Apple’s iPhone X, set to launch November 3, wants to take the title of smartphone camera top dog, but it faces some tough competition.
The OnePlus 5, cinematic LG V30, Essential Phone, Samsung Galaxy Note 8 and shade-throwing Google Pixel 2 all give the upcoming device a run for its money, and Apple is really going to need to impress on real-world performance if it wants to take the crown.
By comparing the phone specs, we can build up a solid idea of how the battleground is shaping up. Some of the cameras focus on ultra-low aperture numbers that let lots of light in, while others plump for big pixels and sensors to capture more at once. While dual lens cameras are also becoming the norm at the high-end, not all of them use them in the same way.
Here’s what you need to know about the competition:
The iPhone X has a dual-lens camera in a vertical arrangement. The main sensor offers 12 megapixels with an aperture of f/1.8, while a second sensor offers the same amount of megapixels with an aperture of f/2.4, offering a factor of two optical zoom over the primary sensor. Unlike the iPhone 8 Plus, the iPhone X offers optical image stabilization on both sensors to enable sharper pictures in lower light, while a slow sync flash illuminates the surroundings.
The two lenses are also used to enable some nifty A.I. features. Portrait Mode blurs the background of the subject by detecting how far away it is, while Portrait Lighting uses that same data to change the illumination around a person’s face, much like a studio.
In terms of video, the iPhone X can capture 4K at up to 60 frames per second, or 1080p at up to 240 frames per second to enable slow motion footage capture.
The Essential Phone has two 13 megapixel sensors, both with an aperture of f/1.85, a sensor size of 1/3 inches and pixels of 1.12 micrometers. This phone is interesting, as it uses a second sensor to boost low-light performance. With the same megapixel performance as the primary sensor, a monochrome sensor allows the device to give each pixel a black or white value, which is then combined to create a single picture.
Essential combines contrast, phase detection and laser autofocus, as well as a dual flash. On the video side, it offers 4K video at 30 frames per second, 1080p at 60 frames per second, or 720p at 120 frames per second.
With the OnePlus 5, a 16-megapixel sensor with aperture of f/1.8 is combined with a secondary 20-megapixel sensor with aperture of f/2.6. The sensor size is 1/2.8 inches for both, but the main sensor offers pixels of 1.12 micrometers and second sensor pixels of 1.0 micrometers.
Although it only offers a 1.6 optical zoom, this is combined with a 0.4x digital zoom through software trickery to smooth out the image. Like the iPhone X, the two lenses also enable a Portrait mode that blurs the background of the subject.
On the video side, the OnePlus 5 offers 4K recording at 30 frames per second, 1080p recording at 60 frames per second, and 720p recording at 120 frames per second.
Samsung Galaxy Note 8
The Note 8 has two sensors to provide a 2x optical zoom. While both are 12 megapixels, the wider lens has a f/1.7 aperture with 1.4 micrometer pixels on a 1/2.55 inch sensor, while the zoom lens has a f/2.4 aperture with 1.0 micrometer pixels on a 1/3.6 inch sensor.
Both sensors offer optical image stabilization, while a live focus feature lets you adjust the amount of background blue after a photo is taken. Dual capture can take photos on both sensors at once, meaning you can flick back and forth between whichever you prefer the framing in.
With video, the Note 8 offers 4K recording at 30 frames per second, 1080p recording at 60 frames per second, and 720p recording at 240 frames per second.
On the V30, a 16-megapixel sensor with ultra-wide aperture of f/1.6 combines with a 13-megapixel sensor with f/1.9 aperture, both of which have pixels of 1.0 micrometers. The phone also uses a glass lens, which LG claims can allow four percent more light to reach the sensor.
In this device, it’s the second sensor that offers a wider angle of 120 degrees compared to the main sensor’s 71 degree field of vision, allowing users to switch out at a moment’s notice to capture more of the action. But while the main sensor offers optical image stabilization with phase and laser autofocus, the second sensor has none of those.
On the video side, the V30 offers 4K recording at 30 frames per second, 1080p recording at 30 frames per second, and 720p recording at 120 frames per second.
Google Pixel 2
The Pixel 2 offers a 12.2 megapixel sensor with aperture of f/1.8. Its sensor is sized at 1/2.6 inches, with pixel size of 1.4 micrometers. The camera uses optical image stabilization, with phase and laser autofocus to find the subject rapidly. A dual LED flash illuminates the subject at a moment’s notice.
The Google Pixel 2, on the other hand, bucks the trend, as the only one in this comparison to not employ a second sensor. However, the company has developed an A.I. system that it claims can also achieve the background blur effect found on other dual-lens devices.
On the video side, the Pixel 2 captures video at 4K resolution at 30 frames per second, 1080p resolution at 120 frames per second, and 720p resolution at 240 frames per second.
For more on the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X, check out previous coverage, including: