back to article Only one Huawei? We pitted the P30 Pro against Samsung and Apple's best – and this is what we found

Swaggering with cash, flashy and vulgar – Huawei has barged into the high-end smartphone market, upsetting the duopoly like a new "noisy neighbour". Huawei issued a challenge to Apple and Samsung – "welcome to smartphone photography". They were the real imaging champs until recently. Last year's P20 performed well in low light …

  1. Rainer

    Nice review

    Feature-creep and spec-sheet fetishism is what brought down Windows.

    I guess Asian people like this over-exposed, over-done photos?

    1. Rajesh Kanungo

      Re: Nice review

      Sigh. Overexposed? Asia has 3+ billion people. South Asians generally prefer bright colors and East Asians have such a variety of tastes that you may want to read up on it.

      I doubt anyone likes overexposed, though.

    2. Ray 4

      Re: Nice review

      Windows is still the leading desktop OS, and both Samsung and Huiwei are both Asian, so your guess says more about ignorance than anything else.

    3. Snorlax

      Re: Nice review

      Not to mention - what kind of lunatic spends £900 on a Chinese Android phone?

      1. A K Stiles

        Re: Nice review

        Not to mention - what kind of lunatic spends £900(+) on a Chinese Android phone?

        There, FTFY

    4. Timmy B Silver badge

      Re: Nice review

      "Brought down Windows..."

      You sure?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Want to take good pics ?

    Then buy a DSLR or mirrorless, don't use a mobile phone. After all that's what naughty Nokia did when they faked their purview ads....

    https://www.theverge.com/2012/9/5/3294545/nokias-pureview-ads-are-fraudulent

    1. Craig 2

      What if I want to take the best picture possible, at ANY time possible? Are you suggesting carrying a DSLR 24 hours a day? Phone cameras have their place and at least they give expensive* camera owners something to feel superior about.

      *The irony of calling £1000+ phone cameras INexpensive is not lost on me...

      1. ST Silver badge
        Devil

        > What if I want to take the best picture possible, at ANY time possible?

        You can't. Not with a smartphone. Not even with a high-end DSLR. Deal with it.

        There is no way the optics of a smartphone will ever match the optics of a DSLR interchangeable lens, regardless of what Apple or Huawei or Samsung say. It's simply physics, and there is no way around it.

        1. dtl
          Alien

          The available space to gather as much or even more light than a "normal" lens is there on a smartphones back, it just isn't fully used yet. The rest is "just" processing power which is still growing but might hit a quite hard physics wall in regards to battery capacity and heat efficiency soon.

      2. DiViDeD Silver badge

        Are you suggesting carrying a DSLR 24 hours a day?

        Lots of togs, including myself, do, you know. If I'm not actually carrying it, it's in the car. Some of the more extreme togs (me again, I'm afraid) even have a camera bag in the car at all times with >$bloody stupid amount< worth of lenses sitting in it 'just in case'

        1. Kiwi Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Are you suggesting carrying a DSLR 24 hours a day?

          Lots of togs, including myself, do, you know. If I'm not actually carrying it, it's in the car. Some of the more extreme togs (me again, I'm afraid) even have a camera bag in the car at all times with >$bloody stupid amount< worth of lenses sitting in it 'just in case'

          Have often done that as well.

          But I usually ride a bike, and a camera bag without suitable storage available is a bit of a pain :(

      3. Kiwi Silver badge
        Trollface

        What if I want to take the best picture possible, at ANY time possible? Are you suggesting carrying a DSLR 24 hours a day? Phone cameras have their place and at least they give expensive* camera owners something to feel superior about.

        I carry a quite old 7.2MP Cannon with me almost always.

        Most of the time it does a bloody good job, although knowledge of how to use it helps a bit :) I have a cheap tablet (entry level Lenovo) that does OK 720 video (OK when viewed on a 50" screen) since my DSLR pre-dates them doing video (some day I'll update the body, and hopefully upgrade it in the process).

        It's light, easily pocketable, and fairly cheap. When I got it I got it as a "do a decent job but I won't cry if I drop it in the sea", however these days it's been with me a long time and I think I'm on the 3rd time round the clock RE picture numbers.

        Also has an amazing super-macro given the price I paid for it as new :)

        I'm yet to see a phone that has a camera in it. Some take OK pictures for viewing on a tiny screen, but camera? :)

    2. TeeCee Gold badge

      I'd add that a decent "bridge" camera will also piss over your phone for pic quality while maintaining the ease of use of yer phone cam.

      My aging Panasonic FZ-18 does stuff like producing a pin sharp pic taken at 500mm (35mm equiv) zoom while handheld on the pitching deck of a yacht in the North Sea. It's also, very annoyingly, rather better at getting the shot right in Auto mode, regardless of conditions and lighting, than my best efforts in manual...

      1. hammarbtyp Silver badge

        Yes an average DSLR or bridge can often take better images, but with caveats.

        Firstly in good light and as long as the subject is not to far away, you will struggle to see much difference. However in lower light the differences become more pronounced, however 80% of the time the differences will only be important to photographic enthusiasts and not to the majority of users.

        Add to that the smartphone advantage. Its light portable, and almost always with you.Its always on, while most dedicated cameras have slow startup times. It is always connected to the net, so you can upload easily to social media and the cloud. Also you can do post processing on the device itself.

        Its easy to become snobbish about phone cameras, but the truth is outside the canon <sic> of camera nerds the camera advantages are far less that the academic. paper exercises will have you beleive

        1. iron Silver badge

          @hammarbtyp

          DSLRs can be connected to the internet to upload your pics automatically from the camera. Either via WiFi or Bluetooth to a nearby phone.

          DSLRs can also do basic post processing on the device itself.

          So what were your advantages of a smartphone camera again?

          1. hammarbtyp Silver badge

            @iron

            So you are saying that a camera can connect to the internet.

            As long as you have a phone.

            That's like saying that man can fly unaided. As long as he is flapping on an aircraft.

            On my phone I can most major processing from simple changes to cloning and selective adjustments with a combination of LR and snapseed. I have never seen a DSLR where you can do anything more than a tiny bit of post processing largely because most cameras the touch screens (if they have one) just are not optimised for that sort of operation

            Of course you could upload the photo to a phone and do it there......

            So what were your advantages of a smartphone camera again?

            • Lighter and smaller
            • larger view screen
            • Always on
            • always with you
            • better touch interface
            • Better processing capabilities
            • Can add additional functionality via apps such as GPS (which many cameras now don't have)
            • automatic cloud storage and social networking interactivity
            • Good enough for general photography

            1. Kiwi Silver badge
              FAIL

              Advantages?

              Lighter and smaller

              Not compared to a decent pocket-sized camera, especially when you consider the extra power banks you will need to give your phone the same ability to take photos as my little Cannon with a couple of 2500mAH rechargeables

              larger view screen

              Not an advantage actually.

              Always on

              Not when the battery's gone flat it isn't. Even when charged, I can't figure out how that is an advantage? A camera takes a couple of seconds to start and only uses the power when you need it.

              always with you

              I have my camera on me more often than I have a phone on me. (Often I am out of cell range)

              better touch interface

              I can operate my camera's controls by feel alone. That's a far superior interface than any touch screen will ever have.

              Better processing capabilities

              Don't need anything like that.

              Can add additional functionality via apps such as GPS (which many cameras now don't have)

              Don't want or need those.

              automatic cloud storage and social networking interactivity

              Absolutely DO NOT WANT.

              Good enough for general photography

              Ha ha ha ha. No.

              My camera's advantages :

              It isn't always on, so only uses battery when I want it to.

              It cannot connect to the net, so cannot send pictures that I don't want sent.

              Has NO cloud connectivity whatsoever

              Doesn't need a touch interface

              Doesn't need a view screen (has one but I seldom turn it on)

              Doesn't need processing capabilities - I either take the photo with the camera or I don't take the photo.

              Doesn't have GPS (if I want to tell you where the photo was taken I'll tell you).

              Is always with me and always ready to go. I can use it easily when I have a phone to my ear, and can use it when the phone is charging somewhere else.

              When the phone and a dozen power banks are drained flat, I'll be considering taking the second pair of AA's out of my pocket.

              1. CountCadaver

                Double AAs....how quaint

                I left those behind when I realised any serious use of flash left you waiting and waiting for the flash to recharge (Canon A710IS), it also devoured batteries at an alarming rate (whether decent alkalines or NiMH rechargeables)

                Moved to a panasonic compact with Li-ion rechargeables (slight issue to start with due to chipped batteries, however compatible makers caught up and now I have several generics), however for most of my recent photography (dog, day trip photos) my S7 covers those bases well enough for my needs and lasts for several hours of use and photo shooting (I've easily shot 600-700 photos and still had plenty of phone battery left)

                Any need for really good photos and I dig out the EOS 350D, which despite being long in the tooth takes very nice photos courtesy of its image sensor (to the degree its residual value is as much or more than some of its successors, despite it not taking video)

                1. Kiwi Silver badge
                  Pint

                  Double AAs....how quaint

                  And yet still very widely used.

