Camera Shootout: OnePlus 6T vs. Honor 8X vs. Pocophone F1 vs. Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro

oneplus 6t honor 8x xiaomi mi 8 pro pocophone f1 camera shootout comp header
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

A wide range of exciting, capable, and very well-designed smartphones are available from Chinese device manufacturers at the moment, and all at different prices. The OnePlus 6T is probably one of the best known, due to a devoted fanbase and increased availability through U.S. carriers, but it’s by no means the only model we should be eyeing enviously.

At $550 (or 500 British pounds) and upwards, the OnePlus 6T is well priced, but the most expensive phone we test here. In contrast, the Honor 8X is just 230 British pounds or about $280, but it pulls the same trick as the OnePlus 6T — having a higher spec than the price suggests. Then we have the newly launched Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro, a 500 British pound smartphone (about $650 converted over) and the Pocophone F1 starts at only $300, despite having the same processor as the OnePlus 6T, and Mi 8 Pro.

The OnePlus 6T, Mi 8 Pro, and Pocophone F1 are all closely matched on paper, while the Honor 8X is the budget wild card. To see if the camera quality splits them all up, we took them all on a trip to China for a photo shootout. Here’s what happened.

The cameras

The OnePlus 6T has a 16-megapixel main camera with an f/1.7 aperture and optical image stabilization, plus a second 20-megapixel camera. The Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro has two 12-megapixel cameras with the main lens having an f/1.8 aperture, and the second an f/2.4 aperture. The Pocophone F1 has a 12-megapixel, f/1.9 aperture main camera and a second 5-megapixel sensor. Finally, the Honor 8X has a 20-megapixel, f1.8 aperture main camera and a secondary 2-megapixel sensor for depth-of-field.

The Pocophone F1 and the Mi 8 Pro both use Xiaomi’s MIUI user interface over Android, and therefore have the same camera app. It’s straightforward to use, has a portrait, panorama, and manual mode, plus artificial intelligence enhancements. The OnePlus 6T has a simple but effective camera app, a night mode to enhance low-light shots, and a portrait mode. The Honor 8X may be the cheapest, but the camera app has a long feature list with extensive artificial intelligence features, a night mode, portrait and aperture modes for bokeh effects, and special light painting effects to capture tail lights and star trails in special long exposure images.

Hong Kong cityscape

From top left to bottom right: OnePlus 6T, Xioami Mi 8 Pro, Honor 8X, Pocophone F1 Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Our first photo was taken through the window of the Conrad Hotel in Hong Kong, ahead of reaching mainland China. This is challenging for many reasons, especially as you’re shooting through glass and must deal with reflections. However, it’s a common holiday shot we wanted to replicate.

The first to fall here is the Honor 8X which takes a good photo but struggled to ignore the reflections in the window. The buildings are also muddy, and detail is obscured in darkness. The other three all do a very good job. The OnePlus 6T has the best sky, which is full of contrast, but overexposes the city itself. The Pocophone F1 and Mi 8 Pro are hard to split, and while the sky is less detailed than the OnePlus 6T, we prefer the way the city looks, which is the focal point of the picture. We’re giving the win to the Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro, purely because of the way the gold building shines.

Winner: Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro

Covered bridge at Shenzhen Splendid China Theme Park

From top left to bottom right: OnePlus 6T, Xioami Mi 8 Pro, Honor 8X, Pocophone F1 Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

A recreation of a Chengyang-style covered bridge, this impressive structure looked fantastic over the calm river water that flows beneath it. We have a runaway winner here, and it’s the OnePlus 6T. The conditions were tough, as the setting sun was just out of frame to the left of the image, causing most cameras problems. However, the OnePlus 6T put its HDR mode to work and comes up with a startling picture that we adore. It’s ready to share with no edits, which is exactly what we like. Interestingly, the Honor 8X also produces a good shot that with a few tweaks could be turned into a great one.

Winner: OnePlus 6T

Chinese lantern

From top left to bottom right: OnePlus 6T, Xioami Mi 8 Pro, Honor 8X, Pocophone F1 Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The covered bridge was lined with these beautiful lanterns, and it was a good chance to see how the cameras coped with varied lighting, and how effective the HDR modes are. To keep the test fair, we just pointed the camera at the lantern and took the photo. Tapping to focus on one point often ruined the image, and made it impossible to judge.

All do a good job, with only the Honor 8X not reproducing as much light as the others. However, you can still see the detail in the wooden roof, and the building on the shore in the background. The win goes to the Pocophone F1, based on the darkness of the wood and the beautiful green of the water, matching what we saw with our own eyes at the time.

Winner: Pocophone F1

Sunset over Splendid China

From top left to bottom right: OnePlus 6T, Xioami Mi 8 Pro, Honor 8X, Pocophone F1 Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

As the sun set further, we climbed to the higher points overlooking the park’s miniature versions of China’s famous landmarks to capture it. The Honor 8X can’t cut it here, and failed to balance the bright sunlight and detail on the ground. The Pocophone F1 does take an interesting picture with some beautiful shadows, and a visually interesting sky. However, it’s the Mi 8 Pro and the OnePlus 6T that fight it out for the win.

