Galaxy Note 20 Ultra bested by ASUS Zenfone 7 Pro in blind camera test
It’s about that time when all the Best Ofs emerge to collect all the products released throughout the year to face off against each other. In a blind camera test performed by Marques Brownlee, 16 smartphones were put in the ringer to determine the camera king of 2020. Voters decided between pairs of photos, taken by unknown smartphones in a series of rounds. Voting took place on both Twitter and Instagram, and the results were a mix of surprising and not so much.
In the first round, featuring all 16 smartphones, the LG Wing suffered a very narrow loss to the Zenfone, which gathered 51% of the votes. As seemingly predicted by Brownlee, neither iPhone model made it past the first round. He did state at the beginning that iPhones have never made it past the first round, which he later attributes to how the phones handle white balance. As a result, the iPhone SE and 12 Pro MAX both lost to Motorola Edge+ and OnePlus 8t, respectively.
In the second round, the Zenfone 7 Pro, with its flip camera, won by a wider margin over Pixel 5. It was a surprising outcome given the popularity of Pixel 5’s camera against some of the top smartphone cameras on the market. The Sony Xperia 1 II, unfortunately, took an L over the Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra, while the Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra received the largest win in the history of the competition, with a 95% of the votes over the OnePlus 8t. Apple must be livid, at this point.
Then somewhat surprisingly, the Note 20 Ultra lost the next round to the Mi 10 Ultra as the final contender against the Zenfone 7 Pro, the latter of which ultimately squeaked by as the winner.
During his analysis, Brownlee started off by noting that people generally prefer brighter photos. Thus the photos taken for the competition, while designed to appear random, were intentionally chosen to test the cameras using a variety of different colors, focal lengths, and overall composition. He noted that the Zenfone was most clean and consistent with exposure throughout the competition.
He also noted how dynamic range factored in, particularly in the photo featuring the salad and candle, with some phones blowing out the candle (pun intended) and others showing it clearly. In the end, probably the biggest factor in how the votes resulted is how social media compresses and displays photos. It turns out, photos posted to Twitter would see a boost in saturation, while the same set posted to Instagram stories saw a loss in saturation. This seemed to skew the results, with the Zenfone losing to the Mi 10 Ultra on Instagram, but winning by a wider margin on Twitter.
It’s worth noting how close the Zenfone came to losing to the LG Wing, so this could have easily been a different outcome overall. But Brownlee put it plainly, ” it doesn’t really matter exactly what your photo looks like when you take it… as long as you like it, post that.”