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2022 flagship phone camera battle royale showdown

Contenders, and how we score

Our 2022 shootout contenders showing off their rear cameras.

2022 Flagship smartphone camera shootout

They say the best camera is the one that is with you all the time. For many of us, that refers to the camera (or cameras) on our smartphones, which we rarely leave home without them.

In fact, it has reached a point when camera performance sometimesdictateswhich smartphone you buy.

Typically, the best cameras are found in the latest flagship smartphones. As such, for this smartphone camera shootout, we choose only the cream of the crop.

Choosing our contenders

Here is how we came up with our current selection of 2022 flagship smartphones to battle it out.

We selected only one appropriate model from each brand, even if there were multiple flagship-level launches within a year for the same brand. The models we selected arelaunched and sold in Singapore officially on July 2022 or earlier, since that's when we embarked on this comparison. Options via third-party retailers were not counted as official support options aren't available even if they were to excel.

Also, the chipset and the phone must be of flagship quality to discount any shooting limitations that might pose from not having top-tier processors. In other words, they would have to be armed with high-end processors such as Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 (for late-2021 releases), the first-ever Google Tensor or Apple A15 Bionic.

As a result, we have these nine flagship smartphones that meet the above criteria. And they will be vying for HWZ'snomination for the best smartphone camera.

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max Google Pixel 6 Pro Huawei P50 Pro OnePlus 10 Pro Oppo Find X5 Pro
Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max Google Pixel 6 Pro Huawei P50 Pro OnePlus 10 Pro Oppo Find X5 Pro
Launch SRP From S$1799 From S$1299 From S$1548 From S$1299 From S$1699
Network: Up to 5G NSA/SA Up to 5G Sub 6GHz Up to 4G/LTE Up to 5G SA and NSA Up to 5G SA and NSA
Operating system iOS 15 Android 12 Android 11 with EMUI 12 OxygenOS 12.1 based on Android 12 ColorOS 12 based on Android 12
Processor A15 Bionic Google TensorTitan M2 security co-processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 4G Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1MariSilicon X NPU
Built-in Memory 6GB RAM 12GB RAM (LPDDR5) 8GB RAM 12GB RAM (LPDDR5) 12GB RAM (LPDDR5)
Display 6.7-inch Super Retina XDR displayProMotion technology2778 x 1284 pixels resolution458ppi 6.7-inch, LTPO AMOLED, 3,120 x 1,440 pixels resolution, 120Hz refresh rate, HDR, 24-bit colour 6.6-inches 2,700 x 1,228 pixels (~450 PPI) OLED, 120Hz refresh rate, 300Hz touch sampling rate 6.7-inch, LTPO AMOLED, 3,126 x 1,440 pixels resolution, 120Hz refresh rate, HDR10+, 10-bit colour 6.7-inch, LTPO AMOLED, 3,126 x 1,440 pixels resolution, 120Hz refresh rate, HDR10+, 10-bit colour