The Mi 8 Pro balances the light and shadow better than the Pocophone, exposing more of the miniature structure, and we like the golden sky. But the OnePlus 6T is the winner again. Check out the green tree in the top right — in shadow in the Mi 8 Pro’s photo — and the burning sun on the horizon. It’s really close between these two though.

Winner: OnePlus 6T

Miniature Forbidden City

From top left to bottom right: OnePlus 6T, Xioami Mi 8 Pro, Honor 8X, Pocophone F1 Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Walking around the Splendid China theme park presents some really unusual photo opportunities, and we love the juxtaposition between the dramatic Shenzhen cityscape in the background, and the miniature version of the Forbidden City in the foreground. The Honor 8X takes a good photo that’s just a touch too dark, while the OnePlus 6T hits the HDR filter heavily here, giving an almost hyper-real look.

The Pocophone F1 and Xiaomi are, again, very close together. We ended up choosing the Mi 8 Pro due to the beautiful green trees — which were tiny in real life — and the excellent balance between them and the blue sky.

Winner: Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro

Beijing restaurant and traffic

From top left to bottom right: OnePlus 6T, Xioami Mi 8 Pro, Honor 8X, Pocophone F1 Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

After arriving in Beijing, we visited a restaurant next to the one pictured, which was covered in bright red lanterns, and bustling with cars and people outside. If the four photos prove anything, it’s that the days of rubbish low-light photos taken by phones has passed. All four are excellent, and although none are perfect, we have a hard time picking a winner.

From top left to bottom right: OnePlus 6T, Xioami Mi 8 Pro, Honor 8X, Pocophone F1 Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Later, we took photos of Beijing’s ever-flowing traffic. We used Night Mode on the OnePlus 6T and the Honor 8X, and normal auto on the Pocophone and Xiaomi. Here, the Honor and OnePlus showed how effective Night Mode can be, giving movement and atmosphere to otherwise ordinary photos. While the blurred cars won’t be to everyone’s taste, the OnePlus 6T has plenty of detail in the rest of the photo, and avoids the noise introduced in the Honor 8X’s picture.

Winner: OnePlus 6T

Donuts

From top left to bottom right: OnePlus 6T, Xioami Mi 8 Pro, Honor 8X, Pocophone F1 Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Breakfast at the W Hotel in Beijing included the chance to indulge in these naughty donuts. We declined, and opted for a photo instead. The Honor 8X is the brightest photo, compensating for the relatively low lighting conditions in the hotel’s restaurant. The OnePlus 6T is the darkest, and least appetizing. There is almost nothing to split the Pocophone F1 and the Mi 8 Pro, but the Xiaomi did manage to pick out more detail on the chocolate glaze through more effective focusing. It gets the win.

Winner: Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro

Spacesuit at the W Hotel

From top left to bottom right: OnePlus 6T, Xioami Mi 8 Pro, Honor 8X, Pocophone F1 Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

This almost life-size space suit dominated the bar area at the W Hotel, and was perfect for a bokeh test. The Mi 8 Pro disappointed here, requiring us to get in much closer to the subject for the bokeh mode to kick in. You can see that while the subject is the main focal point of the image, you lose half of the Apollo 11 badge on the suit itself.

All do a great job of understanding the white W in the background isn’t part of the suit, and edge recognition is generally very good. However, take a look at the edge of the suit’s backpack on the right of the image, and how the OnePlus 6T, Mi 8 Pro, and the Pocophone all get confused by the pink LED lights. The Honor 8X is the only one that gets this right, as it puts the backpack into the background too. The Pocophone F1 comes a close second. It’s no surprise the Honor takes the win here. Huawei’s dual portrait and aperture mode, and adjustable focal points in post-processing help it shine.

Winner: Honor 8X

Temple of Heaven

From top left to bottom right: OnePlus 6T, Xioami Mi 8 Pro, Honor 8X, Pocophone F1 Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Our final image is of the famous Temple of Heaven in Beijing. Taken in late afternoon, the skies were slightly hazy, but the sun was still shining. It was also absolutely freezing, and we wanted our photos to somehow have a coldness to the look, something the Mi 8 Pro and OnePlus 6T achieved. The Pocophone F1 slightly overexposes the shot, while the Honor 8X adds too much yellow to the final picture. The OnePlus 6T just edges out the Mi 8 Pro with its deeper colors and contrast, while the darker shadows better depict the time of day.

Winner: OnePlus 6T

Conclusion

The OnePlus 6T took four wins in our test, with the Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro taking three, and the Pocophone F1 and Honor 8X both taking a single win each. It’s not a dominating win for the OnePlus phone, with the Mi 8 Pro coming a close second in several other categories. It’s also interesting to see how the Pocophone F1 often produced pictures that were almost identical to the Mi 8 Pro. The Honor 8X did struggle, but it’s also half the price of the OnePlus 6T, and with some editing still returned some great shareable photos.

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