Galaxy S20+ vs. LG V60 camera comparison: More isn't always better

Samsung Galaxy S20+ and LG V60
Samsung Galaxy S20+ and LG V60 (Image credit: Hayato Huseman / Android Central)

There are few features more important in a modern smartphone than the cameras, particularly when you're spending somewhere in the ballpark of $1000 on your phone. The Galaxy S20+ is one of the top-ranking phones of early 2020, with excellent cameras and hardware, but its steep starting price of $1200 puts it out of reach for some consumers.

The LG V60 by comparison feels like a deal at "only" $900, and offers many of the same features — plus some bonuses like LG's excellent Quad DAC and a Dual Screen attachment. The cameras are comparable as well, with a similarly large main sensor and matching ultra-wide and time-of-flight sensors, though interestingly LG ditched the telephoto sensor this year.

We took both phones out and shot a variety of photos to see how each camera compares in different scenarios.

Daylight photos

Galaxy S20+ (left) / LG V60 (right) — click to view larger.

Broad daylight is rarely an issue with smartphone photography these days. The Galaxy S20+ touts a 12MP 1/1.76-inch primary sensor that's 65% larger than the sensor in last year's Galaxy S10. This allows the camera to take in more light and achieve better natural bokeh — this is especially evident in close-up shots like the flower photos above, where there's a clear, smooth separation between the foreground and background. Most phones feature a portrait mode that attempts to recreate this effect through processing and depth detection, but it's great to see such a pronounced result coming naturally from the main sensor.

Overprocessed images versus flat photos that almost require editing.

The LG V60 features a similarly large 1/1.72-inch sensor, and opts for a 64MP layout that uses 4:1 pixel binning to output sharper, brighter 16MP photos. There are pros and cons to using smaller or larger sensors, but both phones get great-looking results in good lighting. As you might expect, the S20+ leans into Samsung's tendencies of high contrast and saturation, and the V60's shots look positively dull by comparison.

That's not necessarily a good thing, though. Samsung's image processing often goes too far, with LG's more toned-down look actually more closely reflecting reality. My preference lies somewhere in the middle; I think the V60's muted look is easier to work with in editing software like Lightroom, and I think it generally does a much better job at handling true whites in shots, but the S20+'s bold colors likely appeal more to casual photographers, with a more Instagram-ready look straight out of the camera.

Color preferences aside, one major disadvantage of the S20+ that stood out to me while shooting in broad daylight was just how badly it suffers from lens flare; it's especially noticeable in the shots of the purple flowers and the Reggie Miller Mural. The V60 fared much better against lens flare, but in exchange, the photo of the Reggie Miller Mural is incredibly washed out, losing any shadow and color detail.

Low light photos

Galaxy S20+ (left) / LG V60 (right) — click to view larger.

Low light is a back-and-forth, as well. In auto mode, the V60 captured more detail in the shot above than the S20+, with more legible text on the clock and clearer detailing in the flooring and chair — but it casts a nasty yellow tint over the entire image, and lifts the highlights a bit too much. You can see the difference in how my LED moon sign is exposed with each phone; the S20+ does a much better job at retaining the outline of the light, while the V60 blows it out almost entirely.

Switching over to night mode, I think the S20+ actually takes the lead. With each phone on a tripod, the S20+ took considerably longer to capture (3 seconds versus roughly 1 second on the V60), but while the end result is a darker photo, it's much more realistic. There's more fine detail in the chair, and once again it does a better job handling the outline of the moon LED. The V60 completely whitens the wall behind the chair, but it turns out there's an ambient purple light just out of frame — which is only evident in the S20 shot.

Ultra-wide photos

Galaxy S20+ (left) / LG V60 (right) — click to view larger.