Best smartphones for you: DXOMARK’s winter selection

It’s the season for making new memories! As the end of the year approaches, everyone is preparing for their annual family holiday gatherings, visits with friends and other parties that might involve traveling to a new city or to a winter sports destination. You’ll want to have a smartphone camera handy at all times to catch those precious moments. Black Friday shopping deals are also in full swing for the gift-giving season.

In the spirit of the summer selection published earlier this year where we focused on types of vacations, DXOMARK dove deep into the results of its smartphone camera, audio, battery and display protocols to compile a short list of the best smartphones for specific types of get-togethers and activities this season. In this selection, we only included products that were available internationally. We hope this list will help you choose the best device for your purposes  — no matter where your winter plans take you!

Friends & Family Gatherings

Whether around the festive dinner table or opening gifts, you’ll want your smartphone camera to capture the best of these warm indoor and low-light moments amid the glow of holiday lights.

Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max

When it comes to taking photos of friends and family, the Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max ranks at the top for its excellent portrait-taking capabilities in all types of lighting situations, including low light. But it’s in video where the iPhone 15 Pro Max is a game changer. No other device has been able yet to match its excellent video experience, with its autofocus tracking and excellent stabilization. The iPhone 15 Pro devices keep everyone’s skin tones accurate with just the right contrast even when lighting conditions are challenging. It’s a safe bet that everyone around the table will end up looking good in the images. The device’s excellent display features make the screen readable even from an angle whether viewing photos or videos individually or with your family and friends gathered around you.

Huawei P60 Pro

The Huawei P60 Pro’s extraordinary low-light performance is unmatched by any other device so far, with images that correctly convey the mood of a low-light scene with natural colors, even in night shots. With the device’s variable aperture lens, which is still rare among smartphone camera modules, the device can auto adjust to various scenes and light conditions, all the way to very low-light situations that will ensure a well-focused shot whether taking a photo of a single person or a group of people. In addition, portraits show a high-performing background blur. The video experience on the P60 Pro is above average whether recording or viewing, with a display that provides good readability when indoors and audio that is good at localizing sounds in the scene.

Google Pixel 8 Pro

Like the previous top two picks, Google’s latest release, the Pixel 8 Pro, gets high scores in our family and friends scenario. The device produces images with very accurate skin tones across all lighting conditions, taking the decisive shot the moment the shutter is pressed, and managing to freeze the scene by keeping motion blur to a minimum. The Pixel 8 Pro provides some of the best audio recordings when taking videos of friends and family. Low-light scenes in photos and videos are accurately exposed and rendered, with well-managed noise. The Pixel 8 Pro’s display performance means that the screen is readable in all lighting conditions and renders colors very well so that it makes viewing photos from the gallery app a pleasure. But when taking a break from all the socializing, the Pixel 8 Pro offers quite a good HDR10 video watching experience, accompanied by an equally satisfying audio playback from the built-in speakers. Users looking for a similar flagship experience but at a more affordable price should consider the Google Pixel 8, whose performance matched or came close to the Pro’s experience in display and camera.

Honor Magic5 Pro

The Honor Magic5 Pro’s low-light performance, along with its accurate skin-tone rendering in difficult light conditions, makes it a good choice for friends and family gatherings, whether shooting stills or video. Well-exposed images provide nice colors and a high level of detail. The audio and display experiences are satisfying  across the board, making it a very good companion for watching videos and viewing memories in the gallery app.

City Exploration

The holidays are a great time to explore and visit cities that glow with festive lights and decorations, presenting  mobile photographers with plenty of opportunities to test their smartphone’s low-light and night capabilities.

Xiaomi 13 Ultra

The Xiaomi 13 Ultra’s consistent image quality throughout its zoom range makes it a versatile companion for a city exploration trip.  The camera’s ultrawide camera (measured at 12.4 mm equivalent) offers a  wide field of view, accurate exposure and neutral white balance, allowing to capture expansive skylines or skyscrapers. Low-light performance is also the camera’s strong point. With a battery that last more than 2 days, mobile photographers can get up to 5 hours of autonomy just taking photos.

