OnePlus 6 vs Huawei P20 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S9+: Camera Comparison

 
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OnePlus 6 vs Huawei P20 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S9+: Camera Comparison

Highlights

  • The OnePlus 6 has a 16-megapixel primary rear camera
  • The Huawei P20 is the only option with three specialised rear cameras
  • The Samsung Galaxy S9+ can adjust its aperture for low-light shots

Ever since the OnePlus 5 (Review), Chinese smartphone maker OnePlus has been heavily promoting its camera chops to help it stand out from the competition. The OnePlus 5 was the company’s first phone to have dual cameras, followed shortly by the OnePlus 5T (Review), which actually ditched the secondary telephoto sensor for one that focussed on low-light performance. In our review of the OnePlus 5 and the OnePlus 5T, we found that the the cameras didn't quite live up to the company's claims, and that there was still lots of room to improve.

In this shootout, we’ll be comparing the cameras of the OnePlus 6 (Review) to that of more expensive flagships like the Huawei P20 Pro (Review) and the Samsung Galaxy S9+ (Review). The reason we chose the P20 Pro is obvious - we've found it to be one of the best phone cameras out there, and it's also currently DXOMark's highest rated smartphone. We’ve also chosen the Galaxy S9+ since it was the best overall performer in our last comparison, in which we pitted it against the iPhone X (Review) and the Google Pixel 2 XL (Review).

The OnePlus 6 features a 16-megapixel Sony IMX 519 primary sensor, with a f/1.7 aperture, optical image stabilisation, and larger pixels compared to those on the 5T's sensor. The secondary rear camera and the selfie camera are exactly the same as those of the OnePlus 5T.

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The Huawei P20 Pro has a massive 40-megapixel main camera, which downsamples its output to 10 megapixels, thus giving you great detail and a manageable file size. It also has a second 8-megapixel sensor with a telephoto lens and a third monochrome sensor on the rear for improving the details in captured shots.

The Galaxy S9+ has a 12-megapixel main camera with the widest f/1.5 aperture, along with a second 12-megapixel telephoto camera. To know more details about each of these phones' cameras, be sure to check out our full reviews using the links above.

For the tests that follow, we disabled any and all extraneous features which might affect photo quality. This includes beatification modes for the front and rear cameras. On the P20 Pro, we turned off the Master AI feature which tends to artificially boost colours. We’ve kept most of the tests the same as in our previous comparison, so without further ado, let's dive straight in.

 

OnePlus 6 vs Huawei P20 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S9+: Daylight landscape

In our outdoor test, the OnePlus 6 captured excellent details on a building, as well as the plants and trees to the sides of the frame. There was slight noise in the shadow regions of the palm trees, which was visible once we zoomed in, but overall, the photo was very good. However, the colour tone of all three photos was vastly different.

Tap to see full-sized OnePlus 6 camera sample. Other full-sized samples: Huawei P20 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S9+

 

These outdoor shots were taken on a sunny afternoon, which is a bit hard to tell looking at the OnePlus 6's sample. The Huawei P20 Pro delivered the most dramatic-looking shot, thanks to its more saturated colours and better contrast between the highlight and shadow areas of the image. The Samsung Galaxy S9+ came the closest to accurately measuring white balance, and therefore the colours of the scene were more natural. You can distinctly make out the shadows of the trees on the grass, as well as the shadow cast by the right wing of the building on the awning in the middle.

landscape daylight 100 camera comparo100 percent crops

 

In the next test, we have an indoor scene but with plenty of natural light pouring in through a huge skylight. The HDR mode in all phones did an excellent job here, although the P20 Pro outshone the others when it comes to exposure and producing vivid colours. That extra bit of sharpness also gives the picture a good sense of depth, and the colours were nicely balanced. Looking at a 100 percent crop, we notice that the P20 Pro also had the most details of the three, such as the clearly visible texture on the tiles.

Tap to see full-sized OnePlus 6 camera sample. Other full-sized samples: Huawei P20 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S9+

 

Even the wooden structures at the edges of the frame were in focus and free of noise. The Galaxy S9+ came in a close second in terms of the amount of detail captured in distant objects as well as those at the edge of the frame. The OnePlus 6 failed to capture the subtle details and texture of the tiles on the wall, and looking at the structures on the sides, we noticed a fair bit of noise.

landscape daylight 2 100 camera comparoo100 percent crop

Even the wooden structures at the edges of the frame were in focus and free of noise. The Galaxy S9+ came in a close second in terms of the amount of detail captured in distant objects as well as those at the edge of the frame. The OnePlus 6 failed to capture the subtle details and texture of the tiles on the wall, and looking at the structures on the sides, we noticed a fair bit of noise.

