Smartphone camera shootout: LG G6 vs Samsung Galaxy S8

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Last year, we named the Google Pixel the king of all smartphone cameras, besting the Samsung Galaxy S7, LG V20, and iPhone 7. Last month, the Pixel tried to defend its crown against the LG G6, and lost.

Now, a new contender tries to knock LG off the top spot. Samsung’s Galaxy S8 may appear to have the same camera specs as last year’s Galaxy S7, but don’t let the megapixel numbers fool you: it’s got a new sensor, new optics, and new image processing algorithms. 

Can Samsung’s latest and greatest knock LG off its perch? Let’s find out.

What we’re testing (and what we’re not)

Before we begin, how about a quick specs recap? The main rear camera of the Galaxy S8 uses a Sony IMX333 sensor with dual pixel autofocus. The resolution is 12 megapixels (with 1.4 micron pixels) and it’s all behind an f/1.7 lens. It’s got optical image stabilization, too. The LG G6 has two rear cameras, one standard and one wide-angle. They both use the same Sony IMX258 sensor, at 13 megapixels with 1.12 micron pixels. For our tests, we’re mostly concerned with the standard camera, which has optical image stabilization and a superior f/1.8 aperture. The wide-angle lens, for the record, lacks OIS and has an f/2.4 aperture.

Simply looking at the specs, Samsung has the upper hand. It should perform better in low light with a wider aperture and larger sensor, and should focus more quickly.

It’s important to note that we tested these cameras the way most people use them, in auto mode. That means straight out of the pocket, using the stock app, with HDR set on auto. If a phone defaults to something less than full resolution, we rectify that, but otherwise this is the “out of box, out of pocket” experience. 

We’re going to look deeply at the cameras across three areas: color, clarity, and range. We took dozens of photos with each phone, and what you see here is just a representative sample.

It’s important to note that this is not a comprehensive review of the entire camera experience. We’re looking at final shot quality across three main areas, but there are many other factors that go into a great smartphone camera. The speed at which the camera app loads and is ready to take a photo (the “pocket to photo” time), shutter lag, shot-to-shot latency, burst speed, the camera app interface and features, and that’s all without even diving into video features or quality, or the front camera.

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