While some of you might argue, why don’t we wait for the Pixel 4a to compare with the iPhone SE? Let me get back to you with another question: Why should we wait when we can compare two similar phones — both priced at US$ 399 — that are NOW available in the market?
Here, we’re going to have a comprehensive blind test. It’s not going to be the same camera shootout where I messed with y’all because you’ll need a note-taking app or your pen and paper so you can take note of your answers. As usual, no post-processing was done aside from putting the photos together on a collage for faster preview. If you want to cheat, the answers can be found at the end of this article.
Now, let’s dive in!
iPhone SE: 1A, 2A, 3B, 4B, 5A, 6B, 7A, 8A, 9A, 10B, 11B, 12B, 13A, 14B, 15A, 16A, 17B, 18B, 19A, 20A, 21A, 22B, 23B, 24A, 25A, 26A, 27A, 28A
Pixel 3a: 1B, 2B, 3A, 4A, 5B, 6A, 7B, 8B, 9B, 10A, 11A, 12A, 13B, 14A, 15B, 16B, 17A, 18A, 19B, 20B, 21B, 22A, 23A, 24B, 25B, 26B, 27B, 28B
The iPhone SE and the Pixel 3a have only one rear camera each. The former has a 12Mp wide-angle camera with an f/1.8 lens, while the latter has a 12.2MP wide-angle lens with an f/1.8 lens. Although, the Pixel 3a sports a larger 1/2.55″ image sensor compared to iPhone SE’s 1/3″ image sensor.
However, the results vary when you analyze the photos thoroughly.
Both phones take comparable photos when the sun is out. The iPhone SE’s photo is warmer, while the Pixel 3a’s photo has a little bit of dullness to it. As pointed out in a previous blind test on our social platforms, the Pixel 3a adds drama with its gloomy processing.
When it comes to shadows and highlights, the iPhone SE captures it better. Maybe it’s the Smart HDR. The intensity in contrast and shadows made some photos add more depth (and look alive) compared to the Pixel 3a’s flat captures. Thankfully, both phones capture creamy bokeh great for portraits and practicing basic photography.
During sunset, the iPhone SE produces more lively photos while the Pixel 3a still lacks oomph. When there’s barely a source of light, the iPhone SE becomes aggressive with its white balance correction and tends to get noisy.
On the other hand, the Pixel 3a delivers a better shot — with or without Night Sight. Of course, the Night Sight allows you to take excellent photos that are social-media ready and it even works on the Pixel 3a’s selfie camera.
The Pixel 3a captures wider selfies, except when you use Portrait Mode. Although, the iPhone SE does a better job at lighting Michael Josh’s face. Gladly, Pixel has Night Sight for selfies which makes this round even.
Both the iPhone SE and Pixel 3a offer Digital Zoom, with the former having up to 5x while the latter can shoot up to 7x. When you meticulously look at the zoom samples, Pixel is a clear winner since its Digital Zoom produces more detail. It can even capture a much more legible zoomed-in photo of the Cointreau bottle.
The iPhone SE and the Pixel 3a captures excellent photos — both in good and bad lighting conditions. Though, the Pixel 3a delivers better when it comes to Digital Zoom and photos that were taken using Night Sight. Still, both phones are stunning in the camera department despite commanding an affordable price tag. At the end of the day, the user decides based on his/her preference and needs.
For US$ 399, whichever you choose, you’re in good hands. Of course, a camera isn’t the only thing you should look at when checking out smartphones. Watch our head-to-head comparison of iPhone SE and Pixel 3a here.
vivo V25 vs V23 5G: Camera Shootout
Are there even significant improvements?
It hasn’t even been a year but vivo has already revealed the successor to the V23 5G that was launched earlier this 2022. But is it actually worth upgrading to the new vivo V25? Or should you save yourself some money and buy the older V23 5G instead?
