When it comes to smartphone cameras, less is not more. More is more. iPhone 11 Pro has four cameras. One selfie camera on the front, and three cameras on the back– wide-angle, ultra-wide-angle, and telephoto. Why was Apple so late to bring multiple cameras to the iPhone?
Scale. Apple sells a few hundred million iPhones a year, so any change requires component makers to be able to keep up with demand. Early iPhone 11 Pro reviews are in and the jury has decided a verdict.
iPhone 11 is the King of the Cameras? Wait. What? That’s a question, not a verdict.
What’s the verdict? Allow me to declare, again, that iPhone remains the king of the smartphone cameras; not so much based upon a head-to-head shootout with Samsung, or Google, or Huawei, or whatever other smartphone makers with multiple cameras, but the King in volume.
Let me take a wild guess and declare that Apple will sell more triple lens smartphone cameras– of the high-end premium brand– than all other makers combined. That volume requires that Apple have component manufacturing locked up well in advance when new features show up at the annual iPhone event.
Now, what about photo and video quality?
Again, early reviews point to expectations being set high for the King, but thanks to computational photography, Apple is able to make a notable improvement in photos and videos from just last year’s XS models. Better in bright light, night mode, and thanks to the Deep Fusion feature, better photos. Period.
How much better?
There are multiple ways to show off a new smartphone camera.
First, in head-to-head photo shootouts with other top brands. Nilay Patel says iPhone 11 Pro cameras top Google’s Pixel, and the most recent Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus as ranked by DXOMark. 113 points vs. iPhone XS Max at 105. That will change.
Second, none of it matters. Thanks to improved lenses and sensors and the annual improvements to computational photography, all the premium brand smartphone cameras compete well against mid-range DSLRs, and when compared to high-end DSLRs, require an experienced eye.
Nilay Patel on iPhone 11 Pro:
They beat the Pixel and Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10 Plus in most of our side-by-side comparisons. In fact, I think the iPhone 11 Pro is the best smartphone camera on the market right now.
That is not faint praise. Neither is this one from Matthew Panzarino found some issues brought about by an experienced eye, but declared:
The best camera I’ve ever used on a phone
Are the iPhone 11 Pro cameras enough to call Apple the King of Cameras? Yes, but it doesn’t matter. Photos captured by today’s premium smartphones are remarkable. I was a 35mm SLR photographer for a couple of decades and never shot one photo any better than an average photo from an iPhone XS Max.