OPINION: Whether it’s the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s 200MP camera, the Vivo X90 Pro’s 1-inch sensor, or the Xiaomi 13 Pro’s stunning telephoto portrait capabilities, there’s a lot to be excited about in the world of mobile photography in 2023. – and we only have three months of the year.
I’m not just talking about specs on paper. As part of my job as mobile editor, I get to use and review a lot of flagship smartphones, including most of the flagships announced so far this year, so I’m in a unique position to really compare and contrast 2023’s offerings, and let me tell you, i have been very impressed so far.
Let’s start with Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra and its 200MP main snapper.
The 16-in-1 pixel-merging technology, 1/1.3-inch sensor, and f/1.7 aperture equate to a huge leap forward in low-light photography, without making your shots look unnaturally lit. Even compared to the able-bodied S22 Ultra there’s more detail, better color accuracy and more light capture, with the ability to take some really great low-light photos.
Even in good light, the sheer scale of the 200MP camera means the S23 Ultra captures more detail than almost any other competitor on the market. Combined with an ultra-wide-angle lens and a handful of zoom lenses, the S23 Ultra offers perhaps the most versatile camera yet.
The Vivo X90 Pro is another highlight in the world of mobile photography, using an impressively large 1-inch sensor on its 50.3-megapixel main camera to capture an almost unbelievable amount of light, even in very low-light conditions, Vivo claims it can take pictures in environment with illumination less than 1 lux.
In my review I found this pretty much spot on as the shot below was taken at 11pm at night when the only natural light was the moon. It’s certainly nowhere near what I saw with the naked eye, but if you want something close to night vision for your low-light photography, the X90 Pro really shines.
It’s also pretty good at taking pictures of the stars without the need for a tripod, all in just a few seconds – and it’s been tested in London, one of the UK’s most light-polluted cities.
Recently announced Xiaomi 13 Pro also has a large 1-inch sensor, although it’s more focused on capturing images that are closer to what you see with the naked eye for much more natural results, and it can take them quite quickly too.
However, for me, it’s the performance of its 3.2x 50MP telephoto lens that really stands out. It boasts technologies such as Xiaomi Focal Shift technology, OIS and a “floating” lens design that allows you to keep your subject in focus even as you zoom in or out.
It’s not just a marketing chat, either Xiaomi 13 Pro capable of producing stunning portrait photos with impressive detail, natural bokeh and some of the best edge detection technology I’ve seen.
It also uses a telephoto lens instead of an ultra-wide (like many competitors) for close-up shots. Take a look at the flower shot below that I took at MWC 2023 – it looks like something you’d get from a DSLR, not a smartphone.
It’s not just monoblock flagships that are also getting an upgrade in the camera department. Complex devices have long lagged behind their conventional counterparts, but that is starting to change in 2023 with complex items such as Oppo Find N2 Flip.
The primary 50MP snapper isn’t as good as some high-end rivals in low light, but for the first time photography isn’t something you’ll have to sacrifice if you want a compact form factor.
So we’re expecting impressive detail, next-level low-light performance and impressive telephoto photography, and that’s until 2023. We’re still waiting for flagships from the likes of Oppo, Huawei, and Apple, so there’s potential for even more impressive camera technology this year.
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