Doing camera phone shootouts is getting trickier and trickier as imaging systems get more complicated… under the hood. Hopefully, for the general user, the camera experience in their phone is as simple as framing, zooming as needed, and tapping the shutter control. This is almost true… In this case, I’m pitching the two imaging giants of the 2021 phone world against each other. iPhone 12 Pro Max (here with ProRAW, see below) and Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, with its zoom extending to a 10x folded lens telephoto.
Both are the 2020 ‘flagships’ for their respective companies. Apple is pushing ahead in hardware with larger sensors, longer zoom, better OIS, while Google just keeps tweaking its multi-frame algorithms and leaving the hardware much the same. But, away from the factories and studios, how do the 12 Pro Max and Pixel 5 compare in real-world test shots? See below for an Autumnal verdict from the UK.
Following from our review of the smaller and more mainstream iPhone 12, the larger and ‘Max’ed out (in every way) iPhone 12 Pro Max is now available as well. As with previous years’ Plus or Max models, it’s large and heavy, of course. But does the extra screen real estate and, in this case, the possible extra imaging finesse make up for the inconvenience of size and weight? I think so. Mind you, it’s notable that the iPhone 12 mini is also now available, and that’s utterly tiny. You can’t accuse Apple of not giving users options – even if all those options involve handing over significant sums of cash!
Hands On: Chargeasap’s Omega 200W Charger, World’s First and Smallest 200W GaN Charger for MacBooks and iPhones
In the world of power adapters, Gallium Nitride or GaN is all the rage as it allows companies to make smaller and more efficient chargers for smartphones and laptops. All the GaN chargers that have hit the market so far are technically a first-gen product and they all have one issue or another in terms of their power distribution. Chargeasap is looking to change that with its Omega series of chargers, which it claims are the world’s smallest GaN chargers.
Where last year’s iPhone 11 series introduced a step-change in capability – battery, imaging, speakers – without changing the design, 2020’s iPhone 12 series changes the design with merely an iterative improvement in what the phone can do. This sounds a little luke-warm in terms of recommendation, but in fact, there’s still a lot to like, not least the use of OLED in the ‘cheaper’ iPhone here, taking it remarkably close to ‘Pro’ territory but saving £200 (UK prices).
Something a little different – you’ll be used to various comparisons of Android flagships versus the iPhone, but, given that Android phones are available at budget prices too, here I’m throwing in some wild cards deliberately. One theory is that you don’t lose that much in phone imaging by going for a budget smartphone – or going for last year (or the previous year’s!) flagship now at clearance and cheap second-hand prices. But I contend that the flagships here will take better photos by enough of a margin to warrant the extra purchase price. As evidence, I pitch two budget options against today’s iPhone 11 Pro and the top imaging phone in the Android world.
The curious thing about the new iPhone SE 2020 is that it reminds me just how good the original iPhone 8, on which it’s based, was in the first place. Except that the iPhone 8, from 2017, so two and a half years ago, launched at £700, in the UK at least. Whereas the new SE, in Product Red livery here, starts at £420, a truly massive price drop, despite having major internals revamp with A13 chipset and an extra GB of RAM. Read my iPhone SE (2nd generation) review after the break.
Late last year I reviewed The Mous ‘Limitless 3.0’ iPhone Case/Wallet System, covering the wooden-backed indestructible case itself, the wallet accessory and the wall mount. All very impressive, and even more so now that I have the slimline card wallet in hand too, along with the rather superb car mount.
The idea of super rugged cases isn’t new. Adding in real materials – wood, leather – isn’t new. Making a ‘wallet’ case with card slots, with a folio fold for watching media isn’t new. And even having a cover case attach to a folio ‘back’ with magnets isn’t new. But Mous has taken all of the above, added a few twists of their own, and come up with what is basically the most comprehensive iPhone case ‘system’ I’ve ever seen.
Apple’s latest iPhone brought the ‘pro’ to imaging, in my opinion (see the full iPhone 11 Pro review), but how does it compare to, arguably, the best* all round phone camera in the Android world? The Galaxy Note 10+ is very new (just over a month), has the same triple camera ambition, and is the best yardstick in terms of a full shootout. So find out which one has the best smartphone camera.