Photo quality is an incredibly important aspect for anyone shopping around for a new smartphone. For years, Apple dominated this space with the iPhone but nowadays things look much different. Although most high-end Android phones now dominate the space, even sub $250 smartphones like the Honor 6X are full capable of taking as good — sometimes better — quality photos than the iPhone 7. This was evidenced in our Honor 6X vs iPhone 7 head-to-head comparison from a few weeks back.
Running with that idea, we also compared the camera quality of two of the hottest Android smartphones you can get without breaking the bank: the ZTE Blade V8 Pro and the Honor 6X. The results were interesting, to say the least. Although the Honor 6X was the clear winner in that bout, it mostly had to do with the ZTE Blade V8 Pro’s piss poor dynamic range. Brighter areas of photos were almost always completely blown out, while shadows are far too dark to make out any sort of detail. It was by far my #1 complaint with the ZTE Blade V8 Pro’s camera and the only thing that really held back an otherwise great little camera.
ZTE Blade V8 Pro in auto (left), HDR (right)
Here’s the thing: shooting in HDR mode largely fixes this issue (see the above photos), leveling the playing field quite a bit with the Honor 6X’s already slow-to-capture camera. With the Blade V8 Pro firing off HDR shots just as fast as the Honor 6X in auto mode, we were curious to see how well the camera would perform when sticking to this mode exclusively in another head-to-head. This time we have both the Honor 6X and iPhone 7 joining in, each shooting in their respective HDR modes. Let’s take a look at the results…
ZTE Blade V8 Pro (left), iPhone 7 (middle), Honor 6X (right)
Quick analysis, of the results and we’re looking at all phones producing favorable results. I did notice that the the iPhone 7 underexposes the shot quite a bit in HDR mode, doing everything it can to bring down those highlights, sometimes at the cost of shadow detail. The Blade V8 Pro and Honor 6X, on the other hand, brighten things up considerably, maybe even a little too much on the Blade V8 Pro. On the flip side, this did help V8 Pro do a better job at lightening up dark shadows and in the end, the V8 Pro produced more vibrant colors than either the Honor 6X and especially the iPhone 7 which always looked a little drab.
Sharpness appeared to be close between the Honor 6X and Blade V8 Pro, with the Blade doing a slightly better job of showing texture detail (walls, asphalt, etc.) and off in the distance. The iPhone 7 was easily the worst of the three in this area, with overly aggressive post processing smoothing out the overall image.
Winner: ZTE Blade V8 Pro (HDR)
So what did we learn here today? Well, just like with the Google Pixel, it’s highly recommended you stick exclusively to the ZTE Blade V8 Pro’s HDR mode when snapping photos. Not off, not auto, but ON. This will dramatically improve dynamic range with colors that are far more vibrant and you’ll get a much better exposed photo than without. The best part is shooting with HDR ON is nearly just as quick as shooting without (although saving the photo can take a little more time).
We also learned that in today’s world, you don’t have to spend $600 to find a smartphone capable of delivering “iPhone-like” photo quality. In fact, in the case of the Honor 6X or ZTE Blade V8 Pro, often times your photos will come out looking better than if you wasted all that money on the iPhone 7. If that’s not telling of how quickly mobile camera technology is advancing, I don’t know what is.
For all those interested, you can pick up the affordably priced ZTE Blade V8 Pro — of which I personally recommend — on Amazon for only $230. Link provided below.