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DxOMark tests will now show you just how crappy a smartphone is in low light

DxOMark, the company standardizing image quality tests, wants users to know just how good (or bad) their smartphone is at snapping photos in the dark. On Wednesday, September 18, DxOMark launched new test results for night photography and the wide-angle lens. The updates could help further vet out a new smartphone purchase for users most concerned about the device’s photography abilities.

The new Night score puts smartphone cameras to the test in a handful of the most common low-light shots. The tests use both the smartphone’s default mode as well as the Night mode, if available. The new category also absorbs the previous tests for the smartphone’s flash.

The second new category, Wide, looks at indoor and outdoor shots to test the smartphone’s wide-angle lens. Combined, the new test categories include more than 150 test photos to the DxOMark testing process for mobile devices.

DxOMark says the updated tests are designed to mimic the typical everyday use for a smartphone camera. The update expands earlier categories for the tests, including a recent update adding the front-facing camera to the testing process.

Smartphone cameras traditionally lag well behind the stand-alone camera for low-light shots. Because of the smaller camera sensor, smartphone cameras can’t gather as much light in a single shot as a mirrorless or DSLR camera. Smartphone manufacturers, however, are well aware of the low-light deficiency, with many looking to software solutions. The Google Pixel 3’s Night Sight mode uses artificial intelligence and HDR to artificially boost the photos’ brightness and colors. The new iPhone 11 also has a new Night Mode.

New Night and Wide scores for some devices are now live on the platform; the company says previously tested phones will also be re-evaluated in the next few weeks to add the new categories. The update also changes the rear-facing camera tests’ name from Mobile to Camera.

The company says today’s change is the biggest adjustment to the smartphone scoring since adding zoom and bokeh testing for multi-lens smartphones in 2017. Earlier this year, the company added a selfie score for the front camera, which is kept separate from the main score that considers the rear camera(s) only.

The current ranking of smartphone cameras is available directly from DxOMark.

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