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In a review published on Wednesday, benchmarking firm DxOMark scored the rear camera on the iPhone XS Max 105, ranking it second only to the Huawei P20 Pro, and comfortably above the Google Pixel 2 and Samsung Galaxy Note 9.
The phone has "one of the best mobile cameras," with significant improvements over the camera in the iPhone X, the company wrote. That includes Smart HDR, which is said to produce "very good target exposure and a wide dynamic range in all conditions." In bright lighting the XS Max is noted to have "excellent" results in both photo and video, with "spot on" exposure in outdoor shooting as well as good detail and color.
The phone actually scored 110 in photo and 96 in video — the biggest weakpoints in photo being zoom and bokeh (depth-of-field), the latter because Apple's simulated bokeh still makes mistakes in calculating depth, even if the XS Max does a better job than its predecessor.
DxO also took Apple to task for problems like underexposed flash shots, and luminance noise in zooms, shadows, and low light.
Video problems included the above-mentioned luminance noise as well as "unstable" white balance with indoor lighting.
The XS Max scored above several prominent competitors, such as the Google Pixel 2, and Samsung's Galaxy Note 9 and Galaxy S9 Plus. The P20 Pro ranked first as a "triple-camera juggernaut," DxO said.
For several years now Apple has regularly promoted its cameras as one of the main selling points of iPhones. The rear camera on the XS Max has "focus pixels," upgraded light sensitivity, and enhanced processing thanks to a custom image signal processor and the A12 Bionic chip's Neural Engine. In a first for Apple, bokeh can be adjusted even after a photo is taken.