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A midrange performer at both playback and recording

A midrange performer at both playback and recording

Oppo’s latest mid-range phone series is now also available in Europe, a few months after its initial launch in China. Unveiled alongside the vanilla Reno6 5G, the standard Pro is equipped with MediaTek’s top-tier Dimensity 1200 chipset, a 90Hz AMOLED display, and a 4,500 mAh battery with blazing-fast 65W charging. In terms of audio, while the original version is only equipped with a single speaker, the European model features two speakers, and boasts a Dolby partnership promising “immersive and dynamic high-end sound”. 

We put the Oppo Reno6 Pro 5G’s European version through our rigorous DXOMARK Audio test suite to measure its performance both at recording sound using its built-in microphones, and at playing audio back through its speakers. In this review, we will break down how it fared in a variety of tests and several common use cases.

Key audio specifications include:

  • One top front-firing speaker, and one bottom-firing speaker
  • Dolby Atmos technology
  • USB Type C for headphones


About DXOMARK Audio tests: For scoring and analysis in our smartphone audio reviews, DXOMARK engineers perform a variety of objective tests and undertake more than 20 hours of perceptual evaluation under controlled lab conditions. This article highlights the most important results of our testing. Note that we evaluate both Playback and Recording using only the device’s built-in hardware and default apps.
(For more details about our Playback protocol, click here; for more details about our Recording protocol, click here.)


Test summary

A midrange performer at both playback and recording 1
Oppo Reno6 Pro 5G

A midrange performer at both playback and recording 2

62

audio

Playback

Recording

Pros

  • Good wideness and distance rendering
  • Great loudness
  • Great signal-to-noise thanks to an efficient noise cancellation algorithm.

Cons

  • The tonal balance is very midrange-focused and sounds nasally, in addition to exhibiting resonances.
  • Noise cancellation is a bit overzealous at times, affecting the signal envelope, as well as timbre and localizability.

The Oppo Reno6 Pro 5G’s global Audio score of 62 places it below the average of all the phones we’ve tested to date, between devices such as the ZTE Axon 30 Ultra, and the Oppo Find X3 Neo.

In playback testing, the Oppo Reno6 Pro 5G earns below-average to average marks in all categories. It makes a decent playmate for gaming thanks to the quasi-absence of sonic artifacts, acceptable wideness, and correct distance rendering. Additionally, the minimum volume is well tuned, and the distribution of steps across the volume scale is consistent. On the other hand, the frequency response is heavily unbalanced, with a strong focus on midrange, and a lack of both high- and low-end extension. Besides localizability of the sources within the sound field, this also affects all dynamic attributes. Finally, note that the global left-right balance is skewed towards the right side of the device, when used in landscape mode.

The Reno6 Pro 5G turns in a more contrasted performance in the recording area. While timbre and background quality are well below average — due to a (yet again) highly midrange-focused tonal balance, resonances, and an occasional excessive noise cancellation —  the phone reaches very good sub-scores in the spatial and volume categories. Recordings ensure good wideness and distance capture, great loudness, and an excellent signal-to-noise ratio.

Sub-scores explained

The DXOMARK Audio overall score of 62 for the Oppo Reno6 Pro 5G  is derived from its Playback and Recording scores and their respective sub-scores. In this section, we’ll take a closer look at these audio quality sub-scores and explain what they mean for the user.

Playback

A midrange performer at both playback and recording 4

Timbre

Black Shark 4 Pro

Best: Black Shark 4 Pro (82)

Timbre tests measure how well a phone reproduces sound across the audible tonal range and takes into account bass, midrange, treble, tonal balance, and volume dependency.

Overall, the Oppo Reno6 Pro 5G’s timbre is focused on the upper midrange. While treble sounds a bit dull, high-end extension is very limited, resulting in inconsistencies in the upper register. Low-end extension, as well as bass, is also strongly lacking.

Midrange is rather decent, despite a lack of low mid warmth (particularly perceivable on voice-only content), and the prominence of high mids.

You can hear for yourself the differences in timbre (and other attributes) between the Oppo Reno6 Pro 5G and two of its competitors in the following sample:

A midrange performer at both playback and recording 5

Dynamics

Black Shark 4 Pro

Best: Black Shark 4 Pro (81)

DXOMARK’s dynamics tests measure how well a device reproduces the energy level of a sound source, and how precisely it reproduces bass frequencies.

With such substantial bass loss, the Reno6 Pro 5G really isn’t equipped to shine in our bass precision tests. Attack isn’t very good either — transient sounds are rounded and unprecise, especially at soft volumes —  and punch is very weak due to the lack of low mids, impairing the speakers’ ability to properly reproduce impacts.

A midrange performer at both playback and recording 6

Spatial

Black Shark 4 Pro

Best: Black Shark 4 Pro (82)

The sub-attributes for perceptual spatial tests include localizability, balance, distance, and wideness.

Although the European version is stereo, wideness is decent, but fairly limited. Localizability suffers from unstable source positions within the sound field. Balance between the left and right channels is not ideal, since supposedly centered signals are perceived to the right side of the device in landscape mode. Finally, distance rendering is rather realistic, even though voices sound slightly veiled.

A midrange performer at both playback and recording 7
A midrange performer at both playback and recording 8
A midrange performer at both playback and recording 9

Volume

Black Shark 4 Pro

Best: Black Shark 4 Pro (79)

Volume tests measure both the overall loudness a device is able to reproduce and how smoothly volume increases and decreases based on user input.

Except for subpar loudness at maximum level, the phone’s volume performance is globally satisfying. Here are a few sound pressure levels (SPL) measured when playing our sample recordings of hip-hop and classical music at maximum volume:

Hip-HopClassical
Oppo Reno6 Pro 5G73.9 dBA68.8 dBA
Xiaomi 11T Pro73.4 dBA70.1 dBA
OnePlus 9 Pro75.5 dBA72.4 dBA

The minimum volume step is very well tuned, allowing highly dynamic content (such as movies and classical music) to remain entirely intelligible. Additionally, the distribution of volume steps from softest to loudest is thoroughly consistent and natural, as shown in the graph below.

A midrange performer at both playback and recording 10

Artifacts

Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G

Best: Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G (96)

Artifacts tests measure how much source audio is distorted when played back through a device’s speakers. Distortion can occur both because of sound processing in the device and because of the quality of the speakers.

The speakers have an excellent behavior at nominal volume, in that they essentially exhibit no noticeable artifact, whether temporal (compression) or spectral (distortion). That said, noise is slightly enhanced on reference tracks, and bass distortion can be slightly noticeable. At maximum volume, both temporal and spectral artifacts arise, but nothing too problematic.

Recording

A midrange performer at both playback and recording 4

Timbre

Asus Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders

Best: Asus Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders (88)

In recording too, timbre is very midrange-focused — while not unpleasant, it lacks low midrange warmth and high-midrange clarity, resulting in a nasally and unnatural sound. Severely recessed treble induces a muffled sonority, and on the other side of the spectrum, bass and low-end extension are also lacking.

Despite all this, the tonal balance remains rather adequate in most situations.

A midrange performer at both playback and recording 5

Dynamics

OnePlus 8

Best: OnePlus 8 (78)

As a recording device, the Reno6 Pro 5G delivers substantially better dynamics than in playback, thanks to an efficient noise reduction algorithm. The signal-to-noise ratio thus reaches an excellent sub-score, at the expense of the envelope‘s sub-score: on top of a slight compression, transients are affected by the noise reduction algorithm.

A midrange performer at both playback and recording 13
A midrange performer at both playback and recording 14

When recording in loud environments, compression becomes quite noticeable, further impairing the captured sounds’ envelope.

A midrange performer at both playback and recording 6

Spatial

Black Shark 4 Pro

Best: Black Shark 4 Pro (78)

The Reno6 Pro 5G turns in an honorable performance in the spatial category thanks to appreciable wideness in landscape mode and when recording meetings, as well as realistic distance capture.

While localizability is perfectly decent in our domestic and meeting situations, it lacks precision in more urban scenarios. The reason could be that the noise reduction algorithm is triggered by a louder background, impairing localizability of sound sources. That, and the lack of treble.

A midrange performer at both playback and recording 9

Volume

Xiaomi Mi 10S

Best: Xiaomi Mi 10S (89)

Maximum level reachable without noticeable distortion is acceptably high, which means the Reno6 Pro 5G fares relatively well when recording in loud environments. Nominal level, on its part, is very good — especially in life videos and meeting recordings. Here are our test results, measured in LUFS (Loudness Unit Full Scale); as a reference, we expect loudness levels to be above -24 LUFS for recorded content:

MeetingLife VideoSelfie VideoMemo
Oppo Reno6 Pro 5G-21.6 LUFS-16.6 LUFS-15.4 LUFS-17.1 LUFS
Xiaomi 11T Pro-28.1 LUFS-26.3 LUFS-23.9 LUFS-22.4 LUFS
OnePlus 9 Pro-23.5 LUFS-22 LUFS-24.7 LUFS-15.1 LUFS
A midrange performer at both playback and recording 10

Artifacts

Asus Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders

Best: Asus Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders (90)

While the noise canceling algorithm is quite effective, it can at times become overzealous. It thus induces unusual artifacts such as sudden volume drops in the background accompanied by fluctuations in the main signal’s volume and timbre, which can even manifest slight phasing issues. Additionally, our engineers noted the presence of a noticeable albeit reasonable compression, especially when recording in loud environments. That all said, as a recording device, the Reno6 Pro 5G ensures an overall decent capacity of keeping undesirable sounds to a minimum, regardless of the use case. You can check for artifacts yourself in this sample recording:

A midrange performer at both playback and recording 18

Background

Apple iPhone XS Max

Best: Apple iPhone XS Max (58)

Recordings made with the Reno6 Pro present a pretty good and natural background tonal balance, despite a substantial lack of treble, high-midrange clarity, and bass. However, note that the background’s timbre may be affected by the noise cancellation algorithm, occasionally inducing phase issues.

Conclusion

While the Reno6 Pro 5G doesn’t excel either at playback or at recording, it manages to remain fairly functional. Oppo’s Pro model in its latest mid-range phone series can make a decent gaming companion and a sufficient device for filming selfie videos or recording meetings and memos.

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Xiaomi 11T Mid-Range Smartphone Review

Xiaomi 11T Mid-Range Smartphone Review

Xiaomi 11T

 

Quick Verdict

The Xiaomi 11T is a mid-range smartphone that sits in a very busy area of the smartphone market where it has a lot of competition in spec and price. What this means is that even though it can capture good photos and built quality is great, most other smartphones at this price point also do the same and the Xiaomi 11T isn’t doing anything to stand out. Is the Xiaomi 11T a decent mid-range smartphone? Yes, it is, but with so many mid-range smartphones now available, you’ll need to compare specs carefully so you purchase the right smartphone for you but overall, the Xiaomi 11T should be on the ‘consider’ list. 

+ Pros

  • Good screen 
  • Good image quality 
  • Lovely bokeh in images
  • Fast charging
  • Good battery
  • Great build quality

– Cons

  • Zoom could be better
  • No headphone jack

 

 

The Xiaomi 11T is one of two smartphones found in the Xiaomi 11T Series which also features the Xiaomi 11T Pro. The new series sits firmly in the mid-range smartphone market but with so much competition? Can these smartphones grab our attention? 

 

Xiaomi  11T Features

The Xiaomi 11T smartphone features a triple rear camera, 4K video capture, 6.67″ AMOLED DotDisplay and a 5000mAh battery. The cameras, which are obviously at the top of our interest list, line up as follows: Wide 108MP f/1.8 26mm with PDAF, Ulta-Wide 8MP f/2.2 and a Telemacro 5MP f/2.4 50mm with AF. The selfie camera is a 16MP f/2.5 shooter that captures video in 1080p @ 30fps. Rear camera photography features include a night mode, 108MP mode, slo-mo and a portrait mode which has adjustable apertures, a beauty filter and the ability to add cinematic effects as well as filters.

