Pixel 2 vs iPhone X vs OnePlus 6 vs Galaxy Note 9/S9 vs Xperia XZ2 vs KEY2 Camera

Mobile photography is one of the cornerstones of the smartphone experience. I recall that my very first all-touch smartphone was the Samsung Omnia, a phone that touted its mobile photography skills with a then unheard of 5MP sensor. The technology continued to improve, leading to Apple pushing it forward with iPhones and Nokia basically putting a point and shoot camera in one phone. Also, does anyone recall the Samsung Galaxy Camera? Lately, though, it feels as if smartphone cameras have moved from one of many cornerstones to the cornerstone. I have passed over devices I really liked simply because their camera was not competitive enough, and I am not alone in that regard.

Google turned a new leaf with its Pixel and software-based Zero Shutter Lag (ZSL) image stacking technology two years ago, and blazed far ahead of the competition in objective camera reviews, a trend that continued with the Google Pixel 2. Samsung took the other route this year, hanging their successes on hardware with an industry-first variable aperture, something that helps in low light but also provides more sharpness due to its f/2.4 default aperture. They had a slight change of heart in the second half of the year with the all-new scene optimization technology on the Samsung Galaxy Note 9.

Coming in for hundreds less, OnePlus has yet again shown up with its budget-focused alternative to the flagship, touting its best camera ever on the OnePlus 6. So here we are, and this is the premise of our comparison. With our four main devices locked down, we also brought along the Apple iPhone X, Sony Xperia XZ2, and BlackBerry KEY 2, making our field consist of what all these manufacturers sell as their flagship devices ranging from $579 to a whopping $999. Does Samsung’s new image sensing technology stand up to the might of Google’s software? Does OnePlus really offer a flagship-tier camera? AI vs non-AI, which Samsung is better? Today we are going to look at a massive comparison where I will lend my thoughts, but ultimately I want you to decide which camera do you feel is the best and which one surprised you. Welcome to part 2 of the XDA Smartphone Camera Comparison. You can find Part 1 of the Smartphone Camera Comparison right here.

First, though, some remarks about the comparison. This was a massive undertaking and not all the devices I would have liked to have present could be obtained. Sony did not opt to send an Xperia XZ2 Premium or Xperia XZ3. I was not able to get my hands on an LG G7 ThinQ, and the HTC U12+… well, who owns that anyways? I also would have loved to get a Huawei P20 Pro, but was not able to do so in time. We are also focusing strictly on photography, and without any tricks like bokeh modes and so forth. I also set all the cameras to their 4:3 ratios and kept all other default settings. However,  for some reason, the BlackBerry Key2 decided to be dumb and reset itself after I set all the devices, and I did not notice it both turned off HDR and went to its default 3:2 ratio for the outdoor part of the comparison. As you will see in the indoor section, HDR doesn’t help a lot. Spoilers: a bad camera is a bad camera. 

Outdoor – 010


BlackBerry KEY2 – ISO110 1/3200: All things considered this is not a bad shot for the BlackBerry KEY2, one of its best. But there is still significant detail loss in the shadows and highlights.

Google Pixel 2 – ISO50 1/5800: The Google Pixel 2 continues its drabber flat look, but colors are represented well and the photo is balanced. There is both highlight and low-light clipping which is strange for the Google Pixel 2. It’s just a good photo.

Apple iPhone X – ISO25 1/3000: I think this is one of the few iPhone misses for outdoor shots. Although the photo is eye-catching, it is also clipping on the main subject with the exposure being too high. The colors are very well done though and there is a good amount of clarity and sharpness all around.

OnePlus 6 – ISO100 1/3200: The OnePlus 6 usually is very close to the Apple iPhone X, but in this case, it went the opposite way. I find this photo drab and lackluster. The green border around the “Nobay” sign hardly even looks green anymore.

Samsung Galaxy S9 – ISO50 1/1800: See the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 notes.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 (AI) – ISO50 1/1800: Here is another situation where the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 did well. There is no real clipping other than a small cloud area on the upper right side of the image. The color reproduction is a little off, both the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 and Samsung Galaxy S9 made that orange too orange whereas the real color was between the Sony Xperia XZ2 and Google Pixel 2.

Sony Xperia XZ2 – ISO40 1/2000: This is very likely the Sony Xperia XZ2’s best photo in the bunch. Although the colors are shifted a little to pop beyond realism, there is a shocking amount of detail retained. The Xperia XZ2 is the only phone that you can actually make out the time on the door to the building. The Xperia XZ2 also perfectly balanced the highs and lows of the shot. Every other camera, Google Pixel 2 included, clipped either the windows or the sky on the low and high end. The Sony Xperia XZ2 avoided that.

Conclusion: Both the Google Pixel 2 and Sony Xperia XZ2 did a good job here, it depends on what you prefer. For me, the nod goes to the Sony Xperia XZ2 for its high detail and well-balanced exposure and colors that although aren’t perfect, are attractive.

Outdoor – 011


BlackBerry KEY2 – ISO204 1/950: This is a bad shot all around. I am not even sure what BlackBerry is doing with these ISO numbers and shutter speeds.

Google Pixel 2 – ISO53 1/1800: This is where the Google Pixel 2 shines. It did a great job here, with excellent color and detail retention, even if it is clipping on both ends of the spectrum. This photo oozes realism.

Apple iPhone X – ISO53 1/1800: It is the Google Pixel 2’s shot with the exposure turned up a few pegs. Unfortunately, this does cause some clipping, but overall I am impressed with the level of detail and balance here.

OnePlus 6 – ISO100 1/1600: Overall this is not the OnePlus 6’s best shots. It is good, but not comparable with the rest. One thing you really see here, though. is how tack sharp the center of the frame is and how mushy details get as you go out from the center.

Samsung Galaxy S9 – ISO50 1/170: I think the Samsung Galaxy S9 did a great job here. There are solid details retained and you can really see HDR at work on the tree bark. There is a little weirdness going on with detail on the brick building to the left, though.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 (AI) – ISO50 1/380: Some people will like this photo, it is very catching, but also unrealistic in its color representation. In an ongoing trend, it feels like AI mode on the Galaxy Note 9 only shoots color saturation up not, really doing anything useful.

Sony Xperia XZ2 – ISO40 1/320: This is a really cool shot and looks Instagram-ready with a vignette effect going on. Sadly it is not a good representation of the shot and clips hard on the highlights, making it one of the Xperia XZ2’s worse ones.

Conclusion: The Google Pixel 2 walks away with this one. I still wish it balanced exposure a little higher, but it is a pleasing and very realistic shot.

Outdoor – 012


BlackBerry KEY2 – ISO222 1/640: I had to double-check this photo to see if the BlackBerry KEY2 got swapped for another shot, but nope, it is definitely the BlackBerry KEY2. It did an excellent job with exposure and balancing but do not zoom in, as there is no fine detail.

Google Pixel 2 – ISO52 1/1800: This is one of three very difficult shots I took and nearly every camera handled it differently. I think the Google Pixel 2 pushed the contrast and range a little too much with the photo having a “painted” feel to it with texture. This is especially noticeable on the treescape in the back and the face of the statue.

Apple iPhone X – ISO52 1/1800: Much like the Google Pixel 2, the Apple iPhone X did a very good job. It focused mainly on the foreground subject and has a lot of detail. I feel the colors are better represented here compared to the Pixel 2, though.

OnePlus 6 – ISO100 1/200: HDR all-the-things is the motto for this shot from the OnePlus 6. While I love the sheer amount of highlights and details at the bottom of the trees, it also is not representative of the original shot. That said, it does look cool.

Samsung Galaxy S9 – ISO50 1/280: I really messed up the framing on this so I cannot really compare it to the others. While the Samsung Galaxy S9 did a good job, it leans into the same style of mass exposure as the OnePlus 6 and Samsung Galaxy Note 9.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 (AI) – ISO50 1/210: This is much like the OnePlus 6, there is a shocking amount of detail and color to the trees in the background. It is probably the best of the ‘expose everything’ style of shot, but like the OnePlus 6 shot it is not entirely realistic.

