Galaxy S9 vs. LG G7 vs. Pixel 2 vs. OnePlus 6 vs. Mi 8 [Portrait Selfie Camera Comparison]

In this camera comparison, we compare the portrait mode of the front camera of Samsung Galaxy S9 vs. LG G7 vs. Pixel 2 vs. OnePlus 6 vs. Xiaomi Mi 8.  For this test, we are comparing which phone does the best in terms of mirroring a real DSLR, specifically looking for the camera with better subject separation from the background, background blurring, and also image quality.  Now, this test was done on a pretty bright but cloudy day in good lighting conditions.  In low-light conditions, the results may differ vastly as the more expensive phones have better low-light performance.  We will do another comparison for low-light but this comparison is for those of you who take lots of selfies in good lighting conditions.

All beauty mode was turned off on all devices so we can test out the raw image quality and details.   The results are rather interesting but in my opinion, here’s a rundown of the best to worst:

  1. Pixel 2 – Pixel 2, which I consider the king of smartphone photography, did the best in my opinion, especially with sharp/detailed edges while bokeh was the best with also most amount of blurring of the background.   Also Pixel 2 does very well in being able to cope with bright backgrounds, its HDR mode works quite well.  While Pixel 2 did actually pick up too much details, a lot of that can be solved by simply turning on beauty mode.  It is always easier to edit a photo with a lot of details than editing a photo that has lost them.  So Pixel 2 wins in my books.
  2. Xiaomi Mi 8 – While Mi 8 did worst in terms of exposure levels of the background, it still killed other flagships worth 2-3 times more with detailed edges without softening, which happened to Samsung Galaxy S9, LG G7, and even the OnePlus 6.
  3. OnePlus 6 & LG G7 – I thought these phones tied each other.  Color tones were great with lots of details but they suffered from edge softening.
  4. Galaxy S9 – Unbelievably, Galaxy S9 had the most problems with portrait mode selfies.  It had the worst softening edges, making the photo look very fake.  I’ve actually never been of fan of Samsung’s portrait mode, they are actually pretty bad in comparison to others, perhaps the worst feature on the phone that they need to improve upon.   But you can always install Google HDR Camera w/ Portrait Mode, which works GREAT.

Now, all of these phones that finished behind Pixel 2 can also install Google HDR Camera w/ Portrait Mode(if it supports it or try another version if this one doesn’t work for you) and get nearly-identical results as the Pixel 2.   So, don’t look at this test at the end of the road.  It doesn’t mean your camera hardware sucks but your software processing does.  You can always fix it since portrait mode itself is a software processing algorithm.   But really amazing that a $420 Xiaomi Mi 8 beat out phones 2-3 times more expensive.

Don’t like my honest opinions?  You can download the damn original files yourself and leave your damn thoughts in our forum, thanks!

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Max Lee

Max Lee is the founder of HighOnAndroid.com. Max makes Android tutorials and review videos for people who want to get high on Android over at his YouTube channel and Korean YouTube channel.