Market and Technology Trends
Ultra-Premium Flagship Smartphones Image Performance: End-User Perspective 2021
By Yole Intelligence —
End-user performance does not correlate with main sensor resolution in ultra-premium flagships; bigger is not necessarily always better.
Table of contents 2
Report objectives 4
Who should be interested in this report? 5
Executive summary 6
A market perspective 17
Expanding the photospace 26
Overview – specifications analysis 31
DXOMARK complete performance analyses 35
Information capacity and image quality 36
Autofocus and depth of field 59
Texture and noise 66
From sensors to performance 98
Hardware insights 103
DXOMARK protocols 114
About DXOMARK, System Plus Consulting and Yole Développement
DXOMARK PARTNERS WITH YOLE DÉVELOPPEMENT AND SYSTEM PLUS CONSULTING TO DELIVER A NEVER SEEN BEFORE ANALYSIS
The smartphone industry has for long been the theater of an arms race between the major OEMs. Every year, imaging capabilities improve and are at the forefront of the OEM’s branding, as imaging has become one of the biggest differentiating factors between OEMs. Every year, Yole Développement and System Plus Consulting provide the industry with detailed analyses of imaging in general, and smartphones in particular: technology and applicative trends, supply chain movements, market trends, reverse engineering and costing, and so on. Since 2008, DXOMARK provides imaging performance
measurements from the end-user’s point of view, with a voice that resonates all over the industry.
To bring a comprehensive view regarding imaging, from material and equipment to end-user performance, Yole Développement, System Plus Consulting and DXOMARK have teamed up to produce this report combining their respective expertise. DXOMARK’s unique testing capabilities and detailed scientific test reports, making the link with Yole Développement and System Plus Consulting analyses, will provide the reader with a comprehensive understanding of the elements that drive quality from market trends to components to the actual user experience.
SUPPLY CHAIN AND TECHNOLOGIES IMPLY HUGE REPERCUSSIONS ON THE END-USER EXPERIENCES FOR PHOTOS AND VIDEOS
As for every new generation, the iPhones reshuffle the cards of the flagship battle. In this report, we decided to provide the industry with a thorough analysis of the four major flagships which have brought major improvements of experience in 2021: the Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max, the Samsung Galaxy S21 5G Ultra, the Huawei Mate 40 Pro, and the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra. You will also find market data on smartphones with a specific perspective on flagships and the positioning of each OEM. This will help in understanding the overall DXOMARK score for each of these four flagships, which will then be detailed
in terms of various features and attributes: exposure, color, autofocus and depth of field, texture and noise, bokeh, night, preview, and tele-zoom. Performance of each attribute is further explained and illustrated in details for both photo and video use cases, with an underlying explanation and many illustrations. This will allow the reader to reach a proper understanding of the technical choices of OEMs and the repercussions of these choices in semiconductor content, assembly challenges, and end-user performance.
A GOOD USER EXPERIENCE RELIES ON MORE THAN JUST HARDWARE CHOICES
The most significant results were not necessarily the most obvious. All OEMs aim to deliver the very best photo & video experience to the end user. Choices are endless between camera setups, functionalities, and specifications. But, in order to bring the best experience to consumers, all elements have to be put in balance and tuning will be key, enabling manufacturers to reach very different results. For instance, packing more pixels does not necessarily translate into better image quality. While Samsung includes a 108MP sensor on their latest flagship, Apple, with its iPhone 12 Pro Max, choosing a lower resolution, ends up in getting a higher DXOMARK score. Specifically on hardware, we see through the DXOMARK scores that Huawei and Xiaomi combine great hardware – including larger camera modules – with excellent software integration, while Apple provides very high-quality images despite their smaller camera module, thanks to its combination of hardware and software. The key complementarity between hardware and software is highlighted in HDR measurements; this feature has been around for long, but still today, huge differences appear without exceptional hardware and software integration – even among flagships. In the future, with this new phase opening up with the iPhone 13 Pro Max, we expect OEMs to continue adopting these balanced hardware architectures while continuously improving their software solutions to further enhance end-user performance.
AAC Technologies, Ability Opto, AGC, AMS, Alps, Apple, Asia Optical, ASM, Brigates, BYD Microelectronics, Calin Technology, Cammsys, Cha Diostech, Chicony, Continental, Cowell Optics, Cresyn, Crystal-Optech, Ddk, DJI, Foxconn, Fujifilm, Fujinon, Fujitsu, Galaxycore, Genius Optical, Google, Gopro, Haesung Optics, Himax, Hirose, Hoya, Hozel，Huawei, IM, Intel, Jawah, Jabil, JSR, Kantatsu, Kinko Optical, Kolen, Kyocera, Largan, Lenovo, LG Innotek, Luxvision, Magna, Materion, Mcnex, Microsoft, Mitsumi, Mobileye, Nalux, New Shicoh, Nidec, NTK, Ofilm, Omnivision, On Semiconductor, OPPO, Optis, Panasonic, Parrot, Partron, Pixart, Pixelplus, Powerlogic, Primax, Q-Tech, Ricoh, Samsung, Schott, Semco, Sharp, Sekonix, SK Hynix, Softkinetic, Sony, STMicroelectronics, Sunny Optical, Sunex, Superpix, Suyin, TDK, Toshiba, Truly, Valeo, Viavi, Vivo,Volvo, Xiaomi, Xperi, Zeiss, Zeon, ZTE, and more.
Understand 2021 flagships image performance:
- Leading smartphone camera
- From the End-user perspective
- What are the performance drivers : Hardware and Software?
Offer key technical insights and analyses into high-end smartphone photography application:
- Exposure / Color / AF DoF / Texture & Noise / Bokeh / Night / Preview/ Tele Zoom
- Key players performance comparison : Apple / Huawei / Samsung / Xiaomi
- Analysis of the performance compromise / strategy
Deliver an in-depth understanding of the technological levers:
- What are the hardware solutions to improve image performance?
- What are the software solutions to improve image performance?