Huawei P60 Pro

The Huawei P60 Pro has an excellent zoom performance, with the ultra-wide camera capturing excellent level of details while keeping noise levels very low. Images taken in very low light or at night consistently provide natural colors. The device’s battery, which can last more than 2 days, provides 4 hours of shooting photos and videos.

Google Pixel 8 Pro

The Google Pixel 8 Pro’s overall good performance down to low light provides images with accurate exposure and natural rendering of the scene, even when shooting with the ultra-wide camera. In addition, the high level of details in images, particularly from the ultrawide camera, is among the best so far in our database.

End of Year Parties with Friends

Holiday parties, fireworks events, concerts, and school plays. You’ll need a device that can catch the ambiance of  all the events you need to attend.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

For steady shots, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra provides very effective video stabilization even when recording while walking. In addition, the camera has an accurate autofocus in video with face tracking that keeps subjects in focus. In video, the recorded audio is just as important as the images. Here the S23 Ultra does not disappoint, with very good audio recordings in loud environments. To round it all off, the S23 Ultra has a battery performance that is remarkable for a device of its class. With 67 hours of autonomy when used moderately, it’s unlikely that party-goers will have to recharge the smartphone during the night. But even if the battery runs low, a quick 5-minute charge will add nearly five and half hours of autonomy.

Apple iPhone 15

The iPhone 15 series stays one step ahead of the all other phones, particularly when it comes to video. The standout feature is a stabilization system that can control any movement, making it the best smartphone for video stabilization available on the market today, With excellent autofocus, as well as very good audio recording in loud environments, the iPhone 15 is a reliable  companion to capturing memories of parties with friends, with videos have a clean and  professional look.

Google Pixel 7a

The Google Pixel 7a provides a great video experience for its class and its price, with generally accurate exposure, smooth autofocus, and wide dynamic range. On the audio front, it provides an above-average performance while recording loud sources, while the battery provides 55 hours of autonomy.

Xiaomi 13T Pro

The Xiaomi 13T Pro also has effective video stabilization, with a wide dynamic range, that make it a handy shooter for late-night events. Videos also contain a high level of details compared to other devices in the same price segment. And the battery offers more than 2 day of autonomy when used moderately.

Winter Trips

Winter scenarios often present certain lighting challenges when taking photos or videos. Outdoor bright snow scenes also require a screen that is readable.  Whether you go skiing or opt for warmer climates, you’ll need a device that can perform while you are on the move.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is a also a good choice for this profile thanks mainly  to its great screen readability and color fidelity in all conditions, making sure you can see the contents of your screen even in bright sunlight. The camera provides a good experience when capturing outdoor images. Add to that the device’s nearly 67 hours of autonomy in moderate usage means you won’t have to worry too much about running out of battery while on the slopes. After a day of outdoor activity, the device’s strength is in its screen’s video-watching performance, especially at night.

Google Pixel 8 Pro

Both of Google’s latest Pixel models, the Pixel 8 Pro and Pixel 8, provide a good performance when shooting photos and videos outdoors, particularly the Pixel 8 Pro, which has the best-in-class outdoor  and wide performance. Both phones’ top-performing screen readability in bright sunlight means you’ll be able to comfortably see that your got the shots you wanted.

Asus ROG Phone 7

Asus ROG Phone 7 is a  good choice for this scenario thanks mainly to its excellent battery performance, with a very good autonomy, particularly when using the camera. Although the battery can last for three days, the Asus ROG Phone 7 is also capable of recharging in less than 40 minutes. The device’s screen readability is generally very good as long as the the weather outdoors is not too sunny.

Honor Magic5 Lite

The Honor Magic5 Lite‘s top-scoring battery performance stands out for its impressive on-the-go performance outdoors, which comes in handy when on the ski slopes or trekking out in nature.  The device’s battery is able to last for  more than 3 days when used moderately, but even if used intensely, the battery can endure nearly 2 full days.

Although this list is far from exhaustive, we hope the our short winter selection has helped you find what you are looking for this holiday season. To explore more smartphones, be sure to keep checking’s ranking page for the latest smartphone tests and rankings.

Happy Holidays from all of us at DXOMARK!

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