Sony Xperia XZ2 – ISO40 1/250: The Google Pixel 2 and Sony Xperia XZ2 shot the same style of photo. There are rich contrast and harsh shadows. The Sony Xperia XZ2 edges out the Google Pixel 2 in detail and color representation, though. If you look closely at the edges of the darkest blue feathers you can see the green highlight hue that the Sony Xperia XZ2 picked up on. Most of the other cameras nearly got rid of it all together or pushed it far too much.

Conclusion: This one comes down to personal taste. The Sony Xperia XZ2 wins the primary subject low exposure comparison and the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 for the Direct-to-Instagram style, but overall I think the Sony Xperia XZ2 did the best.

Outdoor – 013


BlackBerry KEY2 – ISO282 1/570: This is not a bad shot if you stay zoomed out. It is too bright and soft, though.

Google Pixel 2 – ISO79 1/1400: The Google Pixel 2 is much like the Apple iPhone X. While I feel the colors are better balanced on the Apple iPhone X, the exposure is really well done on the Google Pixel 2 especially with the path. Both retain a lot of detail.

Apple iPhone X – ISO20 1/380: The iPhone X has a great amount of detail in this shot and did a good job overall. There are few complaints about it, and if the Xperia XZ2 was not here it would be top of the pack.

OnePlus 6 – ISO100 1/1250: Here we see one of the OnePlus 6’s Achilles’ heels. The depth of field looks murky and mushy due to it trying to expose for something out of focus. The OnePlus 6 also loses the fine detail on the figure.

Samsung Galaxy S9 – ISO50 1/200: See the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 notes.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 (AI) – ISO50 1/210: I think the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 and Samsung Galaxy S9 did a good job here, but the photo is a too highly exposed and there is less distinction between the subject and the background due to that.

Sony Xperia XZ2 – ISO40 1/250: This is where Sony and their background in DSLR photography come in with their excellent lenses. The detail, the exposure, and the colors are all nearly perfect, and the depth of field view looks fantastic.

Conclusion: The Sony Xperia XZ2 wins this one hands down.

Outdoor – 014


Tap to expose

BlackBerry KEY2 – ISO251 1/750: I guess this is what life was like before HDR. How did we survive?

Google Pixel 2 – ISO50 1/2300: The Google Pixel 2 had a really hard time here. Now, I know I used tap-to-expose, but I wanted to put these cameras into a tough spot and see how they performed. The exposure point for this photo was the blue wing glass insert. For that, the Google Pixel 2 excelled at providing the best shot of that individual subject.

Apple iPhone X – ISO20 1/400: The Apple iPhone X managed this shot so well. There is a high level of detail throughout the shot and while it clearly focused and balanced off the blue wing glass, it did not do it at the expense of the rest of the shot.

OnePlus 6 – ISO100 1/140: Much like the other shot with the statue, the OnePlus 6 overdid it trying to expose for everything. While there is a loss of detail on the wings it is not bad, but the rest of the shot is not particularly good either.

Samsung Galaxy S9 – ISO50 1/900: Like the Google Pixel 2, the Samsung Galaxy S9 exposed for what I told it to expose for, but it does have a high loss of detail on the wings.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 (AI) – – ISO50 1/950: Not a bad shot from the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, but not a great one either. Colors are overdone and the wing is a little underexposed, especially considering this is where I told it to focus and expose. There is something very weird going on with the tree on the middle left side though, not quite sure what it is.

Sony Xperia XZ2 – ISO40 1/320: Is this the BlackBerry?

Conclusion: I intentionally created a difficult scenario in this shot to see how the camera performed. Considering what I asked each camera to do, the Google Pixel 2 and Apple iPhone X did the best of the bunch. I was very disappointed in the lack of detail from the Samsung Galaxy phones.

Outdoor – 016


BlackBerry KEY2 – ISO50 1/4700: The BlackBerry KEY2 did a respectable job for itself here. While it cannot match the others, it holds its own against itself.

Google Pixel 2 – ISO50 1/4700: The Google Pixel 2 did a good job here with two flaws that keep it from being the best. The first is the trees in the foreground. Due to the high level of dynamic range and boosted contrast there is a lot of detail left out of them with excessive clipping throughout all three trees. The second flaw is the white balance, it is far too cool and blue.

Apple iPhone X – ISO20 1/1500: The Apple iPhone X did a well-balanced shot here. While the building is exposed well, the shot leans yellowish in tone and the trees in the foreground are not particularly well exposed. You could have told me the Google Pixel 2 took this shot and I would believe you.

OnePlus 6 – ISO100 1/3200: I really want to like this photo from the OnePlus 6, but it missed the mark in a few areas, mostly color reproduction. The sky has a slight purple hue and is not representative of the original shooting conditions. The building is well-exposed, though.

Samsung Galaxy S9 – ISO50 1/1250: This is a well done shot by the Samsung Galaxy S9. I cannot help but feel that overall the color balance is a little off, but it did a good job. It does have the most clipping at the high end though.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 (AI) – ISO50 1/2000: This one almost hurts my eyes. Overall it is a good photo for a select audience, but the exposure needs to come down a bit and overall the saturation was pushed too far. For those who like heavy-handed HDR, this is ideal.

Sony Xperia XZ2 – ISO40 1/1000: I like what the Sony Xperia XZ2 managed to do with this shot. It is very well-balanced, the color tone is on point and overall it is excellent. I wish there was more detail in the leaves of the trees like the Apple iPhone X, but at least they aren’t crushed like the Google Pixel 2.

Conclusion: None of the shots are awful, but the Sony Xperia XZ2 pulls ahead for me here. It is well-balanced and exposed without pushing things too far.

Outdoor – 017


BlackBerry KEY2 – ISO215 1/460: The BlackBerry KEY2 did another good job and even has some details retained.

Google Pixel 2 – ISO51 1/1000: This is a rare total miss for the Google Pixel 2. I am not quite sure what the Pixel 2 decided to focus on, but it was not the subject. As for color and exposure balancing, it is excellent.

Apple iPhone X – ISO20 1/125: While the iPhone X is usually conservative, it really pushed both the colors and contrast in this image. I think it did a great job, but the Galaxy Note 9 and Xperia XZ2 do it better.

OnePlus 6 – ISO100 1/590: I do not feel the OnePlus 6 did a bad job here, but it did not do a good one either. It is severely missing in detail and the colors are too cool.

Samsung Galaxy S9 – ISO50 1/230: I like what the Samsung Galaxy S9 tried to do here, but overall it ended up making the background overexposed and distracting from the main subject.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 (AI) – ISO50 1/150: The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 did an excellent job on this photo. The subject is very sharp, the overall image is exposed well, but the colors are a little on the punchy side, especially the rust color.

Sony Xperia XZ2 – ISO40 1/160: The Sony did an excellent job here too. Much like the Galaxy Note 9, it balanced everything extremely well and if you were to look at the histograms for both, they are very similar with the Xperia XZ2 pulling the exposure back a bit.

Conclusion: The Sony Xperia XZ2 gets the nod here too. I think it did a good job balancing the photo and retaining a high level of detail. The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is a better photo in my opinion but the color balancing is off and pushed too far.

Outdoor – 018


BlackBerry KEY2 – ISO273 1/1000: This is a terrible photo.

Google Pixel 2 – ISO50 1/2900: The Google Pixel 2 did a very good job here even if it is a touch underexposed. The colors and feel of the photo are nearly spot on, but even with the lower exposure the Google Pixel 2 still managed to clip significantly in the sky. The Google Pixel 2 is also a little cooler in overall tone compared to the Apple iPhone X which I feel makes outdoor shots like this less inviting.

