NextPit

16,500 votes casted: This phone takes the best photos in 2021

camera blind test results
© NextPit

Rarely has the term "photo finish" been as appropriate as in our camera blind test this time around. The iPhone 13 Pro has taken first place, followed by the Google Pixel 6 Pro with the narrowest of margins. Out of a total of 16,575 votes cast, a mere 17 votes made the difference in the end. The iPhone and Pixel are followed by Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, OnePlus 9 Pro, and Oppo Find X3 Pro by a significant margin.

First, a disclaimer: the Oppo Find X3 Pro participated in this test with a beta version of ColorOS 12 running on top of Android 12. There may still be changes in the image quality until the final version of ColorOS 12 is relesaed. You can see how the Find X3 Pro with Android 11 compares to other smartphones in the previous blind test edition.

I shall not keep you in suspense any longer. Here are the final results of the NextPit community vote:

  1. Apple iPhone 13 Pro (41 points)
  2. Google Pixel 6 Pro (40 points)
  3. Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra (33 points)
  4. OnePlus 9 Pro (30 points)
  5. Oppo Find X3 Pro (21 points)

As usual, this is the final result from a motley mix of subject matter, ranging from ultra-wide to telephoto zoom, from selfie to still life, from daylight to night shots. Hence, I would advise you that the results represent not only a cross-section of the photographic tastes of the NextPit community, but also a cross-section of a wide variety of subjects. If night photos are not relevant for you, then your personal result will look completely different at the end of the day.

Take portrait shots for example, the iPhone 13 Pro and Oppo Find X3 Pro fared the best in this department. The latter was penalized for dull colors in a cloudy sky, although the imaging performance is noticeably better than the Pixel 6 Pro, which picked up the highest rating here.

Blind test 1: Portrait (wide-angle)

All of you were unanimous about the first portrait shot. The iPhone 13 Pro picked up more than two-thirds of the votes. And rightly so, in my opinion. 

Apple simply managed to illuminate Ben's face the best out of the rest. All of the other smartphones more or less fared similarly with the slight backlight. Only the Oppo Find X3 Pro still brings it to a double-digit result with 14 votes.

blind test scene 1
Image 1.1: OnePlus 9 Pro (4 percent)
blind test scene 2
Image 1.2: Apple iPhone 13 Pro (68 percent)
blind test scene 3
Image 1.3: Oppo Find X3 Pro (14 percent)
blind test scene 4
Image 1.4: Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra (8 percent)
blind test scene 5
Image 1.5: Google Pixel 6 Pro (6 percent)
blind test scene dslr
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Blind test 2: Portrait (Tele 2x/3x)

Taken a bit later and with telephoto instead of a wide-angle lens, the winner is the same. The iPhone 13 Pro also takes first place in the second portrait test, and once again with a huge lead.

Here, 64% of the votes go to Apple, followed by the Pixel 6 Pro with 18 percent, and the Oppo Find X3 Pro with 12 percent.

blind test scene 1
Image 2.1: Google Pixel 6 Pro (18 percent)
blind test scene 2
Image 2.2: OnePlus 9 Pro (3 percent)
blind test scene 3
Image 2.3: Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra (2 percent)
blind test scene 4
Image 2.4: iPhone 13 Pro (64 percent)
blind test scene 5
Image 2.5: Oppo Find X3 Pro (12 percent)
blind test scene dslr
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Blind test 3: Selfie

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is ahead in the selfie department with image 3.1 and understandably so. The photo has a balanced exposure and brings a slight bokeh to the picture using the standard settings.

The iPhone 13 Pro and the OnePlus 9 Pro follow closely behind in second and third place. The Oppo Find X3 Pro is in last place with disappointing results. It is possible that the light fell unfavorably into the lens despite the cloudy sky and thus completely ruined the contrast.

blind test scene 1
Image 3.1: Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra (39 percent)
blind test scene 2
Image 3.2: Google Pixel 6 Pro (14 percent)
blind test scene 3
Image 3.3: Apple iPhone 13 Pro (24 percent)
blind test scene 4
Image 3.4: Oppo Find X3 Pro (1 percent)
blind test scene 5
Image 3.5: OnePlus 9 Pro (22 percent)
blind test scene dslr
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Blind test 4: Ultra-wide angle (daylight)

When it comes to the ultra-wide-angle lens, the poll paints a familiar picture: the iPhone is clearly ahead, followed by the OnePlus 9 Pro and Pixel 6 Pro with half the number of votes each.