                  How many Samsung S7 batteries can you purchase in your corner convenience store? :)

                  Some of the places I go, trust me you won't be taking many pictures with your S7.. Someone may be taking your S7 however...

                  I love my EOS as well. Especially that I can buy the latest model and somehow, magically, still use my ancient lenses and perhaps other ancient attachments (although I do believe there is an adaptor required for the EF/S lenses?)

                  Well, I could buy the latest model if I won the lottery a few times.. :(

                  1. CountCadaver

                    My S7 is worth virtually nothing, last time I looked on ebay, they were being sold for ~£100 by a trader and around £60 or £70 private and many had no bids.So its likely of little or no interest to the average thief, now an Iphone XS or S10+ that would be a different tale.

                    There's also the matter of me being a rather large bloke with a severely intimidating stare oh and a friendly but extremely protective dog ever present (come up behind me and I'm looking the other way and she will insert herself between you and me around 7 feet away at most and start barking, loudly which of course evokes my attention)

            2. Marshalltown

              You might be surprised

              The chief advantage of a phone that takes pictures is that it reduces the complexity of getting those images to someone else. In terms of size my Canon G1X weighs more and is thicker, but doesn't take up as much real estate as my Samsung Note9. I like them both, but for "real" images, the Canon is much better. So I may take images of something I want a quick opinion on with my Samsung and send them to to whomever I want an opinion from. I actually document the object with either my G1X or a 70D DSLR if I have given in to accepting the weight.

          2. juice Bronze badge

            > So what were your advantages of a smartphone camera again

            Well...

            1) It can GPS tag the photo in realtime

            2) It can upload to storage or social media without the need to find a wifi hotspot

            3) It can crop the photo

            4) It can apply filters - from simple colour tweaks up to perspective transforms and whichever "snapchat" filters are currently hip with the youngsters today

            5) It can display the photos at human-viewable size immediately after taking - a Canon EOS only has a 2.7" screen, versus the mighty 6" screen of my phone. And as an added bonus, the touchscreen controls make it incredibly easy to zoom in and flick between the photos

            60 If you're feeling fancy, you can send your photos and videos to any nearby TVs via DNLA magic

            To be fair, some DSLRs do have GPS, though this can take several seconds to get a good lock and can therefore be wildly inaccurate

            Equally, some even support social-media uploads, or you can simply transfer the photos to your phone and then upload anywhere

            But as far as I'm aware, they can't do any editing of the photo or apply any filters, and they're pretty poor when it comes to showing people the photos they contain.

            So what were your advantages of a DSLR camera again? Sounds like I'll be carrying around a lot of weight - and having another set of batteries to charge - for less functionality than my phone offers. And I'd rather not carry a DSRL with me all the time, or take it into places where it could get damaged (e.g. nightclubs) - even assuming that I'd be allowed in with such a device [*].

            Yes, yes, I know that the quality of the photos will be better. But for most people, smartphone photos are now Good Enough, in much the same way that MP3 proved to be good enough when compared to CDs and vinyl, and streaming video proved to be good enough against DVD and Blu-ray. Snark all you want about the quality; we'll be over here having fun and taking Good Enough photos to prove it...

            [*] A number of festivals I go to bar people from bringing in "professional" recording devices, and I have seen people turned away from the gates as a result!

            1. LDS Silver badge

              81) Many cameras now do have a GPS receiver as well - they aren't "inaccurate" as you attempt to imply. All GPS need some time to get a "lock" to enough satellites, how quick depends if they have updated ephemeris or not. Once they get signal from enough satellites, the position is accurate enough. Anyway, I'm afraid the GPS position is often more useful to data slurpers than to the user...

              2) If you shoot RAW, you'll not upload until you have processed the image with a good editor on a large monitor, far larger than 6". Especially when you modify exposure for specific needs, i.e. reducing noise. My images have to look well on an A3+ print.

              But for images you have to send immediately absolutely, there's very little reasons to shoot sRGB JPEGs and lose most of the camera sensor power (some camera cans store both, but it may slow down high-speed shooting...). And uploading big RAW images could be too slow, but on the faster networks.

              Still, slurp-aware people can see uploading to "socials" not as their first priority...

              Moreover a camera with a cellular connection could be tracked easily. Don't know how many photographers wish to broadcast their position continuously... in some places, it could literally kill you.

              3) Most camera can crop in-camera, and apply other changes, but see 2)

              4) Digital "filters" are usually BAD - yet, for example, try to mount a real polariser on your phone - and it's a very useful filter.

              Some cameras do have something Instagram alike, yet, really, they are useless to most photographers but the most amateurish ones. Just like the "scene" options. There's a reason why high-end cameras do fully without.

              5) Latest cameras have screens a little larger than 3" - larger screens would make the camera really uncomfortable to use - but some of them can be rotated and tilted, which is very useful when shooting in uncommon positions (try to do it with a phone). Recent cameras have touch screens too to interact with the camera - yet camera controls don't interfere with composition.

              Anyway, I check or show my photos on a tablet - any phone is still to small.

              6) Many cameras with integrated WiFi do support DLNA as well. WiFi adds-on do it as well.

              A camera battery will keep you shooting longer than a phone, an when depleted, unlike most phones, it can be quickly replaced. Storage as well, and they can use far faster external storage. With high megapixel RAW images, storage fills quikcly.

              You may not be able to enter some events with a big SLR and lenses, but many smaller mirrorless can, and they still have far better imaging capabilities - i.e. far higher usable ISO than most phones, and higher fps. Nor they interrupt you with messages or whatever when you're shooting.

              And why do they bar "pro" equipment? Exactly because it can take too good recordings of the event, and they want the exclusive to sell that.

              Then, if people get used to low-quality stuff on limited devices, there's little you can do.

              1. Terje

                Personally I prefer shooting pictures when it's dark using a properly cooled back illuminated monochrome ccd camera with a filter wheel and proper filters connected to a nice telescope on an overly sturdy mount. and then produce the color image in post processing on a good monitor instead. No smartphone has been able to mimic that yet :)

              2. juice Bronze badge

                > 81) Many cameras now do have a GPS receiver as well - they aren't "inaccurate" as you attempt to imply. All GPS need some time to get a "lock" to enough satellites, how quick depends if they have updated ephemeris or not. Once they get signal from enough satellites, the position is accurate enough. Anyway, I'm afraid the GPS position is often more useful to data slurpers than to the user...

                Speak for yourself. A friend uploads his photos to some google service and can use the GPS information for queries. E.g. "show me photos when I was at place X". And social media (Facebook, Instagram, etc) is now often able to read the GPS tags and automatically tag your location to the nearest city/venue.

                And personally, I spend a lot of time walking around and taking photos of street art; this weekend I buzzed Nottingham, Leicester and Peterborough and took over 500 photos across a dozen different sites. Which were usually in urban areas and often in a fairly dense maze of roads.

                GPS tagging is invaluable for me, because it means I can identify exactly where I was when I took the photo - and in turn, I use it to build maps of the art I've found.

                It's not uncommon (e.g. in Paris or Berlin) for me to be walking for 10-12 hours and take a few thousand photos, per day.

                So waiting for a DSLR to fire up it's GPS receiver and waiting until it has an accurate lock (as compared to the faster lock-on for a phone's A-GPS) simply isn't feasible - and given that I'm walking up to 30 miles along the way, the extra weight of the DSLR isn't particularly appreciated, either, nor is the fact that it potentially increases the risk of a mugging - graffiti isn't usually found in the most salubrious locations, after all.

                You can argue that I've got something of a niche use-case, and I wouldn't argue too much about it. But the use-case for my friend is much more common, and will increasingly become more so as people use their mobile phones for events involving family and friends.

                As to the social media tagging; I guess that depends on whether you count it as "data slurping" or not. Certainly, if I see something interesting in someone's feed, it's always useful having a hint as to where I need to go to see it in person!

                Regarding your point 2): I've happily printed photos from my smartphone at A3, though again, I'll concede that I'm mostly taking photos of relatively unchallenging subjects - they're photos of pictures painted onto walls ;)

                (I'd actually be more than happy to upload some "raw" examples somewhere for quality critiquing!)

                And many smartphones can take photos in RAW these days (though again, quality vs a DSLR will be relatively limited).

                And if comms-silence is important, you can turn airplane mode on for a smartphone - or conversely, call for help! Because as I noted above, a DSLR is much heavier and much tougher to conceal - and arguably makes you a more obvious target for mugging.

                Editing on a camera vs editing on a phone (and/or filtering thereof): horses for courses.

                Screen sizes: at a glance on jessops.com, I can't see anything larger than a 3.2" screen. And I take the point about tiltable/rotatable displays, though equally, I'd note that my smartphone is far lighter and smaller than a DSLR, so can be held at awkward angles far more easily.

                Cameras and DNLA/wifi: as with "smart" TVs, I've found the actual implementation of these to be highly hit and miss. I've certainly strugged to get wifi working on the Sony HX1 I own on any of my more recent smartphones, though IIRC, the app for my Panasonic Lumix was fairly capable. Then there's the fact that the software built into these cameras doesn't tend to be upgradable or configurable.

