The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is now tied with the iPhone 8 Plus as the highest-ranked smartphone camera in the world.

With the release of every major flagship, a few different things happen. Reviews flood the Internet with varying opinions, drop/durability tests are conducted, people dig through to find every last new feature, and the cameras are tested out to their fullest potential. DxOMark has been testing smartphone camera quality for years, and it just gave the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 the highest score it’s ever given to an Android phone.

With a photo score of 100 and video score of 84, the Galaxy Note 8 ends up with a final result of 94 – only to be tied with the recently released iPhone 8 Plus. When it comes to still images, DxOMark praised the Note 8 for its noise reduction, preservation of fine details, fast autofocus performance, and high-quality zoom lens.

The Galaxy Note 8 also offers solid video output with a good amount of exposure, strong color rendering, and good noise reduction, but struggles a bit when it comes to autofocus and representation of textures. To put things in perspective, the HTC U11 received a video score of 89 and the Google Pixel eked out a 91 (both phones received overall scores of 90).

However, even with a slightly lower video score, that shouldn’t deter you from picking up the Note 8 if you’ve been considering it. The overall score of 94 is truly commendable, and although numbers don’t always tell the story of real-world performance, this is a solid reminder that the Note 8 has one of the best smartphone cameras on the market right now.

On the other hand, it’s worth pointing out that even with its revamped scoring methodology, it’s worth taking DxOMark scores with a hefty amount of salt. Phone companies increasingly rely on awards like this to help sell their products, and DxOMark has partnered with the likes of OnePlus, HTC and others to seed scores prior to phones being announced.

It’s also worth pointing out that giving a phone’s camera a single score out of 100 is counterproductive in that there are only so many objective ways to look at a photo or video. At the same time, DxOMark makes its money from selling camera testing equipment, which, as Alex Dobie points out in a recent editorial, could make manufacturers “teach to the test.”

Like a wily student preparing for a standardized test, manufacturers who partner with DxO, and get access to its hardware and software, can tune their image processing to ace the firm’s synthetic tests (within the limits of the hardware, of course). As a result, their review scores are higher when DxO eventually publishes them — because they’ve had access to the testing hardware all along. Manufacturers who don’t partner with DxO are at an automatic disadvantage in terms of their score, even though real-world, outside-of-the-lab image quality might not be substantially worse. When that happens, as it is bound to, consumers who put faith in comparisons between scores from partners and non-partners are potentially misled.

All that’s to say there are two sides to this conversation. High DxOMark scores are certainly indicative of a good camera experience, but just because the Note 8 gets a score of 94 doesn’t mean you should rule out the Pixel, HTC U11, or any other phone with a lower score.

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