Don’t let that new camera bump with bigger circular cutouts on the vivo V25 fool you. On paper, the cameras are close to one another but the V25 has the advantage of having a slightly wider aperture and OIS (Optical Image Stabilization) that the V23 5G doesn’t have.
|vivo V25||vivo V23 5G|
PDAF, OIS + EIS
|Ultra-WIde||8MP 120º f/2.2|
|Selfie||50MP f/2.0 wide
|50MP f/2.0 wide
8MP f/2.28 ultra-wide
+ Dual-tone Spotlight
The sad news though is that, vivo has decided to remove the extra ultra-wide selfie camera and dual flash system on the new V25.
But how do these phones perform side-by-side knowing the new V25 also has a slightly less-powerful MediaTek Dimensity 900 chipset over V23 5G’s Dimensity 920? Are there enough convincing differences or is the older model actually better? Feed yourself some photo sample comparisons below.
In any given circumstance, a valuable Android midranger should take at least a decent photo with natural light around — thus me taking lesser photos to compare.
Still, your judgment matters.
Taking food shots (mostly with indoor lighting) is a better way to test which phone camera is capable of producing the better image output with the right amount of highlights, shadows, contrast, sharpness, temperature, as well as Dynamic Range.
*Left photo was taken multiple times with the focus tapped on the baked roll. Lens coating was also cleaned several times but still resulted to the same output.
Low-light photos can either make or break the capabilities of a smartphone’s camera.
While it’s a mixed bag of outputs, it still depends on the user if Night Mode photos are important in a midranger or not.
BONUS: Low-Light Selfie
For users who love taking selfies even in the dark, both phones can take fill-in flash (using the display) to brighten up your faces.
However, the ultra-wide selfie and Dual-tone Spotlight feature were removed completely from the vivo V25. You just have to guess and pick which is which.
With Flash (Aura Fill, Dual-Tone Dual Spotlight Flash)
No more confusions, the results are consistent all throughout the board:
Photo A — vivo V23 5G
Photo B — vivo V25
While it’s barely a big camera quality improvement, the vivo V25 has rendered some of the scenes quite well such as in Photos 1A, 11, and 12 which the V23 5G failed to display at least an acceptable output. Other times, the vivo V23 5G delivered better results like in Photos 1B, 2, 3A, 4, and 13A. Those images delivered overall better photos with a sufficient amount of HDR (High Dynamic Range) and AWB (Auto White Balance).
Overall, the V25 produced better images with decent amount of highlights, shadows, contrast, sharpness. The newer model also has some slight edge on focusing and making shots brighter and more stable at night.
While only two selfies were provided, the V23 5G obviously has the edge — especially with its extra selfie lens and dual-flash feature.
If you’re coming from the V23 5G, you don’t need to upgrade to the vivo V25. Period. But, if you’re looking for a phone to replace your old vivo smartphone (or pretty much any old budget phone or midranger for that matter), buying the V25 won’t hurt.
Unless you’re looking for a used unit, a brand new vivo V23 5G is being sold at PhP 27,999. Whereas, a brand new V25 retails at a cheaper PhP 23,999 price tag.
Imho, choosing the V23 5G over the V25 is advantageous for some reasons: a more premium-looking design with metallic sides, slightly faster chipset, and the extra selfie camera.
But realizing how more capable the cameras of the V25 are, you can also choose it for its bigger battery and brighter display. Also, the OIS feature is very handy if you love taking photos in action or at night or just record stable-free videos without worrying about warping and jitters. At the end of the day, you should know what you value the most in buying a new smartphone.
iPhone 14 Pro Max vs 13 Pro Max vs S22 Ultra: Camera Shootout
A Very Different Camera Test
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iQOO 9T vs vivo X80 Pro: Camera Shootout
Smartphone camera clash between the parent company and its sub-brand
The vivo X80 Pro continues to be the company’s champ especially in the camera department. Paired with a very capable four-camera setup, it’s a smartphone you’ll want to take with you if you’re into serious mobile photography.
On the other hand, the iQOO 9T is also a flagship phone you might not have heard ever. It has a better chipset, faster wired charging support, and a flat display over its vivo counterpart. Albeit, the camera performance is what intrigued me — especially since the camera layout is very similar to each another (they also have the same vivo V1+ dedicated imaging chip).
BTW to those unaware, iQOO is vivo’s sub-brand. But even if both of these phones came from the same parent company, we still wanted to do a two-way camera battle. This is also for you to know if the cameras perform differently — and if the ZEISS partnership has any significance over iQOO’s regular lens coating and processing.