                As to camera batteries: as per above, I can shoot several thousand photos in a day, and I took my new Samsung S10+ out for a spin this weekend. At my first stop, I took around 300 photos in about 30 minutes. And that cost me about 15% of the phone's charge. And if I'd done that while on holiday, I would have plugged in a USB battery pack (Anker for the win!) and continued to walk *and* take photos while it topped itself up. Instead, I went back to the car, plugged it in, fired up google maps and drove to the next location :)

                In the end, as I've said before, DSLRs unarguably have an edge on quality. But smartphones are Good Enough for most people's use cases, and far easier to lug about!

                1. LDS Silver badge

                  "Speak for yourself. A friend uploads his photos to some google service"

                  I can do queries in Lightroom without telling Google/Facebook/etc where I've been and for how long. Those are all excellent data points for slupers and their advertising customers - and image processing will give 'em even more data - i.e. face recognition will tell them who is in the image, etc.

                  I never said geolocation is bad - but beware who is exploiting it actually. I do remove all EXIF data from any photo I publish, and I don't publish on slurpers.

                  Again - if you don't turn off your camera fully GPS won't need to be reinitialized. How long does you phone takes to startup if you shut it down? The only difference is your phone is always on - only the screen is actually turned off.

                  A "few thosand photos a day" in RAW at least 20-24MB per photo means tens (if not hundred) of gigabytes of required storage spaces - at least for me. You start to need quite expensive phones to store that, and they are thieves targets often more than what may look an old, cheap camera. I guess phones sell better on the criminal market than cameras, now.

                  Just you took only 500 photos in the weekend, of which 300 in thirty minutes... which means 10 photos every minute, one every six seconds... of quite static street art? Hope it was a performance.

                  Also, I can backup data from a card while keeping on shooting on another.

                  It is true cameras are not display devices - larger screens would just make them uncomfortable to hold and use. Even if a phone is lighter to hold, at awkward angles you still need to be able to see the screen to frame.

                  Most cameras firmware is updateable - butI can't comment on DLNA on cameras I never owned - yet has the Sony HX1 wifi? - I think it hasn't, it's a quite old camera now, with a tiny sensor. Remember 2009 mobes? It could be an unfair comparison.

                  Anyway I'm more interested in remote shooting capabilities which allow to take images of subjects not liking your close presence.

                  It should be very practical to plug in a USB battery pack instead of swapping battery. But if you like external batteries for a camera, they do exist as well - and have more secure plugs and comfortable coiled cables.

                  I don't use Google Maps either, because I prefer Google not to know where I am and where I'm going to... and I can recharge camera batteries while I'm using the others.

            2. Kiwi Silver badge
              Pint

              1) It can GPS tag the photo in realtime

              Not a feature I'm interested in.

              To be fair, some DSLRs do have GPS, though this can take several seconds to get a good lock and can therefore be wildly inaccurate

              Every GPS device I've used or worked with can take between 5 seconds and 5 minutes to get a good lock on the GPS once GPS is enabled, even dedicated units with decent aerials.

              2) It can upload to storage or social media without the need to find a wifi hotspot

              So a big disadvantage then :)

              3) It can crop the photo

              Stupid idea I know, but did you know that you can do that automagically in the camera - even in old film cameras - just by framing the photo correctly? :) And for those where you decided on the cropping later, there's much better tools out there than any phone's offering. They'll also let you manipulate things in other ways as well.

              4) It can apply filters - from simple colour tweaks up to perspective transforms and whichever "snapchat" filters are currently hip with the youngsters today

              Not interested. I think I lost interest in such things back when I had a video camera that had a "star wipe" feature on it.

              5) It can display the photos at human-viewable size immediately after taking - a Canon EOS only has a 2.7" screen, versus the mighty 6" screen of my phone. And as an added bonus, the touchscreen controls make it incredibly easy to zoom in and flick between the photos

              My camera's screen isn't obscured by "touch screen controls", but should I want to I can still flick through photos on it easily. I've almost never wanted to use that though, except sometimes when it is attached to a decent screen without the use of a computer as an intermediary.

              The screen on your phone isn't "mighty" for anything much. I prefer to show and examine photos on a proper screen as that way any flaws are going to be easier to notice. That said, I am more inclined to be working towards professional quality photos or at least photos I am not going to be ashamed of showing others.

              60 If you're feeling fancy, you can send your photos and videos to any nearby TVs via DNLA magic

              No one I know has that feature available to them simply because most people I know either have older TV's or don't bother buying so-called "smart" tvs. We put our money into a higher quality non-smart and a computer of some grade to drive it, thus getting a better screen and a lasting updateable experience for years to come, instead of next week when the manufacturer stops providing updates and YT/Netflix et al change the API.

              I don't have any hardware to connect an android device to my TV. I do, however, have a simple lead that allows me to connect my camera to any TV made since the mid 80s.

              Equally, some even support social-media uploads, or you can simply transfer the photos to your phone and then upload anywhere

              Or wait till I get home and make sure they're of an acceptable quality before another gets to see them :)

              But as far as I'm aware, they can't do any editing of the photo or apply any filters, and they're pretty poor when it comes to showing people the photos they contain.

              So is you phone screen :) And I'd much rather carry my small camera and my phone then carry a phone with a 6" screen. But then I do get out and have fun, and such a large slab would get in the way of that quite often :)

              So what were your advantages of a DSLR camera again? Sounds like I'll be carrying around a lot of weight - and having another set of batteries to charge - for less functionality than my phone offers.

              Only one I'm interested in. The quality of the pictures.

              And I'd rather not carry a DSRL with me all the time, or take it into places where it could get damaged (e.g. nightclubs) - even assuming that I'd be allowed in with such a device [*].

              Agreed. For those I have a smaller and cheaper camera (or suitable insurance). Smaller than your phone, "less functional" maybe, but while my camera cannot make phone calls or upload photos to all and sundry (costing me copyright as well while it's at it - check Google's TOS) it does one thing much better than any phone on the market can, even those with more than double the MP - it takes good pictures.

              Yes, yes, I know that the quality of the photos will be better. But for most people, smartphone photos are now Good Enough, in much the same way that MP3 proved to be good enough when compared to CDs and vinyl, and streaming video proved to be good enough against DVD and Blu-ray. Snark all you want about the quality; we'll be over here having fun and taking Good Enough photos to prove it...

              There's several levels of "good enough" though, same with MP3 and the like. Those who know what they're doing apreciate things with higher quality - it's a curse in many respects. I can enjoy slapping a bit of cheap tinned spaghetti on toast and sprinkling some of the wrong kind of cheap cheese on top of it. Many people reading this are gagging at the concept, and several others are lobbying for a return of the death penalty for such food crimes. Because I am someone with an 'untrained pallet' I and I have no clue what I am missing, I am able to enjoy such things. Same with people who like cheap wine vs the true connoisseurs - the latter know everything that's wrong with the cheap junk and cannot enjoy it (although if they don't know it's cheap junk it may be another matter :) )

              For you, your phone's camera is 'good enough'. Cloud storage on Google's servers (where you give them rights to use your stuff as they want, forever - if they haven't changed the T&Cs) may be fine for you. Checking your photos out on a piddly little screen might be enough, and being able to play with filters might make you feel like a pro.

              For me, these things just aren't good enough. They would be if I hadn't spent time studying photography, didn't learn about what makes a great picture vs what is mundane and what is bloody aweful.

              I can't enjoy the photos that you can, because I know what is wrong with them. Just like you may have a very hard time with "mini pizzas" with a base that is a slice of cheap white bread, a "tomato" topping that consists of tinned spaghetti, and the cheapest supermarket-quality colby cheese money can buy, while I think I know what I'm going to be enjoying for dinner tonight. (Ok, but NOT with Colby - my tastes run a little better than that!)

        2. DiViDeD Silver badge

          Re: most dedicated cameras have slow startup times

          Nope. My 1ds ii is ready to go as soon as I touch the shutter button, or in <0.5 seconds if it's fully switched off. It would take you longer to get your phone out of your pocket, unlock it and start the camera app. Bridge cameras often take longer (my old Pro 815 would take about 3 seconds from cold, but made up for it by focus hunting for bloody hours on full zoom), and you generally can't leave them switched on because those EVFs suck out all the magic beans from your battery.

          1. Paul Shirley

            Re: most dedicated cameras have slow startup times

            My LG G4 is about as fast to take pictures from standby as my bridge camera in standby, including whipping it out of my pocket. Point, double tap the button, find out if it shoots instantly or buggers around for a second focusing.

            Faster if you include pulling the camera out of its bag because I don't always walk around with it in my hand or bouncing dangerously on a neck strap and there's that pesky lens cap to remember!

        3. Kiwi Silver badge
          Megaphone

          .Its always on, while most dedicated cameras have slow startup times.