Apple iPhone X – ISO20 1/450: Here is a good example of the iPhone out-Pixeling the Pixel. It lent itself towards this overall lower exposure picture allowing for minimal clipped highlights. The colors are a little more saturated than those you find on the Pixel 2 shot and the exposure is a tad higher too, but more fine detail was resolved due to that higher overall exposure.

OnePlus 6 – ISO100 1/270: I think the OnePlus 6 did a decent job here if you like this expose everything approach. The colors are a little much along with the total photo exposure, but it is not a terrible photo.

Samsung Galaxy S9 – ISO50 1/270: This is a very whitewashed photo and I think the Galaxy S9 missed the tone of the image. It is far too bright overall, and while there is minimal clipping and colors seem good, it is needed to have its exposure knocked down a touch or two.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 (AI) – ISO50 1/600: I would have absolutely thought the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy Note 9 photos were flipped. This shot is a very well-balanced one with great exposure and fine details. It does push the colors far too much with the greens and the reds, but overall it did a good job.

Sony Xperia XZ2 – ISO40 1/320: Here is where the Sony’s lack of reliable HDR exposure and high dynamic range limits come into play. Unlike say the Galaxy Note 9, the Xperia XZ2 was incapable of exposing both the darker trees and the sky at the same time. While the Xperia XZ2 is one of the few that does not clip blacks on the bench and windows, it did so at the expense of the overall photo.

Conclusion: The Apple iPhone X handled this photo excellently, I feel, with the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 right behind it only due to its color saturation issues.

Outdoor – 019


BlackBerry KEY2 – ISO275 1/1250: I have seen far worse from the BlackBerry KEY2 and this photo is among the better of the bunch. The tone and feel of the photo are solid.

Google Pixel 2 – ISO65 1/3900: The Google Pixel 2 did a great job here. The exposure is good, the colors are good, and the overall feel is good, but the Apple iPhone X still edges it out. The Google Pixel 2 has a few things working against it. First, it crushed some of the shadows down towards the bottom of the image, and it also missed the blue sky color with its cool feel. It also suffers from the issues that the OnePlus 6 had where, due to its noise reduction or ZSL, some of the tree foliage is gone.

Apple iPhone X – ISO20 1/480: This is the Apple iPhone X at the top of its game. It nailed the exposure clipping zero blacks and highlight clipped the least of the group. Color and tone are also excellent with a great blue sky and green trees. The level of detail also far outpaces the rest of the group on both the leaves and tree bark. While the Google Pixel 2’s photo was great, the Apple iPhone X’s was outstanding.

OnePlus 6 – ISO100 1/200: Everything seems in order, exposure, colors, clipping. While I still feel the Google Pixel 2 and Apple iPhone X did it better, the OnePlus 6 still outpaced the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 and Samsung Galaxy S9. But… there is a massive problem that the OnePlus 6 has with details though, you will notice that there is simply less foliage on the trees compared to other shots. Their noise reduction just wiped them out.

Samsung Galaxy S9 – ISO50 1/220: Much like the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, the Galaxy S9 tried to do too much here. While the colors have thankfully reigned in a bit, the overall exposure is too high.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 (AI) – ISO50 1/350: This is a very tough photo and I feel the Galaxy Note 9 missed the feel entirely. It has a lot of details, a lot of exposure, and a lot of colors, but it is not representative of the original scene.

Sony Xperia XZ2 – ISO40 1/250: I think the Sony Xperia XZ2 did a fine job here, but it is not among the best. The general exposure is on the low side but it still suffers from highlight clipping, and the tone of the photo is a little dead.

Conclusion: As I said in the individual device section, the Apple iPhone X did an outstanding job here.

Indoor Comparison

We will now move indoors for the second part of our comparison. I wanted to put the phones in generally tricky, but also normal shooting conditions to see how they stacked up. The BlackBerry KEY2 aspect ratio and HDR setting were fixed for this part of the test.

Indoor – 001


BlackBerry KEY2 – ISO299 1/370: This shot would not be so bad if the subject was in focus and the background was exposed properly…

Google Pixel 2 – ISO51 1/1000: While it is clear what the Google Pixel 2 was doing here, it missed the mark. The whole photo is underexposed and the color balance is off. The outside portion looks great, but that isn’t the subject.

Apple iPhone X – ISO20 1/150: Indoors is where the Apple iPhone X fails to impress. It suffers from poor exposure balancing and the fine details are lost on the flower petals.

OnePlus 6 – ISO125 1/100: The OnePlus 6 surprised me here with great overall exposure of both areas. There is a general lack of fine details though, especially on the flower edges making it look mushy and distorted.

Samsung Galaxy S9 – ISO50 1/100 f2.4: The Samsung Galaxy S9 and Samsung Galaxy Note 9 both did an excellent job. I think the Samsung Galaxy S9 nudges ahead a little due to its more appealing cool feel, even though the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is more accurate. There is a lot of detail and very little smoothing.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 (AI) – ISO50 1/180 f2.4: The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 did an excellent job with this photo. There is a lot of detail and the tone is nearly perfect.

Sony Xperia XZ2 – ISO40 1/100: The BlackBerry KEY2 is in excellent company.

Conclusion: The Samsung Galaxy S9 and Samsung Galaxy Note 9 take this one for their details and exposure balance.

Indoor – 003


BlackBerry KEY2 – ISO515 1/30: The BlackBerry KEY2 did not do a terrible job here. There is a general lack of detail due to the higher ISO, but it is a respectable photo.

Google Pixel 2 – ISO257 1/120: The Google Pixel 2 did a good job with overall exposure here. The tone is cooler than I like, and it loses in the detail battle with the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, but it overall did well.

Apple iPhone X – ISO64 1/15: Again, as I mentioned earlier, the Apple iPhone X does not do well indoors. There is a loss of fine detail and the overall tone of the photo is just off.

OnePlus 6 – ISO400 1/35: The OnePlus 6 is a lot like the Apple iPhone X indoors compared to outdoors where it does well. This photo is not bad at all, but there is significant smoothing in fine details. It is exposed well and the color tone is nearly perfect.

Samsung Galaxy S9 – ISO320 1/30 f2.4: See the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 notes.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 (AI) – ISO320 1/30 f2.4: There are two phones that rocked this photo, and they are the Samsung duo. There is an excellent amount of detail and the colors are nearly perfect. The only difference between the two that I can see is a slight change in exposure. You could knock it for the blown out back of the monitor on the right edge, but that is not the subject so does not really play into the image much.

Sony Xperia XZ2 – ISO200 1/30: The Sony Xperia XZ2 did a really good job here. I feel like it could have been exposed a little brighter, but I have few complaints.

Conclusion: Yet again, the Samsung duo show their power indoors, and both have been without using f1.5 so far.

Indoor – 004


BlackBerry KEY2 – ISO107 1/30: I don’t think the BlackBerry KEY2 did a bad job here, and it is not the worst by far. It is a totally fine photo.

Google Pixel 2 – ISO153 1/125: I do not like the exposure here, but overall the Google Pixel 2 did the best job. Its fine line and detail retention are a step above the rest of the pack and in general it’s a great shot.

Apple iPhone X – ISO32 1/30: While I am not a fan of the tone of the image, the iPhone X did a good job overall with exposure and details.

OnePlus 6 – ISO400 1/50: The OnePlus 6 had a very hard time with the proper color tone for this image, and overall it is disappointing.

Samsung Galaxy S9 – ISO250 1/60 f2.4: This photo is far too bright and whitewashed causing it to both lose the proper tone and details.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 (AI) – ISO250 1/60 f2.4: While the exposure is pulled back a bit here compared to the Samsung Galaxy S9, the overall feel is still too bright. The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 did do a great job at the fine details edging out all but the Google Pixel 2.

Sony Xperia XZ2 – ISO80 1/50: The BlackBerry KEY2 would be proud of this miss.

Conclusion: This would be a tossup between the Google Pixel 2 and Apple iPhone X with the nod going to the Google Pixel 2. I just wish the Google Pixel 2’s images were brighter.

