When it comes to smartphone photography, the best thing the Google Pixel (or even older Nexus devices) have going for them is HDR+. It takes already nice camera hardware and supercharges it with Google’s proprietary software algorithms to produce image quality that’s unrivaled on any other smartphone. It’s the perfect marriage of hardware and software and something you can only find on Google’s own Nexus/Pixel devices.
Google is still keeping this technology very much to themselves. Although they’ve previously made available their own Google Camera app available on the Play Store, it lacked the HDR+ functionality found on Pixel/Nexus devices. Thankfully, the clever Android developers of XDA have figured out a way to take the Google Camera straight from the latest Android O release for the Pixel — with full HDR+ functionality — and back port it to older devices. So… does it work?
I’ve tested it on my OnePlus 5 and it while HDR+ Auto has sort of mixed results (doesn’t really work that great), it’s only when you enable the slower HDR+ On mode that differences really become apparent. Low light shooting capabilities are vastly improved, one of the OnePlus 5’s sore spots and something I talked about in my OnePlus 5 camera review. When shooting in bright or normally lit conditions, I still preferred the stock camera app — whether using HDR+ Auto or On — so you really need to see it in low light to appreciate the improvements HDR+ brings.
The hacked Google Camera app only works on devices with a Snapdragon 835 and 821 processor with the Hexagon 680 ISP or newer — and even then it’s not guaranteed. You’ll also want to make sure you uninstall Google Camera first, or else it will cause conflicting issues. If you’re all set and want to give it a spin, the you can download/install/sideload the app using the link below:
Download: GCam 4.4.012.156195200