          My old DSLR : Less than 2 seconds from turning the switch on to ready to use. However, taking it out of the bag and fitting a lens ads 10 seconds. No wireless or anything, but I take pride in my work and want to be sure of the photo on a decent screen before I send it elsewhere, so connectivity is not of interest to me.

          Secondary-fallback 4M Panasonic that cost me less than $5 from a junk shop : Also less than 2 seconds to turn on. No wireless or anything, but I take pride in my work and want to be sure of the photo on a decent screen before I send it elsewhere, so connectivity is not of interest to me.

          Lenovo tablet (the one with the scratched and petrochemical-damaged screen because I tried to use it to take a picture while working on my car - oops) : 7 seconds from the screen being off (ie tablet has been on a while so well and truly booted). A lot clumsier to handle than the smaller camera as well. Also has the potential to be uploading stuff to other places when I don't actually want it to, so it's connectivity is a concern to me.

          Mate's Alcatel phone : Also around 7 seconds from screen off to ready to use.

          Admittedly these aren't high-end units, but sufficient for a quick test of your premise :)

          My phones (even when I've tried smart phones) aren't always connected to the net, in fact the connection is as limited as I can make it, and I wouldn't want to pay the prices for data here in NZ nor would I be wanting to trust any old 'free' WiFi (though I do have OpenVPN set up for such reasons). Smart phones have appalling low battery lifespans, and if I was to be taking photos with it I also wouldn't want to be more than a couple of inches from a power point. A couple of batteries can keep my camera going for a full day's shooting, but I can't carry spare batteries for a lot of phones although I could use a powerbank. Which is quite large really, so the size of the phone plus power bank is now getting to the size of the camera plus spare batteries. But then I'd need a couple of power banks, as when I am out of town the radio in the phone draws a lot more power making the battery charge fall even faster.

          For some of us, all your "advantages" aren't, and even for those where they are they're still short lived, eg short battery life.

      2. Ben Bonsall

        100% agree :) I have an old FinePix S200EXR which lives in my bag, It's not to heavy for carting about everywhere (800 grams) but its zoom and low light performance are amazing, for something that cost me 100 euros 5 years or so ago. I'm not saying everyone should carry around a big camera, but if you want to take good pictures in all conditions, then take a camera because your phone will just disappoint. If you don't, then take a phone, it'll do what you want.

    3. big_D Silver badge

      It also depends on what you want to photograph. I do a lot of nature photography, so it is either macro close-ups or distance small animaly. Neither of which a phone camera can really cope with. When you are trying to photograph a strutting hawk at 400M, even a "normal" telephoto lens on a decent DSLR isn't going to give you much detail, you are talking about long lenses that cost more than a iPhone Xs Max...

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        In poor light a FZ or similar 'bridge' camera will struggle, since they rely upon small sensors to make a big zoom range possible. However, a pocket sized camera such as a Sony RX 100 is very capable in low light... not as good as a DSLR with specific lenses, but it will fit in the inside pocket if your jacket.

        Smartphones today can produce images on a par with premium compact cameras of only a few years ago, especially if you don't have time to twiddle the camera knobs for least compromise.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. hammarbtyp Silver badge

        Wildlife photography is an area where a good camera and an excellent lens is always going to be paramount and a mobile phone is never going to cut it. Sport photography is another area, although I have known of some sport photographers using phones in certain situations, partly because of their superior upload capabilities.

        However these are relatively niche and edge uses, and not really applicable to most peoples general experience of photography.

        One professional area where phones are more likely to be used is in street photography, because people are less disturbed by them and you stand out less.

        1. LDS Silver badge

          "likely to be used is in street photography"

          With their like of DOF control (but maybe simulated one)? I doubt so. Moreover street photography requires cameras really fast to operate, and many phones aren't enough. You usually need to frame, focus and shoot very quickly, before the subject becomes aware you're taking the photo.

          1. big_D Silver badge

            Re: "likely to be used is in street photography"

            Not over here, you have to get them to sign a waiver before you can photograph them.

            1. Kiwi Silver badge
              Thumb Up

              Re: "likely to be used is in street photography"

              Not over here, you have to get them to sign a waiver before you can photograph them.

              Nice. I am quite camera-shy and also simply don't want people photographing me in the street unless they actually seek my approval (at least for anything other than private photos).

              I'd love to live somewhere where the rules were different. In NZ it's legal to photograph anything you can see from the street, even if that means you're able to photograph inside someone's living room or kid's bedrooms. Google got away with multiple breaches of people's privacy with their towering camera arrays. They may blur out faces, but they still show things inside people's property that people perhaps don't want them showing. Pixelating my face doesn't help when my neighbours know who I am, and you stuck your camera over my fairly high fence and photographed me where I have a reasonable expectation of privacy!

              1. big_D Silver badge

                Re: "likely to be used is in street photography"

                When we go out and people start taking photos, at parties, for example, she explicitly states that they do not have her permission to upload any photo containing her to the Internet.

                That is legally binding here. If anyone does upload an image of her, they could face prosecution.

                1. Kiwi Silver badge
                  Thumb Up

                  Re: "likely to be used is in street photography"

                  When we go out and people start taking photos, at parties, for example, she explicitly states that they do not have her permission to upload any photo containing her to the Internet.

                  Interesting mix of people.. Someone saw fit to disagree with you, obviosly thinking they should be able to invade people's privicy on a whim.

                  Me, if I could afford airfare I'd want to know where you live and be on the next plane over. I don't think you should have the right to publish photos of others without their permission!

                  (When you think about it, what I am doing at the time is in a way my intellectual property - if I had not chosen the action you found interesting, you would not have your photograph)

                2. CountCadaver

                  Re: "likely to be used is in street photography"

                  AFAIK and IANAL that doesn't apply in the UK if the photo is mainly of something else and in a public place i.e. the party generally and she is in the background. The impetus being you know someone has a camera, if you don't like it....leave

                  Direct photos of someone is different and particularly children where you need a model release from their parents or guardians.

                  Also in Scots law your spoken word is the same as a physical contract, HOWEVER you need corroboration that you actually withdrew your consent (and if no one else heard you then your SOL) and that doesn't override the first condition. You can't prevent people taking photos just because your in the background of them.

                  Not sure where you are, but in the UK you'd probably find your social invites rapidly dried up. You'd also likely find that your position about "not uploading to the internet" wouldn't hold water in court, particularly not outwith Scotland, especially if you were seen to willingly pose for photos.

                  1. big_D Silver badge

                    Re: "likely to be used is in street photography"

                    I am in Germany.

                    If it is in public (out on the street, public park etc.), as long as the person just happens to be part of the background "noise", it is okay to take a photo. If they are the only people in the photo or the main focus of the photo, you have to get their permission to publish it or upload it to the internet.

                    A party is, generally, a private venue, so private situation rules apply, which means if someone says they don't want to be photographed, you have to respect that.

            2. LDS Silver badge

              "you have to get them to sign a waiver before you can photograph them"

              In most places you can ask for a release form signature after you took the photo - as taking photos not for commercial use in public spaces is usually permitted. Beware where and why you publish them anyway, if you don't have the proper legal authorization for a given country.

      4. macjules Silver badge

        Again, this is all about the Phone photo grabber vs the serious photographer. Yes, a mobile handset will do fine for many shots, but it won't do video to the quality/framerate of a high-end video camera and neither will it do the detailed processing that you will get in a high-end DSLR.

        Just to make the point, there is more to photography than just how many pixels you can cram into an image.

        1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

          Indeed there is. My 5x4 is considered small and lightweight by some of the large format brigade, at only three kilos... but I get a damn sight more satisfaction taking half an hour setting up and taking an image than I ever get using a mobile phone as a camera (in what is, to me, possibly the most ergonomically 'orrible package for an image maker).

          What's a camera, daddy? Well son, it's like a phone that can't make calls...

          1. werdsmith Silver badge

            Well there you go. A neckbeard on The Register tells me all these pro photographers using 5 figure DSLRs have been doing it wrong all the time. All they needed was a £500 smartphone with snapseed.

            Well bugger me sideways with a broom handle.

            1. hammarbtyp Silver badge

              Not wrong, but maybe concentrating on the wrong thing.

              The quality of your photo is not a direct relation to how much money you spent on your camear, the size of your lense or the number of megapixels, otherwise we should just put the camera price tag on each photo and base our judgement on that.

              No, its about utilising the most appropriate equipment for the situation and making the best use of what is available. DSLR's, phones, polaroids, pinhole cameras they all have their place, advantages and disadvantages, but there is no right camera.

              There is just too much concentration on camera wars.

              1. big_D Silver badge

                To a point, yes. The best photos I ever took were with my dirt cheap Praktica MTL3, 28mm wide angle, 50mm standard, macro rings and telelphoto adapters, the latter 2 second hand. The photos on my Instamatic before it were okay, but I took some excellent shots with the Praktica, mainly because, as 12 year old, developing a film cost a lot of money, so I learnt hot to properly frame an image and get everything right, before pressing the shutter.

                I later got a Canon EOS 500, with a 23-250mm zoom lens, but, to be honest, the photos were not better than what I took with the Praktica. Then I went through a series of compact digital cameras, with the small memory cards, I still took time to line up photos.