Indoor – 005


BlackBerry KEY2 – ISO1369 1/30: Just when I thought the BlackBerry KEY2 could not get any worse, it does this (and no, this is not from the front camera).

Google Pixel 2 – ISO521 1/40: I cannot help but feel this photo is a little soft for the Google Pixel 2. It loses a lot of crispness on the edges despite its comparably low ISO. Still, it did a really good job in a really bad situation.

Apple iPhone X – ISO80 1/5: If there is one thing this test has taught me, it is that the iPhone X loves low ISO even at the expense of a very slow shutter speed. 1/5 is far too slow for a handheld phone, even with Optical Image Stabilization (OIS). That said, the iPhone X did a very good job overall and even overexposed it.

OnePlus 6 – ISO2000 1/20: Personally, this is where the boys separate from the men. The OnePlus 6 gets left behind by nearly every other flagship here. Overall the photo is not bad, but that high ISO causes excessive noise removal and fine line and detail loss.

Samsung Galaxy S9 – ISO250 1/15 f1.5: Like the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, the Samsung Galaxy S9 did a good job, but the overexposure and washed out colors give the nod to the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 here.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 (AI) – ISO250 1/17 f1.5: Here we get to see f/1.5 on the Samsung duo. I think out of all the photos, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 did the best job overall. However, that f/1.5 with low light and low ISO capabilities comes with the side effect of a loss in sharpness. This is clear on both the Samsung Galaxy photos. Overall though, I think it was worth it as the Samsung Galaxy photos look great compared to the rest of the pack.

Sony Xperia XZ2 – ISO320 1/15: The Sony Xperia XZ2 did about what I expected here. The photo is not well exposed and there is a lot of noise thanks to Sony’s sharpening and lack of noise reduction. It isn’t the worst, but it is not the best either.

Conclusion: The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 takes this one. That f/1.5 ability is a parlor trick that really helps Samsung. It is clear why they use it infrequently, though, as the loss in sharpness and clarity are clearly seen.

Indoor – 006


BlackBerry KEY2 – ISO225 1/30: The BlackBerry KEY2 actually did a good job here. The colors are a little washed out and there is a severe lack of detail, but it is still a good shot.

Google Pixel 2 – ISO305 1/120: This is a strange photo for the Google Pixel 2. Where it normally does a great job with details, it did a pretty bad job here. There is also black crush on the chair leg and excessive noise on the wall under the desk. The photo also feels slightly out of focus on the dragon.

Apple iPhone X – ISO40 1/15: I don’t feel like the Apple iPhone X did a bad job here, but others did do it better. The colors feel lifeless and even the Google Pixel 2 represented them better.

OnePlus 6 – ISO500 1/35: If there was one thing I wish OnePlus fixed on their camera, it would be the noise reduction algorithm they use. It gives the OnePlus 6 this dimpled look and feel in its photos that is not only soft but also distorts fine lines.

Samsung Galaxy S9 – ISO320 1/40: While the colors are better here than the Galaxy Note 9, the image is washed out by the light source in the back and is also a little soft.

Samsung Galaxy Note9 (AI) – ISO250 1/35 f2.4: I so wish that the Galaxy Note 9’s image did not over-saturate the colors because overall, it is the best of the bunch. It has high clarity, excellent details, great focus, and excellent exposure.

Sony Xperia XZ2 – ISO200 1/50: The Sony Xperia XZ2 did a very respectable job here. Like other Sony shots, there is a lack of noise reduction which you will either love or hate. I wish the shot was brighter, but like with the iPhone X, others did it better.

Conclusion: This is a difficult one but despite the wonky colors I would have to give the nod again to the Samsung Galaxy Note 9. It does a great job with focus and balancing noise reduction and fine details.

Indoor – 007


BlackBerry KEY2 – ISO307 1/280: The BlackBerry KEY2 did a good job here despite its lack of proper exposure for the window. While it is far from the best here, I think it handled the wall very well with a shocking amount of realness and details.

Google Pixel 2 – ISO50 1/500: While I do not like the tone of this image, there is no denying the Google Pixel 2 nailed it especially when you zoom in. There is a shocking amount of fine detail on the writing, on the curtains, and on the calendar. I wish it was a little truer in tone and not as harsh, but it did a great job.

Apple iPhone X – ISO40 1/120: While I do not think the Apple iPhone X did a bad job here, it did not do a great one either. The overall exposure is high and the window is blown out, but it is not terrible.

OnePlus 6 – ISO200 1/100: The OnePlus 6 did a good job here. It does have smoothing and a very odd green overtone which distracts from the image, though. There is a lot of lost detail too, but on the surface, it is a good photo.

Samsung Galaxy S9 – ISO50 1/90 f2.4: See the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 notes.

Samsung Galaxy Note9 (AI) – ISO50 1/120 f2.4: I think the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy Note 9 nailed this photo. They have excellent tone, detail retention, exposure, and colors, balancing all of them for an overall well exposed and detailed shot.

Sony Xperia XZ2 – ISO40 1/50: Even the BlackBerry KEY2 did a better job… enough said.

Conclusion: I feel the Samsung Galaxy duo yet again take this indoor shot comparison. That said, there is no denying that the Google Pixel 2 is the king of retaining fine details in more difficult situations.

So after nearly 150 photos, where does this leave us today and what conclusions can we draw? Let’s revisit our opening questions and some others that come to mind:

How does Samsung’s scene optimization technology stack up?

Well, this is an interesting one but not entirely surprising, it doesn’t. Of all the comparisons, AI mode helped edge out the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 in only 1 or 2 situations—and that was by a small margin. There only a single case where the Samsung Galaxy Note 9’s AI feature clearly beat out the Samsung Galaxy S9 and a number of situations where the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 fell behind the Samsung Galaxy S9’s non-AI-enhanced camera. My recommendation is to keep AI mode off—it is not worth the trade-off of totally destroying the shot.

Does OnePlus really offer a flagship-tier camera?

This surprised me a lot, the OnePlus 6 absolutely offers a camera that on the surface will go toe-to-toe with phones nearly twice its cost. There are a few things OnePlus needs to work on, though: noise reduction, smoothing, and HDR. Regarding the noise reduction, OnePlus has to work on their tendency to smooth out a lot of details to reduce the noise. This is somewhat enhanced by the fact that it seems the OnePlus 6 is not capable of going below ISO100. Compare this to the Apple iPhone X where we saw ISO20 several times. As a rule of thumb, you want a lower ISO to reduce noise added by the sensor. The second thing OnePlus needs to work on is their tendency to go overboard with HDR. While some people will like this, some of the results from the OnePlus 6 should be attained through post-processing and not out of the camera by default. Otherwise, I think for $529 you cannot go wrong with the OnePlus 6.

Is the Google Pixel still king?

If you are looking for the most neutral, balanced, and reliable camera, the Google Pixel 2 is the one. I still believe the Pixel 2 underexposes shots causing a loss of detail in areas where it really shouldn’t. Hopefully, they bump this up with the Google Pixel 3 coming soon. I also wish there was a setting you could change, much like the screen saturation settings, that would allow you to choose if you wanted a neutral shot or one where the colors were bumped up a bit. The Google Pixel 2 also has a tendency to have its white point set too cool, making things feel cold and sterile.

Does the Sony Xperia benefit from Sony’s DSLR experience?

In short, yes but not enough. There are some times where the Sony Xperia XZ2 really creates beautiful shots—best of the bunch—but others where it falls completely on its face. This happens a lot indoors and where there is a need for high dynamic range. It could be a situation where Sony Xperia XZ2 needs to rely on multi-image stacking like some others, but in doing that it will lose its more authentic feel with a lack of post-processing past sharpening.

What surprised you?

