Testing the latest smartphone cameras

When we, as consumers, get hands on with a new smartphone, one of the first things we tend to do is open the camera and put it to the test. And amongst all the features embedded within the latest smartphones, the camera is at the forefront of the advertising of the device.

With this in mind, we put some of the latest smartphones and their respective cameras to the test, during a business trip to London. We visited some Central London hotspots and captured some brilliant shots of each. The below gives a bit of an overview of the devices, what we liked and what we think could be improved.

Samsung Galaxy S10+

Out of the box, the Galaxy S10+ is a gorgeous phone. It feels nice to hold and the screen, which boasts Samsung’s Infinity-O display, is crisp and vibrant. The camera is easy to use, and with the Ultra Wide feature, we were able to capture the full picture – there was no more cutting out what the human eye could see, or having to stand back to fit it all in.

The best thing about the S10+ however, was the intelligence of the camera. Scene Optimizer adjusted camera settings to the scene automatically, helping us capture the best shot possible. This experience was added to by the Flaw Detection alerts, and Shot Suggestion, which provided us with all the guidelines for the best photo, based on advanced learning. The only downside to the overall experience was the slight over exposure on certain photos, but it’s nothing a bit of editing couldn’t fix.

Nokia 7.2

The Nokia 7.2 is a midrange smartphone that offers a lot to like – a great price point, nice design and dependable battery life, helped by the pure Android experience and lack of bloatware. Its camera, a 48MP triple camera setup with ZEISS Optics, performed admirably too. The device combines multiple pixels to capture more light for beautiful images even in the dimmest of environments, which was great for a gloomy afternoon in London. We also appreciated that the Nokia 7.2 captured true, life-like colour, although it lacked sharpness in some photos and lost quality when using zoom.

Sony Xperia 5

Given Sony’s experience within the electronics space, and more specifically with their DSLR camera range, you would expect their smartphone cameras to hold their own – and they do, but it’s not the first thing you notice when using this phone. Instead, our eyes were drawn to the screen real estate; the 21:9 CinemaWide 6.5” inch display allowed us to see and do more on the phone.

The camera has a triple lens setup that came in handy in various light conditions. It brings some of Sony’s Alpha range technology to a smartphone too, with noise reduction and Eye Auto Focus. Though the latter wasn’t tested, we can see why this would benefit customers taking pictures on the fly. The one feature this phone was lacking, was editing capabilities, and this did affect the experience somewhat.

Google Pixel 4 XL

First and foremost, you can find out how we got in with the Google Pixel 4 XL for a full week in our blog post here.

The Pixel 4 XL is Google’s latest direct attempt at stealing some of Samsung and Apple’s thunder. It’s a tidy device with contemporary design and powerful internals, and they’ve taken the great camera on the Pixel 3 and made it even better. Colour and detail captured on the Pixel 4 XL’s camera was brilliant. A really nice feature was the Super Res Zoom, which coupled with the second camera lens to allow us to take high quality photos from further away, with little compromise on quality. An added bonus is the unlimited storage on Google Photos that comes with the phone, meaning users no longer have to worry about sacrificing photos due to low storage.

Despite all the positives to this phone’s camera, it did not carry a wide-angle lens, which meant certain elements of a picture that we wanted to capture, didn’t make it into the frame. It’s the only device we tested which did not have this capability.

As time progresses and new devices are launched, expect the camera to be the main talking point in product demonstrations and marketing. We are already seeing this come to light with the new Galaxy S20 range, which they are, yet again, claiming outright to have the best camera setup. Competition might have something to say about that claim, but this competition between vendors fuels innovation, and this will always benefit the end user.

Look out for more content and reviews on the latest devices over the coming months.

Disclaimer: It’s important to note that picture quality is affected by a number of factors and this was not an exhaustive test of each device, just an exercise to give you a flavour of the capability and performance of each. None of these images have been edited. Additionally, some image quality may have been lost due to compression for web display.

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