iPhone 13, Galaxy S22, Pixel 6 show that Apple, Samsung and Google don’t take ultra-wide cameras seriously

No drama, but the facts are as follows…

The ultra wide-angle photo quality on iPhone 13, Galaxy S22 and Pixel 6 is rather disappointing. Sorry… everyone.

In fact, the quality of the ultra-wide-angle camera on current flagships from Apple, Samsung, and Google might not seem shame in isolation. However, phones like the OnePlus 10 Pro, Xiaomi 12 Pro, Huawei P50 Pro and especially the Vivo X80 Pro show that the UWA snappers of the Big Three leave a lot to be desired. Other than that, the ultra-wide-angle cameras of the iPhone 13, Galaxy S22, and Pixel 6 are also significantly weaker than the lenses of Apple, Samsung, and Google flagships.

All of this makes me feel like the folks in Cupertino, Gangnam, and Mountain View don’t care too much about their ultra-wide-angle cameras. And that’s rather surprising as the majority of users and even tech enthusiasts seem to appreciate the ultra-wide-angle camera more than the telephoto/zoom shooters on current flagships.

I vividly remember how tech nerds lost their minds when Google opted to use a 2x zoom lens for the Pixel 4 (Google’s first flagship with dual cameras) over an ultra wide angle lens , was all the rage back in the day (thanks to LG). Thus, the general consensus is that “Ultra wide-angle cameras are more fun and useful than zoom cameras“. But they often come with weaker sensors and therefore lower photo quality. But it doesn’t have to be that way…

So let’s take a look at some examples that compare the ultra-wide-angle shooters of the iPhone 13, Samsung S22, and Pixel 6 to their main cameras…

As you can see, the first set of ultra-wide-angle shots don’t look too bad, as we’re not inspecting them closely. Night mode images are good, but those without night mode show the raw capacity of the main and ultra-wide sensors of the iPhone 13 and Pixel 6, and the UWA cameras lose wrong.

The samples with the clock and the backpack show the lack of detail of the ultra wide-angle photos in mixed lighting conditions (ambient light). Ultra-wide-angle cameras show a significant amount of noise, artifacts, and loss of detail.

I didn’t have the Galaxy S22 with me, so I had to ask a colleague to get me some samples at the office. As you can see from the sunflower photo, the Galaxy’s ultra-wide angle snapper doesn’t fare much better than the Pixel and iPhone when it comes to low-light conditions. If I had to rank them, the Galaxy would take first place, the Pixel would be second, and the iPhone would be last, which (unsurprisingly) coincides with the size of their UWA camera sensors.

The Vivo X80 Pro is far superior to the iPhone 13 Pro, Galaxy S22 Ultra and Pixel 6 Pro when it comes to ultra-wide-angle photo quality

That being said, none of them hold a candle to the Vivo X80 Pro circling around all three, as you can see in these samples (Night Mode OFF), taken by Ben Sin (XDA) and Danny Winget (YouTube). Vivo’s phone has a 1/2-inch ultra-wide-angle camera sensor, which is much larger than any used in Apple, Samsung, and Google phones.

This not only makes it the best ultra-wide-angle snapper, but also brings it closer to the quality of the main camera of the X80 Pro, which should be the case on all flagship phones, if you ask me. .

For the record, the Vivo X80 Pro also has far superior HDR to any other phone on the market, so there you have it. Also, if you find the night shots from the Vivo to be a little too bright (and they are), you can always reduce the brightness when editing. The same cannot be said for the noise and lack of detail in images from the iPhone, Galaxy and Pixel…

I love zoom cameras, but does focusing on them make Apple, Samsung and Google forget about the ultra-wide-angle camera?

Optical zoom on an ultra-wide-angle camera any day of the week

I think it’s worth mentioning that I don’t think the ultra wide angle cameras on phones are essential. Don’t get me wrong – they’re very nice to have and functional in the right scenarios, where you’re not working with too much space. However, 8 out of 10 times you will be able to step back and take a shot with a wider perspective using your main snapper. Unless you’re a real estate agent who needs to make rooms look bigger than they really are.

On the other hand, zoom cameras are much more useful for things like portrait, street, architectural, and wildlife photography, making them more versatile and applicable in various use cases. Therefore, I will always have a bias towards them. It’s not the first time I give this example, but if I could choose to equip the vanilla versions of the Pixel and the iPhone with just one additional camera, I wouldn’t blink twice before choosing one. good telephoto lens (the Pixel 6 Pro’s 4x camera would be perfect), instead of a UWA snapper.

It’s important to note that the reason manufacturers choose UWA cameras over zooms for their more affordable phones could be price and the fact that they’re easier to implement in a multi-camera system. For example, they don’t need autofocus and OIS, unless they have macro mode and gimbal stabilization (like on the Vivo X70 Pro).

The iPhone 14, Galaxy S23 and Pixel 7 will need all-new ultra-wide-angle cameras

That being said, I also think that if manufacturers (as big as Apple, Samsung and Google) keep pushing ultra-wide-angle cameras, they need to make them as good as possible. Preferably as good as the competition, and even as good as the standard camera of their respective flagships.

I know it might be tricky, and I find the iPhone’s camera system comes close thanks to its uniform color profile, resolution, and smooth transitions across all three lenses. However… that’s not enough.

Hardware matters too, and so far only Chinese phone makers seem to be making a real push. As I mentioned, the Vivo X80 Pro uses a 1/2-inch ultra-wide-angle sensor, while the iPhone 13 has a 1/3.4-inch one. There is a big difference there. And that’s a shame because phones from Apple, Samsung and Google certainly aren’t cheap… Right?

So, let’s not go with the small UWA, Big Three camera sensors?

Comments are closed.