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)”]

Hands-On

HONOR X9a 5G Hands-On: Tough and capable

Strong 2023 start for HONOR?

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HONOR X9a

HONOR is determined to make some serious noise in the smartphone space in 2023. In the Philippines, they’re looking to start strong with the release of the HONOR X9a 5G. 

If you follow any tech publications and some influencers and endorsers online, you likely saw the drop test videos the company had literally everyone do. That includes GadgetMatch. 

For what it’s worth, the thing is really tough. During our quick shoot, we dropped it around 3 times on concrete. No major damages suffered. The 0.65mm ‘Deeply Reinforced Glass’ on the display is, for the most part, not just a gimmick. Still, don’t go dropping the phone carelessly if you do decide to get it. 

We’re already talking about the display anyway, so let’s dig into it a little more. 

Pleasant to the eyes

HONOR X9a

The HONOR X9a 5G sports a 6.67-inch OLED Curved Display. It has a 394 pixels per inch count with a 2400 x 1900 resolution and 800 nits of peak brightness. Marketing materials also tout its 1.07 billion colors and TUV Rheinland Low Blue Light Certification. 

For the most part, the phone is everything it says it is on paper. The curved display affects more how the phone feels on-hand than it does for your eyes. It makes the phone’s profile feel slimmer than it actually is. And it’s not too curved to the point that it distracts from whatever you’re watching. 

Colors also look great. We can confidently say that you’ll have a good time watching videos on the HONOR X9a 5G. Whether that’s one of our YouTube videos, mindlessly scrolling on TikTok, or catching up on your favorite series. 

It also delivers a buttery-smooth feel, it has a 120Hz refresh rate and a 300Hz touch sampling rate. 

Familiar look 

HONOR X9a

Going over to how the rest of the phone looks, it gives off a Magic-ish, Mate-ish vibe. The circular camera module on the back plays a huge part in that. We’ll get to the camera details later on. For now, let’s focus on the look. 

One glance and you could mistake it as an HONOR Magic or even a HUAWEI Mate phone. After all, they share a similar design language. 

All the buttons (power and volume) are on the right. 

And at the bottom, you’ll find the SIM Card tray, USB-C port, and speaker-grille. Pretty standard stuff. 

Globally, the phone comes in three colors: Titanium Silver, Emerald Green and Midnight Black. In the Philippines, it appears only the first two colors will be available at launch. 

Overall, it’s your standard slab with a signature look. That camera module is certainly doing a lot to separate it from the pack. 

Capable cameras 

HONOR X9a

Now onto the cameras. Here they are by the numbers: 

  • Main (Wide): 64MP, f/1.8, PDAF
  • Ultrawide: 5MP, f/2.2, 
  • Macro: 2MP, f/2.4, (macro)
  • Front (wide): 16MP, f/2.5

And since video taking seems to be all the rage these days, you might be pleased to know that both the front and back cameras can take 1080P at 30fps footage. 

Again, these are pretty standard numbers for midrangers. The same is true for the actual output. There’s nothing here that’s mind blowing. But for posting on socials and just capturing stuff on the daily, it’s more than serviceable. 

Take a look at these samples: 

Steady performer

HONOR X9a

The HONOR X9a 5G is powered by the Qualcomm SM6375 Snapdragon 695 5G processor. In the Philippines, it comes with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage. It also has a massive 5,100mAh battery. Software-wise, it’s running Magic UI 6.1 based on Android 12.

In practice, all these components come together to deliver a steady performer of a smartphone. The HONOR X9a 5G is reliable in all the ways that matter. The processor, while not new by 2023 standard, still does what you expect it to do. That is to keep the stuff you need running in the background as needed. 

It also has a decent power efficiency, which, paired with the massive battery, delivers an overall battery life that won’t have you running to the nearest power outlet as the day winds down. 

We didn’t do much gaming on the phone, but given that it’s the same processor that was equipped on mobile gaming-inclined phones in the past, we’re confident it can steadily run plenty of the most-played games on mobile. 

Solid start for HONOR

HONOR X9a

The HONOR X9a 5G is a tough, capable smartphone that’s easy on the eyes. It’s the quintessential midrange smartphone. Everything we’ve come to expect from midrangers is present on this phone while also being extra tough and lasting extra long. 

