Features

And the best smartphone camera is…

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Mirror, mirror on the wall, which smartphone takes the best photos of them all?

If you’re looking for the best camera smartphone money can buy, look no further. We’ve rounded up the best, currently available smartphones in the world today, took them on a road trip, took plenty of the same photos, and evaluated the results.


Here’s what we found…

Mechanics and Disclaimer

But wait! Before we dive in, allow us to set the stage a bit.

First, it’s important to note that these smartphones were announced at different times of the year. It’s possible that phones released later could benefit from more advanced technology.  

Second, this test wasn’t conducted in a controlled environment. We shot these photos in the real world, but did our best to keep shooting conditions as similar as possible, including framing and the position of the sun and clouds. All of these photos were taken handheld on Auto with high dynamic range (HDR) mode turned off (except, of course, for our HDR test).

And lastly the results were voted upon by the GadgetMatch team. The process involved a blind test where photos in a series were shown in random order. We had no idea which phones shot what until we reviewed the results. Some phones surprised us!

This feature is best viewed on a desktop computer or laptop.

Landscape

Winner: Google Pixel

2nd place: Asus Zenfone 3 Deluxe

3rd place: Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

In our very first comparison, we were already impressed by all the phones! Not a single one of them did poorly in the landscape test; each one presenting strong colors and wide dynamic range despite HDR being turned off. Still, we had to choose a winner, and it was the Pixel. Every element looked sharp, and colors popped more than the rest. The Zenfone 3 Deluxe and Galaxy S7 edge were a close second and third, but honestly, all phones passed with flying colors.

High-resolution images:

Apple iPhone 7 Plus, ASUS Zenfone 3 Deluxe, Google Pixel, Huawei Mate 9

LG V20, Moto Z, Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, Sony Xperia XZ

Dynamic Range (HDR Off)

Winner: Google Pixel

2nd place: Moto Z

This was another tough call, but the Pixel won out in our dynamic range test sans any HDR tricks. Again, both the foreground and background looked great, and no details were lost in the darker regions. To our surprise, the Moto Z captured second place, mostly due to its accurate rendering of the bright areas — just look at how striking the sky and vegetation are!

High-resolution images:

Apple iPhone 7 Plus, ASUS Zenfone 3 Deluxe, Google Pixel, Huawei Mate 9

LG V20, Moto Z, Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, Sony Xperia XZ

Dynamic Range (HDR On)

Winner: Google Pixel

2nd place: Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

Was this even close? Take one look at all the samples, and it’s clear the Pixel won without any doubt. When high dynamic range is needed, Google’s HDR+ mode shines like no other. If not for the Pixel, the Galaxy S7 edge would have been the winner. Despite being a year old, its HDR mode still leaves most phones in the dust.

High-resolution images:

Apple iPhone 7 Plus, ASUS Zenfone 3 Deluxe, Google Pixel, Huawei Mate 9

LG V20, Moto Z, Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, Sony Xperia XZ

Portrait

Winner: Google Pixel

2nd place: Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

3rd place: Moto Z

Yet another win for the Pixel! This phone does such a great job maintaining color accuracy while making everything look so crisp — check out the skin tone and details on the shirt to see what we mean. The Galaxy S7 edge did nearly as well, and the Moto Z once again impressed us despite being the oldest phone in this shootout.

High-resolution images:

Apple iPhone 7 Plus, ASUS Zenfone 3 Deluxe, Google Pixel, Huawei Mate 9

LG V20, Moto Z, Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, Sony Xperia XZ

Food

Winner: Google Pixel

2nd place: Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

Google’s flagship phone is making this look too easy. When it comes to food photography, we prefer the picture that makes the meal look the most appetizing, and the Pixel did just that. The Galaxy S7 edge did a fine job as well, producing colors that stood out but didn’t betray the actual look of the sumptuous shrimp.

