Galaxy Note 8 vs. LG G6: Can Samsung beat LG for the camera phone crown?

Samsung's Galaxy Note 8 takes on our current pick for best smartphone camera, the LG G6.

Credit: Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

Hot off the presses is the Galaxy Note 8, Samsung’s latest flagship phone, and it sports a dual camera system—a first for Samsung. The Galaxy S8, released in May, wasn’t able to topple the LG G6, our current pick for smartphone camera dominance, and so we’re interested to see the changes Samsung has made to its camera tech in the past six months.

Can the new Note 8 beat the LG G6 where the S8 fell short? Keep reading to find out.

LG G6 and Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

LG's G6 versus Samsung's Galaxy Note 8. Camera fight!

Specs

Before we dig deeper into the results, let’s review some specs. The Note 8 is the first Samsung phone to have a dual lens setup, with both cameras rocking 12-megapixel sensors. The main (or "wide") lens has an aperture of f/1.7, while the telephoto is a slower f/2.4 lens. And in a first for any smartphone, both lenses have optical image stabilization, or OIS.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 cameras Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8's dual camera system.

The G6, meanwhile, features a fairly typical main camera paired with a super wide lens. Both sensors are 13 megapixels, with the main shooter’s aperture set at f/1.8 and the wide's at f/2.4. Only the main camera has OIS built in. You typically don’t need stabilization with wider fields of view, though it would've been nice.

LG G6 cameras Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

Despite some wear and tear the LG G6's dual camera system has been unstoppable this year.

But specs are only one slice of the pie, as it often comes down to how each phone handles post processing. In this shootout, I’m going to focus mostly on the results from the main cameras for both phones. The testing categories will be broken into four sections: color, clarity, exposure, and user experience. For this showdown, we hired the amazing model Cyndal to help us capture some real-world scenarios in San Francisco.

Color

The first category is color and what I’m looking for here is how each phone handles white balance, saturation, and color reproduction.

LG G6 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 8 camera color 1 Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

In this first example we see that the G6 casts magenta hue on skin tones, whereas the Note 8 favors a greenish tone.

LG G6 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 8 camera color 2 Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

In this street scene the Note 8 warms the highlights and the model's skin.

LG G6 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 8 camera color 3 Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

In this grassy scene, the greenish hue from the Note 8 doesn't stand out as much as the magenta on the G6.

Now if you’ve been following this shootout series for a while, you might notice some similarities between the Note 8’s and S8’s results. That’s because the Note 8 struggles with white balance just like the S8 did earlier this year. It’s not as bad this time around, but it still falls short compared to the G6, which captures a pleasing and natural color palette.

LG G6 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 8 camera color 4 Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

And here we see the worst of the Note 8, with the model's skin tone looking almost cartoonish.

The most extreme example shows up in the above photo taken on a street corner. I can confirm that Cyndal was not sick during our test, it’s just the Note 8 having some problems. So, while the G6 didn’t score a huge win, LG still takes the color category.

Clarity

Next up is clarity. What I’m studying here is the sharpness of each photo across the entire frame, as well as how sharp each camera stays in various lighting scenarios.

LG G6 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 8 camera clarity 1 Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

Both phones are sharp enough in brightly lit scenes.

LG G6 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 8 camera clarity 1 punch in Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

Zooming in on the corner of the frame we see some ghosting on the Note 8. Almost all lenses struggle at the edges so it's not cause for alarm. Click photo to enlarge.

In bright lighting scenarios like this one, both cameras are nice and clear. There is a bit of ghosting towards the edge of the Note 8’s frame, but it’s nothing major.

LG G6 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 8 camera clarity 2 Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

Brick is always a great test of sharpness due to its fine texturing. Once again both hold up at full frames.

LG G6 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 8 camera clarity 2 punch in Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

LG is known to add plenty of sharpening in post but the tiny details of the Note 8 are worse here. Click photo to enlarge.

Against this brick wall, each camera performs great as well, but we start to notice that both have plenty of sharpening applied in post.

LG G6 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 8 camera clarity 3 Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

This basement shot really tests the strength of the OIS systems' ability to keep the photo sharp during longer shutter scenarios.

LG G6 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 8 camera clarity 3 punch in Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

Zooming in reveals more texture and tiny details present in the G6's photo. Click photo to enlarge.

So it’s really a toss up until we get into some super low light situations. The Note 8 performs admirably, but LG’s superb OIS kicks in and helps the G6 pull ahead.

LG G6 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 8 camera clarity 4 Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

Noise in low light shots don't kill a shot for me—sometimes I prefer a bit of texture to a scene.

LG G6 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 8 camera clarity 4 punch in Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

Because there is less noise reduction applied to the G6's image, you can make out a bit more detail on the URL. Click photo to enlarge.

The G6’s image is noisier in most shots, but that allows it to retain a bit more detail, like the website URL.

