Is iPhone taking pictures “behind”?

If you don’t tell you, you might not have thought of it. This photo was taken by iPhone 4.

Seeing this photo, many people exclaimed that after so many years, the iPhone 4's photos are "still so good."

Starting from iPhone 4, the iPhone’s excellent photos have attracted many users. The three points of accurate white balance, good color reproduction, and high tolerance are basically recognized by the favorites. The smooth experience when taking pictures and the excellent screen display effect It also gives a lot of points to the comprehensive photography experience.

However, with the efforts of domestic mobile phone manufacturers in photography, the idea of ​​iPhone taking pictures is gradually emerging. Some domestic mobile phone users even gave the flagship iPhone of the same year a "bad review" on the photography level .

The next generation of the new iPhone is about to be released. We want to discuss a topic that is destined to be "focused on fire" by the author: Is iPhone taking pictures behind?

iPhone camera evolution history

I divided the development of iPhone into four stages, iPhone-iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4-iPhone 6, iPhone 7-iPhone Xs, iPhone 11-now.

1.iPhone 3GS

The iPhone 3GS has a camera with 3 million pixels . In terms of shooting, the previous iPhone could not be far behind the “boss” Nokia.

▲ Pixels have a strong era style. Picture from: Zhongguancun Online

▲ Low tolerance. Picture from: Zhongguancun Online

▲ The details are not rich enough. Picture from: Zhongguancun Online

2. iPhone 4 – iPhone 6

The most representative improvement at this stage is the iPhone 4. Subsequent models' advancements in taking pictures are basically based on the 4th generation innovation.

iPhone 4 used a 5 million pixel camera and a 1/3.2-inch back-illuminated CMOS sensor.

▲ Shooting on iPhone 4, good color performance

▲ Shot on iPhone 4, good blur effect

▲ iPhone 4 shooting, good detail performance

Back then, this sensor was called "the most advanced small CMOS sensor so far" by the media. Its light-sensing capability is twice that of the same size CMOS sensor in the past. Get a clearer image.”

Coupled with the HDR algorithm added by iOS 4.1 and the addition of the Retina screen , the iPhone 4’s photography reputation was unprecedentedly "exploded" in the past, and its advantages have continued for several generations of products.

▲ Shot on iPhone 5s, cropped using photo album app

Please view the picture below horizontally.

▲ Shooting on iPhone 5s, even now, many mobile phones still cannot take panoramic photos with such excellent tolerance and color performance

3.iPhone 7 – iPhone Xs

At this stage, the iPhone started the dual-camera era and added a telephoto lens to simulate the depth of field effect of a SLR camera.

▲ iPhone 7 Plus portrait mode shooting, post-editing using the photo album app

▲ iPhone 7 Plus portrait mode shooting, post-editing using the photo album app

The pixels have also been upgraded, from the 8 million pixels of the iPhone 6 to 12 million pixels .

▲ Shot on iPhone 7 Plus, accurately recording the true colors at the time

▲ Shooting with iPhone 7 Plus, accurate white balance and color saturation, excellent tolerance

▲ Shot on iPhone 7 Plus, excellent color performance

It is worth noting that with the release of iPhone X, machine learning has become an important part of the improvement of iPhone photography capabilities , which subsequently attracted many mobile phone manufacturers to follow suit.

▲ Shooting with iPhone Xs Max, accurately and truly record the moment the waves hit the shore

▲ Shot on iPhone Xs Max, Hangzhou West Lake, excellent and real water wave effect

▲ Shot on iPhone Xs Max, portrait mode with more accurate depth of field, good and true color performance

4. iPhone 11-now

Starting with iPhone 11, the iPhone has added an ultra-wide-angle camera . All three cameras have 12 million pixels, and the night scene mode is also available .

The more prominent highlight of the iPhone at this stage is the new generation of Smart HDR . Many users report that the experience is outstanding. Compared with the iPhone Xs with the same main camera of 12 million, the filming effect has been greatly improved.

▲ Shooting on iPhone 11, super wide-angle and excellent Smart HDR

▲ iPhone 11 night scene mode shooting, natural color rendering and rich details

▲ Shot on iPhone 11, cropped using the photo album app, the main camera has an excellent overall performance

There is also the addition of Deep Fusion , which makes the detailed texture display of the film more outstanding.

