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Camera battle: Huawei P20 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S9+

Which £800+ smartphone takes the best-looking pictures?

The Huawei P20 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S9+ pride themselves on having top-quality cameras, but which is best? We compare them side by side.

Flagship mobiles don’t come cheap. If you’re planning on spending a lot on your next smartphone, you’ll want to make sure you’re getting a mobile that takes gorgeous pictures, wherever you are.

We headed out with both of these new phones to take some photos, paying close attention to lighting, colour accuracy and overall quality.

Best Buy smartphones – crisp displays and all-day battery life

Regular shots

Our pictures from the Huawei P20 Pro, which has three rear-facing camera lenses, were taken at 40Mp with Master AI switched on.

Master AI is Huawei’s built-in camera assistant, which automatically adjusts brightness and contrast settings depending on what you’re pointing the camera at. Examples of modes we played around with include flower mode, dog mode and waterfall mode.

On the Samsung Galaxy S9+, which has two rear lenses, we shot at the highest resolution possible – 12Mp (4,032 x 3,024). Take a look at the results below:

Huawei (left) – view full image / Samsung (right) – view full image
 

Pointing the Huawei P20 Pro at this scene activated waterfall mode, which darkened the rocks and brightened the grass. The result is a particularly vibrant photo that really ‘pops’ on-screen.

However, Samsung’s colour palette is more true to life. It’s less eye-catching, but the finished product doesn’t look like it’s gone through any filters, which can’t be said for the Huawei snap.

Again, you’ll see the difference in colour here:

Huawei (left) – view full image / Samsung (right) – view full image
 

The soil in the left picture is far darker, with Huawei’s Master AI really turning up the contrast. The purple flowers seen in the Samsung picture actually look blue through the Huawei’s rear cameras.

We took these photos on a fairly drab, overcast day, but you wouldn’t know that looking at the left-hand image.

Close-up shots

Next on our to-do list were some close-up shots. Both the Huawei and the Samsung make use of the Bokeh effect, which blurs the background of a shot to draw more attention to the subject at the front. Apple’s iPhone X has a similar feature.

Huawei (left) – view full image / Samsung (right) – view full image
 

The Bokeh effect is easy to spot in the left-hand photo – everything apart from the flower in the middle of the shot is out of focus. The Huawei P20 Pro does the same thing if you take a photo of a person. Assuming you shoot in portrait mode, you can adjust lighting effects after you’ve taken the photo, too.

The Samsung Galaxy S9+ has kept more of the photo in focus. In other words, the same effect is in action here, but the result is not quite as drastic. There’s not much of a difference in colour between the two photos this time around.

Zooming in

The best smartphone cameras we’ve seen can take a detailed photo from distance. Both of the photos below were shot at 5x zoom from the same spot.

Huawei (left) – view full image / Samsung (right) – view full image
 

To help it take a better zoomed photo, Huawei’s flagship uses Hybrid Zoom – it combines the detail from the main camera with the 3x optical zoom lens. In theory, this means you can take pictures from far away without much of a drop in quality.

We think the Huawei takes a clearer photo in this instance but, once again, the Samsung Galaxy S9+ is more accurate colour-wise. If you look at the trees at the back of the picture behind the fountain, they appear white in the left photo and pink in the right. The high contrast from the Huawei also makes it harder to see the patterns in the rock.

Have your say

Having seen our gallery of pictures, you can vote for your favourite in our poll below:


 

Buying a new smartphone? Without enlisting the help of our expert reviews, you risk picking up a mobile with poor cameras and dismal battery. Only the smartphones with brilliant all-round performance leave our test lab as Best Buys.

Head over to our smartphone reviews page for more, or see our guide on how to choose the best mobile phone for some shopping tips.

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