The tech giant's throne was usurped when DxO gave the HTC device a score of 90, saying the device was " the highest-rated smartphone camera we have ever tested." Impressive!
Previously, the Google Pixel was the highest-rated with 89 points in October 2016, while the iPhone 7 was four points behind so these results will surely come as a blow to both Google and Apple.
You may not have heard much about the HTC model in terms of photography. Especially since their marketing focus was on the phone's "squeezable" gimmick (i.e. you can 'squeeze' the phone to share something):
Yet, the HTC U11 emerged as the victor when its 12-megapixel camera (1.4 µm pixel size), multi-axis optical stabilization, electronic stabilization, and f/1.7 aperture were tried and tested by DxO.
As it turns out, this HTC underdog device received impressive scores "across the board" for its image and video quality:
In particular, its very low noise and fast autofocus helped edge it ahead of our previous highest-scoring phone, the Google Pixel. The HTC U11 features remarkably consistent performance in a wide variety of shooting conditions, making it a great camera for most situations. In addition to excellent technical scores, its images tend to have a pleasing look, with good color rendering. Outdoor scenes are vibrant, with good detail and very low noise. Its image stabilization is also very effective, although sometimes it leaves some residual evidence of motion. Flash exposures are very even across the frame and feature good detail preservation and color rendering. The 12 Megapixel 1/2.55 inch sensor is coupled with an f/1.75 lens to achieve these results.
The HTC U11's camera really excelled with outdoor images in terms of rendering color and detail, while DxO also described its autofocus as "one of the fastest and most accurate" systems they've tested. Strengths included the preservation of details, for which the HTC U11 received a score of 94, and 89 for noise.
The only area the device fell down — albeit, minimally — was video, where DxO noted there was sometimes a loss of detail and color. But Google Pixel was still behind the HTC in every category.
Not only is the HTC U11 the highest-scoring phone we've ever tested, it's the highest-scoring in both still image quality and video quality, beating out the Google Pixel by 1 point in each. Those who want to shoot and share their photos will particularly appreciate the vibrant colors and bright exposures of the HTC U11. Similarly, effective autofocus and stabilization will help both photos and videos look good right out of the phone.
This underdog device won this round hands down due to the low noise and excellent detail preservation in its images and videos in comparison to other smartphones on the market. In this sense, HTC U11's plug 'Capturing the Brilliant U' is an apt description.
We're surprised that the lauded Google Pixel didn't measure up to the U11's camera ability this time around. The flagship device received critical acclaim (and a legion of Android fans) after it was launched last year.
The Pixel 2 launch date in October 2017 is rapidly approaching and we're 99% sure that Google will be upping the ante in the camera department. It's rumored that there will be improved chipsets from not one, but two different manufacturers. The tech giant wants to perfect the Pixel's low-light photography.
It remains to be seen whether they can oust HTC from their top-ranked position. Irrespective of the heated competition, it just means more quality photography for us!