus 6T
  5. LG V40
  6. Google Pixel 2
  7. Apple iPhone XS
  8. Blackberry KEY2
  9. Google Pixel 3
  10. Huawei P20 Pro
  11. RED Hydrogen
  12. Huawei Mate 22
  13. Samsung Galaxy Note 9
  14. HTC U12+
  15. Apple iPhone X
  16. Pocophone F1

Let's look at how I voted in each round:

Round 1

In round 1 I voted for the Mate 20, Razer 2, V40, Blackberry, P20 Pro, Hydrogen, U12+ and the Pocophone which meant I eliminated all for Google Pixel and iPhones in this round.

Round 2

I voted for the Mate 20, Blackberry, Hydrogen and the Samsung Galaxy Note 9.


With just 4 phones left, I voted for the Mate 20 over the Blackberry and the Hydrogen over the Pocophone.


Which leaves us with the winner with the Mate 20 triumphing over the Pocophone.

Predictions vs reality

So how do my predictions stack up against the actual outcome? Well firstly, both phones that made it to the final featured a dual camera system as did every phone that reached the semi-final.

At around £350 the Pocophone F1 is nowhere near the top end of the bracket so that's one out of three for me.

As for DxOMark, neither camera is listed but it's conceivable that the Mate 20 would make it, but I have no idea how the Pocophone F1 would stack up to their criteria so let's call that a draw? 1.5/3 isn't bad but not as clear cut as I'd have thought.

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Quick links and commentary on interesting articles, videos and more throughout the week.

  1. 58.1 – Monday
    1. A - Z of Edible Flowers flowerstoeat.co.uk
  2. 58.2 – Tuesday
    1. Violet Beauregarde should have won Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory @englishguy on mobile.twitter.com
    2. Captain Marvel trailer 2 Marvel Entertainment on youtube.com
    3. The Art Institute of Chicago Has Put 50,000 High-Res Images from Their Collection Online kottke.org
  3. 58.3 – Wednesday
    1. The Sweetest Market in the World Great Big Story on youtube.com
    2. Louis Vuitton binder clip brockdavis on instagram.com
    3. Passion Journals by Moleskin   £21.99+ gb.moleskine.com
    4. Rocket launch between mountains Yudong Jiang on apod.nasa.gov
    5. Adam Conover debunks misconceptions about Tesla & climate change Larry King on youtube.com
    6. Nick Offerman acted like a statue while slowly sipping whisky for 45 minutes coolmaterial.com
  4. 58.4 – Thursday
    1. The Mystery Font That Took Over New York Rumsey Taylor on nytimes.com
    2. Tungrus and the Chicken from Hell kottke.org
    3. As climate change worsens, America faces nuclear closures axios.com
    4. How to wake up to a weather forecast on your iPhone's lock screen macrumors.com
    5. Kellog's UK re-brand underconsideration.com
    6. Globe Box by Best Made Co.   $1,298 blessthisstuff.com
  5. 58.5 – Friday
    1. What Tesla did is 'truly astonishing', says Porsche electrek.co
    2. Films of 2018 Top Screen on youtube.com
    3. Avengers Endgame trailer Marvel Entertainment on youtube.com
    4. Where's Wally? BE@RBRICK by Wood Wood w00dw00d on instagram.com
    5. I can't believe it's a smartwatch Tyler Stalman on youtube.com
    6. Moonlight JAY-Z on youtube.com
  6. 58.6 – Saturday
    1. To Scale: The Solar System youtube.com
    2. The Mini Bar   $14 blessthisstuff.com
    3. Lexon Prisme bluetooth speakers   $167 theawesomer.com
    4. Vector: Episode 201 Rene Ritchie on itunes.apple.com
    5. Population Mountains Matt Daniels on pudding.cool
  7. 58.7 – Sunday
    1. Armbanduhr BN21 Watch by Braun   $68 canopy.co
    2. The American Meme trailer Netflix on youtube.com
    3. The Game Console book   $22 theawesomer.com
    4. Ink Oscillations / Drawing Machine theawesomer.com
    5. Emotional Street Signs   $34+ theawesomer.com

Jump to notable items for Week #57, Week #59 , view the notable archive or my favourites.

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