Available in 3 colours (grey, white and blue) the Xiaomi 11T is available now from Amazon priced at around £480 for the 256GB version. 

 

Xiaomi  11T Key Features:

  • Triple Rear Camera: Wide 108MP f/1.8 26mm with PDAF, Ulta-Wide 8MP f/2.2 and a Telemacro 5MP f/2.4 50mm with AF
  • Front Camera: 6MP f/2.5 
  • Display: 6.67″ AMOLED DotDisplay
  • Zoom: 2X
  • Phase-Detection Autofocus
  • Pro mode
  • Video: 4K @ 30fps, 1080p @ 30/60/120fps with gyro-EIS
  • Type-C USB
  • 5000mAh battery with fast charging
  • 128GB/8GB RAM or 256GB/8GB RAM
  • Dimensions: 164.1 x 76.9 x 8.8mm
  • Weight: 203g

 

Xiaomi 11T Handling

Xiaomi 11T

 

The Xiaomi 11T balances screen size and handling size really well with the smartphone fitting comfortably in the hand. It’s a bit of a stretch trying to use the device one-handed, though. Construction feels solid with a glass front and back wrapped in an aluminium frame while the almost bezel-less design combined with rounded edges/corners makes the device look more expensive than it actually is. The front 16MP f/2.5 camera sits cut out of the screen top centre but it doesn’t impede screen viewing as we’ve all got used to seeing this camera design on smartphones nowadays.  As for the display, it’s an AMOLED 6.67-inch screen that’s bright and sharp but did look a little on the cool side when viewing images. 

For peace of mind, the Xiaomi 11T has IP53 dust and splash protection and you also get a free clear case to pop on the smartphone to stop fingerprints appearing on the body and to protect it from scratches. The case also makes the smartphone much more grippy and prevents it from sliding off surfaces. It does make it feel a bit bulkier, though, but you soon get used to it. 

The colour options are very modern and shiny to the point you can see your reflection on the back of the smartphone but this doesn’t stop the device looking great.

 

Xiaomi 11T
 

The buttons and ports are all where you expect them to be but there’s no headphone jack and the memory can’t be extended with a memory card. There’s no on-screen or in-screen fingerprint sensor either, this is found on the side but as your hand naturally lands on the power button, the device unlocks pretty quickly. 

On the back is the camera unit which features:

  • Wide lens – 108MP, f/1.75 (26mm) with PDAF
  • Ulta-Wide lens –  8MP, f/2.2
  • Telemacro lens – 5MP, f/2.4, (50mm) with AF, 2X magnification

In the camera app, you have access to a few features but there aren’t quite as many as you see on some other smartphones at this price point. Built-in modes include Night mode 2.0, 108MP mode, Portrait mode with effects and aperture selection, Pro mode and Time Lapse. The app itself is like any other smartphone camera app with modes, shutter button etc. all where you expect them to be. To access the zoom range after the 2X offered by the telemacro lens you have to tap the 2x icon which brings up a scale to select from along with 5x and 10x buttons. 

Video wise, the Xiaomi 11T captures 4K at 30fps and 1080p at 60fps. 

Battery life – The 5000mAh battery is really great and you’ll easily get a full day’s use out of the smartphone. Plus, fast charging is supported should you need to boost the battery. 

Support this site by making a Donation, purchasing Plus Membership, or shopping with one of our affiliates:
Amazon UK,
Amazon US,
Amazon CA,
ebay UK

It doesn’t cost you anything extra when you use these links, but it does support the site, helping keep ePHOTOzine free to use, thank you.

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Xiaomi 11T Mid-Range Smartphone Review

Xiaomi 11T Mid-Range Smartphone Review

Xiaomi 11T

 

Quick Verdict

The Xiaomi 11T is a mid-range smartphone that sits in a very busy area of the smartphone market where it has a lot of competition in spec and price. What this means is that even though it can capture good photos and built quality is great, most other smartphones at this price point also do the same and the Xiaomi 11T isn’t doing anything to stand out. Is the Xiaomi 11T a decent mid-range smartphone? Yes, it is, but with so many mid-range smartphones now available, you’ll need to compare specs carefully so you purchase the right smartphone for you but overall, the Xiaomi 11T should be on the ‘consider’ list. 

+ Pros

  • Good screen 
  • Good image quality 
  • Lovely bokeh in images
  • Fast charging
  • Good battery
  • Great build quality

– Cons

  • Zoom could be better
  • No headphone jack

 

 

The Xiaomi 11T is one of two smartphones found in the Xiaomi 11T Series which also features the Xiaomi 11T Pro. The new series sits firmly in the mid-range smartphone market but with so much competition? Can these smartphones grab our attention? 

 

Xiaomi  11T Features

The Xiaomi 11T smartphone features a triple rear camera, 4K video capture, 6.67″ AMOLED DotDisplay and a 5000mAh battery. The cameras, which are obviously at the top of our interest list, line up as follows: Wide 108MP f/1.8 26mm with PDAF, Ulta-Wide 8MP f/2.2 and a Telemacro 5MP f/2.4 50mm with AF. The selfie camera is a 16MP f/2.5 shooter that captures video in 1080p @ 30fps. Rear camera photography features include a night mode, 108MP mode, slo-mo and a portrait mode which has adjustable apertures, a beauty filter and the ability to add cinematic effects as well as filters.

Available in 3 colours (grey, white and blue) the Xiaomi 11T is available now from Amazon priced at around £480 for the 256GB version. 

 

Xiaomi  11T Key Features:

  • Triple Rear Camera: Wide 108MP f/1.8 26mm with PDAF, Ulta-Wide 8MP f/2.2 and a Telemacro 5MP f/2.4 50mm with AF
  • Front Camera: 6MP f/2.5 
  • Display: 6.67″ AMOLED DotDisplay
  • Zoom: 2X
  • Phase-Detection Autofocus
  • Pro mode
  • Video: 4K @ 30fps, 1080p @ 30/60/120fps with gyro-EIS
  • Type-C USB
  • 5000mAh battery with fast charging
  • 128GB/8GB RAM or 256GB/8GB RAM
  • Dimensions: 164.1 x 76.9 x 8.8mm
  • Weight: 203g

 

Xiaomi 11T Handling

Xiaomi 11T

 

The Xiaomi 11T balances screen size and handling size really well with the smartphone fitting comfortably in the hand. It’s a bit of a stretch trying to use the device one-handed, though. Construction feels solid with a glass front and back wrapped in an aluminium frame while the almost bezel-less design combined with rounded edges/corners makes the device look more expensive than it actually is. The front 16MP f/2.5 camera sits cut out of the screen top centre but it doesn’t impede screen viewing as we’ve all got used to seeing this camera design on smartphones nowadays.  As for the display, it’s an AMOLED 6.67-inch screen that’s bright and sharp but did look a little on the cool side when viewing images. 

For peace of mind, the Xiaomi 11T has IP53 dust and splash protection and you also get a free clear case to pop on the smartphone to stop fingerprints appearing on the body and to protect it from scratches. The case also makes the smartphone much more grippy and prevents it from sliding off surfaces. It does make it feel a bit bulkier, though, but you soon get used to it. 

The colour options are very modern and shiny to the point you can see your reflection on the back of the smartphone but this doesn’t stop the device looking great.

 

Xiaomi 11T
 

The buttons and ports are all where you expect them to be but there’s no headphone jack and the memory can’t be extended with a memory card. There’s no on-screen or in-screen fingerprint sensor either, this is found on the side but as your hand naturally lands on the power button, the device unlocks pretty quickly. 

On the back is the camera unit which features:

  • Wide lens – 108MP, f/1.75 (26mm) with PDAF
  • Ulta-Wide lens –  8MP, f/2.2
  • Telemacro lens – 5MP, f/2.4, (50mm) with AF, 2X magnification

In the camera app, you have access to a few features but there aren’t quite as many as you see on some other smartphones at this price point. Built-in modes include Night mode 2.0, 108MP mode, Portrait mode with effects and aperture selection, Pro mode and Time Lapse. The app itself is like any other smartphone camera app with modes, shutter button etc. all where you expect them to be. To access the zoom range after the 2X offered by the telemacro lens you have to tap the 2x icon which brings up a scale to select from along with 5x and 10x buttons. 

Video wise, the Xiaomi 11T captures 4K at 30fps and 1080p at 60fps. 

Battery life – The 5000mAh battery is really great and you’ll easily get a full day’s use out of the smartphone. Plus, fast charging is supported should you need to boost the battery. 

Support this site by making a Donation, purchasing Plus Membership, or shopping with one of our affiliates:
Amazon UK,
Amazon US,
Amazon CA,
ebay UK

It doesn’t cost you anything extra when you use these links, but it does support the site, helping keep ePHOTOzine free to use, thank you.

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iPhone 13 and 13 Mini Review: Mid-Range Prowess Continues

iPhone 13 and 13 Mini Review: Mid-Range Prowess Continues

iPhone 13 and 13 Mini Review: Mid-Range Prowess Continues 19

For Apple, the iPhone 13 and 13 mini are supposed to be the easiest foray into the best the company has to offer, and that means the results have to speak for themselves.

Like the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max, these two phones also come with better camera systems. It’s a familiar refrain every year, only this time, it bears more weight because the phones aren’t all that different from the iPhone 12 and 12 mini that came before them. There are also no gaps as far as what the 13 and 13 mini offer. Shoot photos on either one and you should get the same result.

The promise has always been that, despite not going with one of Apple’s Pro variants, you would still come away satisfied with the results from its less advanced tier of handsets.

Design and Camera Features

There isn’t much to say about the aesthetics here. These phones are highly similar to their predecessors. Yes, there is a smaller notch at the top, though still no less noticeable, and the Ceramic Shield screen is supposed to be more rigid in staving off scratches and nicks. After using these phones for 10 days, I’m not convinced about that yet.

iPhone 13 and 13 Mini Review: Mid-Range Prowess Continues 20

I’m also not a fan of glass on the back. Not only because they become fingerprint magnets, but also for the issues they can cause over grip. For a photographer using either phone without a case, the potential to slip inevitably increases. I preferred the matte finish on the edges, where even a tighter grip didn’t leave a visible print behind every single time. All this said, most will put their phone in a case, making these complaints largely moot.

On the inside, there is a lot to consider. For starters, the new A15 Bionic chip and image signal processor gives these phones the same kind of power their Pro brethren can harness. Key to this is how the primary 12-megapixel wide (26mm equivalent) image sensor is the same size as the one in the iPhone 12 Pro Max. Apple switched to a Dual-Pixel autofocus instead of the phase-detection it utilized in the past. Sensor-shift optical image stabilization (OIS), introduced in the 12 Pro Max, also comes into play here, too.

iPhone 13 and 13 Mini Review: Mid-Range Prowess Continues 21

The 12-megapixel ultra-wide (13mm equivalent) is back, essentially unchanged from that of the previous generation. Apple didn’t extend the 13 Pro/Pro Max Macro mode to this lens by way of an automatic switch via the primary lens. Those phones let you move in as close as two centimeters to capture an image, but you won’t be doing that with the 13 and 13 mini.

iPhone 13 and 13 Mini Review: Mid-Range Prowess Continues 22

The lack of a telephoto lens means you won’t be zooming in — optically, anyway — toward a subject, either. Nor will you get ProMotion, what Apple calls its 120Hz screen refresh rate for smoother navigation. And forget about shooting anything in ProRAW, as that format is exclusive to Apple’s Pro iPhones.

What you will get is better choices for internal storage, starting with 128GB as a base, and going up to 256GB and 512GB.

Charting a Different Upgrade Path

Apple likes to present each iPhone generation as a marked improvement over its predecessor. I would say it’s better to look at it from a wider viewpoint: two years or longer. For example, the iPhone 11 came in one size, as there was no mini at that time. It started at a paltry 64GB of storage and came with a screen that isn’t as vibrant as the Super Retina XDR the iPhone 13 models have. Of course, that hasn’t changed, and the iPhone 11 is still available as a budget option.

