Phone camera shootout: HTC U11 vs. LG G6

The LG G6 has the best smartphone camera we've tried. So how does the camera in the new HTC U11 compare?

IDG

IDG

Clarity

Winner: LG G6

For clarity, we look at the sharpness of the lens across the whole frame, as well as how much sharpness the phone adds to the final image. This was another close fight, with only slight variations in lens sharpness.

HTC U11 vs LG G6 camera test shot Adam Patrick Murray

At full resolution each shot is perfectly usable. The U11's wider aperture allows for a bit more depth, which means focus has to be even more spot-on.

HTC U11 vs LG G6 camera test shot Adam Patrick Murray

We zoom in to show how the U11 is just a bit sharper in resolution compared to the G6, and the G6 does more sharpening in post.

I found some inconsistencies with the U11’s lens around the outer edge, but not enough to dampen the results. LG loves to apply a good amount of sharpening and noise reduction to the final image, but it doesn’t bug me as long as it’s a clear image to begin with.

HTC U11 vs LG G6 camera test shot Adam Patrick Murray

This shot across the bay seems similar.

HTC U11 vs LG G6 camera test shot Adam Patrick Murray

But when we punch in we see how much luminance noise is present in the U11.

The low-light results challenged the cameras most. I was actually surprised by how little noise reduction the HTC U11 applies, leaving the photos with plenty of grain. On the other hand, the LG G6’s result looks a bit too processed, even though it holds more detail and has a superior OIS.

HTC U11 vs LG G6 camera test shot Adam Patrick Murray

We punch in on this scene and notice that HTC does not apply extreme noise reduction in order to get rid of unwanted chroma noise. The G6 does, which results in a cleaner, more processed photo, but it still retains plenty of information.

I’m going to give this one to the G6, but only by a pixel of chroma noise.

Exposure

Winner: HTC U11

The third test is exposure, which revolves around how the cameras choose to expose for a scene and when they decide to fire their traditional HDR systems. Surprise-surprise, this test was another close call, with each camera nailing complex lighting scenarios time and time again.

LG G6 camera exposure test shot Adam Patrick Murray

The G6 tends to protect highlights, resulting in a darker shot compared to the U11.

HTC U11 camera exposure test shot Adam Patrick Murray

The U11 has no problem risking overexposure, which lights up the tower more compared to the G6.

The G6 did tend to expose scenes slightly less than the U11 did. The G6 was also very aggressive in terms of protecting highlights. This only became a problem when shooting straight at the sun, like in the sunset below.

LG G6 camera exposure test shot Adam Patrick Murray

The G6 offers a more processed HDR photo, but it agressively protects hightlights, resulting in an unnatural white spot in the sky.

HTC U11 camera exposure test shot Adam Patrick Murray

The U11 loses some highlights but has a much more natural look.

The G6 fought so hard to retain highlight information that the sun just appears to be large white dot in the sky with hard lines. The U11’s sun has a nice fall-off that may technically lose the highlights, but it’s still a much more pleasing and natural image. Between two good cameras we have to split hairs somewhere, so I’m leaning toward the U11 on this one.

Next, we kvetch about user experience and pick a winner, plus, enjoy the bonus shots.

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Adam Patrick Murray

PC World (US online)
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