March 29, 2023

We pit four of the most popular flagship phones in 2023 to find out, as – like it or not – selfie cameras have become more important, whether it would be for just that occasional fun selfie to share with friends and loved ones, for video conference, or who knows what else. In other words, selfies are here to stay!

So which phone does best in the selfie game? First, here is a quick recap of just basic camera specs we are dealing with…

Front Camera Hardware:

We used to have phones with two selfie cameras back in the day, but more recently, phone makers are just using one wider camera and cropping into it to give you a close-up view when it’s just yourself.

Group Shots

A wider selfie camera helps

Of course, when you take a selfie with friends and family, or a “groufie” as some may call it, you want a wider camera to fit more people easier. The Google Pixel 7 Pro has a noticeably wider field of view than the rest of the phones. This does not matter much if you have just two or three people, but when you take a picture of a larger group as shown below, the Pixel clearly works better.

In the Pixel shots, you will notice the darker exposure throughout and a few issues that pop up in different scenarios like those messed up skin tones in the last picture.

Actually, for skin tones, we have to mention the Galaxy S23 Ultra, which seems to be more consistent than the other phones.

 

Selfies in Good Light

Skin tones and white balance play a key role

In the above shots, all four phones do a very good job with dynamic range as you can see the blue color of the sky in the background, which just a couple of years ago would not have been possible.

However, the darker exposure out of the Pixel shots, especially in the first one really stands out in a bad way. The other phone that we also think did a sub-par job here is the iPhone, which captured a very ghostly color of my skin in the first shot.

Overall, we think the Galaxy and the OnePlus do the best job with pleasing skin tones, dynamic range, exposure and overall colors.

In this second series of daytime selfies, the differences are not as big. The Pixel once again looks darker than the rest, but not dramatically so, and in this series you can notice the over-processing on the OnePlus which lifts up the skin tones in a slightly unnatural way. For us, this time the iPhone redeems itself and ranks very closely to the Galaxy.

Selfies in Low Light

Huge differences

In low light, we see some huge differences in the quality of the selfies. The iPhone and especially the Pixel fail spectacularly with skin tones. And on the second shot again, we see a very strange and unnatural skin color on the iPhone, while the Pixel has made my face look again ghostly, and it seems that the Galaxy has the most natural looking shot.

In this second group of photos, the iPhone and the Pixel are not as bad as in the first one, but the iPhone in particular has problems with white balance on the first picture and looks too dark on the second, and it is again the Galaxy that stands out the best quality of selfies.

Conclusion

Who’s the winner?

Overall, we see that we have some big differences in quality in different conditions.

Let’s summarize what we saw from each phone:

  • Galaxy S23 Ultra — it managed to capture the most realistic skin tones and maintain good dynamic range, white balance, exposure and color accuracy. In low light, selfies were not as sharp as we hoped for, but that might be the only bigger issue and overall the Galaxy was the most consistent and best performing phone for selfies
  • OnePlus 11 — the OnePlus 11 consistenly captured pleasing skin tones with a slightly softer look that actually works good with human faces. It occasionally overexposes faces, which can result in a loss of detail, but it is a solid performer in low light and in our view deserves a second place.
  • iPhone 14 Pro — the iPhone has gone with a look that is extremely sharp, it has pleasing colors and a good amount of detail, but it occasionally captures slightly overexposed photos, it also sometimes gets the white balance wrong, and skin tones in low light can look really bad. It is a close call with the OnePlus 11, but ultimately, the iPhone 14 Pro did worse in low light conditions, so we would rank it third.
  • Pixel 7 Pro — the Pixel has the widest field of view, which helps with large groups of people, but its darker exposure and overly contrasty look can often be a disadvantage, plus it also failed a few times with skin tones, especially in low light. It ranks last in our view.
But what are your thoughts about these selfies? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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