OnePlus has branded itself the flagship killer, and for good reason. At $530, its latest phone, the OnePlus 6, boasts a lot of the same premium features its pricier competitors like the iPhone X have, including cameras.
We put the cameras on the OnePlus 6 up against the iPhone X’s cameras to see if they could keep up.
We took the OnePlus 6 and the iPhone X out to San Francisco’s colorful Mission district to test them out in the real world. We placed them on a dual phone rig for most video shots and stills, but some shots were also taken separately from the same angle.
On paper it seems like the OnePlus 6 can definitely compete at the same level. Both phones have a dual camera setup on the rear with similar megapixels and aperture. In fact, if anything, the OnePlus 6 may have the advantage, with a slightly narrower aperture on both lenses and higher megapixel count on the front camera. We know from previous comparisons, though, that specs alone don’t equal a better shot.
Even though the phones were placed on a side-by-side rig (most of the time), shots look like they were taken from a different angle. That’s because the OnePlus has a slightly wider field of view, which means you get more in the shot.
The wider-angle lens also means you’ll get a bit of distortion around the edges of the shot. In the shot below you can see the trees and buildings are warped on either side.
General shots of landscapes and scenery on the iPhone X tend to look brighter, with richer colors, while images on the OnePlus 6 seem duller, with less color saturation. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
In this photo, the slightly duller shot on the OnePlus 6 was able to capture the foggy San Francisco day more accurately than the iPhone X, which made the scene seem less dreary than it actually was.
The same thing happens in this mural shot. The iPhone X’s shot is more pleasing and vibrant, but the OnePlus 6 was more realistic.
The OnePlus also has a Pro-mode in the default camera app, which gives you more control over things like ISO, focus, and color temperature. To get this on the iPhone X you’d have to download a third-party app.
Winner: General shots look better on the iPhone X, but the OnePlus 6 gives you more control over the shot, as well as editing options if you’re willing to put in a bit of work.
The differences between the two phones are more pronounced when it comes to recording video. The OnePlus 6 has a lot more contrast and shake, while video on the iPhone X looks smoother and the transitions in light are more subtle.
When shooting at 60 frames per second, either at 1,080P or 4K, the OnePlus 6 relies on optical stabilization (OIS), and at other frame rates it’s using electronic image stabilization (EIS). The iPhone X also has OIS, but when recording at 1,080P and 720P it uses what Apple calls “cinematic video stabilization” to help keep the shot steady.
They both record slow motion at 240 fps in full HD. The iPhone X’s shot looks a bit clearer and smoother, but only the OnePlus has a super-slow-motion option of 480 fps at 720P, which can look more dramatic.
Winner: Video on the iPhone X looks smoother and cleaner, but the OnePlus will help you get a more dramatic slow-motion effect.
If you’re planning to zoom in while shooting video, the iPhone X is the obvious choice. The OnePlus 6 relies on digital zoom, while the iPhone X uses the second telephoto lens as an optical zoom that’s able to capture a much sharper shot.
For stills, the digital zoom on the OnePlus is actually able to hold its own. At 2X, both phones produce great-looking shots. It’s only when you increase the magnification that you’re able to see that the iPhone X is able to capture more detail.
Winner: The iPhone X is the clear winner in this category, especially when it comes to video.
The iPhone X also uses the telephoto lens for portraits, which means you’ll get a narrower field of view when you’re in this mode, with a lot of details in the face.
The OnePlus has a second 20MP lens dedicated to portraits, so it can get a much wider shot that has that blurred-background effect with a more dramatic blur. This works great when you want to capture more than just a subject’s face.
In general the iPhone X is a bit more accurate at discerning what to blur, but it’s by no means perfect. Meanwhile the OnePlus 6 gets a little hazy around the edges.
Neither one nails the color temperature though. The iPhone X makes people look slightly redder, with more contrast, while the OnePlus 6 washes out skin tones.
Winner: This one is kind of a toss-up because results weren’t always consistent, and it depends on what type of portraits you plan to take. We personally liked the wider angle on the OnePlus, even though faces tended to look better on the iPhone X.
Both phones also have portrait mode on the front camera and use software to create the blur.
But getting the effect on the iPhone X is tough, and another person in the shot can get blurred out, as you can see below. The blur on the OnePlus 6 was more consistent, and it looks a lot sharper, thanks to a 16MP camera (compared with the iPhone X’s 7MP).
We prefer the warmer skin tones captured by the iPhone X, but the wider angle on the OnePlus 6 lets you fit more into the shot. And the OnePlus 6 doesn’t flip your selfie, so it’s basically a mirror image of what you’re taking.
But for video, it’s the opposite. The OnePlus 6 gets a bit too close for comfort and the contrast makes things seem harsh, while the iPhone X’s image is more flattering.
Winner: The OnePlus wins this category for its wider angle and sharper shot, but be warned that video on the front camera can get a bit too close for comfort. If your priority is video on the front camera, you might be better off going with the iPhone X.
Next we took the phones to the 29Rooms exhibit at the San Francisco Palace of Fine Arts to test the phones under less ideal lighting conditions.
Both phones produced sharp photos with great colors even in the dimly lit hall at the exhibit.
Some shots look better on the OnePlus 6, with more detail, while others look better on the iPhone X. There was no clear winner in this category, at least with stills.
Video in low light tells a completely different story. The clip shot on the iPhone X looks a lot sharper and smoother, while the one shot on the OnePlus looks grainy and washed out. Neither were great at capturing the jazz singer in our clip, but if we had to choose, we’d probably go with the iPhone X, as the OnePlus 6 blew out the louder notes.
Winner: The iPhone X, only because the video is so much better. If you’re only interested in stills, they’re neck and neck.
The iPhone X wins for video and zoom, but for landscapes, portraits and low-light shots it’s a toss-up.
We love the OnePlus 6 for its true-to-life colors and wide-angle portraits, but the iPhone X makes shots look more vibrant off the bat and you’ll get more detail in portraits.
What’s clear is that the camera on the OnePlus 6 can compete at the same level and sometimes even outperform the iPhone X’s, despite the price difference.