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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)

Podcast

Episode 001: Getting lost at the world’s largest tech show

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In this first epidose of GadgetMatch Podcast we talk about the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2018) which just wrapped up in Las Vegas. Michael Josh and Isa share behind the scenes challenges of covering the world’s largest tech show. And the team talks about the most attention grabbing tech from the show including an entire range of Artificial Intelligence and Google Assistant gadgets, Vivo’s new phone with an in-display fingerprint sensor, Sony’s new robot dog, and Razer’s Project Linda.

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Apps

How to hide from Instragram’s new Activity Status feature

It’s on by default!

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Instagram silently rolled out a new feature of its app. If you don’t like your friends to know that you’re online (and also protect your privacy), you might want to take action. Why? Because it’s automatically turned on.

If you have the latest app, you probably noticed something new inside the Direct Messages section. This new feature dubbed “Activity Status” lets your Instagram buddies know if you’re online. If you happen to be scrolling through your timeline moments ago, the status will show that you’ve been available earlier.

This is switched on by default but the data is only shared with users that you follow and those you message privately. There’s no need to panic if you think a stalker will know that you’re online — unless you follow them, too.

How to turn it off?

You can easily switch it off inside the app. Just go to your profile page and tap the top-right icon for Options.

Next, scroll down until you see “Show Activity Status” and switch the toggle button beside.

That’s it! Now that it’s off on your end, your status will not show up to your buddies. Although, you won’t be able to see the status of other accounts as well.

Since the new feature was smoothly included in the recent updates from the Play Store or App Store, it’s not clear when Instagram introduced the function. Some might not have it yet, which could mean it’s still an experimental approach with a limited number of users.

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Automotive

The Best Car Tech of CES 2018

Exciting times ahead!

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We recently wrapped up CES 2018 (see our top picks) and even though the trade show originally revolved around consumer electronics, a big chunk of what was introduced was directed towards connected cities with a focus on making driving a lot smarter.

The idea of self-driving cars surely isn’t new and has been around for quite some time now. It’s basically the concept of what the future is like in addition to flying cars. At this year’s CES, brands who participated made us realize that this “future” isn’t too far away.

Here are some of the most promising cars and car technology that we’re excited to see in the near future.

Assistance

Multiple brands showed off their new toys left and right. There’s the announcement of Amazon’s Alexa coming to cars for voice assistance and content consumption. Toyota will be the next to adapt voice assistance in addition to BMW, Ford, and Hyundai. Meanwhile, Waze has also been integrated into select infotainment systems.

Nissan, on the other hand, is taking the user-machine a step further by introducing the brain-to-vehicle (B2V) technology. It basically uses a system that could read your brain patterns and signals to better prepare for what you’re about to do next while driving.

Platforms

In terms of services, Ford is slightly stepping out of the shadow of car-making and plans to be the new platform for autonomous vehicles. It has partnered with Lyft, Domino’s Pizza, and Postmates to create an operating system which small to large businesses can use for their unique services.

Speaking of unique services, Toyota unveiled its e-Palette concept vehicle which has all the potential to go big in the future of mobility. It’s envisioned as a self-driving vehicle running on Toyota’s tech and platform that other brands can use for food deliveries, as a moving boutique, or even a mobile hotel that you can rent.

As far as ride-sharing goes, expect it to join the bandwagon as smart cities are developed. During the trade show, car tech company Aptiv was present and was hand-in-hand with Lyft as they demonstrated their self-driving cars to the participants of CES. The public could just hail a ride from the Las Vegas Convention Center using the app and enjoy the view of the Strip to their destination.

Additionally, NVIDIA has also added Uber and Volkswagen to their growing roster of brands that will run on the company’s self-driving computer platform.

Cars

Apart from the new platforms, there were cars — quite a lot, actually. From concept to actual models on display, we got a peek at these vehicles that probably want to take on Tesla.

Derived from Bytes on Wheels, BYTON wants to blur the line between digital and automotive with their electric intelligent SUV concept. The new-gen smart device communicates with users and pedestrians via lights and patterns on its grille and recognizes the driver and passengers by face.

Kia was also present with its very own Niro electric crossover. This concept is basically an electric version of the Niro Hybrid but gets a new grille design. Like BYTON, it is now an interactive panel with a built-in Active Pedestrian Warning System, but what makes this something to look forward to is its range. It can go as far 383km (238 miles) before needing to charge again — beating what the Tesla Model 3 can offer.

Car designer Henrik Fisker gave another shot at making vehicles; this time in the form of the EMotion luxury sedan. The vehicle is a level 4 autonomous car and is equipped with the world’s first Butterfly Doors. Fisker also wants to set standards for other EVs so they made the vehicle last up to 644km (400 miles) on the road.

Meanwhile, Hyundai is continuing its push to go green and introduced the NEXO fuel cell electric vehicle. It has a more efficient engine, is a lot quieter, and maintenance is kept to a minimum. Although the best thing about it is that it emits nothing but water vapor. Features-wise, it has autonomous driving, self-parking, self-retrieval — the whole shebang.

In-vehicle Networking

Software updates are an important aspect of vehicles relying on digital systems. Tesla has somehow established its system already but for other car brands, updating hundreds, even thousands of vehicles across a country, is still not an easy task.

Hyundai and Cisco addressed this and aims to overhaul the process of in-vehicle networking. With the use of Ethernet connectivity and the Automotive Linux platform, they promise to be able to roll out updates remotely and it’s as simple as pushing a button.

 

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