Apple also says the image sensor on the iPhone 13 and 13 mini primary camera is 47% larger than the one on the iPhone 11. The wider f/1.7 aperture should also bring in 87% more light. Given the 11 also never had an ultra-wide lens, it’s all gravy as far as being able to shoot with that kind of perspective on these phones.

I also have to throw in the iPhone SE (2020) into this because it’s limited to one camera that has no chance of producing the same results that an iPhone 13 mini can. Put the two side-by-side, and the 13 mini not only has a larger 5.4-inch display, it’s also lighter to wield. Granted, there is a big difference in price: the SE starts at $399, whereas the 13 mini starts at $699. With that kind of discrepancy, you should expect that big performance gap.

Software Features

Without the extra goodies the Pro models have, Apple did at least include one key element to bridge the divide in the form of Photographic Styles. When you first launch the Camera app, you can choose to go through the process of selecting the style you like to go with for your photos. If you don’t see it, go to Settings -> Camera -> Photographic Styles to get there.

iPhone 13 and 13 Mini Review: Mid-Range Prowess Continues 23

These aren’t filters, but rather differences in tonality and temperature that set a baseline. That way, it’s your starting point every time you launch the Camera app. You can still freely adjust the tone and warmth for every image before shooting it, or even select a different style for any one particular shot when necessary. The automated part of this is that the style applies itself to the photo by what’s in it. Capture a scene with multiple people, and it will make those adjustments for each individual, rather than paint a broad stroke over all of them equally. It can’t do that in the same way for objects or animals, so the effect does have its limits.

Apple hyped its new Cinematic mode a lot more, presenting it as a new Hollywood-esque way to shoot mobile video. Outside of that, the rest of the camera interface will look familiar.

Image Quality

Primary camera

Smartphones have pretty sophisticated processes in how they assess and render a scene. Apple says it positioned the A15 Bionic to push its Deep Fusion and Smart HDR 4 algorithms to do it properly every time. In my testing, I found this to not be the case because of one unpredictable variable: lighting.

iPhone 13 and 13 Mini Review: Mid-Range Prowess Continues 24

I was impressed with the images the iPhone 13 and 13 mini could produce, and I only bristled at how pervasive luminance turned out to be. This wasn’t about which style I was shooting with, it’s a fundamental flaw of the camera system itself. And it’s not specific to these phones because I saw the same thing happen with the 13 Pro and Pro Max, which I discuss in my review. It’s hard for me to say how much the average user would take issue with it, especially since these two models are, in my opinion, more likely to end up in people’s hands than the Pro models are.

But when it’s obvious, it’s hard to miss. A lot of conditions won’t present these challenges, unless there’s plenty of contrast. Apple’s penchant for color and tones, be they skin, fur, fabric, and hard surfaces, apply throughout. The detail is there, as is the relatively soft texture. In many cases, photos will turn out just fine.

iPhone 13 and 13 Mini Review: Mid-Range Prowess Continues 25
iPhone 13, Portrait Mode

Except, like my experience with the 13 Pro and Pro Max, dynamic range proved to be a hurdle these phones also had to consistently jump over. Light sources could wash out easily if Apple’s Deep Fusion placed more emphasis on detailing the shadows. A scene with a very bright light and a dark setting would force Apple’s software to pick a side, and invariably, that side is going to be on the darker side.

iPhone 13 and 13 Mini Review: Mid-Range Prowess Continues 26

The inability to shoot in RAW doesn’t make it any easier. Third-party apps would have to step up with better rendering to address this shortcoming. It’s just frustrating to capture excellent shots with one element routinely popping up to affect them visually.

iPhone 13 and 13 Mini Review: Mid-Range Prowess Continues 27

Ultra-wide

If you’re coming from any of the more affordable or mid-range iPhones that predated the iPhone 12 and 13 models, you will appreciate having a second lens with a 120-degree field of view. Sometimes, physically stepping back to frame something isn’t possible, and that’s where the ultra-wide camera is so convenient.

iPhone 13 and 13 Mini Review: Mid-Range Prowess Continues 28

It is hindered by its f/2.4 aperture, so low-light shots will be more challenging, but the results aren’t going to be bad. That’s what I found in most instances, and ultimately, I’m not sure I noticed a massive difference between these two phones and the 13 Pro and Pro Max ultra-wide cameras. Apple also finally enabled the ultra-wide lens to shoot in Night mode, making it possible to try capturing a scene once night falls.

Coming from an iPhone X, XR, 11, or SE, just having this lens and that flexibility is a significant addition, and worth considering, even if Apple was pretty late to the game in adding both features compared to its competitors.

Night and Low-Light

Since the primary lens and sensor mirror that of the iPhone 12 Pro Max, results are likely going to come out looking similar, too. I never got to use that phone, so I can’t say for certain, but what I can say is that the iPhone 13 and 13 mini can deliver good results when the lighting is right. Shoot a scene with reflected light or well-lit building or street and images should come out looking quite nice.

iPhone 13 and 13 Mini Review: Mid-Range Prowess Continues 29

As I have already mentioned, dynamic range and luminance are problematic throughout, though. Much like I experienced with the iPhone 13 Pro models, these two phones also struggle with keeping visible light sources in check. Lamps or bulbs in your shot will wash out, and the more prominent they are in the image, the more they stand out in a negative way. Also, the further away the subject is in a night shot, the worse the cameras render the details in that scene. It’s why cityscapes and faraway street scenes may come out with very mixed results.

iPhone 13 and 13 Mini Review: Mid-Range Prowess Continues 30

I keep pointing to older iPhones because that’s where the results make the most sense. Try shooting the same night scenes with those past devices, and you will see that progress has indeed been made here. Apple just needs to get a better handle over what its software is doing with each photo. Not being able to shoot in RAW (unless you try a third-party app) doesn’t offer an alternative, and the company’s style selections have little impact in making night and low-light shots look better.

iPhone 13 and 13 Mini Review: Mid-Range Prowess Continues 31

Video Features

The iPhone has been a stellar video recorder, a distinction that’s also extended to the less expensive versions over the years. Apple applied both Dolby Vision HDR and Cinematic mode to both the iPhone 13 and 13 mini. The latter is the newer feature, and it’s a lot like Portrait mode for video by adding bokeh to a scene that you could control both during and after you’ve recorded the clip.

It’s not especially good in low-light or night scenes, where focusing can feel a bit erratic, but the feature certainly holds promise. The issue is that it’s limited to 1080p at 30fps, and only works with the primary lens, so your ability to truly push this feature is a bit limited from the start. Meanwhile, ProRes is exclusive to the Pro iPhones, so you can’t take advantage of file compression to shoot a lot of high-quality video, and take up less space on your phone’s storage.

Apple’s Mid-Range Prowess Continues

I recognize that calling these phones “mid-range” is stretching things a little, but we know which of Apple’s phones are the flagships, and these two aren’t it. Still, the iPhone 13 and 13 mini are easy to like for how well they can shoot relative to where they stand against others. The litany of third-party apps help fill some functional and performance gaps, which is always nice.

I just wish Apple would be more proactive in dealing with the output issues that I feel are pretty obvious. Competitors are doing better handling night shooting and luminance, though may struggle more with matching how Apple renders people in any average shot. For now, the iPhone 13 might come out on top, but competitors do some things better than Apple currently is. If Apple can get dynamic range right, it would have a camera that really is tough to beat, especially at this level.

iPhone 13 and 13 Mini Review: Mid-Range Prowess Continues 32

Are There Alternatives?

It will be interesting to see what Google does with the Pixel 6, and if its pricing will fall more in line with the iPhone 13 and 13 mini. It’s unlikely Google could match what Apple is doing on the video side, but all bets are off when it comes to still images. Google’s Night Sight is superb, and works really well on more affordable devices like the Pixel 5a.

Samsung has been taking its mid-range phone cameras more seriously in recent years, and it shows in devices like the Galaxy A52, among others. Chinese brands are also making big inroads and pushing more innovation in mobile photography than we’re generally seeing on this side of the pond. OnePlus, Vivo, Xiaomi, Huawei, and Oppo are all constantly trying to one-up each other, leading to some fascinating results for those who end up shooting with them.

Should You Buy It?

Yes, but only if you’re upgrading from an older iPhone. If you have the iPhone 12 or 12 mini, you can hold off — unless you have a hankering for Cinematic mode. The bigger difference comes from a wider gap of time, meaning you will feel a much greater imaging impact if you’re coming at the iPhone 13 or 13 mini from an iPhone that came to market in prior years. From that perspective, there is a lot to like here.

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Pleasing warmth in low midrange

Pleasing warmth in low midrange

The Oppo Find X3 Lite is the most affordable of the Find X3 line of devices, which also includes the Find X3 Neo and the flagship Find X3 Pro. The X3 Lite operates on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G  chipset, has a 6.4″ screen, and costs about half the price of the X3 Pro.

The brand does not offer any details about the audio setup on its website, but we know that it has one speaker, which is right bottom side-firing, and it has a 3.5 mm headphone jack. Let’s see how it fares in our rigorous audio testing protocol.

Audio specifications include:

  • One bottom side-firing speaker.
  • Headphone jack

About DXOMARK Audio tests: For scoring and analysis in our smartphone audio reviews, DXOMARK engineers perform a variety of objective tests and undertake more than 20 hours of perceptual evaluation under controlled lab conditions. This article highlights the most important results of our testing. Note that we evaluate both Playback and Recording using only the device’s built-in hardware and default apps. (For more details about our Playback protocol, click here; for more details about our Recording protocol, click here.)

Test summary

Pleasing warmth in low midrange 33
Oppo Find X3 Lite

Pleasing warmth in low midrange 34

53

audio

Playback

Cons

  • Lack of clarity and brightness.
  • Some aspects of dynamics are imprecise.
  • Being a mono device, its spatial performance is limited.

Recording

Pros

  • Well-managed background reduction outdoors in selfie video and memo app.
  • Very clear midrange and high-end.
  • Records well in high sound pressure level environments.
  • The device generates few artifacts, and did particularly well in the urban use cases.

Cons

  • Inverted stereo image when recording video with the rear cameras in landscape mode.
  • Overall lack of low end.

With an overall score of 53, the Oppo Find X3 Lite lands toward the bottom among all devices we’ve tested, and also is among the lower scores in DXOMARK’s High-End price category. It matches the overall score of the Honor 20 Pro, for example, in our database.

In Playback, the X3 Lite is generally functional. With only one speaker, it starts at a disadvantage, especially in the spatial attribute. The strong low midrange does have a pleasant warmth, but it’s not enough on its own to support a good tonal balance. Dynamics were also problematic. Strong points were a well-tuned minimum volume step and a relatively good score in artifacts.

As a recording device, the Find X3 Lite has some interesting quirks. More than some devices we’ve tested, the sound quality it captures really depends on what it’s being used for.  In the spatial attribute, for example, the localizability isn’t very good — except when recording selfie videos in an urban environment. It also received decent scores in dynamics and artifacts.

Sub-scores explained

The DXOMARK Audio overall score of 53 for the Oppo Find X3 Lite is derived from its Playback and Recording scores and their respective sub-scores. In this section, we’ll take a closer look at these audio quality sub-scores and explain what they mean for the user.

Playback

Pleasing warmth in low midrange 36

Timbre

Black Shark 4 Pro

Best: Black Shark 4 Pro (82)

Timbre tests measure how well a phone reproduces sound across the audible tonal range and takes into account bass, midrange, treble, tonal balance, and volume dependency.

The Oppo Find X3 Lite earned a below average score for timbre. The tonal balance is focused on the low midrange, and does have a satisfying warmth, but there is a lack of brightness at the high end and a simple lack of low end that undermines the positive aspects. The low midrange lacks fullness, specifically the upper part. This is especially noticeable when holding listening to the device in portrait mode. In that case, it lacks even more upper midrange clarity, and the low mid can become muddied.

