Which phone takes the best portrait mode photos in 2023?
Portrait Mode was first introduced by the iPhone 7 Plus in 2016 and since then, almost all phone makers have adopted it. But which phone does the best job with it today?
What is Portrait Mode?
Portrait Mode is a camera mode that separates the subject from the background, giving you a nice, creamy blurred background similar to what you get with a professional camera.
The Phones Tested
We put four popular smartphones to the test to see which one takes the best portrait mode photos:
- Galaxy S23 Ultra
- iPhone 14 Pro
- Pixel 7 Pro
- OnePlus 11
Portrait Mode Settings
Here’s a quick look at the different portrait mode options on each of the phones:
|Phone||Portrait Mode Settings|
|Galaxy S23 Ultra||1X or 3X portrait mode, using native cameras|
|iPhone 14 Pro||1X, 2X, or 3X portrait mode, 1X and 3X use native cameras, 2X uses sensor crop|
|Pixel 7 Pro||1X or 2X portrait mode*, both are crop modes from the main camera|
|OnePlus 11||1X or 2X portrait mode, using native cameras|
Note: Pixel 7 Pro uses roughly 1.6X crops for portrait mode, so 1X in portrait mode is NOT equivalent to 1X with regular settings. 1X = 1.6X, and 2X = 3.2X.
Portrait Mode using the Main 1X Camera
Using the main 1X camera with portrait mode makes the most sense when you want to capture the full human body or a large part of it.
The Galaxy and OnePlus go for a similar look, while the OnePlus is more contrasty and loses some detail in the highlights. The Pixel has a more aggressive background blur but lacks detail. The iPhone has a colder look and comes in second place after the Galaxy.
Portrait Mode using the Telephoto Camera
For a “true portrait” look, you should use the telephoto camera instead of the wide camera up close, which results in distortion.
The Galaxy does an incredible job with pleasing colors, while the iPhone goes for a brighter exposure and the Pixel favors darker colors. The OnePlus has a wider shot due to its wider 2X lens. The Pixel ranks last in this round.
Portrait Mode at Night with Zoom Camera
The Galaxy stands out with its comparative clarity at night, while the iPhone looks noisy and the Pixel looks dark. The OnePlus missed the focus a few times. The Galaxy comes first, followed by the iPhone, OnePlus, and the Pixel.
Does Portrait Mode work with Inanimate Objects?
The results vary depending on the shape and form of the object. The iPhone’s Portrait Mode refuses to work well with many objects, while the Galaxy performs better. The OnePlus does a bit worse than the Galaxy. The Pixel is a mixed bag.
Conclusion: Who’s the Winner?
The Galaxy S23 Ultra stands noticeably above the competition with its superb job separating objects from their backgrounds, pleasing colors, and processing that brightens up faces and smoothen out details. The iPhone has the most versatility but looks noisy at night and rarely works with inanimate objects. The OnePlus ranks third for its versatile 2X lens but lacks a 3X zoom mode. The Pixel does not deserve to be in this comparison as it uses crops from the main camera.