Smartphone Camera Faceoff

The Samsung Galaxy S7 vs Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus vs the Google Pixel. These three take top honors in the smartphone camera competition. Now it’s time to see which one comes out on top. Each one of these has certain benefits. Depending on the type of photographs you take, one might be better than the others. However, all three have excellent cameras.

Samsung Galaxy S7

When most phones were still increasing the number of megapixels in the camera, Samsung took a new approach. They lowered the megapixel count and increased the size of the pixels. This bold move proved to be extremely beneficial. The Galaxy S7 has large 1.4-micron pixels and a wide f/1.7 aperture that lets in more light. This results in bright, vivid and sharp photos, even in low-light conditions.

smartphone camera

Galaxy S7 & S7 Edge
Courtesy: Samsung

Not only are low-light pictures improved, but Samsung has used a 12-megapixel dual-pixel sensor which is a breakthrough for smartphones. This gives the Galaxy S7an autofocus that is noticeably faster and more accurate than other phones. So fast, in fact, that it is almost instantaneous. The dual pixel technology also captures sweeping movements in panoramas with motion to create a impressive still.

Video records at up to 4K resolution working well in even low-light conditions. The 5-megapixel front camera doesn’t have the pizazz of the rear camera. The biggest improvement is a Selfie Flash mode to light up your Selfies.

The Galaxy S7 has a 5.1-inch display and the S7 Edge features a 5.5-inch dual edge display. Thankfully, both versions have the same great camera. So you don’t have to give up any camera features if you want to purchase the smaller phone.

Apple iPhone 7 Plus

The Apple iPhone 7 Plus also reduced the number of pixels and increased their size to improve low-light photographs. The biggest improvement, however, is that the iPhone Plus sports two 12 megapixel rear cameras and a 7 megapixel rear camera with f/2.2 aperture. The dual camera setup, one of the latest trends in smartphone cameras is at its best in the iPhone 7 Plus.

This phone has a standard 36mm f/1.8 lens next to a 56mm f/2.8 lens. This offers a true 2x optical zoom combined with a 10x digital zoom providing one of the best zoom capabilities in phone cameras. The 2x optical zoom offers no loss of image quality. Combined with the 10x digital zoom (6x for video) you get more zoom with less distortion than other smartphone cameras. This allows for Apple’s new Portrait mode that can automatically create a “bokeh” depth-of-field focus effect that really make the photos pop. This keeps faces sharp while blurring the background. It is better in this phone than any other I’ve seen.

smartphone camera

iPhone 7 Plus
Courtesy: Apple

The iPhone 7 Plus also has 7-megapixel camera on the front. It also has a brighter screen than previous versions which helps when taking photos in direct sunlight. 4K video can be recorded at 30 fps and 1080p HD video can be recorded at 30 fps or 60 fps. Specifications include image stabilization, Panorama, Live Photos, HDR, and burst mode.

The iPhone 7 comes in two sizes: the iPhone 7 has a 4.7-inch screen. The iPhone 7 Plus has a 5.5-inch screen. This year Apple has added optical image stabilization to the iPhone 7, bringing its photo capabilities a bit closer to the iPhone 7 Plus. The iPhone 7, however, doesn’t have the dual cameras that make the iPhone 7 Plus so spectacular.

Google Pixel

Google chucked their Nexus phone lineup this year and instead introduced an all new phone called the Pixel. They are touting this as having the best camera on a phone. Although some might contest that, the Pixel did get an 89 DxOMark Mobile score, which is the highest rating ever given by that highly-recognized company.

smartphone camera

Google Pixel
by Sandy Berger

Like its competitors above, the Pixel has increased the size of the pixels in its 12.3-megapixel camera. With an f/2.0 aperture it gives crisp sharp images even at night. The front camera has 8 megapixels and an f/2.4 aperture. Video has a lot of options. 4K at 30 fps, 1080p at 30, 60 or 120 fps and 720p at 30, 60 or 240 fps. The Pixel doesn’t have image stabilization but instead works to stabilize the picture with gyroscopes. I’ve never heard of this before, but it works especially well for when you whole body is moving, like taking photos or video while walking.

Like the iPhone 7, the Pixel comes in two sized. The Pixel has a 5-inch display and the Pixel XL has a 5.5-inch screen. Camera specifications and performance is the same on both models. These cameras have good auto-focus, but the Galaxy S7 is better.

The Pixel has a “bokeh” type of setting like the Portrait setting on the iPhone. It’s called Lens Blur. It works, but the Portrait mode on the iPhone 7 Plus is more consistently good.

The Pixel, however does deliver brighter colors and sharp detail. It also has an excellent HDR mode that is turned on by default.  It is great for landscapes and scenes with a lot of bright lights.

A really wonderful feature of the Pixel is that you get unlimited storage for pictures taken with the Pixel, no matter the size. Many will find this very valuable especially in combination with the wonderful Google Photo app.

The Winner

And the winner is (drum roll, please) —– The Samsung Galaxy S7 takes my award for best overall camera on a phone. Although the iPhone 7 Plus has the advantage of their excellent dual-camera and the Pixel takes great pictures and has unlimited storage, thanks to its state-of-the-art, dual-pixel sensor, the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge have the best smartphone cameras on the market today.

Author: Sandy Berger

Sandy Berger, respected computer authority, journalist, media guest, speaker, and author, has more than three decades of experience as a computer and technology expert. Her eight books include: How to Have a Meaningful Relationship with Your Computer, Your Official Grown-up's Guide to AOL and the Internet, Cyber Savers –Tips & Tricks for Today’s Drowning Computer Users, Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to Better Living through Technology, Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to the Internet, Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to Gadgets & Gizmos, Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to Online Health & Wellness, and Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to Online Travel. Sandy’s newspaper column, magazine articles, feature stories, product reviews, and computer tips can be found at her website, Compu-KISS.

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