Overall, treble lacks brightness and airiness. A small bump in the lower treble part of the spectrum makes it sound canny and resonant. Bass is decent but lacks low-end extension and strength. The strong low midrange helps it maintain its clear presence, just the same.

The tonal balance, focused on the low midrange, remains the same at softer volumes, but at maximum volume the result is quite different; tonal balance becomes riddled with inconsistencies, very muffled and yet thin.

Pleasing warmth in low midrange 37

The Oppo Find X3 Lite’s tonal balance is focused on the low midrange.

Pleasing warmth in low midrange 38

Dynamics

Black Shark 4 Pro

Best: Black Shark 4 Pro (81)

DXOMARK’s dynamics tests measure how well a device reproduces the energy level of a sound source, and how precisely it reproduces bass frequencies.

The Oppo Find X3 Lite delivers a below average performance in dynamics. Attack is decent, but slightly rounded and not as sharp as it should be. At low volume attack slips into flimsiness. At high volume, it is stifled by compression. Bass precision is off the mark because of the significant lack of attack, especially observable on kick and bass hits. This renders the bass envelope inaccurate at every volume.

Pleasing warmth in low midrange 39
Pleasing warmth in low midrange 40

An important absence of overall energy and transient information subdues punch, and at higher volumes, compression becomes an obstacle. It sounds a bit bland.

Pleasing warmth in low midrange 41

Spatial

Black Shark 4 Pro

Best: Black Shark 4 Pro (82)

The sub-attributes for perceptual spatial tests include localizability, balance, distance, and wideness.

As you would expect with a one-speaker device, the spatial attribute is not a strong suit for the Oppo Find X3 Lite, but its flaws go beyond that.

Localizability is very blurry and unclear. Balance is tilted to the right (Hi Engineers: Even considering it just has one speaker on the right? It seems further to the right than the actual speaker?)  The wideness score is zero. One bright spot is that distance perception is fairly accurate.

Pleasing warmth in low midrange 42

The Oppo Find X3 Lite is a one-speaker device, limiting its spatial performance.

Pleasing warmth in low midrange 43

Volume

Black Shark 4 Pro

Best: Black Shark 4 Pro (79)

Volume tests measure both the overall loudness a device is able to reproduce and how smoothly volume increases and decreases based on user input.

Hip-HopClassical
Oppo Find X3 Lite70.6 dBA69 dBA
Oppo Find X3 Pro74.8 dBA70.2 dBA
Oppo Reno5 Pro+ 5G74.2 dBA70.5 dBA

The Find X3 Lite performs below average for volume. Compression has a big impact on the loudness at maximum volume. Volume consistency isn’t great either, but on a positive note, intelligibility at the minimum volume step is very satisfactory.

Pleasing warmth in low midrange 44

Artifacts

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G

Best: Samsung Galaxy A52 5G (96)

Artifacts tests measure how much source audio is distorted when played back through a device’s speakers. Distortion can occur both because of sound processing in the device and because of the quality of the speakers.

The Oppo Find X3 Lite fares somewhat better in the artifacts attribute. The device stays mostly clean of artifacts at nominal volume and in normal circumstances, but its rendition of synthetic signals shows it’s fairly limited and that indicates that it could induce aliasing and multi-tone artifacts.

Pleasing warmth in low midrange 45

The compression previously mentioned in the volume attribute is the first easily observed artifact. This is accompanied by distortion at high SPL, clipping that occurs at specific resonant frequencies, and some bass distortion. The Find X3 Lite is prone to occlusion of the hand that can result in partial or total muting of the speaker. In the gaming use case, this issue was particularly nettlesome.

Pleasing warmth in low midrange 46

The Find X3 Lite is prone to occlusion of the hand that can result in partial or total muting of the speaker.

Recording

Pleasing warmth in low midrange 36

Timbre

Asus Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders

Best: Asus Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders (88)

The sound quality produced by the Oppo Find X3 Lite as a recording device really depends on what you’re using it for. In most use cases it has good treble and high-end extension, and it performs exceptionally well in the meeting use case where the treble is clean and open.

The variables multiply when you consider midrange. The Find X3 Lite performs really well in the life-video home use case, delivering very clear and intelligible voices. But in the meeting use case, where it can sound slightly nasal, it lacks some body,

Pleasing warmth in low midrange 48

The Oppo Find X3 Lite  performs exceptionally well in the meeting use case.

Low end is lacking in most use cases, but the lower midrange is still present and supports the overall timbre.

Pleasing warmth in low midrange 38

Dynamics

OnePlus 8

Best: OnePlus 8 (78)

The X3 Lite delivers a decent performance in recording dynamics. Voices are precise and intelligible. The envelope is well defined in most use cases, with the exception of life video, where it lacks definition.

The signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) is average. More low end would lend substance to the sensation of punch. In loud situations, the dynamics remain well defined. As was the case with timbre, the lack of low end weakens punch (Engineers: Is it punch or attack? ).

Pleasing warmth in low midrange 41

Spatial

Black Shark 4 Pro

Best: Black Shark 4 Pro (78)

The score in the spatial attribute reflects a number of flaws in the X3 Lite’s capacities. The localizability is not particularly good — except when recording selfie videos in an urban environment. The stereo field is narrow in every use case.

The distance perception is close to reflecting reality, and it could be even better with enhanced low-end extension. As was the case with the Oppo Find X3 Neo, an interesting oddity emerges in the life video use case (rear cameras, landscape mode): the stereo field is inverted when you are holding it correctly. This quirk cost it heavily in the wideness score.

Pleasing warmth in low midrange 43

Volume

Xiaomi Mi 10S

Best: Xiaomi Mi 10S (89)

Recording loudness is average in the Oppo Find X3 Lite. One of the device’s strong points is the excellent management of background level in the outdoors selfie video and memo use cases. In these sometimes trying circumstances, the X3 Lite effectively enhances the clarity and intelligibility of the target voices.

Here are our test results, measured in LUFS (Loudness Unit Full Scale). As a reference, we expect loudness levels to be above -24 LUFS for recorded content:

MeetingLife VideoSelfie VideoMemo
Oppo Find X3 Lite-28.6 LUFS-21.4 LUFS-21.6 LUFS-21.2 LUFS
Oppo Find X3 Pro-26 LUFS-22.6 LUFS-26.7 LUFS-19.9 LUFS
Oppo Reno5 Pro+ 5G-25.5 LUFS-22.9 LUFS-21.9 LUFS-21.4 LUFS
Pleasing warmth in low midrange 44

Artifacts

Asus Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders

Best: Asus Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders (90)

Here is an above-average bright spot for the Find X3 Lite. The device delivers clean sound, especially in the selfie video urban use case. Pumping effects can be heard when recording loud sources, but the issue remains relatively controlled.

You can check for artifacts yourself in this sample recording:

Pleasing warmth in low midrange 53

Background

Apple iPhone XS Max

Best: Apple iPhone XS Max (58)

The X3 Lite struggled with managing background. Gating and pumping took a toll on the score here, and the lack of low-end extension made background sound thin.

In selfie video use cases, the device fared better. The overall tonal balance sounds natural, and directivity was on target.

Conclusion

Being a one-speaker device, the Oppo Find X3 Lite starts from a weak position, but it could have done more to bolster its strong points and shore up the weak ones. In playback, it is mostly functional and even deserves some praise for its warm midrange, though it had flaws on the other ends of the spectrum. It performed fairly well in artifacts, delivering clean sound in most use cases.

As a recording device, the X3 Lite is a conundrum. Performing well in some respects — even difficult sound environments — and foundering in others. The inverted sound scene in life video is a head scratcher, to be sure. As a recording device, the Find X3 Lite captures sound without inducing many artifacts, a positive to build on in future iterations of this line of Oppo devices.

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Xiaomi Launches New T Series Of Mid-Range Smartphones

Xiaomi Launches New T Series Of Mid-Range Smartphones

Xiaomi 11T Series

The Xiaomi T Series has finally made its debut with the introduction of the Xiaomi 11T Pro and Xiaomi 11T mid-range smartphones

On the Xiaomi 11T Pro is a triple-camera set-up with a pro-grade 108MP wide-angle lens leading the way with a 2x telemacro lens and a 120-degree ultra-wide-angle lens supporting. AI Cinema modes, 8K recording and HDR10+ are just a few of the modes built-in alongside Xiaomi HyperCharge technology which means users can charge the Xiaomi 11T Pro to 100% in 17 minutes.

Pricing: The Xiaomi 11T Pro will be available from £599 while the Xiaomi 11T prices start at £499. 

 

Xiaomi 11T Pro Key Features:

  • 120W HyperCharge fast charging: charges device to 100% in 17 minutes
  • 108MP wide-angle f/1.75 camera, OIS, Dual Native ISO
  • 8MP ultra-wide-angle camera 120° FOV, f/2.2
  • 5MP telemacro camera f/2.4, AF 3-7cm
  • 8K video recording
  • 16MP in-display front camera f/2
  • 120Hz 6.67” AMOLED flat DotDisplay 
  • 5000mAh battery
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
  • SOUND by Harman Kardon and Dolby Atmos
  • 120 Hz AMOLED display
  • Dimensions: 164.1mm x 76.9mm x 8.8mm
  • Weight: 204g
  • Colours: Meteorite Gray, Moonlight White, Celestial Blue

 

Xiaomi 11T Key Features:

  • 67W charging: charges device to 100% in 36 minutes
  • 108MP wide-angle f/1.75 camera, OIS, Dual Native ISO
  • 8MP ultra-wide-angle camera 120° FOV, f/2.2
  • 5MP telemacro camera f/2.4, AF 3-7cm
  • 16MP in-display front camera f/2
  • 120Hz 6.67” AMOLED flat DotDisplay 
  • 5000mAh battery
  • MediaTek Dimensity 1200-Ultra
  • Dolby Atmos
  • 120 Hz AMOLED display
  • Dimensions: 164.1mm x 76.9mm x 8.8mm
  • Weight: 203g
  • Colours: Meteorite Gray, Moonlight White, Celestial Blue

 

New Xiaomi 11 Lite 5G NE

Xiaomi 11 Lite

 

As well as the T Series, Xiaomi has introduced a follow-up to the Xiaomi 11 Series – the Xiaomi 11 Lite 5G NE. Alongside a 64MP main camera, you find an 8MP ultra-wide-angle camera and a 5MP telemacro camera. The Xiaomi 11 Lite 5G NE also offers a Qualcomm Snapdragon 778 5G Mobile Platform chipset providing ultra-fast 5G connectivity. 

Other features include a 6.55″ AMOLED DotDisplay and a 4,250mAh battery with 33w fast charging. 

Colour-wise, Truffle Black, Bubblegum Blue, and Peach Pink are making a return alongside a brand-new colour – Snowflake White that’s matte and frosted. 

In the UK, the Xiaomi 11 Lite 5G NE will go on sale in October, full pricing and availability will be provided closer to launch.

 

From Xiaomi: 

Xiaomi 11T Series

 

Global technology leader, Xiaomi, today announced the introduction of three new smartphones to the Xiaomi 11 family of devices – Xiaomi 11T, Xiaomi 11T Pro – all designed to inspire creativity among smartphone users – as well as the refreshed and stylish Xiaomi 11 Lite 5G NE.

Xiaomi continues to revolutionise smartphone photography and videography by offering a slew of innovative “Cinemagic” filmmaking features in Xiaomi 11T and Xiaomi 11T Pro. Gone are the days of heavy and expensive movie-making equipment, with Xiaomi 11T Series, industry-leading filmmaking technology is now available in the palms of aspiring creators’ hands.

At the same time, the ultra-slim, featherweight Xiaomi 11 Lite 5G NE, is the perfect offering for users seeking a high-end stylish smartphone that includes innovative features to enable creativity. 