 

OnePlus 6 vs Huawei P20 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S9+: Daylight macros

With close-up shots, we ran into a bit of an issue with the OnePlus 6. It struggled to focus on very small objects at times. We tested this with both a regular edition and the Avengers edition of this phone, and found this happening on multiple occasions. The phone would eventually lock focus after we tried slightly different positions and angles, but this can be annoying, especially when you’re trying to capture fleeting moments.

daylight macro 100 camera100 percent crops

We didn’t face such issues with the Huawei and Samsung phones. In fact, we were often able to get a lot closer to our subjects, such as with the shot of the butterfly above, than what the OnePlus 6 typically allows. The P20 Pro also offers a much shallower depth of field compared to the other two.

 

In our second macro test, the OnePlus 6 managed to lock focus well and also handled the white balance pretty accurately. Colours were nicely saturated on our subject and even on the objects in the background, like the red car.

Tap to see full-sized OnePlus 6 camera sample. Other full-sized samples: Huawei P20 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S9+

 

The Galaxy S9+ has a slightly warmer colour tone and the white balance isn't too accurate as the red car looks a bit orange compared to the other two samples. The P20 Pro has the best sharpness and detail in this test and we love its ability to separate the background from the subject. The white balance is also on point and colours are nicely saturated. 
 

OnePlus 6 vs Huawei P20 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S9+: Low light landscape

When shooting in a dimly lit room, the OnePlus 6 captured the brightest image compared to the other two. Despite using the highest ISO level, it handled noise extremely well. The level of detail in all the little objects at the end of the room was on par with what the Samsung and Huawei phones delivered. The picture below isn't exactly representative of what the room actually looked like (it was a lot darker) but it's goes to show how well this phone handles low-light conditions.

Tap to see full-sized OnePlus 6 camera sample. Other full-sized samples: Huawei P20 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S9+

 

The Huawei P20 Pro and Galaxy S9+ had nearly identical results, although for this test, the Galaxy S9+ stuck to its f/2.4 aperture setting for some reason, rather than automatically switching to f/1.5.

night landscape 100 camera comparo100 percent crop

 

When shooting outdoors at night, the OnePlus 6 lost out to the other two as it relied on high ISO sensitivity to brighten up the scene, which resulted in lots of noise and a degradation of detail. The OnePlus 6 seems to use its main sensor in low light too, rather than switching to the second sensor.

Tap to see full-sized OnePlus 6 camera sample. Other full-sized samples: Huawei P20 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S9+

 

In this scene, the OnePlus 6 selected ISO 2000, while the P20 Pro only needed to go to ISO 800. The Galaxy S9+ used the lowest ISO value of just 320, instead taking advantage of its f/1.5 aperture to allow more light to be captured.

night landscape 2 100 camera comparo100 percent crop

 

OnePlus 6 vs Huawei P20 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S9+: Low light macros

In our first macro test in low light, the OnePlus 6 captured good amounts of detail and showed good depth of field, but the overall result was a bit dark despite it using ISO 4000. The leaves around the main focus point, and the pillars in the background, came out well. The P20 Pro delievered a brighter image but the white balance was a bit off, with the colours coming out a bit too warm. The S9+ had the best result, although focus was on the softer side. It also managed this with a pretty low ISO value of just 500.

Tap to see full-sized OnePlus 6 camera sample. Other full-sized samples: Huawei P20 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S9+

 

Finally, we checked to see how the phones can handle bright colours under artificial lighting. We shot a bookshelf full of different-coloured books under fluorescent light for this test. Here, the OnePlus 6 is on par with the Galaxy S9+ in terms of getting the colours right. It did sacrifice a bit of detail towards the edge of the frame, which the S9+ was able to manage better. The P20 Pro tends to boost colours a little, and the post-processing didn't quite work in its favour, as it caused a bit of blurriness around the edges of the text in our shot.

night macro books 100 camera comparo100 percent crops

 

OnePlus 6 vs Huawei P20 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S9+: Flash performance

The OnePlus 6 has a dual-LED flash, which was quiet effective at lighting up our subject. The spread was good and the resulting shot retained its original colours nicely. Upon closer inspection of our subject's face though, we noticed slight pixellation and blurry edges in the shadow regions of the skin. This was not the case with the other two. The flash on the P20 Pro has the weakest intensity of the three, but not by much. Red-eye is still an issue with all three phones when shooting faces with the flash on.