▲ iPhone 11 shooting

▲ iPhone 11 shooting

▲ iPhone 11 shooting

From the three highlights of night scene mode, Smart HDR and Deep Fusion, innovative algorithms supported by powerful hardware are the main direction of this stage.

▲ Shot on iPhone 11, excellent color transition, cropped using photo album app

▲Photographed on iPhone 11, edited with the photo album app

▲ Taken on iPhone 11, edit with photo album app

▲ Shot on iPhone 11, cropped using the photo album app, excellent night true color performance

▲ Shot on iPhone 11, natural color perception

▲ iPhone 11 night scene mode shooting, natural night look

Domestic manufacturers are catching up

The iPhone is improving, and domestic Android manufacturers are not standing still.

Domestic mobile phone manufacturers represented by Huawei have made major breakthroughs in design photography.

1. Higher pixels

Take the Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra as an example. The main camera has 48 million pixels, which is 4 times that of the iPhone 11 camera . Although pixels are not the only decision for the quality of the film, higher pixels do have a lot of advantages in some scenes, and the shots are clearer.

▲ Shot on Xiaomi 10 Ultra. Picture from: DXOMARK

▲ Shot on Xiaomi 10 Ultra. Picture from: DXOMARK

▲ Shot on Xiaomi 10 Ultra. Picture from: DXOMARK

2. Larger size CMOS sensor

With the same pixel, the larger the sensor, the larger the area of ​​a single pixel, the stronger its ability to receive light signals, the more photons it captures, the higher the signal-to-noise ratio, and the better the picture quality.

For example, the Huawei P40 Pro has a CMOS size of 1/1.28 inches , which is larger than the sensor size of many card cameras. It is here that its photographic "super-sensitivity" confidence comes from, and the marketing of "the bottom-level first-level crush" is deeply rooted in the hearts of the people. .

▲ Shot on P40 Pro. Picture from: DXOMARK

▲ Shot on P40 Pro. Picture from: DXOMARK

▲ Shot on P40 Pro. Picture from: DXOMARK

3. More zoom

Nowadays, 10x zoom is the threshold for flagship phones, and 100x zoom is not uncommon.

Manufacturers such as Samsung, Huawei, Xiaomi, OPPO, vivo, etc. have launched their own multi-zoom models, which can shoot farther than one, and present users with richer photo details.

▲ Multi-zoom pictures displayed on Samsung S20 Ultra official website

▲ Multi-zoom pictures displayed on Samsung S20 Ultra official website

▲ Multi-zoom pictures displayed on Samsung S20 Ultra official website

▲Samsung S20 Ultra shot. Picture from: DXOMARK

▲Samsung S20 Ultra shot. Picture from: DXOMARK

▲Samsung S20 Ultra shot. Picture from: DXOMARK

When the iPhone is too weak

After using the iPhone for so many years since 4, I would like to say something that may make some people uncomfortable: In some ways, the iPhone has fallen behind in taking pictures .

The meaning of "being left behind" is not because the iPhone itself has regressed. The progress of the iPhone is obvious to all. The reason for "being left behind" is that competitors have made greater progress.

Taking DXOMARK as an example, the iPhone 11 Pro’s photography ranking is currently at more than tenth place. Judging from the photos released by this photography review agency, the iPhone 11 Pro seems to be inferior to the domestically-produced competitors with only half the price in some dimensions. (Of course, some people question DXOMARK's evaluation rules, thinking that it "receives a lot of money is just bad rice." This is outside the scope of this article.)

▲ The picture above was taken with iPhone 11 Pro, and the picture below was taken with P40 Pro. The pictures taken by iPhone are slightly inferior in terms of clarity, color performance and depth of field control. Picture from: DXOMARK

From my personal experience, there are many places where the iPhone cannot meet my needs temporarily .

For example, I hope that the pixels of the ultra-wide-angle lens will be higher and the photos will be clearer, but the ultra-wide-angle of the iPhone 11 series is far less clear than the main camera.

▲ When the light is insufficient, the image quality of the ultra-wide-angle camera drops significantly

In addition, the fact that the ultra-wide-angle lens currently does not support the night scene mode is also a "failure." When shooting wide-open scenery at night, the photos taken by the ultra-wide-angle lens have a "dirty hazy feeling".