Camera Rear 12MP camera systemWide: f/1.5, sensor-shift Telephoto: f/2.8, 3x optical zoomUltra wide: f/1.8, 120 degree FoVNight Mode on all camerasSapphire crystal lens coverSmart HDR 4Photographic StylesMacro photography12MP f/2.2 front-facing TrueDepth camera Rear:(Main) 50MP, f/1.85 aperture, 1.2μm pixel size, Octa PD, Quad Bayer(Ultra-wide) 12MP, f/2.2 aperture, 1.25μm pixel size, 114° FOV(Telephoto) 48MP, f/3.5 aperture, 0.8μm pixel size, 4x optical zoom, 20x Super Res zoomLaser detect Autofocus, OISFront:11.1MP, f/2.2 aperture, 1.22μm pixel size, fixed focus Rear: 50MP True-Chroma Camera f/1.9, OIS 40MP True-Chroma Mono Camera, f/1.8 12MP Ultra-Wide-Angle Camera, f/2.264MP Telephoto Camera, f/3.5, OIS, Support AFFront: 13MP, f/2.4 Rear:(Main) 48MP, f/1.8 aperture, 1.12μm pixel size, OIS, EIS(Ultra-wide) 50MP, f/2.2 aperture, 150° FOV(Telephoto) 8MP, f/2.4 aperture, 3.3x optical zoom, 30x digital zoom, OISFront:32MP, f/2.2 aperture, 0.8μm pixel size, fixed focus, EIS Rear:(Main) 50MP, f/1.7 aperture, 1.0μm pixel size, 5-axis OIS(Ultra-wide) 50MP, f/2.2 aperture, 1.00μm pixel size, 110° FOV(Telephoto) 13MP, f/2.4 aperture, 5x hybrid optical zoom, 20x digital zoomFront:32MP, f/2.4 aperture, 0.8μm pixel size, fixed focus
Video Support Dolby Vision HDR up to 4K 60fpsProRes at up to 4K 60fpsCinematic Mode at 1080p 30fps (Rear) 4K60FPS, Slow motion 240FPS, OIS Up to 4K60FPSSlow motion at 1080p960FPS (Rear) 8K24FPS, 4K120FPS, 1080p60FPS (Rear) 4K60FPS, 5-axis OIS
Connectivity 5G (sub-6GHz)Wi-Fi 6802.11ax/ac/b/g/n/aBlueooth 5.0Ultra-wideband chip Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC, UWB, USB Type-C 3.1 Gen 1, Google Cast, Dual Band GNSS, GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS, BeiDou Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax, 4G FDD LTE, Bluetooth 5.2, BLE, AGPS, GLONASS, BeiDou, GALILEO, QZSS, NavIC, USB Type-C 3.1 Gen 1, NFC Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC, USB Type-C (USB 3.1 Gen 1), GPS, A-GPS, BeiDou, GLONASS, Galileo Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC, UWB, USB Type-C, GPS, A-GPS, BeiDou, GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS
Storage Type 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB 128GB (UFS 3.1) 256GB internal storageHuawei Nano Memory expansion 256GB (UFS 3.1) 256GB (UFS 3.1)
Battery Up to 28 hours video playback 5.003mAh30W wired fast-charging (PD 3.0)23W wireless fast-charging (Qi-certified) 4,360mAh66W Huawei SuperCharge50W Huawei Wireless SuperCharge 5,000mAh80W wired fast-charging (SuperVOOC)50W wireless fast-charging (AirVOOC) 5,000mAh80W wired fast-charging (SuperVOOC)50W wireless fast-charging (AirVOOC)
Dimensions 160.8 x 78.1 x 7.65mm 163.9 x 75.9 x 8.9mm 158.8 x 72.8 x 8.5 mm 163 x 73.9 x 8.55mm 163.7 x 73.9 x 8.5mm
Weight 238g 210g 195g 201g 218g
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra Sony Xperia 1 IV Vivo X80 Pro Xiaomi 12 Pro
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra Sony Xperia 1 IV Vivo X80 Pro Xiaomi 12 Pro
Launch SRP From S$1718 From S$1969 From S$1699 From S$1349
Network: Up to 5G NSA/SA Up to 5G NSA/SA 5G (NSA/SA), 4G, 3G 5G (NSA+SA)/4G/3G/2G
