Smartphone camera shootout: LG G6 vs Samsung Galaxy S8

It's a tight race, but LG takes the Best Smartphone Camera crown from Google.

Last year, we named the Google Pixel the king of all smartphone cameras, besting the Samsung Galaxy S7, LG V20, and iPhone 7. Last month, the Pixel tried to defend its crown against the LG G6, and lost.

Now, a new contender tries to knock LG off the top spot. Samsung’s Galaxy S8 may appear to have the same camera specs as last year’s Galaxy S7, but don’t let the megapixel numbers fool you: it’s got a new sensor, new optics, and new image processing algorithms.

Can Samsung’s latest and greatest knock LG off its perch? Let’s find out.

What we’re testing (and what we’re not)

Before we begin, how about a quick specs recap? The main rear camera of the Galaxy S8 uses a Sony IMX333 sensor with dual pixel autofocus. The resolution is 12 megapixels (with 1.4 micron pixels) and it’s all behind an f/1.7 lens. It’s got optical image stabilization, too. The LG G6 has two rear cameras, one standard and one wide-angle. They both use the same Sony IMX258 sensor, at 13 megapixels with 1.12 micron pixels. For our tests, we’re mostly concerned with the standard camera, which has optical image stabilization and a superior f/1.8 aperture. The wide-angle lens, for the record, lacks OIS and has an f/2.4 aperture.

Simply looking at the specs, Samsung has the upper hand. It should perform better in low light with a wider aperture and larger sensor, and should focus more quickly.

It’s important to note that we tested these cameras the way most people use them, in auto mode. That means straight out of the pocket, using the stock app, with HDR set on auto. If a phone defaults to something less than full resolution, we rectify that, but otherwise this is the “out of box, out of pocket” experience.

We’re going to look deeply at the cameras across three areas: color, clarity, and range. We took dozens of photos with each phone, and what you see here is just a representative sample.

It’s important to note that this is not a comprehensive review of the entire camera experience. We’re looking at final shot quality across three main areas, but there are many other factors that go into a great smartphone camera. The speed at which the camera app loads and is ready to take a photo (the “pocket to photo” time), shutter lag, shot-to-shot latency, burst speed, the camera app interface and features, and that’s all without even diving into video features or quality, or the front camera.

Color quality

When examining the color quality of the shots these phones produce, we’re concerned with accuracy, vividness, and how well the camera balances color temperature.

It’s a cloudy day at SFO, and while it’s good to see the Galaxy S8 back off on the typical Samsung oversaturation, the image is far too blue. The G6 has far more accurate color temperature. This is a big stumble for Samsung—the color tint here is well beyond typical “viewer preference” white balance.

g6 gs8 camera shootout gs8 airport Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

The Galaxy S8 isn't oversaturated, but the white balance is way off here.

g6 gs8 camera shootout g6 airport Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

The G6, by comparison, delivers an accurate color balance.

This next shot is challenging. The light emitted from the table is a cool blue, while the ceiling lights are a warm yellow. LG gets it right, accurately capturing the stark contrast between them, not just on the tables but reflected on the black camera lenses. Samsung locks on the cool blue table and tries to compensate for it, turning it white and the background lighting positively orange.

g6 gs8 camera shootout gs8 lenses Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

Samsung tries to correct for the blueish tint of the table light, and ruins the background.

g6 gs8 camera shootout g6 lenses Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

LG accurately captures this complex lighting situation, with blueish table light and warmer environment lighting in the background.

Finally, let's look at this orange traffic cone in the grass. Yes, you might think the GS8's image is more pleasing, but it's really "greenifying" everything. The G6's colors may be more dull, but it's far more accurate. And if you zoom in and look closely at the grass you'll see a lot more variation in color.

g6 gs8 camera shootout gs8 grass Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

Samsung's color's pop, but far too much. This grass isn't nearly this green in real life.

g6 gs8 camera shootout g6 grass Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

The browns and yellows in the grass on LG's image aren't as pleasing, but reflect the true colors.

Samsung has long been criticized for taking too many liberties with color saturation and intensity, and while its image processing seems to have improved, it's still not nearly good enough. Too often, its colors simply don't reflect reality, or it has trouble nailing the white balance of a scene. Samsung needs to aim for accuracy in its auto modes, and leave this intense color stuff for its "creative" modes.

Winner: LG by a wide margin.

Next, let's check out clarity.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags lgGalaxy S8

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jason Cross

Unknown Publication
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?