 

Xiaomi 11T Pro: The Ultimate Flagship for Cinemagic Filmmaking and Phenomenal Performance

Xiaomi has achieved another milestone with the launch of the cinematic powerhouse Xiaomi 11T Pro –  Xiaomi’s first smartphone to launch globally with the company’s proprietary 120W Xiaomi HyperCharge technology. The industry-leading technology will enable a 100% charge in just 17 minutes, giving creators more time to keep up with their creativity and minimise downtime by ensuring a full day use. This is achieved through innovative technologies such as dual charge pumps, dual-cell battery structure, MTW, Graphene application on Li-ion battery and Mi-FC technology. The safety of the battery is guaranteed by a TÜV Rheinland Safe Fast-Charge System Certification, 34 charging and battery safety features, real-time temperature monitoring and other measures. All that while the flagship Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 888 mobile platform delivers the power needed to propel a plethora of AI features.

Not only does Xiaomi 11T Pro pack a lot of performance punch, but it also features a powerful triple camera set up with a pro-grade 108MP wide-angle, 2x telemacro, and a 120° ultra-wide angle lens. On top of that, the smartphone boasts impressive computational filmography capabilities with one-click AI Cinema modes, 8K recording and HDR10+, allowing users to capture footage with the same smart ISO technology found in digital cameras.

A real Cinemagic powerhouse wouldn’t be complete without a stunning, durable and responsive display. The DisplayMate A+ rated 6.67’’ FHD+ 120Hz AMOLED flat display is equipped with TrueColor, Dolby Vision® and HDR10+. It showcases over 1 billion colours, boasts 1000 nits of peak brightness, offers up to 480Hz touch sampling rate and is shielded by the strongest Corning® Gorilla® glass to date – Corning Gorilla Glass Victus. The display also features a number of eye care functions to protect users from eye strain, such as True Display which automatically adjusts the colour temperature according to the surrounding conditions as well as Reading Mode 3.0. Xiaomi 11T Pro further tops that up with Dolby Vision® as well as dedicated dual speakers with SOUND BY Harman Kardon.

 

Xiaomi 11T Series

 

Xiaomi 11T: The Cinemagic Powerhouse for Content Creation

Xiaomi 11T continues the mission to make Cinemagic available to everyone by offering features such as a high-resolution triple camera, along with a suite of AI-powered tools to boost your creativity and productivity.

Enjoy breathtaking shots with Xiaomi 11T triple camera featuring a 108MP high-resolution wide-angle, 120° ultra-wide angle, and 2x telemacro camera. The smartphone combines this with its one-click AI cinema modes to distil the tricks of professional cinematographers such as Time Freeze, Magic Zoom and other types of complicated shots into just a single click while the faintest of sounds is brought to life in cinematic fashion with Audio Zoom.

Xiaomi 11T 6.67’’ 120Hz flat AMOLED display equally delivers HDR10+ with stunning sharpness and crystal clarity, over 1 billion colours, a smorgasbord of eye care features and up to 480Hz touch sampling rate, ensuring that the slightest tap on the screen will allow users to capture the perfect shot even in a fleeting moment.

Whether you’re shooting or editing your very own cinematic footage, Xiaomi 11T keeps up with you throughout your day thanks to a power-efficient MediaTek Dimensity 1200-Ultra chipset, a massive 5000mAh battery and 67W wired turbocharging that gets to 100% in only 36 minutes.

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Top 10 Best Mid-Range Smartphones For Photography 2021

Top 10 Best Mid-Range Smartphones For Photography 2021

A good mid-range smartphone offers you a number of premium features, but without the high price of the latest and greatest premium smartphones. Some of these were previously premium smartphones, but as the price has dropped over time, they have become more affordable. Some of these offer incredible value for money and some are even waterproof, giving them extra versatility.  

There are a number of things you’re more likely to find with a mid-range smartphone, that put them ahead of many of the budget smartphones for photography. The inclusion of these high-end features will improve your results, and you want to be looking for smartphones with Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS), 4K video recording, a secondary lens (for depth effect, background blur, or telephoto zoom, or even a black and white secondary camera), a handheld night mode for better low-light shots. For the more advanced photographer, you might want to find a model with manual controls, raw support, and a MicroSD card slot for increased storage space.

 

1. Google Pixel 4a 5G

Google Pixel 4a 5G

 

We really like the Google Pixel 4a 5G so if you want a mid-range smartphone with 5G and some clever camera technology then the Pixel 4a 5G would be a good choice. Plus, if you’re going to buy a new Google Pixel smartphone this year, the Google Pixel 4a 5G should be it as it’s cheaper than the Pixel 5 but shares the same cameras, and other technology, while offering 5G connection. It also has a larger display than you find on the Pixel 5, it looks great and has a brilliant price point. We’re a fan of the Google Pixel 4a 5G and we think you will be too. 

Camera features at a glance: 12.2MP f/1.7, 27mm (wide) with dual pixel PDAF and OIS, 16MP f/2.2 ultra-wide, 8MP f/2.2 ultra-wide selfie camera, 4K video, Live HDR+, Night Sight, Portrait Mode, Portrait Blur and Super Res Zoom

Overall Score: Top 10 Best Mid-Range Smartphones For Photography 2021 54

Buy On Amazon UK  Buy On Amazon USA 

 

2. Google Pixel 3a / 3a XL

Google Pixel 3a XL

Being able to get one of the best smartphone cameras available, for almost half the price of the flagship version, the Google Pixel 3, is quite simply a “no-brainer” and some may even prefer the Pixel 3a for its headphone socket. 

The Google Pixel 3a (and 3) show that you don’t necessarily need a larger sensor to get better results, with Google’s computational photography, you’re able to get some incredible results. In fact, it would be nice if some of the more traditional camera manufacturers took a leaf out of Google’s book, and started introducing similar features into their cameras. In the meantime, you’ll simply have to experience the future of photography, on a smartphone, such as the Google Pixel 3a.

Whether you choose the Pixel 3a or the Pixel 3a XL will be down to whether you want a larger screen, and a larger battery, or want the smaller option. 

Camera features at a glance: 12.2mp f/1.8 standard camera, with OIS, PDAF, 1.4um pixels, 8mp f/2.0 selfie camera, 24mm equivalent, 6inch OLED 18:9 screen, 1080×2160, 4K 30fps video, AI photography, headphone jack, 3700mAh battery

Overall Score: Top 10 Best Mid-Range Smartphones For Photography 2021 54

Buy On Amazon UK  Buy On Amazon USA 

 

 

3. Honor 20 Pro 

Huawei Honor 20 Pro

Inside and out, the Honor 20 Pro is an impressive bit of kit. It looks good, performs really well and has a price tag that will please most people. If you’re a bit picky, the screen quality and side-mounted fingerprint sensor might make the Honor 20 Pro lose a couple of points but in reality, you’re getting a smartphone with premium features for a price that, really, when compared with other brands, Honor shouldn’t be able to offer it to you at. 

Overall, the Honor 20 Pro certainly puts up a good fight in a very crowded market and is certainly worthy of featuring on our ‘best mid-range smartphone’ top list.

Camera features at a glance: 16mp ultra-wide-angle camera, f/2.2, 48mp main camera, f/1.4 with 4-axis OIS, 8mp 3x telephoto camera, f/2.4 with 4-axis OIS, 2mp macro camera, f/2.4, 4cm macro focus, 3x optical, 5x hybrid, 30x digital, 2mp f/2.4 depth assist, 4000mAh battery, night mode, 6.26-inch screen, bokeh effects

Overall Score: Top 10 Best Mid-Range Smartphones For Photography 2021 54

Buy On Amazon UK  

 

 

4. Samsung Galaxy S8 

Samsung Galaxy S8 In Hand

The Samsung Galaxy S8 uses the same, already excellent, camera as the S7, with a 12-megapixel rear camera with dual pixel technology and a bright f/1.7 aperture, and improves the phone with an upgraded 8mp selfie camera with Auto Focus (AF). The screen is an impressive 5.8inch Quad HD+ screen that dominates the front of the phone, whilst maintaining the same compact size as the previous phone! The phone can capture 4K video as well as 9-megapixel stills when in video mode. It’s dustproof and waterproof to a depth of 1.5m for up to 30 mins. With the ability to expand the memory with a microSD card and tough Corning Gorilla Glass 5 on the screen and back on the phone, it’s ideal for those who love to get out and about and take lots of images, no matter the weather. It operates at a very impressive speed and you can use the volume control as a shutter button. ISO speeds from ISO50 to ISO800 are selectable in manual mode. 

Camera features at a glance: 12mp, f/1.7 lens, 26mm equivalent, Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS), 4K video recording, Slow-motion video, MicroSD slot, raw.

Overall Score: Top 10 Best Mid-Range Smartphones For Photography 2021 54

Buy On Amazon UK   Buy On Amazon USA

 

 

5. OnePlus 6

OnePlus 6 RED (1)

This one just squeezes into the mid-range smartphone section, with a price point of £439. It offers premium smartphone features, but at a price point that’s almost half that of many premium smartphones

The OnePlus 6 smartphone can be described as an affordable flagship that has premium features at a not so eye-watering price. Image quality is excellent, the camera app gets the ‘thumbs-up’ and the red version is particularly stylish. We think the OnePlus 6 smartphone is an excellent buy!

The OnePlus6 is a reasonably priced smartphone with specs that make it fit right at home alongside the likes of premium SamsungApple and Sony devices. Yes, it doesn’t have the kerb appeal an iPhone does but a sensible person can push this to one side and be impressed by what the OnePlus 6 has to offer them. 

The main camera performs really well and we really like the camera app which is really intuitive and easy to use. It’s a shame the second rear camera doesn’t give a longer focal length or something a bit different like a black and white camera (as Huawei do). The camera has been updated to include a multi-shot Night mode. 

The 6.28inch screen is excellent and viewing isn’t a problem, with a fairly small notch at the top. 

There’s no microSD slot which is surprising for an Android phone, there’s no official IP rating (so don’t get it too wet) and there’s a lack of stereo speakers but apart from that, we think the OnePlus 6 smartphone is an excellent buy. 

Camera features at a glance: Dual 16mp and 20mp f/1.7 lenses, 27.22mm equivalent, Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) & Electronic Image Stabilisation (EIS), 4K video recording, High-speed / Slow-motion video up to 480fps.

Overall Score: Top 10 Best Mid-Range Smartphones For Photography 2021 54

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6. Honor 9 Dual Camera

Huawei Honor9 (2)

The Honor 9 from Huawei offers a dual camera smartphone, plenty of ram and storage, a stylish and good looking design with a 5.15inch screen, and offers all of this for a much lower price than you would expect. The dual camera offers a “Hybrid Zoom” giving a 2x zoom, with only a slight loss in image quality. The black and white camera takes impressively sharp and detailed 20mp images, and noise is well controlled whether shooting colour or black and white. 

Whilst the smartphone doesn’t feature a waterproof body, there are few smartphones at this price point that do. The camera also records 4K video, and results are good. The biggest shortcoming is the lack of optical image stabilisation (OIS) which not only affects photos, but also video, and at this price point, you should be able to find an alternative with OIS, although most likely without a dual-camera.

If you want to try true black and white photography, and don’t quite have the money for a Leica M Monochrom, then the Honor 9 smartphone with a black and white camera, would make an excellent choice. 

Camera features at a glance: 20mp mono camera, 12mp colour camera, f/2.2 max aperture, 27mm equivalent, 8mp selfie camera, 4K video.

Overall Score: Top 10 Best Mid-Range Smartphones For Photography 2021 54

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7. Huawei Mate 10 Pro

Huawei Mate10 Pro With Leica (7)

The Huawei Mate 10 Pro was Huawei’s top of the range flagship smartphone, not only does it feature dual Leica f/1.6 cameras with colour and black and white sensors, but also features a top of the range processor, that includes a “Neural Processing Unit” designed to speed up “Artificial Intelligence” (AI), for both smartphone and camera features. The Huawei Mate 10 Pro is a large smartphone, thanks to a 6inch screen, and it’s set up with a 12mp f/1.6 colour camera, and a 20mp f/1.6 black and white camera, both lenses equivalent to 27mm in 35mm terms. The main 12mp colour camera features optical image stabilisation, and there is prominent Leica branding next to the cameras on the back, as well as a Dual LED flash. The camera can record 4K (UHD) video, as well as high-speed video at 120fps at FullHD resolution. 