Operating system Android 12 (One UI 4) Android 12 Android 12 (Funtouch OS 12) Android 12 on MIUI 13
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, 4nm Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1Vivo V1+ chip (AI-assisted image processing) Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
Built-in Memory 8GB or 12GB RAM 12GB RAM 12GB RAM 12GB RAM (LPDDR5)
Display 6.8-inch, Edge QHD+, Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 3,088 x 1,440 pixels (501ppi), 120Hz adaptive refresh rate, 240Hz touch sampling rate, Eye Comfort Shield, Vision Booster (1,750-nits peak brightness) 6.5-inch / 3,840 x 1,644 pixels (642 ppi) / 4K HDR OLED Display / 120Hz refresh rate 6.78-inch / 3,200 x 1,440 pixels (~517 ppi) / 120Hz refresh rate / AMOLED Display 6.73-inch, 3,200 x 1,440 pixels, AMOLED DotDisplay, 120Hz adaptive refresh rate, 480Hz touch sampling rate, HDR10+, DCI-P3
Camera Rear:108MP, f/1.8, wide-angle 0.8µm, PDAF, Laser AF OIS12MP, f/2.2, ultra-wide, 1.4µm, 120° FOV, Dual Pixel AF10MP, f/2.4, telephoto, 1.12µm, Dual Pixel AF, 3x Optical Zoom10MP, f/4.9, telephoto, 1.12µm, Dual Pixel AF, 10x Optical ZoomLaser AutoFocus sensorFront:40MP, f/2.2, portrait, 0.7µm, PDAF Rear: 12MP, Main, 1/1.7-inch sensor size, f/1.7, 82° FOV 12MP, Telephoto, 1/3.5-inch sensor size, f/2.3-2.8, 28-20° FOV, 85-125mm12MP Super-wide-angle,1/2.5-inch sensor size, f/2.2, 124° FOVFront: 12MP, 1/2.9-inch sensor size, f/2.0, 83° FOV, HDR ZEISS Co-engineered Imaging SystemRear: 50MP main camera, f/1.57, ZEISS Gimbal Portrait Camera, OIS48MP ultra-wide, f/2.212MP portrait, f/1.858MP periscope telephoto, f/3.4, 5x optical zoomFront: 32MP main, f/2.45 Rear: 50MP main, 1/1.28-inch Sony IMX707 sensor, 1.22μm pixel size, 2.44μm 4-in-1 Super Pixel, f/1.9, OIS50MP ultra-wide, 115° FOV, f/2.250MP telephoto, f/1.9, 48mm equivalent focal lengthFront:16MP, f/2.45
Video Support Up to 8K24FPS Up to 4K120FPS Up to 8K30FPS, 4K60FPS 8K24FPS, 4K60FPS, 1080p60FPS
Connectivity LTE / 5G (NSA, SA, Sub6)Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/6e, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot, Bluetooth5.2, A2DP, LEGPS with A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS, GALILEONFC, UWB Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax (2.4GHz, 5GHz), NFC, Bluetooth 5.2, A-GNSS (GPS + Glonass), Google Cast, Type-C USB 3.2 Up to Wi-Fi 6 (2.4GHz, 5GHz), Bluetooth 5.2, NFC, GPS, OTG, Type-C USB 3.1 Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, L1+L5 GPS, G1 GLONASS, E1+E5a GALILEO, Beidou, Type-C USB, NFC
Storage Type 128GB, 256GB, or 512GBNo microSD card slot 256GB internal storageMicroSD card slot (up to 1TB) 256GB internal storage 256GB internal storage (UFS 3.1)
Battery 5,000mAh45W Super Fast Charging15W Wireless Fast ChargingWireless PowerShare 5,000mAhXperia Adaptive Charging, Battery Care, STAMINA Mode, Qi Wireless 4,700mAh80W FlashCharge50W Wireless FlashCharge 4,600mAh120W wired Xiaomi HyperCharge50W wireless Turbo Charging10W reverse wireless charging
Dimensions 77.9 x 163.3 x 8.9mm 165 x 71 x 8.2mm 164.6 x 75.3 x 9.1mm 163.6 x 74.6 x 8.16mm
Weight 229g 185g 219g 205g