High-resolution images:

Apple iPhone 7 Plus, ASUS Zenfone 3 Deluxe, Google Pixel, Huawei Mate 9

LG V20, Moto Z, Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, Sony Xperia XZ

Group Selfie

Winner: Moto Z

2nd place: Apple iPhone 7 Plus

Surprise, surprise — the Moto Z now has a win under its belt! We loved how everyone fit comfortably in its frame and looked lovely in the process. That’s its edge over the iPhone 7 Plus, although the latter produced our favorite shot when it came to saturation and skin tone. But we must say, the rest had their own strengths, too; it all boils down to personal preference.

High-resolution images:

Apple iPhone 7 Plus, ASUS Zenfone 3 Deluxe, Google Pixel, Huawei Mate 9

LG V20, Moto Z, Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, Sony Xperia XZ

Color/Macro

Winner: Apple iPhone 7 Plus

2nd place: Sony Xperia XZ

3rd place: Google Pixel

Add a check mark under the iPhone 7 Plus for this round. When it came to capturing the most amount of detail up close, none could match the iPhone’s output; however, we must commend the Xperia XZ for maximizing its subject tracking to stick to the swaying flower and maintain sharpness. The Pixel had an overall fine performance, and earned the third spot.

High-resolution images:

Apple iPhone 7 Plus, ASUS Zenfone 3 Deluxe, Google Pixel, Huawei Mate 9

LG V20, Moto Z, Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, Sony Xperia XZ

Selfie

Winner: Google Pixel

2nd place: Huawei Mate 9

3rd place (tie): Samsung Galaxy S7 edge and Moto Z

Turns out the Pixel has a pretty good selfie camera, too! Our subject isn’t lost in the crowded background, and each strand of hair is distinguishable. The Mate 9 performed nearly as well, if only it didn’t slightly oversaturate some of the colors. The Galaxy S7 edge and Moto Z are tied for third, thanks to well-balanced contrast and a pleasantly wide angle.

High-resolution images:

Apple iPhone 7 Plus, ASUS Zenfone 3 Deluxe, Google Pixel, Huawei Mate 9

LG V20, Moto Z, Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, Sony Xperia XZ

Dusk

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

2nd place: Apple iPhone 7 Plus

This had to be the most challenging scenario for all entries. There was lots of movement, colors were flashing from all directions, and the sun was setting quickly. With all these elements in place, the Galaxy S7 edge slayed the shot and brought home gold by taking in the entire scene without a hitch. We had to give second place to the iPhone 7 Plus for making the colors in the foreground look so attractive.

High-resolution images:

Apple iPhone 7 Plus, ASUS Zenfone 3 Deluxe, Google Pixel, Huawei Mate 9

LG V20, Moto Z, Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, Sony Xperia XZ

Night

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

2nd place: Apple iPhone 7 Plus

Here’s another tough situation in which the Galaxy S7 edge beat all its rivals. It’s clear Samsung’s specialty lies in nighttime photography, wherein all the glaring lights stay in check and scenes aren’t littered with unsightly noise. Choosing a second placer was tough, but we had to give it to the iPhone 7 Plus for nailing all the colors without blowing out the highlights.

High-resolution images:

Apple iPhone 7 Plus, ASUS Zenfone 3 Deluxe, Google Pixel, Huawei Mate 9

LG V20, Moto Z, Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, Sony Xperia XZ

Low-Light Portrait (Flash Off)

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

2nd place: Google Pixel

When it comes to low-light portraits, we prefer leaving the flash off, so we’re glad all the cameras produced acceptable photos. What stood out the most, though, came from the Galaxy S7 edge. Nothing looked overly dark or bright, and the subjects didn’t turn into a mesh of lost details. Despite being one of the few phones here without optical image stabilization for night shots, the Pixel managed to secure the second spot.

High-resolution images:

Apple iPhone 7 Plus, ASUS Zenfone 3 Deluxe, Google Pixel, Huawei Mate 9

LG V20, Moto Z, Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, Sony Xperia XZ

Low-Light Portrait (Flash On)

Winner: Google Pixel

2nd place: LG V20

3rd place: Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

Finally, we tested the flash capabilities of each camera. As you can tell, the results varied greatly from phone to phone, with the first-place finish going to the Pixel once more. It had the only photo with evenly distributed lighting and the most accurate skin tone. The V20 had a similar result, except colors were a lot more muted. Third place went to the Galaxy S7 edge for its smart illumination of the background.