Tap to see full-sized OnePlus 6 camera sample. Other full-sized samples: Huawei P20 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S9+

 

OnePlus 6 vs Huawei P20 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S9+: Zoom

The OnePlus 6 doesn’t have a second camera with a telephoto lens, but the company has still placed a ‘2x’ button in the camera app's viewfinder. Tapping this gives you a zoomed-in view, but it's a digital zoom. Naturally, our subject appears soft and the level of detail is lower. The Huawei P20 Pro boasts of 3x optical zoom, which gives you a much sharper frame of your subject, but once again Huawei’s post-processing can be a bit too aggressive. The Galaxy S9+ offers 2x optical zoom and delivered the best results under good lighting.

2x zoom 100 camera comparo100 percent crop

 

When zooming in to objects at distance, the shot captured by the OnePlus 6 looked a bit artificial and had very little detail, compared to the photos taken with the other two. The P20 Pro gave us a closer view thanks to the 3x zoom, along with much better detail. The Galaxy S9+ also managed to capture very good details.

We also tested how the phones handled quality at their maximum zoom level. The OnePlus 6 tops out at 8x digital zoom but the backlit sign and the windows of the buildings in our test shot were too blurred to make the shot useful. The Galaxy S9+ did a bit better with detail, but failed to get the exposure right at its 10x digital zoom maximum. The P20 Pro had the smoothest result of the three even at 10x digital zoom, which is very impressive.

Tap to see full-sized OnePlus 6 camera sample

2x zoom  2100 camera comparo100 percent crop

 

OnePlus 6 vs Huawei P20 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S9+: Panorama

The OnePlus 6 does a decent job of stitching panorama shots together, but this can only be done when holding the phone vertically and panning from left to right, which is a weird restriction to have. Details are very good and are on par with what the other two phones deliver. The P20 Pro distorted some aspects of the perspective a bit.

OnePlus 6 vs Huawei P20 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S9+: Portrait mode

Portrait mode on the OnePlus 6 works decently well. The phone was able to detect the edges around our subject (with some very minor anomalies). Details such as the subject's face were a bit too soft for our liking, but some might prefer this kind of look. The P20 Pro created an excellent background blur effect, and overall, a much more vivid picture with far better details on our subject's face. Some might argue that the depth effect is a bit too heavy and that our subject looks looks almost Photoshopped into the scene. The Galaxy S9+ uses its telephoto camera to shoot portraits, so you get a narrower field of view at the same distance. However, details are excellent.

Tap to see full-sized OnePlus 6 camera sample. Other full-sized samples: Huawei P20 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S9+

 

In low light, the OnePlus 6 handled colours very well, although shadow regions appeared slightly pixelated due to the high ISO and noise reduction process. This also caused burry edges around some parts of the object that was meant to be sharply in focus. The P20 Pro had the best level of detail, and edges were very well defined. The Galaxy S9+ suffered the most here as its telephoto sensor is known to have weak low-light performance.

Low light portrait samples: OnePlus 6, Huawei P20 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S9+

 

When shooting artificial objects, the OnePlus 6 had a better hit ratio with detecting edges. Colours were soothing and well balanced. The P20 Pro nailed edge detection again, and also delivered much better detail in the coffee beans compared to the other two. The Galaxy S9+ once again fell short, although it did blur out the right parts of the subject.

Tap to see full-sized OnePlus 6 camera sample. Other full-sized samples: Huawei P20 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S9+

 

OnePlus 6 vs Huawei P20 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S9+: Selfies

The front camera of the OnePlus 6 manages to capture colours quite accurately but we noticed that selfies had quite a bit of grain even under natural light. The P20 Pro captured much softer images, which unfortunately don't look very natural. The Galaxy S9+ had the best balance of skin tones and details in our outdoor selfie test. The OnePlus 6 lacks a portrait mode for the selfie camera at the time of launch, but it is promised for a future software update. The others offer this feature already.

Tap to see full-sized OnePlus 6 camera sample. Other full-sized samples: Huawei P20 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S9+

 

In low light, we found that the OnePlus 6 handled skin tones much better than the other two. The screen flash is decently powerful and the white balance of our shots wasn't affected negatively. The P20 Pro captured very washed-out shots without the flash, and with it, the white balance went for a toss resulting is a very unnatural look. The Galaxy S9+ samples had a slightly reddish hue with no flash. With the flash, these were the most evenly lit selfies with the least noise, but at the cost of some detail.

Tap to see full-sized OnePlus 6 camera sample. Other full-sized samples: Huawei P20 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S9+

 

OnePlus 6 vs Huawei P20 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S9+: 4K and slow-motion video

The OnePlus 6 supports optical and electronic image stabilisation on its primary camera, and this helps vastly when shooting at in 4K at 30fps. Even when waking around, the phone managed to counter little shakes very well. The white balance was also handled quite well, especially considering that we tested all three phones on a very warm, sunny afternoon. Compared to the Galaxy S9+, the quality and level of detail was nearly on par. The Huawei P20 Pro captured good details too, but the lack of stabilisation is quite disappointing. The colours in our test shots were also way too warm, causing videos to look oversaturated.

