Samsung’s latest flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S9+, has earned a DxOMark of 99, making it the website’s highest-rated smartphone camera ever and the first phone to beat the Pixel 2’s overall score of 98.
The S9+ came out of DxO’s photo testing gauntlet with an overall score of 104, while DxO gave its video capabilities a score of 91.
Particularly notable was the S9+’s noise performance, with its camera earning an individual noise score of 79 — the highest noise score DxOMark has ever awarded to a smartphone camera.
Autofocus was another high point, with the S9+ earning a 91 in that category, and DxO noting “The Galaxy S9 Plus autofocus system is not the very fastest we have tested, but close to the best, and also produces very repeatable results.”
Of course, there are still areas for improvement.
According to DxO, in bright scenes, the S9’s camera produces areas of purple colour fringing — otherwise known as chromatic aberration — along high-contrast edges.
Another issue is that images aren’t sharp across the frame — though, to be fair, most camera lenses are sharper in the centre than out towards the edges of the frame.
On the video side of the equation, there was also a loss of fine detail in most clips.
DxOMark’s scoring system can seem convoluted.
First, it’s important to note scores that don’t cap out at 100 — it just so happens that smartphone cameras are currently scoring within that range.
DxO ranks a camera based on a variety of factors such as exposure and contrast, colour, noise, bokeh and so on. Not all the individual factors are weighed equally by DxO when it comes to determining a final photo or video score, which is why the math sometimes might not add up. Similarly, the final score, which combines a camera’s photo and video score, doesn’t weigh the two categories equally either.
All of which is to say that, while the S9+ features an impressive camera, it might not have exactly what you’re looking for from your next smartphone.
Case in point: the Galaxy S9+ is not the best smartphone for capturing video. That distinction is held by the Pixel 2, which earned a 96 video score when DxO put it through its paces this past fall.
For a more detailed explanation on how DxOMark’s smartphone ratings work, check out the excellent video (below) that YouTube tech reviewer MKBHD made on the subject.
In short, however, DxO concludes the Galaxy S9+ is “an ideal choice for any mobile users who want the best possible still image quality without compromising on video.”
Of course, at the rate smartphones OEMs are outdoing one another, it’s likely the next major smartphone will dethrone the S9+.
Visit DxOMark to read the website’s full breakdown of the Galaxy S9+ camera.