Both Apple and OnePlus turned the colors up significantly here, obviously pleasing the masses. Interestingly, the colors in this very subject were significantly more intense on the Oppo Find X3 Pro with Android 11 (see the previous blind test) , and the Find X3 Pro also scored better in the poll at that time.

blind test scene 1
Image 4.1: Apple iPhone 13 Pro (41 percent)
blind test scene 2
Image 4.2: Oppo Find X3 Pro (8 percent)
blind test scene 3
Image 4.3: Google Pixel 6 Pro (18 percent)
blind test scene 4
Image 4.4: OnePlus 9 Pro (22 percent)
blind test scene 5
Image 4.5: Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra (10 percent)
blind test scene dslr
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Blind test 5: Ultra wide-angle (indoor shot)

Indoor shots in mixed light and moderately good illumination: What would have made smartphones sweat a few years ago no longer presents any of the devices with major difficulties.

It is also not a surprise as the results are relatively balanced, from 30 percent for the OnePlus 9 Pro to 11 percent for the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra. The OnePlus 9 Pro produced the most pleasing and atmospheric image here with a slightly warm white balance.

blind test scene 1
Image 5.1: Oppo Find X3 Pro (15 percent)
blind test scene 2
Image 5.2: Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra (11 percent)
blind test scene 3
Image 5.3: OnePlus 9 Pro (30 percent)
blind test scene 4
Image 5.4: Google Pixel 6 Pro (22 percent)
blind test scene 5
Image 5.5: Apple iPhone 13 Pro (21 percent)
blind test scene dslr
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Blind test 6: Triple zoom (daylight)

When it comes to triple zoom, some smartphones have it easier than others, or so you'd think. The Google Pixel 6 Pro, for instance, has a relatively large gap in its focal range between its wide-angle camera and a 4x periscope lens that needs to be digitally plugged. So who wins? The Google Pixel 6 Pro with 36 percent of the votes.

Most of you probably didn't look at the photos in detail, because other smartphones definitely performed better here. For example, the Oppo Find X3 Pro ended up in last place. However, with a dual-zoom lens, the Find X3 Pro is clearly better here as well. I won't say anything about the squeaky-clean image in second place.

blind test scene 6
Image 6.1: Oppo Find X3 Pro (6 percent)
blind test scene 2
Image 6.2: Apple iPhone 13 Pro (14 percent)
blind test scene 3
Image 6.3: OnePlus 9 Pro (29 percent)
blind test scene 4
Image 6.4: Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra (15 percent)
blind test scene 5
Image 6.5: Google Pixel 6 Pro (36 percent)
blind test scene dslr
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Blind test 7: 15x zoom (daylight)

Our next subject takes us to Mount Mitte and will rely on the 15x zoom to capture the old sleds as well as possible. It's no surprise that the two smartphones with the periscope zoom performed best here: 1st place for the Pixel 6 Pro, 2nd place for the Galaxy S21 Ultra.

Trailing behind are the iPhone 13 Pro, OnePlus 9 Pro, and Oppo Find X3 Pro, the three models without a periscope lens.

blind test scene 1
Image 7.1: Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra (35 percent)
blind test scene 2
Image 7.2: Oppo Find X3 Pro (5 percent)
blind test scene 3
Image 7.3: Google Pixel 6 Pro (46 percent)
blind test scene 4
Image 7.4: Apple iPhone 13 Pro (7 percent)
blind test scene 5
Image 7.5: OnePlus 9 Pro (6 percent)
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Blind test 8: Double zoom (low light)

With the next subject, there is yet again a clear winner: The iPhone 13 Pro receives exactly 50 percent of the votes here. Rightly so, in my opinion, because the sky and the colors look the most natural.

