Everything moves so quickly in the smartphone industry that a span of just a few years can seem like a lifetime. But in the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t too long ago that Android phone users were being shamed over how bad the cameras were on their phones. Do you remember when Instagram first came to Android back in 2012 after having been an iPhone-exclusive app for so long? There was a huge backlash from whiny iPhone users complaining that because the app was now available on Android phones, their timelines were filled with photos that were blurry and pixelated. The sad thing was the fact that they weren’t exaggerating; the cameras on Android phones were embarrassingly bad at the time. But my, how the times have changed.
Fast-forward to 2019 and Apple’s lead in mobile camera quality feels like a distant memory. The iPhone’s edge in this area has long since disappeared, with smartphones from the likes of Huawei, Google, and sometimes even Samsung outshining iPhones in amateur and professional camera tests. What’s even worse is the fact that the gap is growing wider, not narrower. Now, a new Android phone has been released with a camera that doesn’t merely outperform Apple’s latest iPhones, it puts Apple’s latest iPhones to shame.
I have been an iPhone user for more than a decade, ever since the original iPhone replaced my Nokia smartphone back in 2007. Due to the nature of my work, however, I’ve also used just about every noteworthy Android phone that has been released over the years. As a result, I’m in the unique position of seeing firsthand how each platform has evolved over the years. I’ve also seen how smartphones from individual vendors have evolved over the years, and some transformations have been more impressive than others.
Huawei is a brand that I have been particularly impressed with. Like many Android phone makers, Huawei’s early smartphones were little more than shameful iPhone knockoffs. The company’s history of copying Apple wasn’t as widely reported at the time since Huawei phones weren’t as widely available as Samsung’s, but there’s no denying it. Samsung might have literally written the book on copying Apple, but Huawei was happy to tear out a few pages.
Now, in 2019, Huawei phones are anything but iPhone copycats. Sure, the company still knocks off an Apple design here and there, but its flagship phones have developed a design identity that is unique. More importantly, they shine brightest in an area that is crucial to all smartphone users: Camera performance.
That brings us to the Huawei P30 Pro that was released late last month.
Look, the camera on Apple’s latest iPhone series isn’t bad. Far from it, in fact. Photos snapped in good lighting come out nice and clear, colors are accurate, and video quality is pretty impressive as well. But that’s not enough in 2019. There are two features of the new P30 Pro’s camera that have me so jealous, and I truly hope Apple steps up its game this year and adds some huge improvements to the iPhone 11’s camera.
The first feature is one that we already covered earlier this week, but it’s certainly worth revisiting because it’s ridiculously impressive. In fact, it very well may be magic.
Google’s Night Sight feature on its Pixel phones has been blowing people away since it debuted on the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL last year. In a nutshell, the feature uses AI and machine learning to capture low-light photos that are impossibly clear. It’s positively mind-blowing, and now the Huawei P30 Pro has one-upped it. Check out this photo sample:
Yeah, it’s amazing, and there is currently nothing on the iPhone that even comes remotely close to comparing to the P30 Pro’s low-light camera performance.
But there’s another camera feature on the P30 Pro that I really want to see on the iPhone 11, and it’s one that I’ve already covered here on the site because Huawei isn’t the first Chinese smartphone maker to offer it. It’s a new hybrid zoom system that combines optical zoom with enhanced digital zoom to enable 50x zoom on Huawei’s P30 Pro. That’s not a typo… fifty times zoom!
Check out this video, which was found via Reddit:
As you can see, 5x, 10x, and even 20x zoom are all shockingly clear — and these are photos that have been downsampled and processed like crazy since they’re in a YouTube video. Things start to get a bit blurred and jagged once the zoom gets to 50x, but the clarity is still remarkable for something that has been zoomed to 50x on a smartphone.
Thanks to what appears to have been a genuine iPhone 11 part that was stolen from Foxconn’s factory and photographed, it looks like we can now confirm the new triple-lens camera array that leaked earlier is indeed coming to Apple’s next-generation iPhone. It’s big, ugly, and bulbous, as you can see in the renders in that post. But if it brings features like Huawei’s low-light performance and 50x zoom to Apple’s iPhone lineup, then I can’t wait to get my hands on it.