Apple hyped up the new 12MP shooters on the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus while unveiling them at its ‘See You on the 7th’ media event. The new iPhones feature a brand new bigger 12MP camera sensor with 6-element lens, an f/1.8 aperture, and OIS. The larger iPhone 7 Plus also features a secondary telephoto lens for 2x optical zoom.
On paper, the 12MP cameras of the new iPhones do suggest a huge leap in performance over their predecessor. They are also more in line with the Galaxy S7 edge and Note 7, both of which are widely regarded as having the best camera in a smartphone right now. Samsung’s flagship phones do come with a larger sensor, a slightly bigger aperture, and larger pixels (1.4u) that should give it an advantage over the iPhone 7s in some scenarios.
Before you jump over to the camera comparison below, one thing I would like to note is that on the Galaxy S7 edge and Note 7, you can launch the camera app in less than a second by simply double pressing the home button. The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus offer no such shortcut and the fastest way to open the camera app on the iPhone require you to wake the device up and then slide to the left from the lock screen. This might be a small deal, but it makes a huge difference in real life use.
In a comparison video posted by SuperSaf TV between the iPhone 7 Plus and Galaxy Note 7, the iPhone 7’s OIS is not that effective when compared to the Note 7. This is especially visible when using the telephoto lens of the handset. The iPhone 7 Plus for some reason also records audio at an awfully low volume that is barely audible. The Note 7, in comparison, does a much better job at recording audio while shooting videos.
The 7MP iSight camera of the iPhone 7 Plus edges out the 5MP selfie shooter of the Note 7 in low-light, though the former does come with a wider lens that will allow you to fit more people in your selfies. In daylight, the Note 7’s selfie shooter does a better job as it does not easily blow out highlights.
When comparing the image quality of the two hands, the Note 7 does better than the iPhone 7 Plus in most cases in low-light scenarios due to its wider aperture and bigger sensor size that allow it to capture more details. The photos taken from the Note 7, however, do tend to have a slightly yellowish hue. In daylight, photos from the Note 7 look a bit more contrasty, while the one from iPhone 7 Plus come out looking more neutral.
The secondary telephoto lens on the iPhone 7 Plus does give it a huge advantage over the Galaxy Note 7 in some scenarios as one can take close-up photos of subjects without having to physically move closer to them. The telephoto lens, however, is not of the same quality as the primary sensor so details and image quality do take a hit.
In a separate camera comparison done by Toms Guide between the Galaxy S7 edge and the iPhone 7/Plus, the results are largely the same. Interestingly, the tests show that in some conditions, the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus take photos with different color casts. In almost every situation — daylight, landscape, macro — the Galaxy S7 edge ended up taking slightly better photos than the iPhone 7 Plus. This is likely due to the phone coming with a larger 1.4u pixels and a bigger camera sensor that allow it to capture more details.
The iPhone 7 Plus shines once you start zooming in thanks to its telephoto lens. Even though the pictures don’t come out as impressive as the ones taken from the primary sensor, they are still miles ahead of what the Galaxy S7 edge is able to capture with its digital zoom.
You can find more camera comparison shots between the Galaxy S7 edge and iPhone 7 Plus over at Tom’s Guide.
So, while Apple may have highlighted the camera on its new iPhones, the company is only able to catch up to the likes of Galaxy S7 edge and LG G5 in terms of imaging performance with them. Unlike before, the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus do not offer a camera experience or performance that is substantially better than what other Android devices in the market offer. The iPhone 7 Plus does manage to one-up the Galaxy S7 edge and Note 7 thanks to its secondary telephoto lens, but it is going to come in useful only in certain situations.
What do you think about the camera of the iPhone 7 Plus based on the above comparison? Do you think the 2x optical zoom on the iPhone 7 Plus will come in handy regularly in daily use?