Here’s a matchup you probably weren’t expecting, but both have something to prove in terms of camera quality.

In the orange corner, the OnePlus 3T is our bang-for-buck choice when it comes to well-rounded phones, owning a premium build to house its high-end specs and competitive cameras.

In the blue corner, the ZenFone 3 Zoom is ASUS’ most camera-centric smartphone to date, with a pair of lenses at the back offering optical zoom and advanced autofocusing.

The two phones also happen to be similarly priced at little over or under $450, which brings us to the question: Which of these two upper-midrangers takes better photos of your cocktails and face? Let’s find out.

Like in our past shootouts, everything it taken with Auto settings turned on in each phone’s default camera app to simulate a typical point-and-shoot scenario. No edits or filters were added, including HDR or flash unless otherwise specified.

We’re starting things off with plain architecture surrounded by bright colors. At first glance, you can barely tell the difference here; upon closer inspection, the ZenFone 3 Zoom has more saturated greens while the OnePlus 3T has stronger reds, and they render the blue sky in the same way. Both did a great job maintaining the range from highlights to shadows.

How I wish I could be this guy right now. The OnePlus 3T clearly has a warmer tone to it, while the ZenFone 3 Zoom goes for a more color-accurate look at the expense of losing some sharpness in the grass. Close call, but I’d give this round to ASUS.

In this situation, the flowers were moving because of the wind, making this a test of both autofocusing and macro abilities. The OnePlus 3T’s photo came out a little more detailed, but the ZenFone entry did the colors and exposure more justice. I do have to emphasize, however, that the ASUS phone had a tougher time locking on to the erratic subject.

This is another case where the ZenFone 3 Zoom produced brighter colors in its output, and we like it. The OnePlus 3T’s presentation of Michael Josh came out too bland, and lost the pretty colors we were hoping to get with the artwork behind him.

Here’s a tough situation wherein both detail rendering and dynamic range are tested. Upon closer inspection, you can see the OnePlus 3T did a better overall job, making sure every single line of the structure is visible and the sky doesn’t get blown out.

Before we get into nighttime scenes, it’s important to take a selfie while the sun is still at its best. We have a strong case where taste is a deciding factor: The OnePlus 3T is much better at blurring out the background and placing all focus on the subject, while the ZenFone 3 Zoom once again does skin tone better but doesn’t add any depth to the portrait.

Here comes the cocktail I mentioned earlier! The ASUS contender begins showing signs of weakness by having a tough time rendering details on the glass while also keeping the room well lit. The OnePlus 3T didn’t do much better, although you can at least see the elements in the drink better thanks to greater exposure.

Our ZenFone 3 Zoom relied on a slower shutter speed to let as much light in as possible, but the spinning disco ball and white balance suffered in the process. Everything looks much more accurate in the other entry, from the colors of the ceiling to the details on the wall art.

Although the white balance is a lot more pleasant with the OnePlus 3T, there’s too much noticeable noise in the background to call this a runaway win. The ZenFone 3 Zoom has more aggressive noise control, but makes lots of elements look mushy at the same time.

We admittedly looked for a really challenging spot to take these nighttime selfies. Like the self portraits earlier, the OnePlus 3T does a fantastic job blurring out the background and placing the highlight on the face. On default settings, our ASUS photo attempted to recreate a more flattering shot but lost the focus we were after.

Finally, we check out how each phone handles a complicated scene with minimal light. Looking at the tree in the foreground and building in the background, this round goes to the OnePlus 3T for better detail retention and light control. However, we have to commend the ZenFone 3 Zoom for making the artsy drawing look good with so little light.

And there you have it! Though it seemed like we were in for a tight race at first, each phone’s specialties became clearer as we compared each photo.

If you’re into vivid colors and a strong daytime game, the ZenFone 3 Zoom is for you. In addition, this ASUS handset has the ability to optically zoom up to 2.3x without noticeable quality loss, which would help in instances wherein walking closer to a target isn’t an option.

Otherwise, the OnePlus 3T has a distinct advantage when it comes to locking on to moving subjects and handling areas with difficult lighting. We’d also prefer taking selfies with this phone, since it makes us look better no matter where or what time of the day we pose.

Agree or disagree with our evaluation? Drop us a comment below and let your opinions be heard (or read, in this case).

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