                With my EOS 500D and my Sony Alpha, I take some great photos, but there are some from the Praktica that I still haven't surpassed for framing and lighting. It is also interesting, even though I have Photoshop Element and Affinity Photo, I very rarely do any post processing on my photos.

                I probably use my smartphone's camera for less trhan 1% of all photos taken each year.

                1. Kiwi Silver badge
                  Pint

                  ...mainly because, as 12 year old, developing a film cost a lot of money, so I learnt hot to properly frame an image and get everything right, before pressing the shutter....

                  ...with the small memory cards, I still took time to line up photos....

                  ...It is also interesting, even though I have Photoshop Element and Affinity Photo, I very rarely do any post processing on my photos.

                  Much the same with me. It's amazing how little time you have to spend faffing around with software if you do it right with the camera in the first place :)

                  1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

                    I've noticed over the years: 36 exposure reel, two good shots. 24 exposure reel, two good shots. 12 exposure reel, two good shots. 2 4x5 sheets, one or two good shots.

                    I wonder how many good shots you get when your image costs you basically nothing?

                    1. Quando
                    2. Kiwi Silver badge

                      I've noticed over the years: 36 exposure reel, two good shots. 24 exposure reel, two good shots. 12 exposure reel, two good shots. 2 4x5 sheets, one or two good shots.

                      I wonder how many good shots you get when your image costs you basically nothing?

                      There is still certain things that depends on - the subject material, the quality of the camera and the quality of the photographer. I'll admit to firing off a lot of pics to get one good shot when working with harder subjects, but I also value the time spent afterwards getting rid of the trash and finding those few good ones (oblig XKCD)

                      The limits I've had on camera storage in the past have taught me to be a lot more weary of what I shoot. Sometimes I've been days away from computers and power, and having to make my cards and batteries last has certainly helped me value every shot more, even if a card can hold several thousand :) Another thing that probably helped was some of my photos have required a bit of work to do, eg climbing a mountain with a high rate of failure. You make sure you get plenty of good pictures there, and when you're in a difficult to get to spot with a good chance if injury, you don't want to have to go back and do it again because you screwed up.

                      In all honesty, most of my pictures aren't worth the time it took to take them. But if I am good enough on the day, I will get good shots that pay for the trip. I am willing to make a few tries to get the shot right because I can afford to do so, and sometimes the trial pictures have paid off more than I anticipated.

        2. Kiwi Silver badge
          Boffin

          Just to make the point, there is more to photography than just how many pixels you can cram into an image.

          So many people seem to forget the importance of the optics, which those things they stuff into phones simply aren't capable of doing decently. I've seen pictures coming from a 2MP DSLR with the right lenses that are still well beyond even the highest MP phone photo-taking-hardware.

          1. big_D Silver badge

            The photographer also makes a big difference. Give a good photographer a bad camera and they will still take great photos. Give a poor photographer the best camera and it is still a crap-shoot, whether you will get a good photo out of them.

            1. Kiwi Silver badge
              Trollface

              Give a poor photographer the best camera and it is still a crap-shoot, whether you will get a good photo out of them.

              At least with digital they can rattle off a few hundred pics and hopefully there may be something pretty good in there :)

    4. The Dogs Meevonks

      You don't need a full DSLR camera, a simple Bridge one will suffice and for a fraction of the price. I picked up a decent Pentax bridge camera a few years ago... It takes fantastic pics compared to any phone camera and was actually cheaper than my current phone (Moto G5S+) as I picked up in a sale.

      A phone is fine for opportunist pics, but is never going to give you brilliant results. But if you want to take some great shots then you need a dedicated camera to do it... or be an expert with photoshop to make those lower quality images look better.

    5. James Hughes 1

      Never seen so much wanky my camera is better than yours bollocks in one thread.

      The best camera is the one you have on you when you need to take a picture.

      (And yes, I do own a DSLR and a smartphone, and was also the brcm project lead for the camera system on the 808 pureview)

      1. gotes

        Never seen so much wanky my camera is better than yours bollocks in one thread.

        I'm glad someone's said this.

    6. Snorlax

      Re: Want to take good pics ?

      Want to take good pics ?

      Then buy a DSLR or mirrorless, don't use a mobile phone.

      Ever hear the saying "The best camera is the one that's with you"?

    7. 's water music Silver badge
      Trollface

      image tech

      Sheesh, when did everyone become too fancy-pants for hand-print stencils

  3. GlenP Silver badge

    Nothing New...

    A few years ago it was much the same with digital cameras, and still is to some extent. pixel counts and zoom ranges grabbed the headlines, the ever-smaller sensor dot sizes did nothing for overall picture quality. On my one-but-last camera I deliberately ignored those numbers in favour of one with a larger physical sensor, even then being a fixed lens bridge camera the limitations quickly became apparent.

    Ultra-long zooms are pretty useless anyway, atmospheric and perspective distortion relegate them to being niche use only.

    I once looked at a Sony that claimed a 500x zoom, you could just about count the individual pixels in the resulting images

  4. IsJustabloke Silver badge
    Happy

    manual mode...

    I have a P20 Pro and because I often have it in places I wouldn't be allowed to take my DSLR (such as gigs) I'm often reduced to using it for pictures. I tend to shoot in manual mode with it, which gives me a RAW file and then process using LR. The results are pretty good and plenty good enough for Instagram or web use. It also gives reasonable 6*4 prints. Obviously, it can't compete with my Canon but then I wouldn't expect it to.

    I have played with the "night mode" which is essentially a multi exposure and I agree it does tend to overexpose (although less so if there's no bright light source) but have found if you back the exposure off in LR the results are excellent.

    I can't see a compelling reason for buying a P30 though.

    The problem with looking at pictures taken using different cameras is that it's all very subjective. I often look at the pictures my mate's Apple produces and I find them oversaturated whereas he loves them and finds mine a bit washed out.

    1. hammarbtyp Silver badge

      Re: manual mode...

      I agree, the tests are hardly a scientific comparison and are highly subjective. It a real comparison was to be made we need a common test subject in multiple light levels

    2. big_D Silver badge

      Re: manual mode...

      I used my Mate 10 Pro's camera for the first time for a serious photograph (other than photographing serial numbers on server room kit for documentation) at a wedding recently. What annoyed me was lookign at the pictures afterwards, I'd left it in auto mode and all of the heads of the people had been blown up, so they looked like nodding head caricatures.

      1. jason 7

        Re: manual mode...

        I use mostly the monochrome cam on my 10 Pro. The aperture feature is fun to use for portrait shots. Just make sure you have a slightly contrasting background to the subject to help the AI.

    3. overunder

      Re: manual mode...

      "...which gives me a RAW file..."

      On my s9+, raw files offer nothing to recover, I turned them off. If it could recover even .3EV, I'd leave it on, but raw on these things is also a gimmick.

      I find it much better to have a longer continuous burst in hope that a few pictures can be used as a reference for recovery, as raw is shit. But that is still pinching quality... out of acceptable quality.

      1. Chz

        Re: manual mode...

        But Samsung has decent software these days. The thing with Huawei is they've got this excellent imaging hardware and really shit software around it. Shooting raw takes that out the equation, but it means you're a bit stuck with what you can post immediately to hipstagram.

        1. overunder

          Re: manual mode...

          You can shoot jpg+raw, again I don't. If i had to guess why raw sucks on phones, it would be that the sensor is so small that it doesn't really have room for anything to hide, if that makes sense.

        2. juice Bronze badge

          Re: manual mode...

          TBH, I'm not that impressed with the software on the S10; as compared to the software on my old V30 it feels sadly lacking, especially when it comes to video mode - there's no "pro" mode to allow you to fine-tune things.

          Admittedly, it generally seems to be doing a reasonable job under it's own steam so far and the sound quality is fine. But in my occasional role[*] as roadie/fanboy/designated recorder, gigs are an absolute nightmare for video recording: there's often harsh contrast, flashing/strobing/moving lights and sometimes dry-ice/fog.

          The result is that they often tend to screw-up their focusing /and/ tend towards over-exposure, completely whiting out the faces of the people in the band. Being able to set a fixed focus and tweak the iso and frame rate (while making sure to avoid visual strobing caused by the local lighting frequencies) has been the only way to get something even halfway decent at times...

          [*] My housemate is in a band!

      2. LDS Silver badge

        "On my s9+, raw files offer nothing to recover"

        RAW files are not to recover underexposed images (although sometimes they could do it as well). It's about having:

        1) A larger dynamic range than what can fit 8-bit JPEGs

        2) A larger gamut than what can fit sRGB JPEGs (and often even AdobeRGB ones)

        3) Unprocessed and lossless sensor data that can be processed later with improved and more powerful algorithms - even long after a photo was taken.

        While it is true that most images will be later see on 8-bit sRGB displays (but that is slowly changing as well...), the larger space will allow for far better editing with far less loss of information which can easily led to artifacts (i.e. posterization, color shifts, etc.). When photos are printed on real photo printers, that's even more important.