Disclaimer: All samples were taken in Auto Mode (except for Night and Portrait Mode). Photos were collaged, resized, and labeled for faster loading and preview. No other manipulations were applied.
These phones have similar yet different ultra-wide cameras. While both lenses have an aperture of f/2.2, there’s actually a big gap between the megapixel count — vivo’s X80 Pro features a 48MP shooter with a 114º Field of View (FoV). On the contrary, the iQOO 9T only has 120º 13MP super wide-angle camera. Is there any breakthrough in output though?
Unlike the ultra-wide cameras, both the vivo X80 Pro and iQOO 9T are equipped with 50MP shooters. But there’s a catch: The iQOO 9T uses a Samsung GN5 sensor similar to that of the Galaxy S22 and S22+ series. Meanwhile, the X80 Pro has a custom-made Samsung GNV sensor exclusive to vivo’s X80 line. Lens diaphragms are also far alike: f/1.88 vs f/1.57 respectively — but you’ll still be the judge.
The vivo X80 Pro and iQOO 9T may have a similar 12MP telephoto camera with 2x optical zoom (f/1.85 and f/1.98 lens opening respectively), but the X80 Pro still has the clear advantage of having Gimbal OIS (Optical Image Stabilization). It also has an extra 8MP periscope telephoto lens for 5x optical zoom (and farther 60x digital zoom over 9T’s 30x). However, can you tell which phone is which in the samples below?
Daytime shots are one thing. But it’s also crucial to know if these phones can capture a subject or scenery well even when there’s hardly any natural light available.
#28 (2x zoom)
#29 (5x zoom)
#30 (2x zoom)
Unlike the iQOO 9T, vivo’s X80 Pro has the ZEISS perks. That includes the ability to shoot like you are using ZEISS’ classic lenses (such as Biotar, Distagon, Planar, and Sonnar) in Portrait Mode.
The iQOO 9T has a 16MP front camera while the vivo X80 Pro has a bigger 32MP selfie shooter. Similar enough, both phones have an f/2.45 lens opening.
Some of you may have noticed but the results are consistent across the board:
Photo A – vivo X80 Pro
Photo B – iQOO 9T
If you have read our previous camera shootouts featuring the vivo X80 Pro, you might have already observed the nitty-gritty of the images above. The X80 Pro produced images that are overall cooler and less vibrant. That’s of course, over a course of software updates that vivo gave the X80 Pro over time.
Although admittedly some samples looked similar (that you can barely tell which phone is which), the iQOO 9T still has an overall warmer and more saturated output than the vivo X80 Pro.
When it comes to zoomed shots, the vivo X80 Pro had an obvious advantage (especially in low-light scenarios) with its gimbal OIS support in the 2x zoom lens (less shaky images) and an extra 8MP periscope telephoto lens (clearer at 5x zoom). Still, the post-processing and AI algorithm of both phones are consistent all throughout with the iQOO 9T standing out more — warm and vibrant — which might have enticed more readers.
Shockingly, the X80 Pro displayed different results when photos are taken in night mode. If we’ll count, 10 out of 12 samples taken with the vivo were far warmer compared to the iQOO. While it comes to personal preferences (where I like warmer shots more), some of the images taken with the 9T are more color-accurate.
Generally speaking, you can’t go wrong any of these flagship smartphones. The biggest dealbreaker has got to be the amount you’re willing to spend for a flagship-grade smartphone camera.
With a difference of INR 30,000 (roughly US$ 375 / S$ 522 / ₱21,066) — the vivo X80 Pro having a discounted Indian SRP of INR 79,999 while the iQOO 9T now being sold at INR 49,999 — you can choose the latter minus all the bells and whistles of the X80 Pro.
Now if you’ll ask my personal take, I would still choose the X80 Pro because of these factors: wider FoV, an extra periscope telephoto lens, gimbal OIS, and the ever-fancy ZEISS partnership extras including the T* lens coating, Natural Color processing, Cinematic Mode when shooting videos, and the mimic of its lenses through Portrait Mode.
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