If you’re looking for a large smartphone, with an emphasis on the camera(s) included, then the Mate 10 Pro certainly offers a complete package.

Camera features at a glance: Dual cameras 12mp colour, 20mp black and white, f/1.6 lenses, 27mm equivalent, Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS), 4K video recording, MicroSD slot, raw.

Overall Score: Top 10 Best Mid-Range Smartphones For Photography 2021 54

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8. OnePlus Nord 2 5G

OnePlus Nord 2 5G

 

For those who think the inexpensive smartphones that are currently available just don’t perform well but, on the other hand, premium smartphones are way too expensive, the Nord 2 5G will be a sensible middle ground as just like the original Nord did, the Nord 2 5G fills a gap between cheap and expensive with a price point that’s reasonable and features that are well worth having a look at. Does it give premium flagship smartphones a run for their money? Not quite but that shouldn’t stop you from looking at the Nord 2 5G as what it does offer (price, performance & features) make it a good mid-range smartphone option that we’re happy to ‘Recommend’. 

The Nord released in 2020 is also still available and worth a look at. 

Camera features at a glance: 

Rear Camera: 50MP Main Camera f/1.88 OIS, 8MP Ultra-Wide-Angle Camera f/2.25, EIS, Mono Lens f/2.5 (no macro lens as seen on the Nord), Front Camera: 32MP f/2.45 fixed focus with EIS (no ultra-wide-lens as seen on the Nord), Video: 1080p video at 30fps, 720p video at 30fps, super slow motion and time-lapse, Camera Features: Nightscape Ultra, AI Photo Enhancement, AI Video Enhancement, UltraShot HDR, Portrait Mode, Night Portrait Mode, Portrait distortion correction, Panorama, Pro Mode

Overall Score: Top 10 Best Mid-Range Smartphones For Photography 2021 61

Buy On Amazon UK

 

9. Google Pixel 4a

Google Pixel 4a

 

The Google Pixel 4a is an inexpensive smartphone with a camera that’s ideal for ‘point-and-click’ photographers who aren’t too fussed about multiple cameras and lots of options. However, if you’re going to be doing more than just sharing images on social media, you might want to see what else Google, or another brand, has to offer as detail does fall off quickly when you start adjusting the zoom (even just a little bit). The low light mode is pretty good, though, and colour accuracy is pretty much spot on. 

Away from the camera, the Google Pixel 4a has a small display but the compact size of the smartphone does mean it’s easy to operate and it will fit in your pocket so it could be ideal for someone who’s not into the ‘bigger is better’ motto some other phone manufactures tend to follow. However, when you compare the Pixel 4a with other smartphones in the, what is, a very competitive field, it just doesn’t have the same amount or quality of features. The battery isn’t quite as good as those seen on rival smartphones at this price point, too. 

That said, those looking for a basic, compact smartphone with a modern clean design which has a camera they can simply press the shutter button on to produce a decent photo for sharing on social media will find the Google Pixel 4a appealing. In conclusion, if you’re into affordable prices and no-frills, the Google Pixel 4a could be for you. 

Camera features at a glance: Rear Camera: 12.2MP, f/1.7, Autofocus with dual pixel phase detection, optical & electronic IS, 77-degree FOV, Front Camera: 8MP. f/2.0, fixed focus, 84-degree FOV, Camera Features: Live HDR+, Night Sight, Portrait Mode, Portrait Blur and Super Res Zoom

Overall Score: Top 10 Best Mid-Range Smartphones For Photography 2021 61

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10. Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro

Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro

 

The Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro is set to be less than half the price of some premium smartphones yet if someone handed the smartphone to you without revealing what the brand is, you’d probably think it’s a lot more expensive than its price will be. It looks great, it’s easy to use and the images it produces are good. Colours are accurate, detail is sharp and all of the cameras perform well. Yes, zoom quality could be improved and so could low-light performance but overall, we were impressed with the camera and the price (we suspect it will be on release in April) could certainly make you consider purchasing the Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro.

Camera features at a glance: 108MP quad-camera: 108MP f/1.9 wide-angle camera, 8MP f/2.2 ultra-wide camera, 5MP f/2.4 telemacro camera with AF, 2MP f/2.4depth sensor, 16MP f/2.45 front camera,

Overall Score: Top 10 Best Mid-Range Smartphones For Photography 2021 61

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For more options, have a look at some of our other guides: 

Cheap Smartphones <£200   Budget Smartphones <£300   Premium Smartphones 

 

Looking For More? 

Have a look at our complete guide to memory cards to find the right MicroSD card for your smartphone, or have a look at more camera phones reviews.

 

If you want to, you can purchase and find more information about each smartphone listed by clicking the green Amazon buttons featured below each product. It doesn’t cost you anything extra when you press our Amazon buttons but by using our Amazon Affiliate links when ordering anything online, you are supporting the site – thank you.

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New OnePlus Nord 2 5G Mid-Range Smartphone With Flagship Features

New OnePlus Nord 2 5G Mid-Range Smartphone With Flagship Features

Nord 2 Gray Sierra 06 |

OnePlus has announced the new OnePlus Nord 2 5G, the new mid-range smartphone from OnePlus, featuring a 50MP main camera (wide) with OIS, an 8mp ultra-wide camera, a 32mp selfie camera, and a 2mp monochrome camera. The battery is a 4500mAh unit, and the phone supports 65W warp charge, letting you charge the phone to 100% in just 35 minutes!

Read our full OnePlus Nord 2 5G Review!

 

OnePlus Nord 2 5G: The Next Big Step – Pushing the limits of a great everyday phone

Nord 2 Haze Blue 06 |
 

London 3:45PM BST, July 22, 2021: Today, global technology brand OnePlus released the OnePlus Nord 2 5G, the newest addition to the company’s more affordable smartphone line, OnePlus Nord. The Nord 2 delivers a comprehensive upgrade from the first Nord, from camera and performance to charging and design.

The OnePlus Nord 2 combines flagship-level hardware, including a 50 MP AI triple camera with a Sony IMX766 sensor and optical image stabilization (OIS), Warp Charge 65, and the flagship MediaTek Dimensity 1200-AI processor, along with OnePlus’s signature OxygenOS software to offer users a fast, smooth, and versatile experience.

“The OnePlus Nord 2 5G reaffirms our commitment to sharing great technology with the world,” said Pete Lau, Founder of OnePlus. “With advancements in smartphone technologies even in the mid-range, we are now able to deliver premium experiences on more accessible devices. We are confident the Nord 2 is a worthy successor to the original OnePlus Nord.”

Nord 2 5G
 

Flagship Essentials

The OnePlus Nord 2 5G integrates powerful camera hardware with AI-assisted software enhancements, courtesy of the new MediaTek chipset, to deliver an outstanding and versatile photography experience. The Nord 2 brings major improvements in nighttime photography with OIS and the main 50MP Sony IMX766 sensor, which is capable of capturing 56% more light than the Sony IMX586 from the first Nord. With Nightscape Ultra, an enhanced version of OnePlus’s Nightscape Mode, users are able to shoot better and brighter photos even in conditions as dim as 1 lux.   

The OnePlus Nord 2 5G also features an 8MP ultra-wide camera with a 119.7-degree field of view along with a 32MP selfie camera with a Sony IMX615 sensor, the highest resolution front camera on a OnePlus device. The new Group Shots 2.0 feature on the front camera can detect up to five faces at a time, and optimizes aspects from skin tone to facial details. In addition, Nord 2 is equipped with AI Video Enhancement which improves the brightness, colour, and contrast of video recordings in real-time. For stills, the Nord 2 comes with AI Photo Enhancement, a feature that recognizes up to 22 different photography scenarios and automatically adjusts the settings for improved results.

Like the flagship OnePlus 9 series, the Nord 2 features a 4500mAh dual-cell battery. With its Warp Charge 65 charging technology, it charges from 0-100% in less than 35 minutes. The Nord 2 also adapts to reduce the time spent at 100% battery to maintain good battery health while charging overnight.

 

Nord 2 5G
 

Fast and Smooth  

The OnePlus Nord 2 5G is powered by the MediaTek Dimensity 1200-AI processor. Built on TSMC’s 6nm process, the standard Dimensity 1200 boasts an ARM A78 architecture, providing 65% faster CPU performance and 125% GPU performance when compared to the performance on the OnePlus Nord released in July 2020. OnePlus has worked closely with MediaTek to enhance the AI-based features of the processor. To highlight the new AI capabilities of the chipset, OnePlus and MediaTek have chosen the name Dimensity 1200-AI, distinguishing it from the standard Dimensity 1200.  

The Nord 2 also comes with a 6.43-inch fluid AMOLED display with a 90 Hz refresh rate. With new features such as AI Color Boost and AI Resolution Boost, which improve colors and upscales resolution from popular apps, the Nord 2 offers vivid and dynamic visual experiences.  

The Nord 2 is pre-installed with OxygenOS 11.3, OnePlus’ fastest and most responsive software to date. OxygenOS 11 sports significant improvements such as Dark Mode, Zen Mode, comfortable single-handed operation, and various always-on display (AOD) options, while OxygenOS 11.3 also features additional personalization, gestures, and gaming-friendly customizations such as the new OnePlus Games App.

 

Everything else users love about OnePlus

The OnePlus Nord 2 5G comes in two stunning colourways in Europe – Blue Haze and Gray Sierra – both of which are durable, fingerprint-resistant and beautifully crafted.

The Nord 2 sports additional enhancements to improve the overall experience, right down to the details. With two 5G SIM card slots and 5G download speeds up to 2.95 Gbps, the Nord 2 provides stable and reliable mobile internet support. The device also packs a rich pair of stereo speakers for an immersive audio experience, and Haptics 2.0 to give smoother and more sensitive tactile feedback.

The OnePlus Nord 2 5G will receive two years of major Android updates and three years of security updates.   

 

Pricing and Availability

Customers will be able to pre-order OnePlus Nord 2 5G from OnePlus.com and Amazon from 4PM BST on July 22 until midnight on July 27, with shipments starting from July 26. Customers who pre-order from OnePlus.com can also benefit from 10% off a Nord 2 phone case and screen protector as well as 50% off a pair of OnePlus Buds Z. Meanwhile, anyone who purchases OnePlus Nord 2 from OnePlus.com will also get access to a free Stadia Premiere Edition, consisting of a Stadia Controller and a Google Chromecast Ultra.

New OnePlus Nord 2 5G Mid-Range Smartphone With Flagship Features 64

OnePlus Nord 2 8GB / 128GB version will also be available on a range of Pay Monthly tariffs at Three and O2 from July 28 in both Blue Haze and Gray Sierra, with pricing details to follow soon.

 

Read our full OnePlus Nord 2 5G Review!

 

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TCL 20 Pro 5G Smartphone Review: Middling in the Mid-Range

TCL 20 Pro 5G Smartphone Review: Middling in the Mid-Range

TCL 20 Pro 5G Smartphone Review: Middling in the Mid-Range 65

Since TCL only likes to play in the affordable and mid-range tiers, its phones aren’t designed to take on the best flagships. The $500 20 Pro 5G represents the best of TCL, with an emphasis on camera performance. That comes at a time when more flagship camera features are trickling down to mid-range devices, so is there enough here to make a lasting impact?

As a note, even though in the United States TCL is more known for making its Roku televisions, the company didn’t just start making smartphones — it has been doing that for years going back to 2005 when the Chinese company acquired Alcatel’s phone business. It even tried to resurrect the BlackBerry brand for a few years. But in all that time, the company only slapped its own logo on phones starting in 2019.

Design and Build

This wasn’t my first time reviewing a TCL phone, but it was the first time the camera has featured so prominently in the expectations that came with one. TCL gave the 20 Pro a tasteful look that belies its status as a mid-range device, starting with the 6.67-inch AMOLED screen that serves as the visual centerpiece.