High-resolution images:

Apple iPhone 7 Plus, ASUS Zenfone 3 Deluxe, Google Pixel, Huawei Mate 9

LG V20, Moto Z, Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, Sony Xperia XZ


And the winner is…

When the Pixel was launched back in October, one big claim was that it was the highest-rated smartphone camera on DxOMark, the world leader in camera, lens, and image quality ratings.

After 12 rounds of our own tests, we have to agree — the Google Pixel has, without a doubt, the best camera on a smartphone today.

Having said that, Samsung’s Galaxy S7 edge announced eight months prior, is a solid second and arguably still the best camera when it comes to low-light photography.

In a month, its successor the Galaxy S8 will also be unveiled; if Samsung sticks to its guns, the S8 may be the cameraphone to look out for in 2017.

Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus is third on our list. It may not have come out on top as many times, but it was a consistent performer overall, and shot some of the most color-realistic photos of the bunch.

The Moto Z also deserves an honorable mention. It’s the oldest of all the phones tested and in a slightly lower price point, but it held its own and even ruled its own category. It was definitely a pleasant surprise.  

The blind test was tough and our choices highly subjective. If you see things differently, that’s okay; it boils down to your own taste in photos. Some of us like nice saturated colors, some prefer warmer tones, and when it comes to selfies, some like the softening a good beauty mode provides.

Either way, all of the phones tested did great — a testament to how far technology has come. While thousand-dollar professional cameras will always take the best photos, when it all comes down to it, nothing beats the camera in your pocket.

SEE ALSO: Best Premium Smartphones (February 2017 Edition)

[irp posts=”10008" name=”Best Premium Smartphones (February 2017 Edition)”]

Features

Xiaomi Mi Mix 4 leaks, Redmi vs Realme: The Rewind

It’s a megapixel party

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Here are the top stories on GadgetMatch this week.

1. Xiaomi Mi Mix 4 leaks

Xiaomi’s 108-megapixel camera phone might finally have a name — and it’s a familiar one.


Leaks suggest that the phone Xiaomi has been teasing is the Mi Mix 4 and the camera isn’t the only thing that stands out about it.  In fact it might have four lenses. Joining the main shooter are a 16-megapixel superwide lens

A 12-megapixel lens, and a periscope lens.

According to rumors we could be looking at a phone powered by the Snapdragon 855 Plus with 12GB of RAM and 1TB of internal storage. Supporting the massive specs is a 4,500mAh battery that supports 30W fast charging. Those numbers are insane.

The rumor also suggests the Mi Mix 4 might come with 5G and will re-introduce the headphone jack to the Mi Mix lineup.

There are no details about the front-facing camera. So we don’t know for sure if it’s sliding mechanism similar to the Mi Mix 3 or if we will finally see the under display camera that Xiaomi teased a while back.

We won’t find out for sure until September — that is if that rumored month of announcement also holds true.

2. Phones with 64MP cameras finally named 

It appears Xiaomi and Realme are on the path to a head-on collision

Earlier in the year, Realme teased a photo taken with a 64MP camera with Realme’s watermark on it. Just weeks ago, Xiaomi also announced that they’re working on a phone with 64MP cameras. It didn’t take too long for both companies to reveal the names of the handsets.

Redmi’s general manager shared an image taken with the 64MP camera with the phone name clearly showing Redmi Note 8 Pro.  Digging deeper, leaks suggest the phone will sport a whopping 5,000mAh battery and will be powered by the gaming-centric MediaTek Helio G90T processor A chip that hopes to rival Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855.

Over on the Realme side, the company recently launched the Realme 5 series but towards the end of the event they also teased their 64MP camera phone — the Realme XT. Rumors suggest it will sport the Snapdragon 855 plus further solidifying the potential clash that these two phones are in for.

Redmi though will be officially launching on August 29th and we might not see the Realme XT until end of September or early October.

3. Huawei in ‘battle mode’ amid US turmoil

Huawei just can’t stay out of the news.