▲ The ultra-wide-angle lens does not support night mode temporarily, and the image is "touching"

Seeing pictures of urban buildings taken by others with dozens of times of zoom, it is a lie to say that I don’t envy them. I look forward to standing on the roof of the company and taking a very clear view of the spire of Guangzhou. It’s a pity that the iPhone 11 series Can't do it temporarily.

▲ The iPhone 11's five-fold zoom is almost impossible to zoom in.

If you want to be abrupt, please be lighter, I am really a friendly army.

It’s just a bit of emotion. Why did Apple, which made breakthroughs in pixel enhancement and adopted outsole CMOS, have now become the target of “breakthrough” by others.

The sword is not old, the advantage is still there

iPhone photography cannot meet part of the needs of some users, and it does not mean that the overall strength of iPhone photography is insufficient.

On the contrary, in the minds of many people, the iPhone is still the No. 1 smartphone with comprehensive camera capabilities .

The three items of white balance, saturation, and tolerance, on the whole, compared with many Android flagships, the iPhone's performance is still extremely good, and its supporters call it "real".

▲ iPhone 11 portrait mode shooting, white balance, saturation, latitude are very good, the depth of field and blur are appropriate benefits, and the details are also very rich

The advantage of Smart HDR is exaggerated and can be described as “two streets between friends and merchants”. This HDR is real-time and can be rendered in the shooting viewfinder. The recognition of “what you see is what you get” when taking pictures on iPhone is also due to It, behind it, is actually the powerful A-series chips silently supporting it.

▲ Pay attention to the real-time rendering effect of the sky under the blessing of Smart HDR

▲ iPhone 11 shooting

▲ iPhone 11 shooting, photo album app editing

Deep Fusion proposes another development idea for mobile phone photography. If advanced software algorithms can achieve the same or even better clear results, which algorithm or high-pixel hardware is the best solution ? Google is also working hard in this direction.

▲ Shot on iPhone 11 Pro series. Picture from: Instagram @tldtoday /唐唐@知识

The interactive experience of multiple cameras switching is excellent, the zoom is smooth, and the imaging style is unified. At present, the domestic flagship camera that can compete with the iPhone in terms of camera still has a long way to go in this regard. The zoom freeze, the jump of imaging style, and the inconvenience of operation are all flaws, which reduce the camera experience.

▲ The zoom is smooth, and the operating experience is also very good. At present, many domestic mobile phones cannot do it

The night scene mode is very easy to use. The system automatically turns on, eliminating the need for manual opening steps. The imaging will not "shoot the night into day." defect.

▲ Shot on iPhone 11, edited by Snapseed

▲ Shooting on iPhone 11, Smart HDR performs well in backlight environment

▲ Shooting on iPhone 11, natural night scene

▲ iPhone 11 shooting

▲ iPhone 11 shooting

In short, it is okay to say that the iPhone has fallen behind in certain dimensions of taking pictures, but it is too early to say that its overall strength has fallen behind.

Next generation iPhone photography

The next generation of iPhone is about to be released, I believe many people are looking forward to its breakthrough in photography.

In the era of mobile phone taking pictures, if the flagship iPhone continues to maintain 12 million pixels and 10x zoom, does not upgrade the ultra-wide-angle lens pixels, and does not adapt the ultra-wide-angle lens to night mode, how long can its camera advantage be maintained? Hard to say.

From the first No.1 in everyone’s mind, Apple took the initiative to change the iPhone’s camera description to "the most popular/popular camera system for users", and now the saying "iPhone has fallen behind" has become popular, reflecting It is the situation that iPhone photography efforts have fallen short of users' expectations.

As the undisputed "boss" of the mobile phone industry, Apple, "improving" the iPhone camera level is not only a necessary business practice, but also a responsibility and courage to lead the industry.

I look forward to one day when the iPhone has the confidence to say it again: This changes everything, again!

Cover image source: Ding Yiran ( Unsplash )

Some pictures in the article have taken screenshots of the original pictures in consideration of format compatibility issues. The quality and look of the pictures may be affected by the screenshot

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