Camera Testing: The Sony MX333
The 12.2 MP image sensor in the Galaxy S8+ (and the standard S8, for that matter) varies, as Samsung is using both an ISOCELL S5K2L2 and a Sony MX333 for these phones. Our own review unit came equipped with the latter of these, and this Sony sensor is not yet listed on the company’s mobile CMOS device page. The MX333 offers very similar specifications to the IMX260 found in the previous Galaxy S7 phones, as both the IMX260 and this IMX333 offer a 12.2 MP resolution, large 1.40µm pixel size, and dual-pixel phase detection auto focus.
The large pixel size (many smartphone sensors are 1.20µm and below) can seemingly only help to produce images with less distortion and better light performance. This 1.40µm pixel size is shared by the current DxOMark #1 mobile camera within the HTC U11 – though it is under the 1.55µm of the previous DxOMark-leading Google Pixel (the GS8 is just behind these in overall ranking).
In my own experience the GS8+ camera offered a compelling mix of very fast performance and high quality. The four images that follow were taken using automatic settings, and have not been edited in any way.
Excellent sharpness and detail from quick, handheld shots:
The HDR performance of the GS8+ is outstanding. Look at the sky above this building!
What about extreme close-ups? Taken just inches from the pinecone, this shot showcases some very nice macro capabilities:
Without going more deeply into it, the camera on the Galaxy S8+ should be considered a strong selling point. Not only does it offer the ultra-fast focus and excellent brightness of previous Galaxy phones, but the quality this lens is really good, too. I was impressed by its sharpness and natural color, and on the processing side the HDR from this phone is right up there with the Google Pixel for the best I've seen to date. The image processing in Snapdragon SoCs has been strong, and the new "Spectra" DSP in this phone's Snapdragon 835 is very impressive.
Image quality aside, the pure speed in focusing in and snapping a shot with the GS8+ (which is a joint effort between sensor, lens, and DSP) is outstanding, and without conducting any objective tests I still feel that Samsung offers the fastest overall performance. iPhone users would be quite jealous of the lack of any lag in snapping photos with this GS8+, and here is a key point of differentiation that Samsung enjoys over even the excellent iPhone 7 camera – which to me has always felt a little slow to focus. Granted, the iPhone 7 Plus has a tremendous dual-camera implementation and Samsung stuck with a single sensor on the back of the GS8+ (we must wait for the Note 8), but DoF effects are not everything – even though it is, I admit, an addictive feature.