My one gripe about it is that it’s a curved display, and I wish phone manufacturers would stop making them because they aren’t inherently useful. Even if we look at it purely from an ergonomic point of view, the value is lost on me, personally. I say that partly because I’ve always felt curved displays hinder mobile photography through false taps and a looser grip when taking photos, especially in landscape mode.

TCL 20 Pro 5G Smartphone Review: Middling in the Mid-Range 66

Granted, it’s a personal gripe that isn’t exclusive to this phone, but it may play a role in how much you like it yourself. It’s equally unfortunate the screen’s vibrance isn’t matched by a higher refresh rate. The 20 Pro is stuck at 60Hz, so if you’re a stickler for that, you’ll need to look elsewhere to find it, and it’s not necessarily a feature that is exclusive to a flagship. Mid-range phones, like the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G, already offer 120Hz.

There is wireless charging at least, and even a headphone jack, should you be interested in plugging in that way. The Snapdragon 750G is a modest, yet dependable chipset for a phone like this, and it’s nice to see 6GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage (expandable up to 1TB through the microSD slot). It’s also a 5G-enabled phone capable of running on North American networks, as it was built for just that purpose.

Camera Features

To change up the narrative with a more decided imaging focus, TCL had to shift into a higher gear with its camera layout. The 20 Pro has a quad-camera array on the rear, anchored by the 48-megapixel main 1/2.0-inch Quad Bayer Sony IMX582 image sensor. It’s a 26mm equivalent with an f/1.8 aperture, so while not quite as wide as others might be, it’s still a decent camera on paper.

TCL 20 Pro 5G Smartphone Review: Middling in the Mid-Range 67

The 16-megapixel ultra-wide is a 16mm equivalent with a 123-degree field of view, albeit constrained to some degree by the 1/3.06-inch sensor and f/2.4 aperture. With 1 micron pixels, the 20 Pro isn’t well suited to being a stalwart in low-light conditions, but we’ll get to that later.

TCL also shied away from going with a telephoto lens, and instead focused on macro photography with a 5MP Macro 1/5-inch sensor (f/2.2) that is partly working in tandem with a 2MP Depth 1/50inch sensor (f/2.4) to round out the full array. So, what you have is a camera that relies on digital zoom to get closer to further subjects, while a dedicated lens lets you get that much closer to smaller ones. The depth camera works with any other lens or feature that needs it, giving it some level of versatility.

Software Features

It’s worth noting that you don’t get the full pixel count from the 48-megapixel sensor. You essentially get a 12-megapixel shot by default, unless you use the High Pixel mode under the “More” section within the camera’s menu layout. That mode is the only one that shoots at the full resolution, and the other modes generally rely on the primary sensor as well.

Specialized modes include Super Macro, Light Trace, and Pano, whereas others, like Stop Motion, Slo-Mo, and Short Video are video-focused. These modes complement the Auto, Portrait, Super Night, Pro, and Video modes available on the main menu.

TCL 20 Pro 5G Smartphone Review: Middling in the Mid-Range 68
Light Trace Mode

The settings don’t offer a ton of customization, though some things do stand out. I chuckled when I first saw “Calorie detection” because I struggled with the concept. Take a photo of food and it tries to estimate the number of calories. I’ve seen this type of tech before, at least in various stages of development, and one of the enduring issues is the lack of context when it comes to ingredients. A vegan cupcake can look the same as a regular one, and as expected, the 20 Pro’s camera doesn’t know the difference.

TCL 20 Pro 5G Smartphone Review: Middling in the Mid-Range 69
Night Mode

But that hardly matters in the grander scheme. The AI Scene Detection is all about taking the guesswork out of the composition, though you’re probably better off not using it because it only complicates things further.

Image Quality

Main camera

The quickest way to describe the main camera is that it’s more at home when you’re not. Whether or not by design, it captures better photos in outdoor conditions mainly due to how dynamic range improves with natural light. Be it bright sunlight or gloomy overcast, results were consistently better than indoors, where colors were more muted and highlights and shadows presented less detail.

TCL 20 Pro 5G Smartphone Review: Middling in the Mid-Range 70

The “High Pixel” mode is more susceptible to these nuances because the smaller pixels take in less light. That turns out better when natural light is involved, whereas dimmer light leaves more detail out of an image when the purpose is the exact opposite. It’s easier to forgive the lack of consistency because the 20 Pro isn’t supposed to compete as a flagship, and I reminded myself of that every time I recognized one of its limitations.

Regardless of the resolution, the key was in adjusting exposure to offset some of those limits in dynamic range. TCL did include an HDR setting you can toggle on, off, or set to automatic, and that can help produce better results but you still have to tinker with exposure to get the best shot. There are also 10 filters to choose from, including one for monochrome photos, if you want to get creative, though I would argue you’ll get the best results by editing shots yourself later.

Ultra-wide

This is where things get a little weird. The ultra-wide camera is perhaps the weakest link, not just because photos aren’t particularly noteworthy, but also due to a strange bug that initially affected it. For reasons I could never ascertain, the exposure slider wouldn’t appear after tapping to focus on a subject. I inquired with TCL about it, and never got a definitive answer. That was back in May. Fast-forward to July, and a software update seems to have improved the issue, just not entirely.

TCL 20 Pro 5G Smartphone Review: Middling in the Mid-Range 71

Either way, changing exposure wouldn’t do much for some of the output anyway. White balance is off in ways that don’t happen with the main lens. It sometimes skews a little too far into magenta, and fringing appears in shots with more dramatic tonal differences. For example, a blue sky with white clouds might lead to purple fringing. In other instances with different color contrasts, that might not happen.

It’s telling that TCL chose not to include the ultra-wide lens in the Super Night mode, an omission that you don’t always see with other models. The company never explained why, but if I were to hazard a guess, it would be because of the inconsistent output in ideal conditions.

Pro Mode

There is a Pro mode, but how “pro” it actually is depends on what you’re okay with missing out on. The major absence here is RAW capture, a baffling move considering there is no way to shoot at 48-megapixels to take advantage of the manual features at full resolution anyway. I asked the company why it wouldn’t offer RAW, especially when the internal storage is as high as it is, but never got a straight answer beyond a vague reference to this being a mid-range phone.

TCL 20 Pro 5G Smartphone Review: Middling in the Mid-Range 72

At least you can shoot using all the available lenses in the mode, which is a decent consolation. That includes zooming in, though even tweaking the manual features can’t mask the artifacts and noise that creeps in from the digital zoom. In good conditions, however, the 20 Pro can be surprisingly good at shooting solid images in this mode.

Everything else

Super Night is okay, though not what you can consider amazing. For a mid-range phone, photos are okay, just not as good as other competitors in the same price range. Portrait mode is fine, with an effective level of separation between the foreground subject and background. It benefits from good lighting, doing better when you’re not trying to pull out more exposure out of the composition.

TCL 20 Pro 5G Smartphone Review: Middling in the Mid-Range 73
Portrait Mode

The specialized modes are more hit or miss. Light Trace emulates long exposure photography, as well as smoother movement. The idea is nice, and we’ve seen it work in phones like the Vivo X60 Pro+, but it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison since the 20 Pro is not in the same league. The problem is that it’s not easy to use handheld. Try to soften the water in a creek and the entire frame blurs, even if your focal point was the water itself. Capturing light trails runs into similar challenges. Your only potential recourse is to use a tripod, though results may vary.

TCL 20 Pro 5G Smartphone Review: Middling in the Mid-Range 74
Macro Mode

Super Macro is effective when you enter the right range, though the interface doesn’t necessarily tell you at what point that is. One thing that would’ve helped is to have focus peaking as an option so users know what the focal point is. That’s not on TCL alone, as no other brands really apply it to macro shots right now, but there are times when the distance can be confusing and quickly shift focus while about to capture the photo.

There is no actual optical zoom in the 20 Pro, though the phone does default to 2x zoom as an option when you switch between lenses. I’m normally not a fan of any digital zoom, but the 2x zoom here was better than I expected. Again, conditions dictate the quality of the shot, so results can vary pretty widely when using it. Zoom in beyond that and quality radically degrades all the way up to 10x digital zoom.

Video Features

I didn’t use video all that much, as it wasn’t going to be a big part of this review, but you can shoot in 4K at 30 frames-per-second on this smartphone if you want to. Electronic image stabilization is on by default to keep things steady, and there is an anti-shake setting on the interface that you can toggle on. It applies a crop factor to help with that, much like the movement setting next to it is there if you’re shooting an action scene. You also have HDR and filters available to give your clips some visual treatments.

“Short Video” is a unique mode that lets you shoot with filters, music, and transitions in mind. Clips can be as short as 10 seconds, or as long as 60 seconds. You can also mute the microphone if you want the audio to be driven by the music.

TCL 20 Pro 5G Smartphone Review: Middling in the Mid-Range 75

A Mid-Ranger With Potential

It’s hard to tell if TCL plans to continue improving the 20 Pro’s camera through another series of updates, or if it will hold on to improvements for the next iteration of this phone line. As is, the phone shows the company has the potential to make a good phone with a capable camera, except the omissions take away some of the allure it built up.

It’s fine when your primary camera works well enough, but when the ultra-wide comes with some prerequisites, it’s hard to make the case the array is as good as TCL claims. Plus, mid-range phones are getting better at a faster clip than flagship models are, so competition is already tight, and getting tighter.

Are There Alternatives?

The first competitors that stand out are the Google Pixel 4a 5G and Samsung Galaxy A52 5G. Even the Pixel 5 is in the same price range, making it a super compelling alternative. All of those phones not only shoot in RAW, but also produce better results more often. The iPhone 12 would also stand out as a solid choice.

Should You Buy It?

No, not with the kind of options otherwise available. The 20 Pro is actually a very good phone for $500, but if we’re looking at this on the merits of camera performance, it has to make up some ground to stand out above others. That could potentially happen with software updates, but as of now, this phone isn’t quite there yet.

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Top 10 Best Mid-Range Smartphones For Photography 2020

Top 10 Best Mid-Range Smartphones For Photography 2020

A good mid-range smartphone offers you a number of premium features, but without the high price of the latest and greatest premium smartphones. Some of these were previously premium smartphones, but as the price has dropped over time, they have become more affordable. Some of these offer incredible value for money and some are even waterproof, giving them extra versatility.  

There are a number of things you’re more likely to find with a mid-range smartphone, that put them ahead of many of the budget smartphones for photography. The inclusion of these high-end features will improve your results, and you want to be looking for smartphones with Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS), 4K video recording, a secondary lens (for depth effect, background blur, or telephoto zoom, or even a black and white secondary camera), a handheld night mode for better low-light shots. For the more advanced photographer, you might want to find a model with manual controls, raw support, and a MicroSD card slot for increased storage space.

If you want to, you can purchase and find more information about each smartphone listed by clicking the green Amazon buttons featured below each product. It doesn’t cost you anything extra when you press our Amazon buttons but by using our Amazon Affiliate links when ordering anything online, you are supporting the site – thank you.

 

1. Google Pixel 4a 5G

Google Pixel 4a 5G

 

We really like the Google Pixel 4a 5G so if you want a mid-range smartphone with 5G and some clever camera technology then the Pixel 4a 5G would be a good choice. Plus, if you’re going to buy a new Google Pixel smartphone this year, the Google Pixel 4a 5G should be it as it’s cheaper than the Pixel 5 but shares the same cameras, and other technology, while offering 5G connection. It also has a larger display than you find on the Pixel 5, it looks great and has a brilliant price point. We’re a fan of the Google Pixel 4a 5G and we think you will be too. 

Camera features at a glance: 12.2MP f/1.7, 27mm (wide) with dual pixel PDAF and OIS, 16MP f/2.2 ultra-wide, 8MP f/2.2 ultra-wide selfie camera, 4K video, Live HDR+, Night Sight, Portrait Mode, Portrait Blur and Super Res Zoom

Overall Score: Top 10 Best Mid-Range Smartphones For Photography 2020 76

Buy On Amazon UK  Buy On Amazon USA 

 

2. Google Pixel 3a / 3a XL

Google Pixel 3a XL

Being able to get one of the best smartphone cameras available, for almost half the price of the flagship version, the Google Pixel 3, is quite simply a “no-brainer” and some may even prefer the Pixel 3a for its headphone socket. 

