The iPhone 12 Pro Max is in the office, and we could take a closer look at some extra data points. We are officially adding the whole iPhone 12 family to our list of Camera HardWare scores available, including the iPhone SE 2020, the iPhone 11… and more.

A few words about our mobile camera HardWare benchmark called Camera HW:

The score accurately ranks the hardware strength of an unprecedented number of mobile camera systems (146 as of today) thanks to a proprietary algorithm that gauges the cameras’ potential based on their technical specifications.

The algorithm is sometimes tuned and adjusted with real-world image analysis from our image-based Camera IQ benchmark (IQ = Image Quality). We answer common questions in our Camera HW FAQ. The full list of cameras is at the bottom of the page.

New camera hardware scores for Nov 18, 2020

HW Camera
157 iPhone 12 Pro Max
147 iPhone 12 Pro
145 Samsung Galaxy A51 5G
115 iPhone 12
114 iPhone 12 mini
110 iPhone 11
103 Samsung Galaxy A51 5G
94 Motorola RAZR 5G
79 iPhone SE (2020)
70 LG Aristo 5
62 Samsung Galaxy A21

The iPhone 12 Pro Max is the top performer this week, with an Camera HW score of 157, a slightly revised score from our initial post-launch assessment.

For reference, both Samsung and Huawei’s overall camera hardware score well beyond 200, so it is not super-impressive. However, the iPhone 11 Pro (read our iPhone 11 pro camera full review) had a much weaker primary camera configuration, so for iPhone users, the 12 Pro Max is “the” iPhone we recommend for photo quality.

Going from iPhone 11 to  iPhone 12 (non-Pro) doesn’t seem worth it, based on the results we’re looking for. However, going from iPhone 11 Pro to iPhone 12 Pro is a bit more sensible.

Apple managed its slow camera evolution quite well, with all the iPhone 12 family ranking above the iPhone 11 – it makes sense, but it’s not always this obvious. Until our score showed up, no camera hardware benchmark would even reflect something that subtle.

The Motorola RAZR 5G Camera HW score is 103. That is a bit below its folding nemesis, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip (116), which stays ahead because it comes with an Ultrawide camera, a use case we consider to be a “pillar” of the overall mobile photography experience.

We have also added Samsung high-volume phones with the Galaxy A71 5G (145), Galaxy A51 5G (103), and Galaxy A21 (62).

Looking at the camera and pricing data, Samsung did a great job balancing all these phones’ Performance/Price ratio. They are all exceptionally well positioned in their respective price segments of sub-$700, sub-$600, and sub-$300, respectively. More on that when we start publishing our OEM-specific rankings later this week.

Lastly, about Samsung, the Camera HW score of the Samsung Galaxy A11 dropped to 81 after our automated check algorithm spotted an inconsistency. We were able to correct it after much research.

With this latest update, we have now accurately ranked 146 mobile cameras based on hardware data we spent countless hours gathering and verifying to the best of our ability.

Camera Hardware does matter: you expect better hardware to capture higher quality pictures, and this was proven time and time again in full-on camera image analysis reviews. Stay tuned for broader smartphone camera data that will help you make more educated decisions.

For the whole list of cameras and sub-scores (Wide, Ultrawide, Zoom scores), head to our Camera HW homepage. For more information about the scoring system, check our Camera HW FAQ.

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