Unlike in previous shootouts when most of the smartphones were released the year before, we have almost all contenders being released here this year instead of 2021.

Only the Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max was launched last year and while would love to have had the iPhone 14 be part of this showdown, we couldn't align it to our preferred time of embarking on this big feature. Meanwhile, the likes of Google Pixel 6 Pro, Huawei P50 Pro, Xiaomi 12 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra were released in Singapore earlier this year (2022).

In fact, we have the latest flagship models from Chinese smartphone makers, such as the Vivo X80 Pro, Oppo Find X5 Pro and OnePlus 10 Pro.

We also have the Sony Xperia 1 IV crashing the party instead of the Xperia Pro-I, which we initially shortlisted. In the end, we felt the Pro-I is a niche handset for specific users, and in its place we've included an equally premium yet more consumer-friendly Xperia 1 IV model instead. That decision was also helped by the SonyXperia 1 IV having a true optical zoom of 3.3x to 5.2x (Most smartphones have fixed focal length cameras for optical close-ups, and also crop the images for digital zooming into focal ranges in between their fixed lenses).

Finally, while we initially hoped to get the Xiaomi 12S Ultra for this shootout, it wasmade available in mainland China, like its previous Ultra models. We brought in the Xiaomi 12 Pro instead, which rocked cameras that look impressive from its spec sheet.

Scoring the phone camera

The main camera is usually the bread and butter of the smartphone that most people use predominantly. It's only when users are not satisfied with the composition or distance from the subject that compels users to consider the ultra-wide-angle camera, or telephoto camera.

This understanding of the main camera's role in phones has also led to smartphone makers packing it with the most optimisations by default. As such, we'llbe judging the main camera's overall imaging performanceby drilling down to core basics and expectations in digital imaging, such as image sharpness, colour rendition, detail retention, image noise, and so on, with the help of a daytime landscape photo.

That said, you are paying a lot of money for these flagship smartphones. Thus, we will also test other aspects of the smartphones' secondary cameras. These include comparison shots taken with telephoto, ultra-wide-angle, low-light (or night), macro,and video performance, which users use on a fairly regular basis when different scenarios call for them.

For individual cameras that address specific shooting needs, we looked at the performance of each smartphone's corresponding camera (e.g. ultra-wide-angle camera and telephoto camera). For night photography and video performance, or for shots where the phone lacks a dedicated camera,we go back to using the main camera.

In addition, we will also test the front-facing camera (selfie camera) this year.

To achieve consistencyfor this shootout, we only use the native camera app with auto high dynamic range (HDR) turned on for all the smartphones and their cameras.

Photos are taken in 4:3 aspect ratio, whenever possible, in JPEG file format. For selfies, we turned off all beautification features as well as other enhancements to ensure every phone camera is on a level playing field.

Images and videos were taken handheld regardlessof shooting conditions. In other words, we try to mimic what everyday smartphone users do when they whip out their smartphones to capture the moment they desire.

All the photos for each category are taken in the same position and in quick succession with each smartphone to ensure the lighting conditions are as similar as possible. The photos are then judged on the same colour-calibrated monitor to ensure fairness.

We judged photos based on the end result only. This takes each phone's software-related tuning into account, like the amount of help rendered via computational photography, checking for overzealous image noise reduction, verifying edge distortion in ultra-wide-angle photos, and looking at stabilisation in videos. Again, this is considering how a typical user would actually use their phone as intended.

This time around, we award a point to each phone that we found competent in the test scenario/category. This is in consideration that camera phone photography has progressed tremendously over the years and the differences among top-tier phones are fast narrowing. As such, our new scoring method would allow every phone to score points in areas they are strong at, thus allowing us to identify phones that are suited to a specific style of photography.

Head over to the next page to see how the phones fared in our main camera test!

< PrevPage 1 of 9 – Contenders, and how we scorePage 2 of 9 – Main Camera comparisonPage 3 of 9 – 10x Zoom comparisonPage 4 of 9 – Ultra-wide-angle performancePage 5 of 9 – Low-light performancePage 6 of 9 – Macro performancePage 7 of 9 – Selfie performancePage 8 of 9 – Video performancePage 9 of 9 – Scoring, choosing our winnerPage 1 of 9 – Contenders, and how we scorePage 1 of 9 Page 1 of 9 – Contenders, and how we scorePage 2 of 9 – Main Camera comparisonPage 3 of 9 – 10x Zoom comparisonPage 4 of 9 – Ultra-wide-angle performancePage 5 of 9 – Low-light performancePage 6 of 9 – Macro performancePage 7 of 9 – Selfie performancePage 8 of 9 – Video performancePage 9 of 9 – Scoring, choosing our winnerNext >

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