The same also applies to the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra in second place, albeit to a certain extent only. All of the other models drift into blue or violet and give an unnatural color image.

blind test scene 1
Figure 8.1: Apple iPhone 13 Pro (50 percent)
blind test scene 2
Image 8.2: OnePlus 9 Pro (15 percent)
blind test scene 3
Image 8.3: Oppo Find X3 Pro (3 percent)
blind test scene 4
Image 8.4: Google Pixel 6 Pro (7 percent)
blind test scene 5
Image 8.5: Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra (25 percent)
blind test scene dslr
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Blind test 9: Wide-angle (night)

In our first night test, the Pixel 6 Pro takes first place with a whopping 63 percent of the votes! The OnePlus 9 Pro and the Oppo Find X3 Pro follow far behind in second and third, respectively.

All three devices deliver a much more atmospheric result here than the iPhone 13 Pro and the Galaxy S21 Ultra which came in last. Being colorful wins!

blind test scene 1
Image 9.1: OnePlus 9 Pro (17 percent)
blind test scene 2
Image 9.2: Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra (7 percent)
blind test scene 3
Image 9.3: Apple iPhone 13 Pro (2 percent)
blind test scene 4
Image 9.4: Oppo Find X3 Pro (13 percent)
blind test scene 5
Image 9.5: Google Pixel 6 Pro (63 percent)
blind test scene dslr
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Blind test 10: Double zoom (night)

I'm a little surprised at the results of this image. The Google Pixel 6 Pro is in second place here even with really nasty HDR artifacts around the Brandenburg Gate. The OnePlus 9 Pro brings the same image defect, but with motion artifacts to boot, and thus ending up in fifth place.

The winner is the Galaxy S21 Ultra, which uses the HDR or night mode wisely and delivers a nice photo.

blind test scene 1
Image 10.1: Oppo Find X3 Pro (9 percent)
blind test scene 2
Image 10.2: Google Pixel 6 Pro (24 percent)
blind test scene 3
Image 10.3: Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra (43 percent)
blind test scene 4
Image 10.4: OnePlus 9 Pro (7 percent)
blind test scene 5
Image 10.5: Apple iPhone 13 Pro (18 percent)
blind test scene dslr
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Blind test 11: Wide angle (night)

I have to say: This round really impressed me. It was really pitch black. Apart from the starry sky, the only light sources here are two football-sized illuminated house numbers at a distance of around 30 and 40 metres. The iPhone 13 Pro conjured up an impressively bright image here.

However, one must take note that the other smartphones also do very well for the most part, and most of the time performed significantly better than the DSLR camera.

blind test scene 1
Image 11.1: Apple iPhone 13 Pro (54 percent)
blind test scene 2
Image 11.2: OnePlus 9 Pro (0 percent)
blind test scene 3
Image 11.3: Google Pixel 6 Pro (38 percent)
blind test scene 4
Image 11.4: Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra (3 percent)
blind test scene 5
Image 11.5: Oppo Find X3 Pro (3 percent)
blind test scene dslr
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So that's it for our second big blind test of the year. What do you say about the results and who is your personal winner? While I often agree with the results of the NextPit community, there are also some somewhat incomprehensible results for me. Check out the zoomed image on the Berlin TV Tower.

In any case, you shouldn't take the results as the ultimate outcome of which smartphone offers the best camera currently. If you are interested in one of the models, then compare the pictures yourself and decide according to your preference. Do bear in mind that the Find X3 Pro ran on a beta version of Android 12.

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2 comments

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  • storm 9 months ago Link to comment

    I picked the iphone more than I thought I did. But I picked the pixel more. Corridor Digital has an interesting Youtube video showing the sorts of processing tweaks that iphone and others use to make a shot look crisp without actually being crisp. Very interesting how processing creates the illusion of crisp detail.


    • Zois Bekios Zannikos 9 months ago Link to comment

      Im really surprised by the results too, i found myself voting for one of the oppos most of the time because i really like the contrasts and the vibrancy of the colors. I think that without the DSLR reference we may have gotten very different results.