Samsung took Huawei by surprise this week after a well-known authority on image quality, DxOMark, proclaimed the Galaxy S10 5G has a camera that's essentially identical to the monstrosity sitting on the back of the P30 Pro - when looking at the end product, naturally.
The French imaging experts awarded the Galaxy S10 5G with 112 points on the DxOMark quality scale, the same amount given to the P30 Pro last month. Besides being the joint-highest score ever achieved by a smartphone pushed through the firm's set of standardized tests, the figure in question may also denote the end of Huawei's surprisingly long dominance in the mobile photography segment. Ever since the debut of the P20 line over a year ago, the Chinese firm consistently managed to stay ahead of Samsung's smartphone cameras, as well as every other rival on the market - not just in terms of provisional scores but media reviews and (arguably) overall user experiences.
The largest advantage Huawei enjoyed so far was in low-light scenarios, the bane of most small imaging sensors to date. While one can't cheat physics, the company opted for the next best thing and leveraged artificial intelligence to handle everything from stabilization to the choice of settings and even post-processing, with that reliance on AI being particularly integrated into the P30 and P30 Pro.
Huawei earned plaudits for a number of features stemming from that strategy, particularly its so-called "AIS," a stabilization service unlike most other things on the market which allows for second-long exposures even in darkness, then stitches everything together with often acceptable results, which is more than the vast majority of contemporary smartphones can do. At the same time, the machine learning component of the technology that's at the heart of most imaging features supported by Huawei devices allows them to consistently get better at fulfilling their purpose. Samsung now managed to match or exceed most of those capabilities but needed a time-of-flight sensor to do so; i.e. it finally embraced the technology that first debuted in the mobile world a year and a half back.
And while neither the P30 Pro nor the Galaxy S10 5G can claim the title of the world's best handset camera on their own, Samsung's latest Android flagship takes the cake in the selfie department, according to DxOMark, whose extensive testing ultimately saw the newest Galaxy-branded phablet score 97 points, more than any other device to date. It edged out its sibling, the Galaxy S10+, by a single point, and surpassed the Pixel 3 XL by five, thus topping the chart for front-facing cameras following around half a year of Google's dominance.
So, a pair of depth-sensing cameras, one on each side, truly does make a difference given how Samsung now caught up with Huawei and surpassed it in several regards in a manner that's at least as surprising as the original win the P20 Pro scored last year.
There's still room for improvement in terms of texture detail retention in low-light conditions, according to the French camera experts but in overall, Samsung is truly back to the very top of the mobile photography race and fall is bound to be interesting as both the Note 10 and Mate 30 ranges will be dishing it out for the title of the world's best.