The thing that surprised me most was the Apple iPhone X. I have long been disappointed in my Apple iPhone X because I always felt the camera was an under-performer. The camera still lacks heavily in the indoor situations with the shutter lag being far too long, and its lack of ZSL causes many times where you will miss your shot if you are taking a photo of a moving animal or child. I couldn’t really show those sorts of scenarios here because my dog and kids don’t sit still and I wanted this comparison to be as equal as possible. This does change with the Apple iPhone XS which I happened to get after this comparison—I initially did not expect to get one.

I do not expect to do another comparison of this scale, but I wanted to go big with the first one. Combined between these two articles, there are over 10,000 words and over 140 photos that took about a month from start to finish. In the future, I hope to also have more members of the Portal writing team weigh in on the comparison as well. I hope you enjoyed this comparison and please, keep your thoughts coming in the comments.

Check out Part 1 of XDA’s Smartphone Camera Comparison

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Feds Force Suspect To Unlock Apple iPhone X With Their Face

Privacy concerns around iPhone X facial recognition

Privacy concerns around iPhone X facial recognitionJaap Arriens/NurPhoto

It finally happened. The feds forced an Apple iPhone X owner to unlock their device with their face.

A child abuse investigation unearthed by Forbes includes the first known case in which law enforcement used Apple Face ID facial recognition technology to open a suspect’s iPhone. That’s by any police agency anywhere in the world, not just in America.

It happened on August 10, when the FBI searched the house of 28-year-old Grant Michalski, a Columbus, Ohio, resident who would later that month be charged with receiving and possessing child pornography. With a search warrant in hand, a federal investigator told Michalski to put his face in front of the phone, which he duly did. That allowed the agent to pick through the suspect’s online chats, photos and whatever else he deemed worthy of investigation.

The case marks another significant moment in the ongoing battle between law enforcement and tech providers, with the former trying to break the myriad security protections put in place by the latter. Since the fight between the world’s most valuable company and the FBI in San Bernardino over access to an iPhone in 2016, Forbes has been tracking the various ways cops have been trying to break Apple’s protections.

First came multiple cases in which suspects were told to unlock iPhones with their fingerprints, via Apple’s Touch ID biometric login. The same technique was then used on dead subjects. Earlier this year, this publication uncloaked GrayKey, a $15,000-$30,000 tool that could break through the passcodes of the latest iOS models, including the iPhone X. Another contractor, Israel’s Cellebrite, announced similar services.

Now Face ID is being used for the same purpose. Whilst the feds obtained a warrant, and appeared to have done everything within the bounds of the law, concerns remain about the use of such tactics.

“Traditionally, using a person’s face as evidence or to obtain evidence would be considered lawful,” said Jerome Greco, staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society. “But never before have we had so many people’s own faces be the key to unlock so much of their private information.”

iPhone X marks the spot

When David Knight, special agent with the FBI, obtained Michalski’s cell and required the suspect to place his face in front of the device, instantly opening it, there were various items of interest inside, according to an affidavit for a search warrant of that iPhone X.

There were conversations over chat app Kik Messenger in which users discussed abuse of minors, according to the affidavit’s narrative. It was later discovered that Michalski had used Kik previously to talk with an undercover officer posing as a father interested in sex with children, Knight wrote. As per a previous Forbes investigation, Kik has had to deal with a vast number of child exploitation cases involving its platform, and promised to spend millions of dollars on fixing the problem.

Leading up to the seizure of the device, Knight had learned that Michalski had posted an ad on Craigslist titled “taboo,” the investigator wrote. Emails were later shared between Michalski and another defendant William Weekley in which they discussed, amongst other things, incest and sex with minors, according to Knight’s telling. That included sexual acts with a Jane Doe, whom Weekley referred to as his daughter. (Both defendants await trial. No date has been set yet).

Whilst Knight may’ve found some evidence of criminal activity when he manually searched the device, in one respect the forced Face ID unlock of the iPhone X was a failure. It wasn’t possible to siphon off all the data within using forensic technologies. That was because the passcode was unknown.

In modern iPhones, to hook the cellphone up to a computer and transfer files or data between the two, the passcode is required if the device has been locked for an hour or more. And forensic technologies, which can draw out far more information at speed than can be done manually, need the iPhone to connect to a computer.

It appears Knight didn’t keep the device open long enough and so couldn’t start pulling out data with forensic kits. He admitted he wasn’t able to get all the information he wanted, including app use and deleted files. What Knight did get he documented by taking pictures.

But he wasn’t to be frustrated entirely. In another revelation in the court filings, Knight noted he’d learned both the Columbus Police Department and the Ohio Bureau of Investigation had access to “technological devices that are capable of obtaining forensic extractions from locked iPhones without the passcode.” The only two companies known to have provided such services this year are Cellebrite and Grayshift.

Both those companies have been doing big business with the U.S. government of late. Grayshift scored its biggest order to date earlier this month, scoring a $484,000 deal with the Secret Service. That followed a $384,000 contract with Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE). The Secret Service spent $780,000 on Cellebrite in September too.

It’s unclear what the forensic examination of Michalski’s phone achieved. Earlier this week an executed warrant filing was signed off by Knight. In the inventory of what was taken from the device, all that was relayed in handwriting was: “Access to phone for digital info/data.” (In what’s likely a mistake, the executed warrant lists an iPhone 8, a model that doesn’t have Face ID and doesn’t appear in the affidavit). Forbes contacted the DOJ prosecutor on the case, Heather Hill, who said she couldn’t talk about specifics of the case or law enforcement investigative techniques.

“I do not have any knowledge of whether FaceID has been used to unlock an iPhone in any other investigations,” Hill added in an email.

Michalski’s lawyer Steven Nolder told Forbes the FBI wanted to use Cellebrite tools to extract data from the device, but hadn’t been succesful despite the Face ID unlock. “Consequently, at this moment, they’ve not found any contraband on the cellphone,” Nolder said over email. “That’s a Pyrrhic victory as there was contraband found on other devices but there would be no need to challenge the warrant’s facial recognition feature as my client was not harmed by its use.”

But Nolder said that the cops were now using boiler plate language in warrants to allow them to access iPhones via Face ID. “Law seems to be developing to permit this tactic,” Nolder added.

American cops now have boiler plate language for using Apple's Touch ID and Face ID to unlock iPhones.

American cops now have boiler plate language for using Apple’s Touch ID and Face ID to unlock iPhones.Forbes

Law behind the times

Thus far, there’s been no challenge to the use of Face ID in this case or others. But Fred Jennings, a senior associate at Tor Ekeland Law, said they could come thanks to the Fifth Amendment, which promises to protect individuals from incriminating themselves in cases.

In previous rulings, suspects have been allowed to decline to hand over passcodes, because the forfeiture of such knowledge would amount to self-incrimination. But because the body hasn’t been deemed a piece of knowledge, the same rulings haven’t been applied to biometric information, like fingerprints or face scans. That’s despite the fact that the use of passcodes, fingerprints and faces on an iPhone has the same effect in each case: unlocking the device.

Jennings thinks that as long as there’s no specific legislation dealing with this apparent conflict, courts will continue to hear arguments over whether forced unlocks via facial recognition is a breach of the Fifth Amendment.

“The law is not well formed to provide the intuitive protections people think about when they’re using a Face ID unlock,” Jennings said. “People aren’t typically thinking [when they use Face ID] that it’s a physical act so I don’t have this right against self-incrimination.”

And with Apple’s devices, it may be more difficult for defendants to argue their face is a piece of knowledge protected by the Fifth, than it is for fingers. “Arguably if law enforcement says use your finger to unlock, the knowledge of which finger [will unlock an iPhone] is still an item of knowledge being produced by the individual,” Jennings explained. “Whereas with Face ID, by design it will only unlock with a very specific and obvious and body part.”

Investigating the dead’s iPhones

In the meantime, the technical tussle between cops and tech firms will only continue.

There are various ways in which the latest iPhones can stymie federal investigations, even if Apple didn’t design features for that specific purpose. Beyond the passcode, thanks to a feature called SOS mode, it’s possible to shut down Face ID and Touch ID with five quick clicks of the power button. And if the device hasn’t been opened within 48 hours, a passcode is required to open it again.

