We’ve fully tested and compared the dual camera tech on Apple’s iPhone 8 Plus, Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8, the Huawei Mate 10 and the OnePlus 5, to see which of these double-vision shooters is best in a variety of situations.
Dual lens cameras are of course all the rage these days, appearing on the majority of premium smartphones and even a few mid-rangers come the end of 2017.
If you’re not really sure why two lenses are supposedly better than one, we have you covered. Check out our explainer guides below, which cover all of the main aspects of this popular camera tech.
Now that we’re all on the same page, it’s time to check out four of the biggest and best dual lens cameras that you can find on a smartphone right now.
We took Apple’s new iPhone 8 Plus, Huawei’s massive Mate 10, Samsung’s even more massive Note 8 and the comparatively dinky OnePlus 5 out for a test drive in London. Over 24 hours we shot dozens of sample photos, to see which smartphone snapper offers the best results in all kinds of conditions. We also made sure to test bonus features such as optical zoom and portrait modes, to see if those dual lenses really do make a difference.
Here’s our full dual lens camera comparison.
iPhone vs Mate vs OnePlus vs Note dual lens camera tests: How do they stack up?
First up, let’s check out the hardware we’re dealing with.
The Huawei Mate 10 sports a 20-megapixel monochrome lens and 12-megapixel RGB lens, which work in combination to capture everyday shots.
The iPhone 8 Plus offers two 12-megapixel lenses, one of which boasts a 2x optical zoom to get closer to your subject.
Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8 sports a similar setup to the iPhone, with a standard 12-megapixel lens backed up by a 12-megapixel telephoto effort with 2x optical zoom.
Finally, the OnePlus 5 serves up a 16-megapixel standard lens backed by a 20-megapixel telephoto shooter with 1.6x optical zoom.
Full dual lens camera reviews
You can check out our in-depth reviews of each camera below.
iPhone vs Mate vs OnePlus vs Note dual lens camera tests: Detail levels
When it comes to capturing detail-packed shots in decent light, any of these phones are up to the task.
We viewed back our test shots on a 55-inch TV and were certainly happy with the results. Even at this scale, you can expect sharp results, with no pixelation or grainy textures to spoil the shot. That’s providing the lighting conditions are respectable, of course.
iPhone vs Mate vs OnePlus vs Note dual lens camera tests: Colours
Colours are handled in different ways by these four dual lens snappers, with clear differences between our test shots.
Huawei’s Mate 10 really impressed us in the majority of our samples, bringing plants to life with some vibrant greens and rich reds. Likewise, colourful man made items often stand out.
However, we did notice that some of these processed snaps sometimes lacked detail when compared with rival snapper results; perhaps a weird side-effect of the technical shenanigans.
We’re also big fans of the iPhone 8 Plus’ photos, which boast realistic hues. This natural reproduction means naturally vibrant colours really stand out, for great-looking shots.
iPhone vs Mate vs OnePlus vs Note dual lens camera tests: Contrast (dynamic range)
If you take a lot of snaps of monuments, buildings and vistas, you’ll want to know how these smartphone cameras handle high contrast scenes. In other words, how do they perform when a scene contains both light and dark elements?
The iPhone 8 Plus appeared to be an early winner in this area, capturing pleasing levels of detail in darker areas which came out more murky on the other phones here. However, the sensor occasionally over compensates, which means some oversaturation in those brighter areas.
Samsung’s optics produce the best looking HDR shots overall, with a strong balance of light and dark as well as natural looking colours in these tricky conditions. The OnePlus 5 and Mate 10 also hold up well, coming close behind.
iPhone vs Mate vs OnePlus vs Note dual lens camera tests: Low light and night
When it comes to night time shots, the Mate 10 and Galaxy Note 8 produced the best-looking photos. You get the least grain, with some crisp detail on offer even in quite testing circumstances. Overall the Mate impressed us more in the majority of snaps, thanks to its capable handling of harsh lighting in these night scenes.
The OnePlus also impressed us, coming close to the more premium snappers here. Meanwhile the iPhone offers the least attractive night shots, with quite murky, grainy results.
However, when you’re taking shots in extremely dark interiors, the OnePlus 5 produced the worst results. Our test teddies were barely visible at all, while the other three phones offer respectable levels of detail and even capture the colours quite well.
iPhone vs Mate vs OnePlus vs Note dual lens camera tests: Zoom
One of the benefits of those telephoto lenses is that you can get up close to faraway subjects and capture greater levels of detail.
Of course, the Huawei Mate 10 offers the worst performance in our zoom tests, thanks to its lack of a telephoto lens. The OnePlus’ 1.6x optical zoom meant more detailed results, while the Note 8 and iPhone 8 Plus impressed thanks to their 2x optical zoom.
In each of these test shots, we used a 2x zoom – which in the case of the Mate and OnePlus, meant employing some digital zoom.
iPhone vs Mate vs OnePlus vs Note dual lens camera tests: Portraits
Two lenses means a proper depth of field can be captured by these smartphone cameras, which is why all four test subjects offer a ‘portrait mode’. This focuses on your subject to keep them nice and sharp, while blurring the background. As a result, your subject really stands out.
As you might expect, the results vary between these dual lens cameras. The OnePlus 5 offers the least impressive portrait snaps at a quick glance, with less pronounced blurring compared with the others. However, while our subject stood out more in the other photos, both the Mate 10 and the iPhone cropped some of the finer details around the edges in order to achieve the effect. Only the OnePlus and Samsung’s Note kept these details intact.
Apple’s iPhone offers the greatest flexibility with its new Light Portrait mode (currently in beta). This allows you to black out the background and apply various filters, for quite dramatic results.
iPhone vs Mate vs OnePlus vs Note dual lens camera tests: Verdict
Overall, the Galaxy Note 8 offers the strongest dual lens camera tech. Samsung’s big blower bossed most of these rounds, although the Mate 10 and iPhone 8 Plus impressed more for colour reproduction.
The iPhone works wonders in most conditions although struggles at night compared with the other phones here. In stark contrast, the Mate 10 really dazzles in those night scenes, yet the lack of optical zoom means the others are better at shooting from a distance.
Although the OnePlus 5 didn’t really win any rounds, it rarely came last in any of them too, with quite a middling performance overall. Considering it’s significantly cheaper than the competition here, that’s actually quite an achievement. In other words, you get plenty of bang for your buck.
Check out our iPhone camera tips and tricks guide, if you’re