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Photo blues? See the best phone cameras of 2020

The Huawei Mate 40 Pro and Pro+ swept the key categories of DxOMark’s smartphone camera benchmarks conducted over the past year

DxOMark tests a large number of smartphone cameras every year, covering brands and models across the spectrum, from budget to high-end. It has just issued its list of the best handsets of the year across a range of camera categories, and gave top scores to surprising brands: Huawei and Xiaomi.

The best smartphone cameras of 2020 by category, as analysed by DxOMark, are:

Best for Photo: Huawei Mate 40 Pro+

We have hardly been disappointed by the cameras in Huawei flagship models over recent years and the Mate 40 Pro+ is no exception. The latest model’s outstanding overall performance builds on a a class-leading photo score of 144 and achieves excellent results for all photo attributes.

The Mate 40 Pro+ is outstanding for night shots, achieving the highest score in this category to date. Dynamic range remains wide down to very low light, which is something most rivals struggled with. In addition, texture and noise are well balanced when capturing night scenes. The camera is capable of recording good exposures even in very low light

The camera also offers a great trade-off between texture and noise, with good detail and low levels of noise in images captured across all light levels. Sharpness is further helped by an accurate autofocus system that locks on without delay when shooting with the primary camera. The Mate 40 Pro+ portrait mode does a good job of creating a natural-looking bokeh simulation that doesn’t look far off from what a DSLR and fast lens could capture. The testers were particularly impressed by the depth estimation that works well even with hair and other complex subjects.

Both artifacts and preview are areas where the camera still leaves room for improvement. Artifacts such as color quantization, aliasing, and ghosting can often be spotted, and the preview image often fails to give you an accurate impression of the final capture. The testers also observed field-of-view jumps and exposure instabilities in the preview image when zooming. Within the big picture, those shortcomings are minor, though, and the Huawei Mate 40 Pro+ is currently the best option for still image shooters in a smartphone.

Also consider:

With a Photo score of 138, the Apple iPhone 12 Pro comes very close to the Mate 40 Pro+ but trails the Huawei slightly in a number of test areas. The difference is most noticeable in dynamic range, where the Apple phone isn’t quite on the same high level as the Mate 40 Pro+. On the other hand, the iPhone really excels for autofocus and preview. Apple’s new LiDAR laser sensor makes sure focus sets accurately on the right subject in all light conditions. The preview image in the camera app is as close to the final capture as it currently gets, even in difficult HDR scenes or when shooting in bokeh simulation mode. Huawei’s own Mate 40 Pro also comes very close to the Plus model in all Photo categories, making it a good alternative for photo capture.

Click below to read on about the best phone cameras in video, night, bokeh, telephoto and wide angle.

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