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Annual ‘Blind Smartphone Test’ Proves that the Brighter Photo Always Wins Online


After the surprising results of last year’s inaugural “blind smartphone camera test” on Twitter, tech YouTuber Marques (Keith) Brownlee of MKBHD decided to turn it into an annual tradition. Unfortunately, the results were just as disheartening as last year, showing that most people mistake brightness for quality.

Brownlee compared 16 smartphones in all this year, or rather, he let his Twitter followers compare them. In a massive blind smartphone camera test thread, he created a March-madness-inspired bracket and had phones go head to head until a winner was crowned.

Each phone was used to take the same photo—a different photo for each “round” of voting—and the images were posted side-by-side online where Brownlee’s nearly 6-million Instagram and Twitter followers could vote on their favorites without knowing which phone they were actually choosing. “Four million Instagram votes later, and two million Twitter votes later,” a winner has been crowned: The Samsung Galaxy Note 10+.

Interestingly, the Final was between essentially the same camera: The Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ and Galaxy S10e, and yet the Note 10+ won by a “healthy margin.”

Unfortunately, the takeaway here isn’t that Samsung has the best camera. If you were to shoot a few samples and compare the results against the Google Pixel 4 or Apple’s iPhone 11 Pro, you’d probably find that Samsung’s photos fall short in many scenarios. At least that’s what most reviewers have found. Samsung won because it consistently beat the rest of the phones in one category: brightness.

Just like last year, without fail, the brighter photo always wins. “Essentially, when all else is the same and you put [two smartphone photos] right next to each other [online], people are just going to pick the brighter photo,” explains Brownlee. This wasn’t the only conclusion MKBHD was able to draw, but it was the most consistent and obvious in each round of voting.

Check out the full video up top to see the results from each round of voting, compare the photos for yourself, and hear about the other surprising conclusion that Brownlee was able to draw from this test. Oh, and if you’re posting photos online… you may want to crank up the brightness a stop or two. Apparently that moody look is doing you no favors.