With this being HONOR’s first offering in 2023 in the Philippines, the company is off to a solid start. 

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Features

New Year resolutions with vivo

Make yours happen

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vivo V25 Pro

A New Year always brings new beginnings. A chance to start-over and put your life on the track you want it to be in. vivo argues that it’s easier to follow through on these new year changes when you have the right device for you. Lo and behold, they put together things to keep mind, to keep you on the right track.

Learn something new and practical

vivo Y35

Since it’s the new year, challenge yourself to learn something new — a skill like computer programming, a hobby like playing a musical instrument, or any practical knowledge such as learning a new language.

Having a reliable device that can give you the ease to learn everything with only a few taps is essential. Like, say, the vivo Y35.

The vivo Y35 supports 44W FastCharge so you wouldn’t have to wait for a long time until your phone is fully charged to resume studying immediately. Plus, its massive 5000mAh battery can help it run for long hours, keeping you immersed in watching tutorial videos, attending online classes or reading how-to articles. It also has a massive 16GB Dynamic RAM and 256GB ROM.

These features can help make learning continuous and with fewer interruptions. 

Start documenting your life

vivo Boracay

Boracay photos Shot on the vivo V25 Pro

It’s all about making and preserving memories. This year, start capturing moments with a greater purpose. While you’re at it, try to take good photos and videos as well.

The vivo V25 Series, which has a 64MP OIS Ultra-Sensing camera with extreme night vision, is a great tool to document both day and night moments that you want to keep for the longest time possible. The vivo V25 Series’ up to 50MP Eye autofocus selfie camera can also help you capture the smiles of the people with you during every encounter.

Always go for healthier options

vivo Y22s

Health will always be wealth. It means you should also be more knowledgeable and conscious about your food and drink intake. The Internet offers a lot of information you can refer to for nutritious choices. Do your research, compare and find what’s best and more feasible for you.  

For this, you have the vivo Y22s. It is equipped with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 680 processor, up to 16GB dynamic RAM and ROM expandable to 1TB. These can assist you with minimal to no lags to get the healthier 2023 done. 

Stay in touch with your loved ones

vivo Y16

You should also remember to allot more time to people who matter. As the new year begins, you should create more memories with your family. Scheduling a video call with them while you’re away from home or constantly checking up on them through messages can make a difference in keeping a strong relationship.

The vivo Y16, which has a wide 6.51-inch Halo FullView display with eye protection mode, can help.

Travel more, in style

vivo Y02S

Traveling this year? Do it in style by getting a smartphone that’ll go with your travel fits.

vivo Y02s and vivo Y02’s2.5D curvature slim frame and lightweight build fit this goal perfectly and would never feel like extra travel baggage. Instead, these vivo smartphones work like additional accessories that will add glam and style.  

New Year with vivo

The new year is better if matched with a vivo smartphone that will aid in accomplishing your resolutions. All smartphones in vivo’s current lineup are available in offline stores nationwide.

Head to the nearest vivo concept store or kiosk to stand a chance to win in Paskong La vivo Loca which runs until January 31, 2023. Follow vivo’s official website and its social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube for more information.

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Editors' Choice

Best of 2022: Lifestyle Favorites

Which one matches your lifestyle?

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This year, the GadgetMatch team found another set of gizmos that fit perfectly in our lifestyle. These lifestyle favorites proved that technology, when done right, can elevate the way you live.

Travel accessory: instax mini Link 2

The instax mini Link 2 may be a rehash of an already modernized novelty, but it still tops our favorite gizmos that we love to have in our lives.

It can print your favorite moments using your smartphone and even personalize all the film prints. Turn your memories into something tangible!

True wireless earbuds: Samsung Galaxy Buds2 Pro

The Galaxy Buds2 Pro exhibited an already excellent product refined to be better. It’s now a pair of true wireless earbuds celebrated by fitness enthusiasts, audiophiles, and the everyday consumer.

Styling device: Dyson Airwrap 308c

The Dyson Airwrap has got to be one of the most talked-about hairstyling tools in the market, probably because it can give you quick, pro-blow-out at home and an efficient way to look stylish any way you want it, wherever you are.