        16 bit TIFFs in a wide gamut color space would be OK as well (although the original data are lost), but they tend to be in the 100MB+ range for a 20-24 mpx image.

  5. Richard Gray 1

    Raw?

    The question no one has answered is can it shoot in raw?

    I like the idea of optical telephoto, I would prefer it over a super wide (I'm guessing I'm a special case), but only 8megapixel ? that's a but poor.

    When you do these reviews can you shoot some lens test cards and a standard setup?

    1. IsJustabloke Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Raw?

      I'm guessing that yes it can but only if you use it in "Pro" mode (manual) and then a lot of it's tricks aren't available, a good thing.

      Why is everyone a Troll? I chose a thumbs up!

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Raw?

        Why is everyone a Troll? I chose a thumbs up!

        Yeah, sure you did!

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

  6. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge
    Unhappy

    A shootout wouldn't be a shootout without some grub.

    Just looking at that makes me feel ill

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: A shootout wouldn't be a shootout without some grub.

      Who knows what the AI does to the photo. Perhaps it was originally an avocado smash and the AI replaced it so it looked better on Instagram.

    2. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Re: A shootout wouldn't be a shootout without some grub.

      Funnily enough, on my calibrated monitor at home the Apple photo looks much better than the Huawei. On my uncalibrated (but still IPS) monitors at work it's the other way around.

      Both make me feel ill though.

  7. big_D Silver badge
    Boffin

    Exploding heads...

    How do the people photos look? I have a Mate 10 Pro and a P20 (home and work) and in automatic mode, they enlarge the heads, so that they look more like nodding head caricatures.

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: Exploding heads...

      What the hell is the point in that supposed to be? I would have thought something like that would be squirrelled away with the gimmicky 'filters'...

    2. Earache

      Re: Exploding heads...

      I shouldn't think it's the camera per se that's"blowing up" peoples heads but rather the optics and perspective. If you use a wide angle lens too close people will look distorted and, just a wild guess, are you tall? The "from on high" perspective will distorted the subjects heads if you're too close. Better to back off and bend your knees and maybe crop afterwards.

      1. big_D Silver badge

        Re: Exploding heads...

        This was a range of around 100 photos, from 1 person portraits relatively close to family groups at a distance. All of them look that way - and really, the bodies in the group photos were at different levels, but even the taller bodies were normal next to shorter people with blown-up heads. And yes, I'm tall, but my (very short) wife took some of the photos as well as someone of medium height making the group photos of our family.

        It was a real shame I didn't bring along a proper camera.

  8. Huw D

    Most people I know use their phone to take photos for memories, not for professional shots.

    As such, "good enough" is all they'll ever need. You look at a photo from 3 years ago and I guarantee that your memory of the event won't be 100% accurate either.

    1. DiViDeD Silver badge

      Re: "good enough" is all they'll ever need.

      Exactly. Apart from the 'more money than sense' brigade (who, these days buy Hasselblad badged Point & shoot cameras), the majority of people taking photos have never wanted nor needed. What were the most popular cameras of the last century? I can guarantee it wasn't the Canon 1DX!

      Box Brownies, 35mm (and then digita) compacts, bloody Instamatics, 110 cameras - these were the cameras most non togs used. Quality was acceptable to the majority of the users.

      Phone cameras fill that gap - cheap, not terribly capable, certainly not professional quality, but they are definitely as good, convenient and fit for purpose as any of their predecessors

  9. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    It doesn't really matter anyway

    A phone camera is just a phone camera. Good enough for a quick pic when you've got nothing better. For anything important, I have my Canon EOS with 3 lenses that answer all my problems. One is x200, and I don't even use it all that much.

    Yes, I do take snaps with my phone, in order to remind me of how something was, what it looked like or where it was, so I can find it back later. It's utilitarian. If I want a proper pic that I'll keep in my album, I use my Canon.

    1. Death_Ninja

      Re: It doesn't really matter anyway

      x200 zoom? Assuming that you have a full frame sensor, that's ~2000mm... I've seen smaller anti-tank weapons!

      1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

        Re: It doesn't really matter anyway

        Worse - a true x200 on full frame would be 8.6 metres focal length. Not only do I pity the people who have to carry it, the tripod mount needed would have to be one of those small tower scaffold kits.

      2. DiViDeD Silver badge

        Re: It doesn't really matter anyway

        ".. that's ~2000mm... ""

        Not with Canon it's not. You could rig up the f4 800mm with a 2xii converter, to get 1600mm at f11, but that's around $14,000 for a lens you'd have to manually focus.

        Of course, on a crop sensor you'd get your 2000 mm, but why would you slap 14 grand's worth of lens on a prosumer grade camera?

        Maybe he means one of those high quality '2000mm TELESCOPE FOR CANON' plastic jobbies you can pick up on FleaBay for around $100?

    2. hammarbtyp Silver badge

      Re: It doesn't really matter anyway

      Is one of your problems

      "how do I have camera on me that is always available for in use, in any situation, without making me standing out and allows me to process and upload my photos on the move?"

      If so, how does that setup solve it?

  10. Dave 126 Silver badge

    > Smartphones can't perform a genuine optical zoom, but use interpolation and processing to present more image data to the user.

    Total bollocks. The two camera iPhones have a genuine optical zoom on one of cameras, as do the secondary cameras on many other two camera phones ( sone vendors spec a wide angle lens or a black and white sensor instead if a 2x zoom lens).

    This P30 phone has a genuine optical zoom as well, though it's mounted horizontally in the phone. This method used to be common in 'tough' cameras from Panasonic et al.

    1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Though I have seen the longer lens on the iPhone XS referred to as a "x2 zoom" elsewhere, Apple in its advertising only refers to it as an "f/2.4 telephoto". Given the space available, a quick calculation based on sensor diagonal gives the focal length as about 12-14mm, and given the depth of the body it is difficult to see how you would get a 2:1 zoom in there. I think the elements would have to pass through one another.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Apple's website has the iPhone 8 Plus's secondary camera as having a 2x optical zoom, confirmed by DXOmark.

        Regarding your back of the envelope calculations, most non-interchangeable lens digital cameras with zoom can achieve greater zoom than would otherwise be possible by compensating for barrel distortion in post-processing. It's this trick that makes 'travel zoom' pocket digital cameras possible.

        1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

          Read the DxOmark review again carefully. They are not using "zoom" to mean an optical zoom lens.(I had to read it twice myself to work out where the weasel was).

          The recent iPhones have two lenses, one is twice the focal length of the other. What they mean by "optical zoom" is that the 2:1 ratio is achieved by interpolation rather than "digital zoom" which means throwing away peripheral pixels. It is "optical" in the sense that the x2 is achieved with a dedicated lens and sensor. But the sensor is objectively* worse than the main camera - it is small.

          Curse Apple and Samsung for trying to destroy the meaning of technical terms for marketing reasons.

          I suspect that DxOmark is being careful because if they are, like El Reg, too blunt, they might not get the samples for testing.

          *accidental pun left in.

    2. juice Bronze badge

      > Total bollocks. The two camera iPhones have a genuine optical zoom on one of cameras, as do the secondary cameras on many other two camera phones ( sone vendors spec a wide angle lens or a black and white sensor instead if a 2x zoom lens).

      Not quite. A DSLR or bridge/compact camera will have a single lens which can be manipulated to change the zoom level. Conversely, the iPhone and various other smartphones have a primary "1x" lens and a /secondary fixed-zoom lens (e.g. 2x, 5x), which is usually called a telephoto lens.

      So if you want a zoom level which isn't covered by one of the lens (e.g. 3x), your smartphone will have to create it by interpolating the data from one or more of the lenses.

      It's this which makes me wary about Huawei's "10x lossless" zoom, given that they have a 1x lens and a 5x lens. My guess is that they're feeding data from both the 40mp 1x lens and the 8mp 5x lens into the interpolation algorithm and then slapping an "AI" label atop it because that's what all the hip and trendy kids do these days...

      1. Paul Shirley

        Using 'lossless/digital' tells you it's not lossless above 5x... Doubt they're just cropping to fake extra zoom. Hope it pauses at 5x like my camera does at the end of its optical zoom range, interpolated zoom is awful.

  11. TaabuTheCat

    The best camera

    is the one you have with you.

  12. Baldrickk Silver badge

    Rayleigh

    My biggest problem with smartphone cameras is that the sensors are so small. The Rayleigh criterion is kind of fundamental.

    1. hammarbtyp Silver badge

      Re: Rayleigh

      That's the traditional view, which has meant that smartphone manufacturers have had to be innovate such as multiple exposures, multiple lenses and computational photography

      While it has not removed the need for large sensors, the gap is a lot smaller than anyone would of thought 5 years ago

      1. Rajesh Kanungo

        Re: Rayleigh

        How do you beat 1.22λ/D resolution limit? You really can’t beat Raleigh diffraction criteria by using longer exposures. The only reasons you want longer exposures is to collect more photons, to get better color and improve dynamic range. The resolution doesn’t change.