The OnePlus 6 supports 4K 60fps video recording, which looks great. Even in low light, there was no visible noise. The Galaxy S9+ has this option too, and performs equally well. Sadly, Huawei doesn’t support this higher framerate shooting mode, so you’re limited to 30fps. There's also a time restriction when recording at 4K resolution on all phones. All three of them have a 10 minute time limit, per clip, when shooting at 4K 30fps. The OnePlus 6 and the Samsung Galaxy S9+ have a minute limit shooting at 4K at 60 frames per second, a mode the P20 Pro doesn't support.

The OnePlus 6 can also shoot 480p slow-motion video at 720p. There’s a lot of visible interlacing here, but at least you’re not limited to short bursts. Samsung’s 960fps video capture mode is the most versatile of the three, even though the quality is limited to 720p. The P20 Pro supports 960fps slow-motion too, but it’s incredibly difficult to capture the right moment since this process is not automated like Samsung’s. The slow-motion video captured by the P20 also ended up looking a bit fake; almost like stop-motion animation.

OnePlus6 camera comparison side by side ndtv camera compare

 

Verdict
The new primary rear camera of the OnePlus 6 is quite capable, and in certain situations, we found it coming close to or even matching the quality of the Samsung Galaxy S9+ and Huawei P20 Pro. This is a commendable achievement, considering how much lower its price is. If we were to be strict, then yes, the OnePlus 6 falls short when it comes to capturing details as well as the Galaxy S9+ does, or the dynamic range of the P20 Pro, but some of these shortcomings aren't really dealbreakers. We don't think that the average user would notice much of a difference in most ordinary shooting scenarios. The biggest downside of the OnePlus 6 was the intermittent focus locking issue we had when trying to take macro shots. During our tests, it cost us being able to capture some fleeting moments.

Low light landscapes tend to get quite noisy with the OnePlus 6, because it has a tendency to boost the ISO level wildly, muddying details in the bargain. The second 20-megapixel sensor seems to be used rarely (if at all), other than capturing depth information for the phone's Portrait mode. OnePlus has spoken about the primary sensor's larger sensor and improved low-light capabilities compared to the OnePlus 5T, which makes us wonder if it was even necessary to have such a high resolution second sensor. Finally, 4K video performance is very good, and the fact that this phone supports 4K 60fps like more expensive flagships is a big bonus.

For a phone with a starting price of just Rs. 34,999, it's safe to say that the OnePlus 6 offers very good value for money. This phone is a good choice if you're looking for camera quality that comes close to what other flagship phones deliver, without the premium cost.


Is OnePlus 6 an iPhone X killer at half the price? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.

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  • Design
  • Display
  • Software
  • Performance
  • Battery Life
  • Camera
  • Value for Money
  • Good
  • Looks great
  • Excellent performance
  • Useful software customisations
  • Bad
  • Average camera quality
  • No wireless charging or weatherproofing
Display6.28-inch
Processor2.8GHz octa-core
Front Camera16-megapixel
Resolution1080x2280 pixels
RAM8GB
OSAndroid 8.1 Oreo
Storage128GB
Rear Camera16-megapixel
Battery Capacity3300mAh
  • Design
  • Display
  • Software
  • Performance
  • Battery Life
  • Camera
  • Value for Money
  • Good
  • Brilliant cameras
  • Up-to-date software
  • Good battery life
  • Premium design
  • Bad
  • Lacks Quad-HD display
  • No wireless charging
Display6.10-inch
Processor1.8GHz octa-core
Front Camera24-megapixel
Resolution1080x2240 pixels
RAM6GB
OSAndroid 8.1 Oreo
Storage128GB
Rear Camera40-megapixel
Battery Capacity4000mAh
  • Design
  • Display
  • Software
  • Performance
  • Battery Life
  • Camera
  • Value for Money
  • Good
  • Excellent build quality
  • Stereo speakers
  • Good battery life
  • Snappy all-round performance
  • Very good rear cameras
  • Vivid HDR display
  • Bad
  • Intelligent Scan feels clunky
  • Attracts fingerprints easily
Display6.20-inch
Processor1.7GHz octa-core
Front Camera8-megapixel
Resolution1440x2960 pixels
RAM6GB
OSAndroid 8.0
Storage64GB
Rear Camera12-megapixel
Battery Capacity3500mAh
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