Device feature: Apple’s iOS 16 Visual Look Up

Visual Look Up has just got a new trick on its sleeves this year, and we’re certainly lovin’ how useful the feature has been. With iOS 16, the feature lets you select a subject on a photo, cutting it out as if it was done in Photoshop or Canva.

You can copy, share, or save the image, and even make stickers out of it. The possibilities are endless!

App: Disney+

Disney changed the streaming game when it unveiled Disney+ across more countries, allowing access to hundreds of films and TV series from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, National Geographic, and more.

It certainly created a buzz, captivating the youth and young-at-hearts as they bonded among classics, modern adaptations, and unique shows.

Gaming accessory: JBL Quantum Stream

There’s a reason why JBL bagged an award for the Quantum Stream, a dual-condenser microphone with a reversible 360-degree stand.

With its proprietary technology that helps bridge crystal-clear communication among callers along with its features that make everything simple and easy, it’s undoubtedly an excellent pick for anyone looking for a microphone.

Form factor: Huawei Mate Xs 2

The Huawei Mate Xs 2, for what it’s worth, showcased how elegantly refined a foldable can be. Thanks to the marriage of engineering, technology, and design, Huawei was able to put up an innovative marvel that isn’t just pleasing to look at, but comfortable enough to use, too.

Home appliance: Dyson V15

For comparison: (L-R) The Dyson Omniglide, V11 Absolute Extra Pro (EU release), and the V15 Detect Absolute.

Dyson has been a champ when it comes to cordless vacuums. With the V15 Detect Absolute, Dyson delved into making the best cordless vacuums into something even better that got a lot of vacuum owners smitten.

It’s complete with technology, ergonomic design, and the right attachments that make cleaning easier.

TV: Samsung The Premiere

You never know if you want a high-end projector until you got one. Samsung’s The Premiere may come with an exorbitant price tag, but the technology it packs makes it one of the best ultra-short-throw projectors you can get in the market right now.

Imagine building your home theater dream. Yes, Samsung The Premiere can make it happen.

Smartwatch: Samsung Galaxy Watch5

The Galaxy Watch5 proves to be the best Android smartwatch yet. It has a better battery life that accompanies athletes, and even fitness enthusiasts, in their quest to improve their bodies and performance.

Add to that is a holistic set of health and fitness features that sync exceptionally within the Samsung ecosystem.

Wellness device: Arcwave Voy

Arcwave Voy offers men a unique technology and mechanism that elevates pleasure using a toy. With an adjustment system that works seamlessly to fit all kinds of penis, an ergonomic design to make it easy to grip and hold, and a compact design that allows it to be stored just anywhere, Arcwave Voy may be the toy to help take care of your sexual health and wellness wherever you go.

Vehicle: Ford Territory

The Ford Territory delivers the right power you’ll need for your short and long drives. It’s filled with creature comforts that keep all riders entertained throughout a trip.

It’s like a gift of adventure to anyone who’ll handle this vehicle as a daily driver.

Speaker: JBL PartyBox Encore Essential

JBL

The JBL PartyBox Encore Essential made every occasion memorable. With a 100-watt speaker, a compact design, and seamless connectivity — it’s not difficult not to love and make the device a part of every moment in your life. Through highs or lows, it’s a worthy companion.

Tablet: HONOR Pad 8

The HONOR Pad 8 is an affordable gateway for students and young professionals looking for a well-rounded tablet that caters to productivity and entertainment. It’s a supersized device packed with multimedia excellence, all at a price tag that won’t break the bank.

Smartphone case: Mujjo

Mujjo continued to top as our favorite smartphone case, thanks to its elegant cases that get refined each year. The Dutch label retains all the best things from its last line of cases while adding nifty improvements to adapt to the latest iPhone design.

It’s simply an accessory that looks and feels gorgeous and lasts enough to accompany your iPhone before your next upgrade.

Color: Bora Purple

2021 was all about the different shades of Green, and 2022 is all about all shades of Purple. With Samsung taking on the posh color as part of its signature shade across all its smartphones and other bespoke devices, we found ourselves falling in love with Bora Purple.

It’s adorable, and majestic, and offers the right amount of sophistication that you can be proud to wear.

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