“Additionally, a long and unique alphanumeric passcode will prevent any forensic imaging attempts from decrypting your phone’s data,” said Ryan Stortz, a security researcher at Trail of Bits. “However, SOS won’t save you if the feds distract you and seize your phone out of your hand.” 

Apple’s Face ID also requires a person’s eyes to be open. Not only that, Apple’s tech has “liveness detection” that attempts to determine if the visage looking at the device is alive.

So, unlike Touch ID, Face ID doesn’t work with the dead. According to one source in the forensics community who asked to remain anonymous, New York narcotics cops have even tried on multiple occasions to open iPhone X devices of heroin overdose victims but to no avail.

In such cases, hacking tools like the GrayKey offer the only possible way to dig up the dead’s smartphone secrets.

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Apple executive shot dead by cop in Lucknow | Apple employee shot dead | Apple phone | iPhone X plus | UP police | Uttar Pradesh | Kerala news

Lucknow: An Uttar Pradesh constable was on Saturday arrested and booked for murder after he shot a young Apple executive from close range, an official said.

The police constable failing to stop Apple sales manager Vivek Tiwari during a checking chased him and shot him in the neck, killing him, a colleague of the deceased said.

The incident happened at around 1.30 am when Tiwari was heading home after the launch of iPhone X plus along with Sana Khan, his colleague.

She said after they were fired at, Tiwari got scared and hit the car against a pillar of an underpass and sustained more injuries.

Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Lucknow Kalanidhi Naithani said constable Prashant Chowdhary has been booked for murder after Khan filed an FIR.

According to the police, when the constable at Gomtinagar extension signalled Tiwari to stop for checking, he tried to flee.

Tiwari sped away and hit a bike rode by two constables, who then chased him and shot him. The constable fired in self-defence, an officer said.

A second policeman has also been arrested and medical examination of both was under way to ascertain whether they were drunk when the incident took place, an official informed.

A post-mortem is being conducted to know whether Tiwari died of bullet injury or injuries sustained after his vehicle hit the pillar, the official said.

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Lady takes drugs, strips down for an iPhone X

Ghpage.com has sighted photos of a young girl who had gone naked and had been cheated after agreeing to strip down for an iPhone X.

The young Nigerian lady who was desperate to get hold of an iPhone X agreed to take hard drugs, and also exposed her breast in public as conditions of the gift.

Read also: Were you asked to log into Facebook again this morning? Here is why

According to the Facebook user who posted the photos narrated that the lady was promised an iPhone X on one condition, that she will take drugs with them.

The lady who wanted the phone badly can be seen taking some hard substances and also displaying her breasts in public before she later fell asleep after getting high.

Read also: Man kills pregnant wife 19 days after their marriage

Despite knowing that she was being filmed, she didn’t mind as she set her sight on the “reward” which was not given to her eventually, according to the poster.

The videos which went viral online – have sparked different reactions from internet users – with some blasting the lady for selling herself so cheap just for a phone while others criticised the guys for “compelling” the lady to do so and taking advantage of her.

Read this: Kwaku Manu praises Liwin for building a school

Read more: Anas hints of possible undercover investigation at Menzgold

Read also: Sarkodie jabs ‘disrespectful’ Shatta Wale in Medikal’s ‘How Much Remix”

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How to shut down and power off iPhone X, XR, XS, and XS Max

The procedure for shutting down an iPhone has changed with the X, XR, and XS models. Here’s the new method.

Change makes a lot of people uncomfortable, especially when said change requires making adjustments to long-familiar behavior. When Apple decided to shake up the design formula on the iPhone X and later models, many users had to come to terms with a completely different procedure on how to shut down and restart their phones. Fortunately, the updated method isn’t too difficult.

How to power off iPhone X

Here’s the updated procedure on how to shut down and power off the iPhone X, XR, XS, or XS Max:

  1. Press and hold the side button and one of the volume buttons. To avoid taking accidental screen shots, it may be best to get used to using the Volume Down button specifically.
  2. When the screen changes, slide the top toggle to the right to shut down and power off the device.

There’s also another method for shutting down iPhone X models that involves crawling through a couple of menu pages. This procedure is just as simple, though possibly not as straightforward.

  1. From the home screen, navigate to Settings.
  2. Tap on General.
  3. Near the bottom of the page, tap Shut Down.
  4. Slide the top toggle to the right to power off the device.

In the case of errant behavior, it’s worth noting that the method for force restarting newer iPhone X models has also changed. To force restart the iPhone X, XR, XS, or XS Max:

  1. Quickly press and release the Volume Up button
  2. Quickly press and release the Volume Down button
  3. Press and hold the side button until the phone restarts.

Once the phone has been properly powered down, users can turn the iPhone back on by pressing and holding the side button.

The updated design of the iPhone X and later XR, XS, and XS Max models has taken some time to get used to, but it shouldn’t take too long before users become familiar with the new shut down procedure. To learn more about the iPhone X, including guides on how to navigate basic functions in iOS 12, be sure to head over to Shacknews’ iPhone home page.

Kevin Tucker is a core component of Shacknews’ powerful guide development team. For questions, concerns, tips, or to share constructive criticism, he can be reached on Twitter @dukeofgnar or through e-mail at kevin.tucker@shacknews.com.

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9 Ways to Improve Battery Life on Your iPhone X, XS, XS Max & XR « iOS & iPhone :: Gadget Hacks

While the iPhone XS actually comes with a smaller battery than the iPhone X, Apple claims it, along with the XS Max and XR, offer users longer battery life than last year’s first Face ID model. While that may be true, your new iPhone still ships without meeting its full battery-saving potential. There are, however, steps you can take to make sure your X, XS, XS Max, or XR makes it from morning until night.

General battery life varies between each of the new iPhones. The iPhone XS surprisingly carries the smallest battery at 2,658 mAh, while the XR and XS Max carry 2,942 mAh and 3,174 mAh batteries, respectively. (The iPhone X has a 2,716 mAh battery.) Regardless of which device you have, you can use the following tips to save battery life on all four iPhones, except where noted.

1. Use Dark Mode for Supported Apps (iPhone X, XS & XS Max)

Dark mode isn’t just useful for nighttime browsing, it can actually increase your iPhone’s battery life thanks to the iPhone X, XS, and XS Max’s OLED displays. With OLED panels, pixels can deactivate entirely when displaying blacks; That means your iPhone’s display is “off” any time true blacks are on the screen. Less screentime means more battery for you to enjoy.

You’ll find many of the apps you use have dark modes built in, but just make sure you’re using the “true black” setting, if applicable. Night modes with grays instead of blacks won’t disable the display in the gray portions like it would when the true-black dark modes. Twitter and YouTube have dark modes, but they use more grays than black, while Apollo for Reddit uses mostly blacks for its dark mode.

True black dark mode in Apollo (left) vs. Twitter’s gray Night Mode (right).

Of course, this only applies to the X, XS, and XS Max; The iPhone XR uses an LCD display, so the entire screen is still engaged even when displaying blacks.

2. Use ‘Smart Invert,’ Apple’s Dark Mode (X, XS & XS Max)

While iOS does not have a true native dark mode, there is a decent workaround that should cut it for most people. “Smart Invert” is Apple’s for-the-time-being solution to system-wide dark mode, and while far from perfect, it will manage to save your OLED-equipped iPhone some juice.

Smart Invert will attempt to invert the colors on your iPhone except for important items, such as app icons, images, videos, etc. For the most part, it succeeds, giving you deep blacks in apps that normally have white backgrounds. However, it’s not foolproof and will sometimes invert colors in images, videos, and other items you normally wouldn’t want inverted.

When enabled, this feature will effectively reverse dark modes in apps that you had on, but disabling dark mode in those apps while you’re using Smart Invert is easy.

Smart Invert (left) vs. the regular non-inverted look (right).