It's worth noting that the S8 won this category in its camera showdown, but every scene presents a different lighting challenge, and this time the LG G6 emerges victorious.

Exposure

The next test is exposure, and here we’re looking over the dynamic range of each camera and how it chooses to expose for a scene. 

LG G6 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 8 camera exposure 1 Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

A fairly straighforward shot against this brick wall reveals a bit of whats to come. The Note 8 consistently underexposes compared to the G6.

LG G6 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 8 camera exposure 2 Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

A peak at the Note 8's histogram shows that there is information starting to be lost in both the shadows AND the highlights.

LG G6 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 8 camera exposure 3 Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

Yet another example of the Note 8 slightly underexposing compared to the G6.

Overall, the Note 8 tended to underexpose scenes compared to the G6. This is interesting because earlier this year the S8 was overexposing compared to the G6.

Underexposure is a safer tactic, especially when dealing with high contrast scenarios, but it still didn’t help the Note 8’s chances. In almost every situation, I was able to pull more information out of the shadows and highlights from the G6.

LG G6 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 8 camera exposure 4 Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

The G6's HDR did not fire in this situation, resulting a washed out image.

Now don’t get me wrong, the Note 8 isn’t way off the mark when it comes to exposure. It’s just that the G6 nails it almost every time. The only place where it continues to stumble is in knowing when to use HDR.

LG G6 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 8 camera exposure 5 Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

Backlighting a scene is one of the hardest situations for a camera to figure out, and the G6 typically doesn't do a great job at it.

In this super high-contrast environment, the G6 went between HDR on and off, not every really nailing it. Despite that, the LG G6 still takes the exposure category.

User Experience

And now to our last category—user experience. Here we go over all of the other variables of using these phones to take photos.

In terms of camera app speed, I’ve always been impressed with how quickly I can launch Samsung’s default camera. The G6’s stock app is starting feel a bit sluggish, but I've been using this phone for months without a hard reset, so I won't ding it for that.

LG G6 camera menu Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

The extra features in LG's stock camera app are super fun, like the ability to make a photo using both lenses.

As for features, I’ve always loved what LG offers in its stock camera app. From including a histogram in its manual mode to its creative options for the dual camera setup, the G6 is packed with extras and makes Samsung’s app feel under-featured.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 camera menu Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

There are so many different ways to access the features in Samsung's stock camera app. It can get confusing.

Some of Samsung’s features are activated by a press, while others are activated by sliding out from the edge of the screen, while even more are buried in menus. It’s not bad, it just feels like a phone experience instead of a camera experience—which is what you get on the G6.

LG G6 and Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

Samsung and LG both include dual lenses, but with dramatically different intent.

Samsung and LG also choose to take vastly different approaches for their respective second cameras. Samsung went with a telephoto lens while LG stuck with its super wide angle lens. I actually found plenty of uses for each style—the most notable being the Live Focus mode on the Note 8. This mode introduces bokeh, or blur, to a photo taken with the telephoto camera, and the results are gorgeous.

LG G6 wide angle camera VS Samsung Galaxy Note 8's telephoto Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

Samsung's Live Focus mode is great when shooting portraits, but I found the wide-angle camera on the G6 to be more useful in day-to day-situations.

On the other hand, I found myself needing the wide-angle len of the G6 more often in real-world scenarios. So this choice really boils down to personal preference: Both dual-camera systems are super useful, but I missed having LG’s wide lens more often than than I missed Samsung’s telephoto lens.

All in all, using the Note 8 is a great experience and offers some great advantages over the G6. But in the end, I continue to love using the LG G6—so that’s the camera taking the win in user experience.

Conclusion

While Samsung has made some improvements to the Note 8 that help it top the S8, it’s still not enough to take down the powerhouse that is the LG G6.

LG’s G6 features modest specs, but really shows its strength in post processing. Photos taken with the G6 feature natural and lifelike colors and clear and crisp scenes, and maintain enough dynamic range so you can edit the photo later in Instagram. Pair that with LG’s superb stock camera app and wide-angle second lens, and you have a phone that has yet to be beaten.

And what a year the G6 has had so far. After taking down the Google Pixel, it went on to defeat the Samsung Galaxy S8, HTC’s U11, and now Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8. We already have a preproduction model of LG’s V30 in for testing, so stay tuned for that showdown once we get the final version in.

In the meantime, check out a few more full-size examples of what the LG G6 is capable of!

LG G6 camera sample Adam Patrick Murray/IDG
LG G6 camera sample Adam Patrick Murray/IDG
LG G6 camera sample Adam Patrick Murray/IDG
LG G6 camera sample Adam Patrick Murray/IDG
LG G6 camera sample Adam Patrick Murray/IDG
LG G6 camera sample Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags lgsamsung

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Adam Patrick Murray

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?