Returning to a phrase it’s used before to describe at least one previous iPhone model’s camera, DxOMark is out today with its full review of the iPhone XS (and by default the iPhone XS Max) camera, calling it one of the best the French image lab has ever tested.
Continuing its somewhat meaningless errand of ascribing objective scores to its camera reviews, one of the headlines that came out of its study results is that the camera’s score ranks it behind only the Huawei P20 Pro. So, there’s that. The XS and XS Max cameras (which feature the same specs) are certainly powerful and include a lot to like for shutterbugs of almost any skill level, so this new review is nevertheless still useful since the staff at DxOMark definitely know what they’re talking about when it comes to cameras. Even if it’s constantly trying to quantify camera performance with hard numbers.
Here are some of the highlights:
The review contains plenty of image samples. The testers also argue the camera’s standout quality is its “outstanding” video in bright light. From the review, “Footage recorded outdoors on a bright day shows a very wide dynamic range, vivid colors, and high levels of detail. In addition, a very effective image stabilization system keeps camera shake to a minimum, making the new iPhone an enticing option for any mobile video shooter.
“Our testers were also pleased by the still image quality in bright light, which is excellent all around. Exposure in outdoor images tends to be spot on, levels of detail are high, and colors are pleasant.”
Zoom performance is identified as one area of the camera that could be improved, with the review noting that “iPhone XS Max zoom images show coarse luminance noise and less detail than some high-end rivals, such as the Huawei P20 Pro and the Samsung Galaxy Note 9.”
The review goes on to note that the iPhone XS Max produces great image quality even in bright light and that overall the camera is reliable, consistently producing good results. The autofocus system and subject isolation in Portrait Mode also come in for praise.
In terms of its methodology, DxOMark’s engineers snap and then evaluate more than 1,500 images along with recording more than two hours of video. They do so using default settings on the camera in both lab environments as well as indoor and outdoor settings.
“The Apple iPhone XS Max comes with one of the best mobile cameras we have ever tested, and in many areas offers noticeable improvements over last year’s iPhone X,” the review notes by way of a summary. “Both still and video image quality in bright light are excellent, with a very wide dynamic range and good detail. Autofocus and image stabilization work swiftly and efficiently, and the camera is very reliable overall, consistently delivering good results.
“In lower light, luminance noise becomes a little more intrusive than with other high-end phones, and the iPhone’s zoom mode lags somewhat behind the competition (specifically, the Huawei P20 Pro) as well. However, if that doesn’t bother you too much, the new Apple device is a surefire option for any mobile photographer.”