3. Disable Face ID (X, XS, XS Max & XR)

This one might sound a little crazy, considering Face ID is the Apple’s most talked about feature since Touch ID was first invented. That being said, for those looking to squeeze as much battery life out of their new iPhone as possible, disabling Face ID might be a worthwhile option.

While you won’t be able to unlock your iPhone with just a glance, the True Depth camera system won’t activate every single time you wake your device. No camera, no camera battery drain.

To disable Face ID, tap “Reset Face ID” in the “Face ID & Passcode” settings. That’s it. No warning, no passcode verification needed — once you tap, Face ID is gone.

Since you won’t be using Face ID, you’ll want your iPhone passcode to be as strong as possible. That way, you won’t need to compromise security for battery life.

4. Disable True Tone (X, XS, XS Max & XR)

True Tone is a great feature on supported iPhones — it changes the white balance of your iPhone slightly, depending on your current lighting conditions, to give you a better and consistent viewing experience no matter where you happen to be.

The problem is, True Tone requires constant use of your iPhone’s sensors, which doesn’t come for free. If you feel additional battery life is worth the lack of True Tone, disable it by popping the brightness slider in the Control Center, then by tapping “True Tone” in the bottom-right corner.

5. Disable Smart HDR (XS, XS Max & XR)

With this year’s batch of iPhones, Apple announced “Smart HDR.” This technology allows your iPhone to take nine different shots at once at different exposures (compared to regular HDR’s three), and when combined, creates one evenly balanced photo. The results look great and make the iPhone’s camera one of the best on the market.

So why disable it? Without Smart HDR, your iPhone is free to take one photo when you tap that shutter button — or three with regular HDR mode — rather than nine at once. The lack of additional photos, minus the processing power it takes to analyze and combine them, equals more juice in your battery.

To disable Smart HDR, go to “Camera” in Settings, then toggle off “Smart HDR.”

6. Don’t Shoot in Portrait Mode (X, XS, XS Max & XR)

Done right, Portrait Mode shots can look like they were taken with a DSLR. However, that level of quality takes a lot of horsepower to produce — the effect uses both cameras X, XS, and XS Max, and requires rapid analysis on all newer iPhones to produce the finished results. If you need to take photos but want to conserve battery, avoid using this flagship feature.

With and without Portrait Mode. Looks great either way!

7. Shoot Video in Lower Quality (X, XS, XS Max & XR)

The cameras on the new iPhones are excellent, allowing users to shoot up to 4K resolution at 60 fps and slo-mo at 1080p and 240 fps. It takes a lot of energy to record video at those parameters, however, which will result in shortened battery life.

If you need to shoot at the highest quality possible, go for it. Otherwise, in a pinch, there are plenty of other formats to shoot that can extend your iPhone’s battery. If you want to maximize energy conservation while shooting, you can’t go wrong choosing the lowest quality setting of 720p at 30 fps. If video quality is still a concern, 1080p at 30 fps or 60 fps is a decent compromise.

Slo-mo only offers two frame rates to choose from, but seeing as 120 fps takes about 35% as much storage as 240 fps, it’s safe to say there’s a considerable battery savings in going with 120. You’ll find these options in “Camera” in Settings, then either “Record Video” or “Record Slo-mo.”

8. Disable Built-in QR Scanner (X, XS, XS Max & XR)

Your iPhone now comes with a built-in QR scanner. All you have to do is open the Camera, point it at a QR code, and voilà — it scans. Of course, that means every time you launch your iPhone’s Camera, it’s looking for QR codes, even when you know you won’t need to scan one.

If you’d like to avoid losing battery life to an unused feature, simply open the Settings app, tap “Camera,” then disable “Scan QR Codes.” This will prevent any scanning when you open the Camera app in every instance except the “Scan QR Code” control in the Control Center, which will still let you scan QR codes. So when you know you want to scan a code, use the Control Center button.

9. Utilize iOS 12 to the Fullest (X, XS, XS Max & XR)

At the end of the day, your iPhone is only as good as the software it runs. Lucky for you, iOS 12 is a beast of an operating system, taking the best parts of iOS 11 and adding unprecedented levels of performance and stability.

While Apple’s latest iOS turns its latest iPhones into powerhouses, it also offers plenty of opportunities for users to extend daily battery life. From personal Siri suggestions to new battery usage charts and data, iOS 12 gives you more tools than ever to fight for each and every battery percentage.

Cover image and screenshots by Jake Peterson/Gadget Hacks

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Can You Make A Memoji With the iPhone X? Be Prepared To Get In On The Fun

If you somehow manage to keep up with all of Apple’s latest endeavors, you probably heard a thing or two about the three new iPhones as well as the latest and greatest software update, iOS 12. Aside from bringing users a ton of sick features like Group FaceTime and Screen Time, iOS 12 offers users the ability to make Memojis, which are essentially talk-as-you-talk, do-as-you-do cartoonized versions of yourself. So, you might be wondering if you can make a Memoji with the iPhone X, or if it’s totally exclusive to the three newest phones. Well, if you are an X user, I have some stellar news for you.

After the concept of iOS 12 was announced earlier in June 2018, it was officially launched on Wednesday, Sept. 12. Along with high-tech privacy settings and improved loading speeds, the introduction of iOS 12 brought users the glorious gift that is Memoji. It creates personalized, do-as-you-do cartoon versions of yourself, and using it is super simple. To use Memoji, though, your phone must include the TrueDepth camera, which comes with the iPhone X, XS, XS Max, and XR. So, if you do have an X, you’re in luck — Memoji should work for you. If you happen to have an older phone, you can still receive Memoji videos — you just can’t create them on your own.


If your phone does come with the highly sought-after TrueDepth camera, you can make your own Memoji by opening up a text message, and clicking on the Animoji logo. Then, click the “+” button, which is adjacent to your current Animoji. This will allow you to create your own Memoji. After selecting the features that best show off your style, hit “Done,” and your Memoji will automatically save. From there, you’ll be able to “do” and “talk,” as your Memoji “does” and “talks.” It’s a pretty fun feature, and the best part is that you can send it over a variety of messaging platforms, including both iMessage and FaceTime. Pretty awesome, right?


If you’re looking to upgrade your phone to one of the newest versions, however, the iPhone XS’s “Depth” photo feature is really awesome for taking high-quality pictures. It optimizes the focal point of the image by blurring out everything else, and it allows you to alter it however you’d like. So, to take advantage of this dope new feature, take a photo and navigate to the Photos app. Then, tap the edit button, and you’ll see a slider which adjusts the depth of the photo. It’s really simple, and it makes for some gorgeous selfies, if I do say so myself.

Since Memoji only works with TrueDepth camera, you’re good to go if you have the iPhone X, in addition to any of the other three new models. It’s a super fun way to stay in touch with your friends. So, if you aren’t able to use it, now might be time to upgrade. You have a ton of TrueDepth phone options, so get out there, do some research, and get that Memoji ready to rumble.

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BeautyGate: The iPhone XS vs the iPhone X selfies and whether faces are too smooth

Recent owners of Apple’s brand-new iPhone XS and XS Max are claiming that selfies taken with the new iPhones are making their skin look noticeably smoother than previous iPhones.

It’s something that Lewis Hilsenteger of the popular tech YouTube channel Unbox Therapy pointed out, too. And there’s no option to turn off the smoothing effect in the iPhone XS. Hilsenteger went as far as to call the effect “BeautyGate.”

Indeed, the smoothing effect on selfies taken with iPhone XS phones is reminiscent of the “beauty modes” from phones like Samsung’s line of Galaxy phones.

Apple blog Cult Of Mac is attributing the smoothing effects to the iPhone XS’ “noise reduction” that Apple briefly mentioned during its keynote event, which helps remove the grainy look in photos taken in darker environments by smoothing out details.

Naturally, we tested this theory — that the new iPhones create smoother-looking selfies than previous iPhones — with an iPhone X and an iPhone XS Max, both of which were running the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS 12. We also made sure that Apple’s new Smart HDR feature was turned on in the iPhone XS Max. The Smart HDR feature is not available on the iPhone X.