      2. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

        Re: Rayleigh

        The "traditional view" just happens to be physics. Handwaving isn't.

  13. Tromos

    By "over-aggresive sharpening"...

    ...do you mean actually being in focus? Unlike the Apple image shown.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      "...do you mean actually being in focus?"

      Yes, it's an old issue, most untrained eyes believe over-sharpened images are "in focus" while actually the excessive sharpening hides details - the issue is amplified when images are shown at a small size.

  14. Stuart Halliday

    Personally I'd like images with a white balance card in shot... Like a Whibal G7 please.

    https://www.bhphotovideo.com/images/images500x500/WhiBal_WB7_SC_G7_White_Balance_Studio_1305896546000_768396.jpg

  15. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

    Pedantry

    I know this is pedantry and I know the battle is lost but I intend to go down fighting.

    Zoom = variable focal length lens.

    Telephoto = lens whose effective optical centre is in front of the centre of the lens, by clever trickery. That's how it is possible to have a 300mm lens which is under 200mm long. Some specialist cameras have the optical centre outside the lens body, in front. Among the many benefits are weight and size.

    Reverse telephoto - a lens whose optical centre is behind the lens. Used for SLRs and studio cameras where, for instance, an ultrawide 15mm lens would otherwise have to be inside the mirror, or the bellows would have to be cut in half.

    The Huawei lens is not a zoom. It appears from the drawings to be fixed focal length. It is a slight telephoto - it is only a quarter inch sensor which for a lens equivalent to 125mm on 35mm would make it around 17mm actual focal length, and it appears to be about 20mm long from pictures.

    Any zoom effect is interpolation or throwing away part of the image. It isn't "real".

    And being even pickier it isn't a series of lenses - in technical speak it has several elements, but it has no more than the main lens.

    That said, congratulations El Reg on an article which is much better and does a much better analysis that the other ones I've read.

    When it comes to lenses and sensors the adage that a good big one will always beat a good small one is much more true than for engines or body parts.

    1. ST Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Pedantry

      > I know this is pedantry and I know the battle is lost but I intend to go down fighting.

      You are fighting the Marketing Departments of Apple, Huawei and Samsung.

      They have managed to convince people that a fixed-focal length crap plastic lens with a radius of 6mm is the functional equivalent of the SIGMA 70-200S f/2.8 that has 23 optical elements, each with a 41mm radius, 4 of them aspherical, all of them made from different kinds of glass with different refraction indices, coatings, etc.

      This is a battle you simply cannot win. :-)

    2. Paul Shirley

      Re: Pedantry

      Detail seems to be thin on the ground but the original DiMagex periscope zoom squeezes a longer movement length for its optical components than the depth of the camera body by reflecting 90deg and mounting the components vertically. My Dimage20 is still going strong, only the internal backup battery has failed, still zooms nicely after many years.

      The P30 looks like it does the same, making it a real optical zoom. It's been suggested it's happened now because the KM patents have expired.

  16. jason 7

    Well...

    ...they all look like reasonable phone snaps to me. Buy on best price and ecosystem for you.

    Go back into your archives and dig up those sub 1MP pics from your 2004 phone and realise how far we've come.

  17. DrBobK

    Food pix and stupid telephotos

    I wasn't noticing enormous differences (or being enormously impressed) until we got to the food pix of the full-English. The Apple one is pretty good. The other two (both Huawei?) are appallingly bad. Food pix seem a pretty good test of image quality because for the food to look appetising you need to capture colour variation, texture, and highlights accurately. I'd hazard these are also pretty important for other natural materials like skin. I'd be surprised if the phone that took the bad food pix could produce good close-ups of faces.

    The 50x zoom pics are a joke (but I expect everyone with half a brain must have figured that one out). I can get fairly decent ridiculous telephoto images with a tripod and an 800mm lens on a 35mm full frame format digital body with decent lenses and a tripod (actually, for me, 400mm lens and 2x teleconverter - all Canon stuff with red lines around the lenses, all very old (e.g. the body is a 1Ds Mk 2 - less than £300), all very e-bay) but even then it is hard (I was doing this for work - it isn't a focal length I'd normally use for fun). I'm surprised you can get anything sensible hand-held from a phone (congrats for managing to at least get the centre of the postbox sign, if only to demonstrate the lousy image quality).

  18. This post has been deleted by its author

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Anyone tried the 'droids with Open Camera?

    I hate all the BS manufacturers put in their camera apps so it's one of the first things I install.

    https://f-droid.org/en/packages/net.sourceforge.opencamera/

    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=net.sourceforge.opencamera&hl=en

    1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge

      Re: Anyone tried the 'droids with Open Camera?

      I have, and I found it (sadly) inferior to the stock Google camera, so I switched back.

  20. Petabyte

    Good headline hook as always on the "register", but not very accurate and seems to be a different opinion from DXO mark who dont seem to agree with you.

    Firstly no phone camera can compete with a pro DSLR and kIt lenses but thats not the intended audience...

    With this camera or the mate 20 pro I had previously I can grab great shots I would have missed and never need to carry a compact camera around.

    Secondly to have a 5x optical zoom is obviously an advantage when you cant get closer to your subject something that few other smartphone cameras help address.

    Finally if you use RAW files from Manual mode and and then process using LR or something suitable you can get phenominal shots from this phone (caveat is obvioslu this is not something the "everyday" fruit phone users are going to be bother with/capable of/prepared to get their heads around ) . https://www.fredericpaulussen.be/how-to-raw-photos-huawei-p30-pro/

  21. Lee D Silver badge

    I'd like to go back in time to about 1990 and then have the conversation.

    "Hey, this is an incredibly expensive piece of telephony kit from the future!"

    "Cool! Wow! It must do all kinds of things!"

    "Oh it does! But look! It takes a photo!"

    "Yeah, that's nice but..."

    "Look it even ZOOMS!"

    "Yeah, amazing, but isn't it a..."

    "And look at the range in the photo, isn't it so colourful!"

    "It's great, but what's it like to make call..."

    "And we now have umpteen cameras build into it rather than just umpteen-1"

    "Fabulous, I'm sure they're all really good but... it's a phone."

    "Yes, a phone has to have cameras! Look, look at this review from a website in 2019 about our amazing phone!"

    ...

    1. juice Bronze badge

      Actually, it'd be more like this...

      Actually, if you travelled back to the 19th century, the conversation would be more like this:

      - Look at this amazing handheld device!

      = By George, it responds to my touch and displays brightly coloured pictures! What else can it do?

      - It can communicate by audio with anyone across the world. Though we don't even have 2g here, so that won't work

      = I'll take your word for it, old chap. Anything else?

      - Well, it can send telegrams... no, wait. And it can send moving pictures... no, same as the audio and telegrams

      = That's a great shame. Still, what happens if I tap on this pictogram of a map?

      - That's it's built-in geolocation system. Except GPS hasn't been invented yet and I forgot to download any maps before nipping into the time machine.

      = I must say that spinning hourglass looks very realistic. However, I'm not seeing much use for it at present.

      - Wait! It has a torch and a compass built in! And it can take full colour photographs without the need for chemicals or long exposures!

      = That truly is amazing! Might I borrow it for a trip down to Madame Betty's house of pleasure? Purely for scientific research, I assure you?

      - Sadly not, as I also forgot to bring a charger and your steam engine doesn't have any USB ports. Still, we can look at a few pictures of cats before the battery dies...

      For me, the term "smartphone" is highly misleading: it's not a phone with a camera bolted on: it's a self-contained computer with network access that happens to have a camera (or five), a microphone, a speaker, a bunch of motion sensors and a large amount of (partially cloud based) "intelligence" to make it easier to use. The ability to make phone calls is just one of many checkbox items in the feature list.

  22. BGatez

    And how was the call quality - asking for a friend.

    1. Paul Shirley

      I think we assume the call quality only needs mentioning if it's bad!

  23. jason 7

    I still don't get why folks still have to...

    ...compare phones to DSLRs.

    If I go for a walk down the street now for 20 minutes I'll see 999 smartphones.

    I might not see a single DSLR. Most people don't want/need them any more.

    To be honest most people don't want to look at your 2367 holiday pics whether you use a phone or a DSLR.

  24. Andy 97

    Does it have iMessage?

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But after we published this review of the Google Pixel 2 last year,

    that's what happens when you provide a review, rather than a "review". Stamp of approval.

  26. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    If you want to compose a decent shot on ANY device at "any time, any place", you need a viewfinder.

    LCD screens are washed out to invisibility in the light of a Florida day, no matter *what* they are fitted to.

  27. Rajesh Kanungo

    Good review. RAW image options available?

    I have been photographing with a 3kg full-frame Nikon setup but it gets harder and harder to justify the back and shoulder pain. Also the best camera is the camera you have.

    There is a limit to the resolution that can be achieved by a small lens (Raleigh diffraction criteria). Small aperture lenses still create problems for me while shooting nature. But the Nikon lens is close to a Kilogram.

    I prefer to shoot RAW and spend more time post processing than the actual shooting. Are raw+jpeg supported?

