Google Pixel 5a Beats the iPhone 13 Pro in MKBHD’s Annual Blind Camera Test

BY Anu Joy

Published 19 Dec 2021

iPhone 13 Pro colors

Popular tech YouTuber MKBHD is wrapping up this year with his annual blind smartphone camera test. The iPhone 13 Pro made history in the MKBHD channel by ‘edging’ out the Motorola Edge from the competition. This is the first time an iPhone has passed the first round. However, its victory was short-lived, with Google’s Pixel 5a booting the iPhone 13 Pro from the competition. Last year, the iPhone 12 Pro Max lost to the OnePlus 8T.

MKBHD’s blind camera test pits 16 smartphones against each other by shooting the same scenarios with different cameras. The photos are labelled with different letters to eliminate bias. Then they’re posted to social media and users are asked to vote for the photo that they prefer.

The first round saw the iPhone 13 Pro scoring a historic win against the Motorola Edge. Its win comes as no surprise, since the Moto Edge’s picture shows the window as completely blown-out. Whereas the iPhone 13 Pro’s camera displayed its excellent dynamic range by capturing not only the darker foreground details, but also the lighter background.

Shot by iPhone 13 Pro: left, Shot by Motorola Edge: right

Left: shot by iPhone 13 Pro, right: shot by Motorola Edge

However, the next round saw Apple’s high-end phone lose to Google’s budget phone, the Pixel 5a. Funnily enough, the $449 Google Pixel 5a also beat the $899 Pixel 6 Pro in the very first round. The Pixel 5a ultimately took home the crown by winning majority of the votes.

Our Take

MKBHD’s blind camera test is not entirely scientific, since human error can easily be introduced while shooting photos. Now, repeatability and consistency are very important parts of any benchmark. This inconsistency could have been eliminated entirely if the popular YouTuber had used his own camera robotic arm and changed the camera mount for each smartphone. When it came to the actual results, winners were based on what users liked, which is subjective. Users seemed to pick photos that were brighter and had better contrast. Though the iPhone 13 Pro was beaten in the blind camera test, its camera is still the best-in-class when it comes to videos.