Camera Shootouts

Xiaomi Mi 6 vs Mi 5X: Camera Shootout

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Xiaomi has been active in equipping dual cameras across its entire lineup, from the budget-friendly to the midrange and flagship levels. This got us thinking: How would the cheapest of the bunch fare against the most expensive? There’s only one way to find out.

For this single-branded camera shootout, we’re pitting the high-end Mi 6 against the much more affordable Mi 5X. While the former should smoke the latter in terms of raw performance, image quality may actually be more competitive than you’d expect.

They both have a pair of 12-megapixel cameras at the back with dual-LED flash and 2x optical zoom. Being the pricier one of the two, the Mi 6 naturally has some advantages, namely optical image stabilization and a slightly larger aperture opening on the wide-angle lens for brighter photos.

But just how big of a difference would those features make? Let’s compare photos taken around Beijing, China to find out.

Our first samples are close-ups with the naturally produced background blur of the two sets of cameras. Right off the bat, we can see how close this comparison is going to be. Both did an outstanding job of blurring out the background while keeping the flower sharp. The Mi 6’s photo just happens to be a little brighter because of the larger aperture.

At first glance, both shots seem to be identical in terms of pure quality, but looking a bit closer reveals slightly sharper details on the walls of the Mi 6’s photo and more noise in the Mi 5X’s output.

The Mi 5X needed a higher ISO to evenly illuminate the subject, but because of that, you can see some loss of detail in the darker areas. Still, it has better contrast than what the Mi 6 produced.

Similar to the flower photos earlier, the macro shots here give a slight edge to the Mi 6, but only because of the better-controlled exposure on the subject itself and around it.

Now we have our first samples from the zoom lenses of each phone. Results turned out similar to the previous comparison, with the Mi 5X’s product being more subdued.

This scenario gives us more to work with. The Mi 6’s image is noticeably better here with a warmer tone and less blown-out highlights.

Using optical zoom this time, the results are again more or less the same. Both phones did a splendid job of keeping everything sharp; the photo from the Mi 6 is just warmer.

HDR mode was active to retain all the details in the highlights and shadows. We give this round to the Mi 6 for rendering the lines on the building’s facade with greater accuracy.

Selfie time! This one was tough with the strong backlighting, but both phones did well enough. If you pixel peep, you’d notice less mush on the face for the MI 6, at the expense of minimal overexposure.

Surprisingly, the output favors the Mi 5X this time. The cheaper phone’s advantages are in the better-looking floor, clothing, and vegetation in the background.

Indoor shots with poor lighting are tough for any smartphone, and this is no different. The Mi 5X had difficulty focusing and took several attempts to capture the right exposure, but the final image turned out pretty well. Yet, the Mi 6 takes the victory thanks to its brighter lens and image stabilization, both of which were invaluable for this sort of situation.

Again, the Mi 5X struggles to find the correct exposure, and doesn’t focus nearly as fast as the Mi 6. With that, the MI 6 wins with a superior photo overall.

Mi 6 (left), Mi 5X (right)

Mi 6 (left), Mi 5X (right)

Rounding up our shootout are samples shot in portrait mode. With the feature turned on, a combination of the zoom lens and software tricks create extra blur behind the subject, giving the impression that these were shot with dedicated professional-level cameras. Both phones did great here. We prefer how the Mi 6’s photo looks a little more realistic and less blown out with the lighting, although the Mi 5X didn’t do a bad job itself with the way it handled the colors.

And there you have it! If there’s one thing we learned from this shootout, it’s that paying for a more expensive dual-cam Xiaomi phone doesn’t necessarily give you a better imaging experience.

Sure, the Mi 6 would win every other comparison — battery life and playing graphics-intensive games, to name a few — but in terms of image quality, you can pick either one and be fully satisfied.

SEE ALSO: $200 phone vs $600 phone: Dual-camera shootout

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Camera Shootouts

iPhone XR vs Pixel 3: Camera shootout

Which single-camera setup takes better photos?

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In an age where dual and triple cameras have become a standard, two premium flagship smartphones with a single-camera setup can still compete. Google’s Pixel 3 is regarded by many as having the overall best smartphone camera because it produces well-balanced colors and clean cutouts on portrait mode. Apple’s iPhone XR has almost the same camera setup and features as the more expensive XS and XS Max, including the TrueDepth camera in front.