The results were definitive. The iPhone XS Max we used produced selfies that made our skin noticably smoother than selfies taken with the iPhone X. And we noticed the smoothing effects in selfies with plenty of light, too, which doesn’t align well with the theory that the iPhone XS’ noise reduction is the main cause for the smoothing effect.

Check out the results for yourself:

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iPhone XS Max video quality trounces iPhone X

Of the major additions to this year’s iPhone lineup, Apple paid closest attention to the camera, with changes like a larger sensor on the wide angle lenser, a brand new depth control feature and Smart HDR functionality. This all amounts to a tangible upgrade in video quality over iPhone X.

Apple’s improvements go beyond the rear-facing dual-camera array. The new XS and XS Max have an updated front camera sensor that can shoot 1080p video at 60 frames per second.

Recording in 1080p at 30fps, the XS Max achieves much better dynamic range compared to the iPhone X thanks to internal component buffs. The increased dynamic range is available as long as users are not shooting at 60fps.

iPhone XS Max Selfie

Switching to 1080p at 60fps on the XS Max drops dynamic range a bit, but the result is still better than 1080p at 30fps on iPhone X.

Turning to the rear camera, shooting 4K 30fps on iPhone XS Max’s wide lens produced an image with stunning detail. As expected, dynamic range is also much improved from iPhone X, with better color reproduction most apparent in the sky.

iPhone XS Max Video

A shot of a lake’s shoreline provides exquisite detail in the trees. The iPhone X is not able to reproduce the same level of fidelity as the XS Max, nor can it compete on color accuracy.

iPhone XS Max vs iPhone X

Switching to the telephoto lens, the additional detail offered by XS Max is immediately apparent.

iPhone XS Max Telephoto

Testing autofocus capabilities, both phones are incredibly quick when transitioning focus between background content and a nearby object. However, there is a very noticeable difference between the two devices when a face enters the scene.

Panning between the background and a face — making sure the phone locks in focus each time — the iPhone XS Max focused at an impressive rate, much faster than its predecessor. While not confirmed, we believe the ultra-fast face detection is thanks to synergy between the iPhone XS and XS Max’s new Neural Engine and updated Image Signal Processor.

iPhone XS Max Video Focus

Both the XS and XS Max can now record audio in stereo, which adds another layer of depth to recordings. By contrast, all iPhone models up to 2018, including the iPhone X, recorded sound in mono.

Interestingly, Apple appears to have improved upon the optical image stabilization system included in iPhone X. Still attached to both wide and telephoto lenses, the new version on iPhone XS Max delivers silky smooth video even while walking at a fast pace.

The stabilization on XS Max is evident when reviewing stills from previously captured footage, as seen below in the highly detailed leaves. There’s also a huge difference in the color reproduction of the grass. The XS Max is the clear winner here.

iPhone XS Max OIS

Comparing slowed down footage captured at 4K 60fps and 1080p 240fps, the XS Max again displays better dynamic range and a noticeable difference in detail.

iPhone XS Max Slo-mo

Moving into a low-light environment with some bright lamps in the background, the dynamic range improvement is just as noticeable. The iPhone X blows out brightly lit subjects, while the XS Max is able to keep every detail looking balanced and colorful. Noise was also reduced on the XS Max, again thanks to the new ISP.

iPhone XS Max Low Light

On the front-facing camera, we noticed the XS Max had better white balance and detail when indoors. It also seemed to be zoomed in a bit more than the iPhone X.

iPhone XS Max Selfie Indoor

Our final nighttime shot exhibited the largest gap in dynamic range performance between the two handsets. The iPhone X completely blows out a brightly lit Comfort Inn sign positioned against a nearly pitch black background. The XS Max, on the other hand, is able to accurately portray the sign’s blue background, red/yellow logo and white text. The blue lights that trim the building are actually blue on the XS Max, whereas they look washed out and white on the X.

Looking at the darkest areas of the scene, the XS Max is able to keep it just as bright as the iPhone X, further showing off Apple’s efforts to improve dynamic range.

iPhone XS Max Dark

Based on the observed video quality differences, it’s obvious that the XS and XS Max received a pretty serious camera upgrade that not only assists in still photography, but video as well. We were expecting some change in quality, but not to this extent. Apple truly upped the mobile videography ante with iPhone XS and XS Max.

Deals on the iPhone XS Max

If you haven’t already ordered Apple’s iPhone XS Max, wireless carriers are incentivizing the purchase. Want to get your hands on a new device asap? eBay sellers are also shipping units now.

Carrier deals:

  • AT&T Wireless: Buy one iPhone XS or iPhone XS Max, get a second $700 off when you add a line.
  • Verizon Wireless: Buy one iPhone XS or iPhone XS Max, get a second $700 off when you add a line. Or save $100 with an eligible trade.
  • Sprint: Get the 64GB iPhone XS for $0 per month with eligible trade-in and Sprint Flex lease.
  • T-Mobile: Save up to $300 on the iPhone XS with an eligible iPhone trade.

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Why the iPhone XR has the Best Battery Life of the New iPhone X Series

If you care about battery life on your iPhone, you may want to take a closer look at the XR. It has the best battery life of any iPhone before it, despite being the most affordable in the new lineup.

So, how does it offer the best battery life compared to the other new devices? This is thanks to a couple of things.

A Closer Look at the Battery Capacities

Recent filings have exposed the battery capacity for each of the new iPhone models:

  • iPhone XS: 2,658 mAh
  • iPhone XS Max: 3,174 mAh
  • iPhone XR: 2,942 mAh

By comparison, the original X has a 2,716 mAh battery, the iPhone 8 has 1,821 mAh battery, and the 8 Plus packs a 2,675 mAh battery.

So, the XR has a larger battery than the original X, the 8, and even the 8 Plus. This makes the fact that it has a claimed improvement of 90 minutes over the 8 Plus unsurprising.

But according to Apple, the XR’s battery life matches the XS Max on most counts, and even surpasses it in others, despite having a smaller battery. For example, Apple claims the XS Max gets 25 hours of talk time, 13 hours of “internet use,” 15 hours of video playback, and 65 hours of audio playback. By comparison, the XR matches all of those numbers, save for one: it gets 16 hours of video playback.

It may seem like a minor difference, but better battery life is still better battery life—even if this is a best-case, theoretical scenario.

So How Does the XR Achieve the Best Battery Life Yet in an iPhone?

Despite the XS and XS Max both having much more efficient OLED displays, the LCD-packing XR still manages to best both models when it comes to theoretical battery usage.

It makes sense when compared to the XS—the XR has a larger battery. But what about when compared to the XS Max?

For that, we have to take a closer look at the display itself. Despite having a traditionally more power-hungry LCD, the XR uses the panel to its advantage to improve battery life. How? With the display resolution.

Where the XS Max has a 2688×1242 display resolution (458 PPI), the XR sticks to a 1792×828 (326 PPI) panel. This means that despite having a panel that uses more power, the CPU and GPU don’t have to work as hard to push the pixels to the display.

The XR’s display is comparable to the iPhone 8’s 1334×750 panel, which comes in at an identical 326 PPI. But, thanks to its bigger footprint, Apple was able to use a battery that’s almost 1,000 mAh larger than what’s in the iPhone 8, though it’s only slightly larger than the battery in the 8 Plus (about 300 mAh difference).

But again, thanks to the lower PPI in the XR compared to the 8 Plus—326 vs. 401—Apple was able to achieve the best battery life it’s ever had in an iPhone.

The question you have to ask yourself is whether or not you’ll even be able to tell the difference in display density. Research indicates that the human eye can’t discern anything beyond 300 PPI, so the odds are—unless you’re really looking—you won’t miss those extra pixels.

Just something to consider when trying to decide which new iPhone you should buy. The XR continues to show why it could be the best bang for your buck out of the new iPhones.

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