The Google Pixel 3a (and 3) show that you don’t necessarily need a larger sensor to get better results, with Google’s computational photography, you’re able to get some incredible results. In fact, it would be nice if some of the more traditional camera manufacturers took a leaf out of Google’s book, and started introducing similar features into their cameras. In the meantime, you’ll simply have to experience the future of photography, on a smartphone, such as the Google Pixel 3a.

Whether you choose the Pixel 3a or the Pixel 3a XL will be down to whether you want a larger screen, and a larger battery, or want the smaller option. 

Camera features at a glance: 12.2mp f/1.8 standard camera, with OIS, PDAF, 1.4um pixels, 8mp f/2.0 selfie camera, 24mm equivalent, 6inch OLED 18:9 screen, 1080×2160, 4K 30fps video, AI photography, headphone jack, 3700mAh battery

Overall Score: Top 10 Best Mid-Range Smartphones For Photography 2020 76

Buy On Amazon UK  Buy On Amazon USA 

 

 

3. Honor 20 Pro 

Huawei Honor 20 Pro

Inside and out, the Honor 20 Pro is an impressive bit of kit. It looks good, performs really well and has a price tag that will please most people. If you’re a bit picky, the screen quality and side-mounted fingerprint sensor might make the Honor 20 Pro lose a couple of points but in reality, you’re getting a smartphone with premium features for a price that, really, when compared with other brands, Honor shouldn’t be able to offer it to you at. 

Overall, the Honor 20 Pro certainly puts up a good fight in a very crowded market and is certainly worthy of featuring on our ‘best mid-range smartphone’ top list.

Camera features at a glance: 16mp ultra-wide-angle camera, f/2.2, 48mp main camera, f/1.4 with 4-axis OIS, 8mp 3x telephoto camera, f/2.4 with 4-axis OIS, 2mp macro camera, f/2.4, 4cm macro focus, 3x optical, 5x hybrid, 30x digital, 2mp f/2.4 depth assist, 4000mAh battery, night mode, 6.26-inch screen, bokeh effects

Overall Score: Top 10 Best Mid-Range Smartphones For Photography 2020 76

Buy On Amazon UK  

 

 

4. Samsung Galaxy S8 

Samsung Galaxy S8 In Hand

The Samsung Galaxy S8 uses the same, already excellent, camera as the S7, with a 12-megapixel rear camera with dual pixel technology and a bright f/1.7 aperture, and improves the phone with an upgraded 8mp selfie camera with Auto Focus (AF). The screen is an impressive 5.8inch Quad HD+ screen that dominates the front of the phone, whilst maintaining the same compact size as the previous phone! The phone can capture 4K video as well as 9-megapixel stills when in video mode. It’s dustproof and waterproof to a depth of 1.5m for up to 30 mins. With the ability to expand the memory with a microSD card and tough Corning Gorilla Glass 5 on the screen and back on the phone, it’s ideal for those who love to get out and about and take lots of images, no matter the weather. It operates at a very impressive speed and you can use the volume control as a shutter button. ISO speeds from ISO50 to ISO800 are selectable in manual mode. 

Camera features at a glance: 12mp, f/1.7 lens, 26mm equivalent, Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS), 4K video recording, Slow-motion video, MicroSD slot, raw.

Overall Score: Top 10 Best Mid-Range Smartphones For Photography 2020 76

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5. OnePlus 6

OnePlus 6 RED (1)

This one just squeezes into the mid-range smartphone section, with a price point of £439. It offers premium smartphone features, but at a price point that’s almost half that of many premium smartphones

The OnePlus 6 smartphone can be described as an affordable flagship that has premium features at a not so eye-watering price. Image quality is excellent, the camera app gets the ‘thumbs-up’ and the red version is particularly stylish. We think the OnePlus 6 smartphone is an excellent buy!

The OnePlus6 is a reasonably priced smartphone with specs that make it fit right at home alongside the likes of premium SamsungApple and Sony devices. Yes, it doesn’t have the kerb appeal an iPhone does but a sensible person can push this to one side and be impressed by what the OnePlus 6 has to offer them. 

The main camera performs really well and we really like the camera app which is really intuitive and easy to use. It’s a shame the second rear camera doesn’t give a longer focal length or something a bit different like a black and white camera (as Huawei do). The camera has been updated to include a multi-shot Night mode. 

The 6.28inch screen is excellent and viewing isn’t a problem, with a fairly small notch at the top. 

There’s no microSD slot which is surprising for an Android phone, there’s no official IP rating (so don’t get it too wet) and there’s a lack of stereo speakers but apart from that, we think the OnePlus 6 smartphone is an excellent buy. 

Camera features at a glance: Dual 16mp and 20mp f/1.7 lenses, 27.22mm equivalent, Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) & Electronic Image Stabilisation (EIS), 4K video recording, High-speed / Slow-motion video up to 480fps.

Overall Score: Top 10 Best Mid-Range Smartphones For Photography 2020 76

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6. Honor 9 Dual Camera

Huawei Honor9 (2)

The Honor 9 from Huawei offers a dual camera smartphone, plenty of ram and storage, a stylish and good looking design with a 5.15inch screen, and offers all of this for a much lower price than you would expect. The dual camera offers a “Hybrid Zoom” giving a 2x zoom, with only a slight loss in image quality. The black and white camera takes impressively sharp and detailed 20mp images, and noise is well controlled whether shooting colour or black and white. 

Whilst the smartphone doesn’t feature a waterproof body, there are few smartphones at this price point that do. The camera also records 4K video, and results are good. The biggest shortcoming is the lack of optical image stabilisation (OIS) which not only affects photos, but also video, and at this price point, you should be able to find an alternative with OIS, although most likely without a dual-camera.

If you want to try true black and white photography, and don’t quite have the money for a Leica M Monochrom, then the Honor 9 smartphone with a black and white camera, would make an excellent choice. 

Camera features at a glance: 20mp mono camera, 12mp colour camera, f/2.2 max aperture, 27mm equivalent, 8mp selfie camera, 4K video.

Overall Score: Top 10 Best Mid-Range Smartphones For Photography 2020 76

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7. Huawei Mate 10 Pro

Huawei Mate10 Pro With Leica (7)

The Huawei Mate 10 Pro was Huawei’s top of the range flagship smartphone, not only does it feature dual Leica f/1.6 cameras with colour and black and white sensors, but also features a top of the range processor, that includes a “Neural Processing Unit” designed to speed up “Artificial Intelligence” (AI), for both smartphone and camera features. The Huawei Mate 10 Pro is a large smartphone, thanks to a 6inch screen, and it’s set up with a 12mp f/1.6 colour camera, and a 20mp f/1.6 black and white camera, both lenses equivalent to 27mm in 35mm terms. The main 12mp colour camera features optical image stabilisation, and there is prominent Leica branding next to the cameras on the back, as well as a Dual LED flash. The camera can record 4K (UHD) video, as well as high-speed video at 120fps at FullHD resolution. 

If you’re looking for a large smartphone, with an emphasis on the camera(s) included, then the Mate 10 Pro certainly offers a complete package.

Camera features at a glance: Dual cameras 12mp colour, 20mp black and white, f/1.6 lenses, 27mm equivalent, Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS), 4K video recording, MicroSD slot, raw.

Overall Score: Top 10 Best Mid-Range Smartphones For Photography 2020 76

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8. OnePlus Nord

OnePlus Nord

 

The OnePlus Nord is a mid-range smartphone that, for the price, offers some really great things. You get a decent camera and other flagship features bundled up in a great looking smartphone for under £400 but the problem is, they’re not the only company doing this any more so it’s hard for the Nord to standout. However, it’s affordable, it looks great and is feature-packed (particularly the camera app) so if you are looking for a new smartphone that offers all of this and is not too expensive, the OnePlus Nord is an excellent choice. 

OnePlus describe the Nord as a smartphone that gives you ‘pretty much everything you could ask for’ which might sound bold but actually, they’re not far wrong. Price, performance and features make the OnePlus Nord a smartphone we’re happy to ‘Recommend’. 

Camera features at a glance: Rear Camera: 48MP wide-angle f/1.74 with OIS and EIS, 8MP ultra-wide-angle f/2.25 with 119-degree FOV, 5MP f/2.4 depth sensor and a 2MP f/2.4 macro lens, Front Camera: 32MP f/2.5 fixed focus with EIS and 8MP f/2.45 lens ultra-wide-lens with 105-degree FOV, Video: 4K 30fps, 1080p 30/60fps, super slow motion and time-lapse, Camera Features: CINE aspect ratio video recording, UltraShot HDR, Nightscape, Super macro, Portrait, Pro mode, Panorama, AI scene detection, RAW image, Filters, Quick share

Overall Score: Top 10 Best Mid-Range Smartphones For Photography 2020 83

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9. Google Pixel 4a

Google Pixel 4a

 

The Google Pixel 4a is an inexpensive smartphone with a camera that’s ideal for ‘point-and-click’ photographers who aren’t too fussed about multiple cameras and lots of options. However, if you’re going to be doing more than just sharing images on social media, you might want to see what else Google, or another brand, has to offer as detail does fall off quickly when you start adjusting the zoom (even just a little bit). The low light mode is pretty good, though, and colour accuracy is pretty much spot on. 

Away from the camera, the Google Pixel 4a has a small display but the compact size of the smartphone does mean it’s easy to operate and it will fit in your pocket so it could be ideal for someone who’s not into the ‘bigger is better’ motto some other phone manufactures tend to follow. However, when you compare the Pixel 4a with other smartphones in the, what is, a very competitive field, it just doesn’t have the same amount or quality of features. The battery isn’t quite as good as those seen on rival smartphones at this price point, too. 

That said, those looking for a basic, compact smartphone with a modern clean design which has a camera they can simply press the shutter button on to produce a decent photo for sharing on social media will find the Google Pixel 4a appealing. In conclusion, if you’re into affordable prices and no-frills, the Google Pixel 4a could be for you. 

Camera features at a glance: Rear Camera: 12.2MP, f/1.7, Autofocus with dual pixel phase detection, optical & electronic IS, 77-degree FOV, Front Camera: 8MP. f/2.0, fixed focus, 84-degree FOV, Camera Features: Live HDR+, Night Sight, Portrait Mode, Portrait Blur and Super Res Zoom

Overall Score: Top 10 Best Mid-Range Smartphones For Photography 2020 83

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10. Nokia 7.1

Nokia 7 1 Blue (2)

The Nokia 7.1 has an excellent 5.84inch screen, a dual-camera set-up and can shoot 4K video which are all features you don’t always see in budget-friendly smartphones. Image-wise, they’re pretty decent but it’s no surprise that when light levels drop, so does the quality of the photo you can capture. 

If you’re looking for a smart-looking smartphone that can take good photos, has 4K video built-in and has a good screen, the Nokia 7.1 could fit the bill. It’s a budget-friendly smartphone that improves on its predecessor so if you’re not brand-loyal and simply want a good performing phone, the Nokia 7.1 might be the smartphone for you. 

Camera features at a glance: Rear Camera: 12MP, f/1.8 main lens and a 5MP, f/2.4 secondary lens (ZEISS optics), Front Camera: 8mp, f/2.0 (ZEISS optics), Video: 1080p (both cameras), 4K (rear camera), Pro Mode, ISO 50-3200

Overall Score: Top 10 Best Mid-Range Smartphones For Photography 2020 83

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For more options, have a look at some of our other guides: 

Cheap Smartphones <£200   Budget Smartphones <£300   Premium Smartphones 

 

Looking For More? 

Have a look at our complete guide to memory cards to find the right MicroSD card for your smartphone, or have a look at more camera phones reviews.

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