In this comparison, we pit the two against each other to find out which smartphone you think takes better photos. This is once again a blind test so get your pen and paper ready! Do note that all photos were taken on Auto or Portrait mode (when applicable) and have only been resized for faster loading times. They are labeled Photo A and Photo B randomly. Swipe left to see the photos in full and take note of your picks!

#1

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#2

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#3

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#4

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#5

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#6

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#7

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#8

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#9

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#10

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#11

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#12

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#13

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#14

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#15

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Ready to find out which phone took your picks? Here’s the answer key:

#1
Photo A: iPhone XR
Photo B: Pixel 3

#2
Photo A: Pixel 3
Photo B: iPhone XR

#3
Photo A: Pixel 3
Photo B: iPhone XR

#4
Photo A: Pixel 3
Photo B: iPhone XR

#5
Photo A: iPhone XR
Photo B: Pixel 3

#6
Photo A: iPhone XR
Photo B: Pixel 3

#7
Photo A: Pixel 3
Photo B: iPhone XR

#8
Photo A: iPhone XR
Photo B: Pixel 3

#9
Photo A: iPhone XR
Photo B: Pixel 3

#10
Photo A: Pixel 3
Photo B: iPhone XR

#11
Photo A: Pixel 3
Photo B: iPhone XR

#12
Photo A: iPhone XR
Photo B: Pixel 3

#13
Photo A: Pixel 3
Photo B: iPhone XR

#14
Photo A: iPhone XR
Photo B: Pixel 3

#15
Photo A: Pixel 3
Photo B: iPhone XR

There’s no clear winner in this shootout; both phones did a great job in capturing images even in low-light scenarios. Choosing which one is better boils down to preference.

The Pixel 3 produces photos with higher contrast and sharpness, which sometimes turn out darker so photos tend to look more dramatic than they are in real life.  The iPhone XR, with its Smart HDR technology, balances out highlights and shadows really well, so much so that backlit images look like they have more than one light source.

In the portrait mode department, neither of the phones did a perfect job — how the cutouts turn out varies depending on the hair’s texture, how busy the background is, and even lighting.

When it comes to selfies, the Pixel 3 offers a wider field of view, an option to switch to a secondary wide-angle lens, as well as a feature called Night Sight that’s also available on its rear camera. One complaint we’ve always had with iPhones is how tight selfies are as seen in sets #13 and #14, although the iPhone XR selfies look more pleasing compared to those taken with the Pixel 3, where my skin tone tends to look more dull.

What do you think of this comparison? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Camera Shootouts

Huawei Mate 20 Pro vs Google Pixel 3: Night mode shootout

Seeing in the dark

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Smartphone manufacturers have always been upping their camera games, whether it’s by adding more sensors to the setup or increasing pixel count. But one of the bigger revolutions was Huawei bringing a true night mode to the P20 Pro earlier this year.

Since then, Huawei’s Mate 20 Pro followed up on the trend, only to be challenged by another camera-centric smartphone: the Pixel 3. Google’s latest flagship also has a well-received night mode, but the feature came out a couple of months after the phone’s launch.

Now that Google’s Night Sight is official and we have a Mate 20 Pro on hand, it’s time to compare their performance and answer the question lots of people have been asking: What’s the best smartphone for nighttime photography?

For this shootout, I brought the two phones around Taiwan and took photos only on their respective night modes. No post-processing was done except resizing, so the images would load a little quicker on this page.

Here we go:

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One thing’s for sure: Both perform really well in any situation, exceeding expectations in most cases. Although, a lot of the comparisons come down to personal taste.

For one, the Pixel 3 often removes a layer of warmth and makes nighttime scenes look more like daytime. On the other hand, the Mate 20 Pro is better at preserving how the environment actually looks in low-light spots.

In the most extreme cases, however, the Pixel 3 can see better in total darkness. The secret sauce Google applied here works wonders for when sufficient lighting is out of the question. At the same time, Huawei’s phone can apply motion blur to moving subjects, making them feel more like a long-exposure shot.

With no clear winner, it’s safe to say that both sides prove that their leaders in the night mode realm. Which one do you prefer? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Camera Shootouts

OPPO F9 vs Vivo V11: Camera Shootout

Which midrange contender comes out on top?

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Two brands that impressed us this year with their unconventional take on the borderless design are OPPO and Vivo. These two are always neck and neck when it comes to performance, design, and even cameras. So in this video, we set out to find which of these midrange contenders takes better photos.

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