Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL caught everyone by surprise last year as they galloped to the top of smartphone cameras chart. Not only the Pixel 2 camera’s scored the highest ever on DxOMark, but it also became the only smartphone in the recent years to be crowned as the best smartphone camera by all the major publications including us. That said, in the world of smartphones, we have learned the fact that any and every victory is short-lived. Today, we are pitting the brand new Galaxy S9 Plus against the Pixel 2 to see if it can take the crown of the best smartphone camera from Pixel 2. The battle is going to be grueling and in the end, there will only be one winner. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the battle of the best smartphone cameras:
Galaxy S9 Plus vs Pixel 2 Camera Battle
To see which smartphone came out as the winner, we tested both the phones in multiple scenarios to see how both of them performed in each situation. In this article, we are going to declare a winner for those individual situations and then finally the overall winner will be crowned as the best smartphone camera phone. Here, are the categories that we will be looking at:
First, let’s get the camera specs out of the way. On one hand, we have the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus with its 12 MP camera that offers dual apertures of f/1.5 and f/2.4 along with a secondary 12 MP f/2.4 telephoto lens for portrait mode shots. On the other hand, we have the Pixel 2 with its 12 MP f/1.8 camera and Google’s software prowess for portrait mode photos. On the front, the S9 Plus has an 8 MP f/1.7 camera, while the Pixel 2 has an 8 MP f/2.4 camera.
Now that you know what are the categories that we will be testing the smartphones in and the paper specification of the cameras on both smartphones, let us begin the battle of the best smartphone cameras as we pit the champion Google Pixel 2 against the contender Samsung Galaxy S9.
1. Daytime Photos
Let’s start off with the picture of this beautiful graphiti. Looking at the pictures, it’s obvious that both the S9 and Pixel 2 have captured a very similar photo. Both the photos have good colors and almost identical details, but when you zoom into the photos, you will see that the S9 Plus photo is overexposed, while the Pixel 2 maintains perfect colors and detail. Pixel 2 wins this round.
However, when a took a look at the picture below, you will see that the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus was better at capturing the sunlight and handles the sun fair perfectly. Pixel 2’s photo is not bad by any means, it’s just that the Galaxy S9 did better here. Sadly, this was the only picture in which the Samsung Galaxy S9 performed better than Pixel 2 when it comes to daylight photography.
In the rest of the photos that we took, which you can see below, Pixel 2 was consistently outperforming the S9 Plus as it captured more details, was better at differentiating the shadows, had the better dynamic range, and produced overall better pictures than the S9 Plus.
Winner: Pixel 2
2. Low-light Photos
Let’s move to lowlight shots, which is where the S9 is said to excel at, thanks to its wider f/1.5 aperture. Well, take a look at the picture below. The S9’s wider aperture does seem to capture more light. The photo is brighter and the colors look very pleasing. The Pixel 2 photo is great too but just zoom in and you’ll see noise. And it’s not just this photo, for every photo but one that we took in the low light situation, the S9 Plus was able to outperform the Pixel 2.
There was one case where the Pixel 2 considerably outperformed the S9 Plus. I mean look at the picture, below, you cannot even see the car in the photo taken by the S9 Plus while Pixel 2’s photo clearly captures it. I think this is just because of Google’s software prowess.
Pixel 2 has far better post-processing than Samsung Galaxy S9, still, the variable aperture camera that the S9 Plus packs gives it a noticeable advantage over the Pixel 2 when it comes to lowlight photography.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus
3. Portrait Mode
Next, we have everyone’s favorite, portrait mode shots. Let’s start with the picture below and I am pretty sure you know which photo is better. The Pixel 2 is just bang on with the details and the colors. Even the bokeh looks way better on the Pixel 2. The S9 Plus photo is fine with good edge detection, but the colors just seem washed out.
What about the picture below? The Galaxy S9 Plus ups the ante and produces a shot that is almost as good as the one from the Pixel 2. But I still prefer the shot from the Pixel 2, which is sharper and has good colors.
Now, let’s make this harder for both the phones by trying to capture portrait shots in low light which is something even DSLR’s can’t handle perfectly. If you look at the picture below you will see that Pixel 2 just blows the S9 Plus out of the water and wins this category. I mean Pixel 2 is taking pictures which can shame even the DSLR cameras while the S9 plus is just barely able to capture portrait shots in low light. By now, I am convinced that even if a smartphone comes out with a dozen cameras, Pixel 2 will beat it with its single camera setup when it comes to portrait shots.
Winner: Pixel 2
Now, let’s talk about videos. Take a look at the video (below is the video with the exact time stamp) we shot side by side from both the Pixel 2 and the Galaxy S9 Plus. Well, as you can see, the Pixel 2 video is just way more stable, even though both have OIS. Galaxy S9 Plus has dual OIS by the way, but when we shot this video, it seemed to have no stabilization. Look, the S9 Plus takes some great videos when it comes to colors and focusing, like the Pixel 2, but the poor stabilization just kind of ruins the experience.
That said, the S9 Plus has one trick up its sleeves and that’s the super slow motion videos, which the Pixel 2 lacks and that is a big difference if you are into slow-mo videos. As you can see in the video below, the S9 Plus captures slow motion videos at 960 FPS which is way more than Pixel 2’s 240 FPS.The super slow-mo from the S9 Plus just looks way cooler. Yes, it’s 720p and only works well enough in low light situations, but it’s a nice feature to have. However super slow motion aside, Pixel 2 offers the better overall video experience so it wins this category.
Winner: Pixel 2
5. Front Camera Photos
Lastly, we are going to take a look at the most underutilized hardware on my smartphone and that’s the selfie camera. Selfies have become really popular today and Pixel 2 makes taking selfies fun. Not only the Pixel 2 can take great normal selfies, it can even take portrait mode selfies which are way better than any other selfie camera out there. I mean, take a look at the selfies below.
The details and the sharpness of the Pixel 2 photos are just amazing. I have no idea why Samsung just smoothens the selfies which not only makes then look washed out but also botches the edge detection giving you bad portrait shots. Pixel 2 is obviously the clear winner here.
Winner: Pixel 2
Galaxy S9 Plus vs Pixel 2: And The Winner Is…
Going through all the categories, we can see that Pixel 2 is the clear winner here. I mean the S9’s dual aperture makes sure it captures great daytime photos and some amazing low light photos. Seriously, low light photography on the S9 is just wow. The super slow mode too is great in well-lit situations, but honestly, the Pixel 2 is still the best camera phone out there. If slow-motion videos are your thing and you take a ton of low light photos, sure S9 Plus is for you. But if you want a camera phone which performs under any lighting condition and makes it just easier to click beautiful pictures Pixel 2 is for you.
Galaxy S9 Plus vs Pixel 2 Camera: The Champion Retains the Crown
Galaxy S9 Plus can take some really good photos, however, it was not enough to defeat or current champion. At least for now, the Pixel 2 is still the king of smartphone cameras. However, with Huawei P20 Pro scoring an impressive 109 points DxOMark, Pixel 2 might not survive long. If you want to see Huawei P20 Pro battling Pixel 2 in the similar duel do let us know in the comments section below.