Google’s Pixel smartphones are undoubtedly among the top-performing devices when it comes to mobile camera performance, and for good reason – Google’s computational photography combined with optimized camera software on the Pixel phones has resulted in impressive photo quality, so much so that even a midrange smartphone like the Pixel 6a is able to take on flagship camera phones.
Interestingly enough, the Pixel 6a has once again made tech headlines after being declared the winner in a “blind” camera smartphone test, conducted by YouTuber Marques Brownlee and his team. The test was done by taking similar photographs consisting of a standard daylight photo, low-light photo, as well as a “portrait” shot, across sixteen different smartphones (all of which were launched in 2022), which were then presented to online voters.
The polling system was based on an ELO ranking algorithm, which pitched the smartphones against each other. Voters were then presented with just the photo samples, without any indication as to which device they were captured on.
After 21.2 million votes from more than 600,000 users, the Pixel 6a emerged as the overall winner, with the highest average ELO rating in general. This was followed by the Pixel 7 Pro in second place, and the ASUS Zenfone 9 in third place. Surprisingly enough, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra and the iPhone 14 Pro came in fourth and sixth place, respectively.
It should be noted that the different photo categories had different winners, specifically. For example, the Pixel 7 Pro came in first place for the Portrait Photo category, although it ranked second in the Daylight Photo Category, and fourth in the Low-light Photo category. Interestingly, the Pixel 6a ranked third in Daylight photography, and second for both Low-light and Portrait photography.
It was also explained in the video however that for standard daytime photos, the Oppo Find X5 Pro was ranked in first place, although it was ranked further behind for portrait and night-time shots. Depending on how much importance a user gives to standard point-and-shoot smartphone photos, it could then be argued that the Find X5 Pro is the “sleeper” champion of the blind test.
As for the devices in the lower-ranked positions, the iPhone 14 Pro was voted for sixth, tenth, and fifth place in the three categories. However, the lowest-ranked phones turned out to be the Sony Xperia 1 IV, and the Moto Edge 30 Ultra. In the case of the Xperia, it does come as a bit of surprise as the handset was touted towards creators and photographers, especially given Sony’s expertise in camera hardware.
Another factor taken into account was the price-to-performance ratio of the different phones – or in other words, the most value you can get for the lowest amount of coin – first place of which went to the Pixel 6a, followed by the Realme 10+ Pro, and the iPhone SE 2022.
The video also detailed how a side-by-side comparison of the different photos (in order of best to worst votes) revealed some interesting patterns as to how voters chose their preferred pictures. The top-ranked pictures exhibited generally-good exposure values, followed by photos which were processed to have too much exposure, and finally, photos with poor exposure. In the case of portrait photos, the quality of edge detection was also taken into account, with first and second place going to the Pixel 7 Pro and Pixel 6a, respectively.
With all that said, it just goes to show how far a budget device like the Pixel 6a can go when it comes to camera performance, a tradition which has fortunately not been lost on Google, and will hopefully live on in the years to come.