The way we use our phones' cameras has changed a lot since 2012, back when DxOMark first started testing smartphone shooters. Until today, the firm's scores only take into account a limited subset of the capabilities of modern smartphones — but that's about to change.
In recent months, DxO has embarked on an extensive data-gathering mission to find out how people use their smartphone cameras in 2017. And as a result it's come up with a new testing and scoring system to more accurately reflect the capabilities of modern phone cameras, and how people use them.
The new DxOMark mobile measures the effectiveness of depth-of-field and zoom features in dual-lens cameras, as well as tracking moving subjects, and extreme low-light testing. DxO's existing testing parameters for main cameras are also to be overhauled as part of its new scoring system, as it hopes to more accurately reflect the quality of photography from modern smartphones.
The Google Pixel now ties the U11 with a DxO score of 90.
The first DxOMark reviews under the new system have been published today — the firm re-tested any models which occupied the number-one spot at the end of recent years (that includes the HTC U11 and 2016 Google Pixel phones, as well as the iPhone 7 and Galaxy S6 edge.) The firm also released its first test of Apple's iPhone 7 Plus, complete with tests around the secondary zoom lens. Bottom line: The U11 and Pixel both score 90 under the new system. So Google's flagship now ties HTC's for the "best rated" smartphone shooter. (That's if you buy into the idea that a numbered score can sum up something as complex as a phone camera.)
Also tested under the new system: the iPhone 7 (85), iPhone 7 Plus (88) and Galaxy S6 edge (82).
Both HTC and Google have publicized their DxO scores over the past year, and under the new system, both devices get to share in the glory — at least for the moment. It's worth noting, however, that newer cameras like the LG G6 and Samsung Galaxy S8 haven't been tested, since they weren't winners at the end of any recent years. It's unclear if DxO will re-test devices which didn't attain top scores under the old system, but leaving out newer devices from Samsung and LG would seem like a substantial oversight.
The idea of reducing a smartphone camera (or now, cameras) to a single numbered score remains a point of contention for some, but DxO insists its new, updated testing method presents the best overall picture of a mobile camera's performance.