After Trump’s latest pledge to ease Huawei’s restrictions, the US government has yet to deliver the goods. Earlier this year, Huawei gained a 90-day temporary operating license. That license has expired this week but the US government extended the license for another 90 days. Huawei isn’t happy since it still means they are in limbo.

Huawei’sCEO Ren Zhengfei issued an all-hands-on-deck ultimatum for his employees implying that underperformers will be sacked. The CEO remains determined and optimistic saying Huawei will “survive” and that they will “dominate the world.”

4. Xiaomi, OPPO, and Vivo are playing nice

File sharing in an open ecosystem like Android can be… challenging.

If you’ve experienced the wonders of Apple’s Airdrop no file sharing app really comes close. Three Chinese companies want to change that.

Xiaomi, OPPO, and Vivo have banded together forming a new cross-brand direct file transfer alliance. With this new, yet to be named file sharing feature devices of all three brands will be able to transfer files at 20 MB/s without the need of a third-party service like ShareIt.

It’s a huge step forward considering the three brands own 50% of China’s smartphone market. If this proves to be successful, it might encourage brands like Huawei to also join the fray.

5. NVIDIA GeForce Now will bring PC games to Android devices

Is cloud gaming the future?

That’s a loaded question but for now, it seems brands are gearing up for it. After the announcement of Google Stadia and Microsoft’s xCloud now comes NVIDIA’s GeForce Now. 

The cloud gaming platform has been in beta for PC, Mac, and NVIDIA Shield TV but now they’re offering something new. GeForce Now will also be available on Android.

This means you’ll be able to play Triple A games on PCs  using your Android smartphone. There is no exact date when GeForce Now will be available to the public as well as how much the platform will cost. But what it offers is promising so we will all gladly wait.


The Rewind is our roundup of top news and features you might have missed for the week. We know the world of technology can be overwhelming and not everyone has the time to get up to speed with everything — and that includes us. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the rewind.

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Hands-On

Realme 5 Pro Hands-On: It’s all about the numbers

Finally a real competitor

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Realme has launched a wide array of phones this year and it doesn’t look like they’re stopping anytime soon. The brand is extremely aggressive about marketing and thanks to immense pressure from Xiaomi, Vivo, and Samsung, they’ve unveiled the Realme 5 Pro.

It has a faster processor, quad-camera setup on the rear, and flashier design. While the Realme X is built for a slightly more premium experience, the Realme 5 Pro is intended to be an affordable all-rounder that excels at everything.


A plastic design that looks flashier

We have the Blue variant and Realme calls this a holographic design due to the reflection and slight color gradient. We’ve previously seen this diamond cut design language in a lot of other phones and it offers a new choice to users instead of just relying on a plain metal back.

The phone feels sturdy enough and has slightly curved corners for an ergonomic user experience. Realme says the phone is splash resistant including the buttons as well as the charging port.

Holographic diamond cut back

The power button is located on the right

Volume buttons and SIM-tray are located on the left

Realme has finally endorsed USB-C and the headphone jack continues its legacy

A sharp and well saturated display

The Realme X has an AMOLED panel, but this one sports an LCD screen. This cost-cutting measure shouldn’t be a major drawback since the display is very sharp and bright enough. The colors are punchy, but tend to look too saturated sometimes. Thankfully, you can adjust or even schedule the screen’s warmth.

It’s 6.3-inch screen has Gorilla Glass protection and houses a small water-drop style notch on the top. The bezels are small and the chin is quite paltry as well.

A powerful processor that’s perfect for regular use

Powering the phone is an octa-core Snapdragon 712 processor that clocks at 2.3Ghz. A dedicated NPU looks after AI operations and the base option comes with 4GB of RAM. Storage is expandable via a microSD card.

Four cameras to help you get the best shot

It has a 48-megapixel primary sensor, an 8-megapixel wide-angle lens, 2-megapixel macro lens, and a 2-megapixel depth sensor. Rest assured, you’re covered from all ends. Whether its a low-light shot or a huge group photo, this setup is perfect for the average Joe.