  28. TheProf
    Unhappy

    Model release form

    "Not shown here for privacy reasons are shots of people, and examples of portrait mode – where the P30 Pro often did very well."

    Lots of review sites (even ElReg!) manage to publish images of people. Why was it so difficult on this occasion?

  29. cortland

    I suspect the major difference between these rivals is due to what camera manufacturers would call "Art" settings; emphasizing contrast and color to please those who want a little more snap in their picture.

    Getting enough stabilization to do a 50 times zoom is amazing – but my mirrorless camera,with both in- body and on-lens stabilization (depending on the lens) lets me shoot pictures down to 1/5th or even 1/4th of a second exposure indoors, with a 100 mm lens. The races are on, and the Percheron's still deliver more beer per night.

  30. truetalk

    Niche?

    Seriously, ask yourself: how often do you need 50x (or even 10x) zoom? And how often do you need to take a photo in near darkness, compared to when you want to capture the feel and atmosphere of a low-light scene?

    Well, maybe I'm an edge case, but macro and massive zoom is exactly what I want from a phone, I use it for work (engineering) and those two functions would be used at least 50% of the time. If I was concerned about image quality, in terms of whether the colour shading is faithful to the original, I'd lug my Canon 5D & lenses around and still do post processing. Huawei would certainly be on my list of possibles when I next change my phone. Currently HTC U11.

    1. Paul Shirley

      Re: Niche?

      At least 50% of my use is in poorly lit pubs, with alcoholic enhancement demanding even lower exposure times or heroic OIS!

  31. Zebad

    Right tool for the job...

    Different types of cameras (and I include smartphones in this) have different characteristics - just use the most appropriate one for the situation you are in at the time. There's no need for a war about which type is 'best'

    I use:

    1. ... my SLR (infrequently now), but if I was shooting birds or sports etc and needed the reach & high-ISO performance - that's what I would use. Generally I don't need the extremes, so I go for less bulk - but it still has its place.

    2. ... my mirrorless for most photography as it can match the SLR for most things and it's lighter and smaller - but for the extremes the SLR is still better

    3. ... my phone for when I don't have either of the above. It's better than no camera, and is often quite good.

    4. Various film cameras for when I want to play around a bit.

    I can't speak for the P30, but I have a P20 - as soon as you switch off the default 'vivid' mode (or whatever it was called), it's pretty decent. As with any camera, you need to learn how to set it up to get the best out of it.

    'Pro' mode gives you RAW files, exposure compensation, ISO adjustment, shutter speed adjustment and metering modes. The dedicated monochrome sensor is also really nice. (But I'd still rather use the mirrorless if I have it with me!).

    1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

      Re: Right tool for the job...

      Precisely. I take quite a few snaps with my smartphone, but for wildlife, landscape, and sports I use my DSLR (Canon EOS 80D), and for astrophotography either an astro-modded DSLR (ageing but capable 550D), or a variety of ZWOptical planetary cameras (like webcams on steroids). I generally don't like processing my photos much, except for astrophotography, where it is absolutely necessary.

      1. Kiwi Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Right tool for the job...

        Love the pic!

        Thanks for the link to SGL - I may actually manage to get my A into G and off the C, and get more into getting out and about :)

  32. hairydog

    This review of three mobile phones seems to have fallen into the same trap. It compares their cameras. How about comparing their ability to work as a communication device?

    It will you next review three digital cameras and rate them on their ability to make crispy toast?

    Yes, the camera is one part of the operation of a smartphone, but it isn't the only one, or even the most important.

    1. juice Bronze badge

      > Yes, the camera is one part of the operation of a smartphone, but it isn't the only one, or even the most important.

      However, it is currently the key differentiator. You can complain about that all you like, but go to carphone warehouse and take a look at what's on offer, and all you'll see is shelves full of buttonless rectangles. As someone who has to try and sell one buttonless rectangle over another buttonless rectangle, what else can you usefully differentiate on?

      Call audio quality is a issue which is (effectively) solved and all the brands/handsets have roughly the same quality.

      Battery life? Again, they're all fairly similar, especially since recent pants-on-fire debacles have made people wary of trying to cram too many ergs into their handsets

      CPU and RAM? Generally too abstract to be useful, especially at the top end where pretty much everything is using the same chipsets.

      Other hardware features? All Android and iOS phones have the same feature set.

      Other software features? All Android and iOS phones have the same software features, and attempts to reinvent the wheel or build value-add software (e.g. Bixby) generally haven't met with much enthusiasm from anyone.

      So, do tell. If you're not going to focus on the camera, how are you going to convince people that Fondleslab A is better than Fondleslab B? Because by pretty much every other metric, there's likely to be at most a few percent difference in quality/performance.

      1. Kiwi Silver badge
        Trollface

        So, do tell. If you're not going to focus on the camera, how are you going to convince people that Fondleslab A is better than Fondleslab B?

        Dunno.. By getting rid of the garbage, dropping the weasely marketting junk (or dropping the marketing department from a very high place over something nasty - I'd pay to see that!), and giving me a phone with features I like at a price I can accept? :)

        (FTR, NZ$50 is about my upper limit for a "smart" phone)

  33. Fursty Ferret

    There's a blindingly obvious reason Huawei gets loads of glowing reviews in the few days following the release - they're flying hundreds of people with tech blogs to the launch event and handing them a free flagship.

    While El Reg isn't swayed by things like that unless blackjack and hookers are thrown in too, many people are. Even subconsciously, they're aware that it's a freebie and they're keen on getting the next version thrown at them too.

  34. Menasco

    " results were artificial or deeply flawed "

    "But too often, in common everyday use cases, the results were artificial or deeply flawed."

    AI ? arf arf , designed by humans , with fakery and machine code errors embedded and endemic , is this news ?

    "Artificial Intelligence" ?

    "Arch Indulgence"

    "Arrogant Impotence"

    "All Ideals"

    "Ailing Interface"

    "Atrophied Inside"

    "Arsehole Inflation"

    Aieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.............Freep!

    No ! Clever it may be , intelligent it certainly is not , compare and contrast , say , the chimpanzee with the silverback gorilla , cannibalistic shit hurling versus vegetarian sage plus UFC skills , NO CONTEST , once you find out the circumstances , then you gotta go out , oho oh yeah........happy days.

  35. YARR
    Stop

    Money || Life

    It seems terribly wasteful to me, to invest so much money in a high-end device that promises no software updates beyond 2-3 years. After then, your fancy phone with all your personal data become a hacker's paradise. This must also reduce the second hand value of smartphones to effectively zero over that time. Apple seems to have the edge in this regards.

    So how long before we finally get a phone OS with hardware abstraction and unlimited software updates like desktops? My money is waiting. A forward-looking reg article on this subject would get a thumbs up from me.

    1. jason 7

      Re: Money || Life

      How often do old phones get hacked though? Why hack a skinflint on a 5 year old phone?

      I think the reality is far less dramatic than many in the tech press make out.

  36. Remainder

    It's a phone

    Obviously late to the party but the overriding consideration here is that it's a phone. Any conversation about which phone is sporting the most unnecessarily high quality camera is a waste of time. All phones in this price bracket are far too expensive for what they are. True enough, the article is about pulling Huawei up on their claims - but it ultimately doesn't matter. At all.

    Most phones nowadays can take photos that are qualitatively surplus to requirement for MOST people. None of the flagship models have a camera that justifies the price tag. Having said that, it's not a camera, it's a phone. If the camera is good enough to be comparing it to a dedicated image-capturing device, it's over-performing in the image-capturing department.

  37. Timmy B Silver badge

    Pine????

    "It looks even worse in the Camera app, which shows huge blotches across the pine"

    What pine are you talking about?

  38. MoonRock

    I'll stick with my Ricoh GR II thanks. Fits in any bag and gives all the features of a DSLR. Having said that I've always thought apple pics were enviable and taking a pic on an iPhone always seemed so simple and gave great consistent results for a phone which is exactly what you want from a phone cam.

  39. Zack Mollusc

    regarding phone lenses

    just wondering how 'deep' a ccd/lens unit would have to be to make it much better ?

    If, say, an optically far superior unit was fitted that was an inch 'deeper', the phone could be made an inch thicker, with the extra space used for a battery of 7 times the capacity, a faraday cage credit card cubby hole etc.

  40. the Jim bloke Silver badge

    an unexploited niche for smartphones

    All this talk about high levels of zoom reminds me of something I really thought would be available in smartphones.

    Anyone remember the Electro-binoculars from the original Star Wars (the one poseurs call Episode IV)?

    These days the idea of someone looking at ..pretty much anything, from a distance has a high creepiness quotient, despite - or because of modern surveillance society, yet taking pictures is still mostly acceptable.

    The ergonomics of a phone are very poor compared to binoculars, but as has been mentioned above the best camera binoculars are the ones you have with you.

  41. digitalwolf

    Good Work

    Great attempt from Huawei .. Samsung and Apple have good cameras.. But 50x zoom.. That's pretty amazing ..

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