Opinion | DxOMark: The iPhone XR proves that more cameras aren't a precursor for excellent performance
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Apple released a trio of smartphones a few months ago, and while much can be said about how the devices have failed to smash the company’s sales record so far, the cheapest of the three has performed best sales-wise. That device, the iPhone XR, made the trip over to popular photography benchmark website DxOMark a few days ago, and displayed some of that prowess that makes it the best value new iPhone.
The iPhone XR racked up an overall score of 101, making it the seventh-best camera phone in the world by DxOMark’s standard, behind devices like the Galaxy Note 9, HTC U12+ and Mi Mix 3, but ahead of phones like the Mi 8, Huawei Mate 10 Pro, and OnePlus 6. It also became the highest-scoring phone with a single rear camera, overthrowing the Pixel 2 in the process and once more proving that more sensors aren’t always needed for great photography. Of course, the Pixel 3 is yet to be evaluated by DxOMark, and we expect it to eclipse the XR’s score when it finally is.
In the still photography segment, the iPhone XR earned a score of 103, placing it on par with the dual-rear camera Galaxy S9+ (99), Mi 8 (99), and the Mi Mix 3 (103). It also managed to better the last-gen iPhone X’s score of 101, which shows that Apple’s imaging software improved over the last generation. Notable weaknesses included low detail in medium to long-range zoom shots, and poor blur gradient in bokeh mode.
In the video category, the XR ended up with a respectable score of 96, better than the devices like the S9 Plus (91), Mi 8 (88), iPhone X (89), and Huawei Mate 10 Pro (91), and about par with the Pixel 2 (96), and Huawei P20 (94). The XR’s performance in this segment can only be considered stellar. Notable weaknesses included poor white balance and luminance noise in low-light conditions.
The XR’s trip was definitely a positive performance, as the device managed to hold its own—and even surpass—devices in its weight class with two cameras at the back. However, weaknesses like poor detail in zoom shots and poor blur gradient in bokeh mode would have been eliminated by the use of a secondary telephoto sensor. Software is more important than hardware—Nokia phones are proof of that—but software has its limitations, and better hardware never hurt anyone.