For selfies, the notch houses a 16-megapixel front-facing shooter. Realme has added a handful of modes like Chromaboost, Nightscape, and Portrait Mode in the camera app.

ColorsOS to get you through the day

The Realme 5 Pro ships with ColorOS 6.0 and a few minor changes include new icons, smoother transitions, and filtering.

A near-perfect battery

It has a 4,000mAh battery and it is sufficient to get you through a day of heavy usage. It supports VOOC 3.0 fast charging technology and can charge your phone completely in about an hour and a half.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

The Realme 5 Pro ticks all the boxes, and we’ll be doing an in-depth review soon. For now, it offers a robust camera setup, substantial performance, and a new design. Although, a few cost-cutting measures like plastic build and LCD display are clearly visible.

ColorOS can be a deciding factor since it still isn’t well refined. If you’re looking for a long-lasting phone that has consistent updates, a Nokia-branded phone or Xiaomi’s Mi A3 are the only alternatives in this price segment. And even though the Redmi Note 7 Pro was launched just a few months back, it may have lost its edge in this ever-changing world due to a better processor, versatile camera, and faster charging.

SEE ALSO: Realme 5 series pricing and availability in India

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Camera Shootouts

Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ vs Huawei P30 Pro: Camera shootout

The current king and queen of flagship smartphones

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Samsung has launched the Galaxy Note 10 series, which currently holds the crown in DxOMark camera ratings. Previously sitting was Huawei’s flagship, the P30 Pro. Both smartphones currently pride themselves as leaders in smartphone photography, so it’s time to compare through a blind shootout!

With this shootout, you’ll get a chance to analyze each photo and pick which one is the better shooter for you. Photos are shot in auto mode with default settings. Of course, no post-processing was done except for resizing so you can easily view the images. The answer sheet can be found at the end of this comparison.


#1

#2

#3

#4

#5

#6

#7

#8

#9

#10

#11

#12

#13

#14

#15 – Selfie

#16

#17 – Portrait Mode

#18

Results

Galaxy Note 10+ — 1A, 2B, 3B, 4A, 5A, 6A, 7A, 8B, 9A, 10B, 11A, 12B, 13A, 14A, 15B, 16A, 17A, 18B

P30 Pro — 1B, 2A, 3A, 4B, 5B, 6B, 7B, 8A, 9B, 10A, 11B, 12A, 13B, 14B, 15A, 16B, 17B, 18A

Personally, both photos are astounding on their own. The Note 10+ and P30 Pro proves that they are indeed the king and queen of smartphone photography.

But when they’re being pitted against each other, the Galaxy Note 10+ shines when it comes to color reproduction. Its daylight photos have a better white balance complemented by high contrast which results in vibrant and saturated colors as seen in the blue skies and greenery. Even its night shots, the photos produced are more alive making every photos ready for uploading on social media. No more post-processing needed. However, it struggles in dark and low-light photos.

On the other hand, the P30 Pro produces brighter and warmer photos at daylight. Its colors are a little bit washed out due to added brightness and lesser contrast, however, mobile photography enthusiasts wouldn’t even bother since the photos produced can be altered depending on the user’s liking.

Furthermore, the P30 Pro provides a raw feeling on its night shots. It may be a little bit less vibrant compared to the Galaxy Note 10+, but it allows users to experiment and apply their artistic style on their captured photos during post-processing.

Optical Zoom

The Galaxy Note 10+ shines with its highly-rated cameras, but it’s still behind the P30 Pro when it comes to optical zoom. The Note 10+ has a 2x optical zoom while the P30 Pro has a 5x optical zoom.

Conclusion

It’s safe to say that both smartphones are winners at their own game, as it all comes down to a user’s preference. Thankfully, we’re now in an era where premium smartphones provide the best value their users deserve. All that’s left is for people to choose which phone they should buy.

So, how did you feel about the results? Did it help you decide which phone is really your GadgetMatch?

Share your thoughts about this shootout and connect with us on our social media channels. Don’t forget to join our growing community of fellow Matchketeers! If you have more suggestions, feel free to hit me up on Twitter.

 

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