Surprising Results for the 2019 Smartphone Camera Blind Test

Blind camera tests are definitely my favorite type of test, because they tend to reveal things that I wouldn't have previously considered. It's easy to get wrapped up in the specs, but the real-world results and perceptions seem to matter more than what's on paper. 

The latest video from Marques Brownlee pits 16 current smartphones against one another to determine which one produces the best-liked images. This blind test does produce some surprising results, especially how badly the iPhone 11 Pro performed. The iPhone was knocked out in the first round, which I found very interesting, and it's not something that I was expecting. The two smartphones that ended up in the finals were from Samsung. The most interesting part of this blind test wasn't actually the results, but the conclusions that Brownlee was able to draw from the test. The test was interesting enough; however, the reasons behind why people selected specific phones over others were far more telling than anything else. 

Check out the full video linked above; I'd love to know what your thoughts are on the conclusions. 

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12 Comments
Foto Toad's picture

Interesting but not surprising...
Unless you assume that 4 million votes cast by mostly typical consumers who only know what they have been told to know by pervasive advertising and blind tradition.

I like the blind tests! They're always educational, but any informed consumer would know that (for one example) iPhone has rarely had THE best bleeding edge camera available at any given time... The field is always changing, and that's a good thing for the informed consumer.

Tomas Ramoska's picture

''informed consumer'', ''THE best bleeding edge camera'' Hands down you own iPhone :D thanks for giving me good dose of vitamin C :D

Deleted Account's picture

A bracket system is a weird way to evaluate performance. DXO mark has their ranking here https://www.dxomark.com/category/mobile-reviews/

Usman Dawood's picture

It's a blind test to determine real world preference. It's not really about image quality.

Deleted Account's picture

I understand that but a bracket system isn't going to give a good idea of how one camera/phone stands in comparison the rest.

"against one another to determine which one produces the best-liked images. This blind test does produce some surprising results, especially how badly the iPhone 11 Pro performed. The iPhone was knocked out in the first round, which I found very interesting, and it's not something that I was expecting"

Though it's only an eye test, "best liked image" is totally about image quality. Just not from a technical standpoint.

The reason why a bracket doesn't give significant or comparable results is because phones that don't make it past the first round could have made it further if the matchup was different. That's why in sports, the best team doesn't always win the championship.

The Note10 (winner) negates any of its previous matchups because if it's the most liked image, the first round match up might have gotten further but wouldn't have because it was up against the resulting winner.

I would more interested in seeing what people chose while looking at all images at once and then laying out the choice ranks by phone later.

There were also some interesting points made at the end of the video about preferences. What makes for a more useful image larger sensor/better IQ/dynamic range, didn't seem to be as well received.

Usman Dawood's picture

Ok I see what you mean, you make some good points.

J Maloney's picture

STOP!!! JUST STOP!!! This is a website for photographers. It is not for tiny sensor sized, jpeg driven, manual control limited snapshot phones. We are so very, very tired of the term smartphone cameras and the endless "Tests and "reviews". WE DON'T CARE!!!!! I can even deal with the Sony vs Canon vs Nikon vs blah blah blah articles. Just stop with the phone drivel already, PLEASE!!!! We are serious photographers looking for serious information. Enough already!

Jerome Brill's picture

"PLEASE!!!! We are serious photographers looking for serious information. Enough already!"

Usman Dawood's picture

I review cameras from 8x10 large format to smartphones. Smartphones are proper cameras. You’re putting yourself at a massive disadvantage if you don’t think they are.

Your comment makes you seem pretentious and misinformed.

Don’t be that guy...

Deleted Account's picture

Please speak only for yourself. Camera tech is camera tech and I for one, welcome articles like this.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

When he brought up how that one phone with more in-focus background beat the one with more out-of-focus background, had it been a portrait image (instead of a color card + hands + feet + toy car + chair in the background), I almost think the win would have gone the other way.

Edward Frank's picture

I think it is a silly fad to think that a blurry/shallow focus is necessarily a better photo. It is all the rage to have shallow focus in photos and movies. If you look at old westerns for example, they are sharp from front to back.Landscapes sharp from front to back draw you into them. They look wonderful. Isolating the foreground is great if that is what you want to do, but it isn't the only choice, and it isn't necessari;y the better choice. So in my opinion, and I am not the only one to share it, shallow depth of field is not an indicator of better quality just a subjective stylistic choice.