If there’s one thing that sets a great smartphone apart from the rest of the field, it’s how well its camera performs.
So much research and development has gone into mastering the art of smartphone photography that by the end of last year, four top smartphones were virtually neck and neck in terms of camera performance.
From the looks of it, that trajectory will continue into 2018.
Next month, when the Samsung Galaxy S9 becomes official, its camera will be its standout feature. In its pre-launch teaser, Samsung promises, a “camera reimagined,” but what exactly does that mean?
Earlier this year, GadgetMatch spoke with multiple sources familiar with handset, giving us a better picture of the camera improvements coming to both the S9 and S9 Plus.
DUAL CAMERA. The S9 will be available in two sizes. Only the larger model, the S9 Plus will have two rear cameras, both with optical image stabilization built in. The second camera on the S9 Plus is an optical 2x zoom lens, and will work just like the second camera on the Galaxy Note 8 with features like Live Focus that let you adjust background blur during or after taking a photo.
PIXEL FUSION. Our source talked about new technology that involves merging adjacent pixels to produce an image with better detail and dynamic range.
The same technology is briefly mentioned on the website for Samsung Semiconductor’s ISOCELL image sensor. The feature enables Wide Dynamic Range (WDR) and it involves merging four different pixels to work as one big pixel. The idea is for you to worry less about shooting at night, and for low-light photos to look as great as those taken during the day.
DUAL APERTURE. The Galaxy S9 will have the fastest camera we’ve seen on a smartphone to date, with an aperture of f/1.5.
It will also be able to shift to f/2.8 when there is plenty of available light, allowing more clarity and detail. The feature, we’re told, will be called Dual Aperture with the camera being smart enough to detect lighting conditions and adjust its aperture accordingly.
FASTER AUTOFOCUS. Focusing on fast-moving subjects is challenge photographers constantly deal with. Samsung will deliver even faster autofocus speeds on the S9 thanks to its new triple-stacked sensor and improved phase detection autofocus.
With its new sensor technology, the camera on the S9 will be better equipped to calculate the distance of moving subjects, even in low-light situations.
SUPER SLOW MO. Pushing its super slow mo video capture even further, the S9 will let users shoot at 960 frames per second at 720p or 480 frames per second at 1080p.
This is a step up from the 240 frames per second at 720p abilities found on the S8 and Note 8. It’s worth pointing out that this feature was available on the Sony Xperia XZ Premium, but it will be interesting to see what the software side of things will look like on the S9.
Huawei Mate 20 Pro Hands-on: Best phone of 2018?
Huawei outdoes itself again
In an industry where incremental updates are the new norm, Huawei manages to wow us again — barely a year after the release of the P20 Pro. The Chinese company is back with the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro which might just be the best among the best this year.
In this video, we go over the phones’ new designs, updated cameras, and new memory card format. We also go through the differences between the Huawei Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro.
Huawei Mate 20 vs Mate 20 Pro: What are the differences?
Price isn’t the only factor
Huawei has once again launched two flagships phones at the same time; one comes with a Pro moniker, while the other does not. Like before, there are some significant differences between the Mate 20 pair to take note of.
One obvious difference is in their displays. While the Mate 20 Pro goes for a notched 6.39-inch 1440p curved HDR OLED display — certainly a mouthful — the regular Mate 20 has a 6.53-inch 1080p RGBW HDR LCD with a much smaller notch.
The Pro model justifies the larger notch by housing a more complex camera system for secured facial recognition, but if that doesn’t matter to you, the regular variant’s Dew Drop notch may be more appealing — and definitely less intrusive.
In addition, the Mate 20 Pro’s OLED tech allows it to curve the edges and equip an in-display fingerprint scanner. It’s essentially the more modern-looking design of the pair.
Since both models have Huawei’s Kirin 980 chipset installed, pure performance is virtually identical. The Pro and non-Pro also share the same memory and storage configuration of 6GB and 128GB, respectively, although the plain Mate 20 has a more affordable 4GB memory variant available, too.
Another minor difference: The 4200mAh capacity of the Mate 20 Pro, along with the more energy-efficient OLED, provides it with potentially longer battery life than what the Mate 20’s 4000mAh capacity and LCD panel offer.
A more significant advantage for the Mate 20 Pro is its inclusion of a 40W SuperCharge adapter in the package — noticeably better than the 22.5W output of the Mate 20’s. Plus, the Pro version can charge other phones wirelessly using wireless reverse charging tech.
Perhaps, you’ll care most about the difference in camera quality and performance. While it’s too early to make photo and video comparisons, an initial look at specs shows that the Mate 20 Pro may have an edge.
There are three modules in place for the Pro: One is a 40-megapixel main camera, another has 20 megapixels and an ultra-wide lens, and the final unit offers 8 megapixels with 3x optical zoom
As for the Mate 20, its main camera has only 12 megapixels, the ultra-wide shooter settles for 16 megapixels, and the 8-megapixel telephoto camera goes up to only 2x optical zoom.
Despite the larger notch of the Mate 20 Pro, they share the same 24-megapixel selfie camera.
Pricing and colors
This part largely depends on where you reside, but in an ideal setting, all five colors — Emerald Green, Midnight Blue, Twilight, Pink Gold, and Black — should be available for both models.
Pricing is another matter, and it again depends per region. In Europe, the Mate 20’s 4GB+128GB configuration retails for EUR 799 and its 6GB+128GB model goes for EUR 849. The Mate 20 Pro’s sole 6GB+128GB variant costs EUR 1,049, making it more expensive by EUR 250 and EUR 200, respectively.
In Singapore, the Mate 20’s 6GB+128GB setup retails for SG$ 998, while the Mate 20 Pro is at SG$ 1,348 — a difference of SG$ 350.
Huawei Mate 20 series first to have Nano Memory Card
Could this become a trend?
Aside from introducing a host of flagship features to the freshly minted Mate 20 series, Huawei also introduced a new memory card standard, simply named Nano Memory Card.
It’s available on both the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro, and it effectively replaces the microSD slot we’ve become so accustomed to. The question is: What’s so special about it?
The simplest answer is that it has the same size as the nano-SIM card inside any smartphone today. Because of the identical dimensions, the secondary card slot doesn’t have to be designed differently, like what has been done for microSD cards.
In the case of the Mate 20 series, the removable card tray has back-to-back slots: one for the nano-SIM, and the other for either another nano-SIM or separate Nano Memory Card.
As of writing, Huawei will be offering 128GB and 256GB NM Cards, with speeds of up to 90MB/s. They’re hoping it’ll become the new standard, and are producing adapters for additional compatibility.
It’s certainly a more efficient way of adding physical storage to a handset, and allows manufactures like Huawei to use the saved space for other features, like a large battery.
Looking ahead, it seems only logical for other smartphone brands to follow suit, but that would mean consumers would have to buy into a whole new standard and let go of their microSD cards.
The same thing happened with the introduction of the USB-C port, wherein users had to replace their micro-USB cables for the newer, more intuitive system. It’s been a gradual process, but definitely rewarding.
It’ll take a while before we find out if this will become a trend, but for now, we should appreciate Huawei’s courage in taking the first, big step.
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