OnePlus 5, the new OnePlus flagship, has just launched in India, and the highlight feature this time is its new camera system. We've already done an in-depth OnePlus 5 review and even published an extensive test of its gaming performance, and now it's time to test the camera to see how it compares to current flagships. For today’s test, we’ll be pitting the OnePlus 5 against the smartphones that fared well in our previous camera comparison featuring flagship smartphones. We have the Google Pixel, Samsung Galaxy S8+, iPhone 7 Plus and of course, the OnePlus 3T since we’re curious to know how much of a step up the new flagship actually is. So let’s dive in.
Our first test involves checking how the phone fares in landscape shots. Here, we checked for colour accuracy and see how the cameras handle varied detail in distant objects.
The image from the OnePlus 5 feels a bit jarring compared to the rest, which is evident from the boosted colours, thus creating a stark contrast between the light and dark portions of the image. This causes the dark areas to appear black, instead of having any gradient. We weren’t too happy with details either in distant objects as the people's faces are nearly unrecognisable after zooming in.
The Galaxy S8+ produces the best HDR image as the picture is brighter with good white balance and surprisingly, colours aren’t too oversaturated. There’s also very good detail in the grass and distant objects are recognisable with barely any compression artefacts. The OnePlus 3T also manages very good details in the foreground and objects in the distance are sharp. The greens are still heavily saturated which makes it look a bit unnatural. It does, however, manage to get an accurate tone of the sky.
The Google Pixel captures good details too but the white balance is off, making the scene more cloudy than it actually is. Contrast is also heavily boosted here and dark areas don’t have good gradients.The iPhone 7 Plus doesn’t fare too well here with mushy details all round.
Coming to close up shots, we picked a flower with a deep shade of purple, which should pose a nice challenge for our contenders. Here, we also test the quality of bokeh produced by the phones.
The OnePlus 5 does well in close up shots. Our subject is sharp and level of details is very good. Colours feel slightly exaggerated here but overall, the picture looks very lively. Bokeh effect is good too with a pleasing gradient of colours in the background.
The OnePlus 3T actually performs a shade better than the OnePlus 5 in this test as it maintains a good balance between colour saturation and details. The bokeh is also smooth, although the colours in the background are a bit muted compared to its successor. The Galaxy S8+ ties in here with the OnePlus 3T, delivering rich colour reproduction and a smooth bokeh, although we found the contrast in the greens below the flower a bit overblown.
The image from the Google Pixel is also very detailed although the colours don’t provide the most accurate representation of the scene. Bokeh effect is also handled pretty well. The iPhone 7 Plus once again pales in comparison with the rest of the group. The contrast levels are way off and overall picture looks a bit artificial.
For our night shot, our focus was on the stone building but it also lets us see how the camera handles details in the night sky and objects in the foreground. We also look at how the phones handle noise in the dimly lit portions of the image.
The OnePlus 5 finally shines here thanks to the wider f/1.7 aperture. The dynamic range is very good with a brightly lit night sky and barely any visible noise. Details in the foreground, like the yellow railing, are also clearly visible and in focus. The Galaxy S8+ edges out the OnePlus 5 with the lowest amount of noise and the sharpest picture of the lot. The individual leaves on the lower tree are also very legible compared to the others.
The Google Pixel also does a good job with details but introduces lots of noise which is visible in the sky. It also produces the brightest picture of the lot but the lighting isn’t indicative of the actual lighting. The OnePlus 3T produces a much warmer image with good details on the stone building. However, the objects in the foreground, like the yellow railing appear fuzzy.
The iPhone 7 Plus ended up with a bright haze creeping in from the left, which is strange since none of the other phones had this. The scene is bright with decent details but colours are quite muted and the overall image feels flat.
For a close-up shot, we focused on the mailbox but also paid attention to how the cameras handled details and light metering for the background.
The OnePlus 5 shows its low-light chops once more, capturing good detail and colours of the subject and the background. Dynamic range is good and the objects in the distance are very legible. The Galaxy S8+ once again nudges past the OnePlus 5 by producing a sharper image with slightly better details on our subject. However, we preferred the white balance on the OnePlus 5, as the Galaxy S8+ has a heavy yellow tone from the street lamps.
The Google Pixel does a good job with white balance and details and produces a slightly brighter picture too. However, as a result of this, it also introduces some noise in the background which is visible on the road and the sky. The OnePlus 3T has a warmer colour tone, but the reds on our subject don't really pop and details aren’t the best. The iPhone 7 Plus does an ok job with details but the overall image looks quite dull. We also have some glare from an overhead light on the street creeping into the scene, which doesn’t provide a good look.
For selfies, we tested it during the day and another one at night, where we forcibly used the screen flash to see how the sensors cope in an extreme condition.
