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Shootouts

Shootout: The very best cameras on flagship smartphones today

By Liu Hongzuo - 25 Jul 2021

And our winner is...

Choosing the champion

We determined a winner based on its ability to perform across the board. Noteworthy mentions were made in bold within each section. Those that do, get a point, with the overall winner having the most points accumulated across each shooting scenario. 

Score matrix - tallying up performance for a winner
 
Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max
 

Huawei P40 Pro+
 

Oppo Find X2 Pro
 

Samsung Galaxy
S21 Ultra

Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro
 
Main      
10x Zoom        
Ultra-wide        
Low-light        
Macro      
Total 3 0 2 2 0
Accolades - - - -

With this table and the detailed comparison in every section, it's clear that there are many great phones across various price points for the purpose of getting a great shot. Why the Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max was able to edge ahead isn't necessarily down to superior performance in every aspect, but that it was able to provide in the little ways that other cameras came close to. In fact, the iPhone 12 Pro Max had extremely poor zoom performance, yet it was able to come out ahead of the pack at the very end.

Given the lead areas for the iPhone 12 Pro Max and from the testing results presented, you can tell that it can deliver the most satisfying day-to-day shots with an excellent dynamic range to capture highlights and preserve them as close to what your eyes might see. Accurate low light indoor performance helps capture the ambience while the nod to our macro test will ensure close-up shots like in nature of food photography shows up nicely on the Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max.

Oppo's Find X2 Pro on the other hand focuses on getting a neutral, bright shot as well as excelling in niche areas like great ultra-wide-lens shots and the best close-ups you can get on any flagship phone. 

Meanwhile, Samsung's latest Galaxy S21 Ultra is a great all-rounder that comes close to overthrowing the Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max. If you consider that Apple is running on its own ecosystem and platform, then the Galaxy S21 Ultra is the best all-round Android phone shooter. That said, we did give it the nod for tying in with the Apple for the best main camera performance for day-to-day shooting needs with excellent detail retention and colour accuracy. It is also hands-down the best telephoto performance at 10x zoom should you often like to shoot things from afar and having to see into details. Its low light performance was also credible and was only slightly outclassed by Apple. Where Samsung did lose out obviously is in macro performance.

Our scoring also shows how a great photography phone doesn't necessarily grant an auto-win in a camera-centric shootout. The Huawei P40 Pro+ is an excellent example - if you previewed the Huawei-shot photos from the device and went through every image, you'd definitely be satisfied with what it offers and want to nominate it for the running. Similarly, the Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro puts so many mid-range and some flagship phones to shame. The OnePlus 8 phones have a photo quality that doesn't even come close to either of them. It is only on closer inspection on a large monitor, or when compared side-by-side, do we spot some of the flaws that one cannot see in casual photo browsing.

Of course, camera performance alone doesn't make a phone, but we hope our analysis gives you a clear indication of which phone to incline to if camera performance ranks high on your list. Happy shopping for your next phone upgrade!

Pricing and Shopping links
Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max.

Priced from S$1,799, the Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max is available at Apple's online store, M1, Singtel and StarHub.

Huawei P40 Pro+

Priced at S$1,898, the Huawei P40 Pro+ is available across Singapore via local telcos (M1Singtel, and StarHub), authorised retailers (Best Denki, Challenger, Courts, Harvey Norman), Huawei Concept Stores, and Huawei's official online stores on Shopee and Lazada.

Oppo Find X2 Pro

Priced at S$1,699, the Oppo Find X2 Pro is available across Oppo's Concept Stores, authorised retailers, Lazada, and Shopee.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

Priced from S$1,798, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is available at Samsung's Online Store, Lazada, Shopee, Best Denki, Challenger, Courts, Gain City, Harvey Norman, and the big three telcos at M1, Singtel, and StarHub.

Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro

Priced at S$749, the Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro is officially available at LazadaShopeeQoo10, the big three telcos (M1, Singtel, StarHub) all authorised Mi Stores

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