With the OnePlus 5, skin tones are rendered well under good lighting. The level of detail is good too, though we could have used a bit more contrast. In low light, the screen flash is very effective in illuminating your face, but it also introduces lots of noise in the bargain. The Google Pixel simply slays it once again, delivering rich contrast, superb details, and very good depth to the image in daylight. Skin tones look great and colours are punchy and vivid. In low light, the Google Pixel has a unique flash system, which turns the area around the shutter button into a fill light. The result is very good colours and contrast in the image, but this comes at the cost of some noise.
The Galaxy S8+ and the iPhone 7 Plus produce bright images with good details and pleasant skin tones in daylight. The Galaxy S8+ does the best job of minimising noise but that also gets rid of most of the background details. With the iPhone 7 Plus, the flash is powerful enough to illuminate your face clearly while maintaining decent colours. The OnePlus 3T produces a slightly washed out image in daylight and lacks good depth in this test. In low-light, the lack of a screen flash gives you a rather dark image but noise is still kept under control.
For our video test, we used 1080p at 30fps and 4K at 30fps resolutions. For the full-HD resolution, we tested the stabilisation by walking over an uneven surface while for 4K, we tested it on a flat surface. In our low light video test, we deliberately chose very dim lighting in one corner of a park, to see how the phones handle an extreme situation.
At 1080p, the OnePlus 5 fares a bit better than the OnePlus 3T, but takes a small hit in overall picture quality. The electronic stabilisation works decently well with the latest firmware as the shimmering effect isn’t too visible during the day. However, in very low light, image quality really dips below average as the shimmering issue coupled with the noise leaves you with a less than ideal result.
The iPhone 7 Plus performs the best here as the stabilisation is smooth and details are good. Noise is also kept in check in low light. The OnePlus 3T manages good quality footage although we noticed slight intermittent flickering issues in the stabilisation. Night video gets a bit too noisy if you don’t have a good light source around. The Google Pixel has good dynamic range in the day, with vivid colours. However, objects are quite blurry under low light. Finally, the Galaxy S8+ is good with stabilisation in daylight and has the least amount of noise in low-light videos, however, we did notice a strange ghosting issue if you're in motion, in very low light.
The OnePlus 5 lacks any stabilisation at 4K which results in very shaky videos, even if you’re walking on a flat surface. Details are good although the colours are a bit too saturated, and in very low-light we encountered quite a bit of noise too.
The iPhone 7 Plus once again delivers excellent stabilisation at 4K along with natural colours and quick focus during the day. Even in very low light, the picture quality is good with no real focus hunting issues. There is some noise present but no chroma noise. The Google Pixel delivers punchy colours and good details in daylight but it’s a complete mess in low light with lots of chroma noise ruining the footage. When it comes to the OnePlus 3T, colours are a bit exaggerated although stabilisation is good. Details are preserved to an extent in low light too, but the colours seem boosted. The footage from the Galaxy S8+ tends to have a slightly wobbly effect when you move about, but in low light, noise is the least among all, albeit at the cost of some details.
This camera test wouldn’t be complete without comparing the portrait mode on the OnePlus 5 with the iPhone 7 Plus, after all, that’s what inspired the company to go in the dual-camera direction with its latest flagship. Unlike the iPhone 7 Plus though, the OnePlus 5 uses its telephoto lens only to judge the depth between the subject and the background, instead of actually capturing the image. The picture captured by the iPhone also appears more zoomed in since it uses its telephoto lens to shoot.
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Both implementations do a good job of separating the background from the subject. However, the iPhone’s telephoto lens captures slightly sharper details and the subject is better lit compared to OnePlus’ offering, which is a bit on the softer side. However, the OnePlus 5 has a warmer colour tone.
The strong suit of the OnePlus 5’s camera is clearly in low-light photos, as the wider aperture allows for a much better dynamic range. Noise is also handled much better compared to the OnePlus 3T. The Galaxy S8+ still rules the roost when it comes to night photography, followed closely by the Google Pixel.
For daylight images, it’s really a case of a hit-or-miss situation with the OnePlus 5. It handles details in landscapes and macros very well but tends to boost the colours a bit at times, which doesn't always lead to a very pleasing picture. In fact, during our tests, we found the OnePlus 3T to perform a tad better than the OnePlus 5 in these situations. Here, the Samsung S8+ and Google Pixel have the upper edge, balancing both details and colours very well.
Finally, if you’re a heavy video user, then the OnePlus 5 is probably not the best tool for the job. Its electronic stabilisation has gotten better at 1080p but the lack of it at 4K is quite disappointing. The iPhone 7 Plus continues to rule this spot here, with the Samsung Galaxy S8+ coming in at second place.
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