Feb 16th, 2021

Around here we’re big fans of Google’s computational photography work. There’s no denying that computational photography has allowed high-end smartphones to take much better photos through the stock apps that manufacturers have built into their respective devices, but the GCam app pulled from Google’s Pixel smartphones is now being used by many as a way to improve the photography capabilities of budget-friendly devices as well.

Following our review of the Poco M3, we were curious to see if the lackluster imaging capabilities of the $180 smartphone could get any better when using GCam.

The results speak for themselves.

As you can see in the video and image gallery, the difference between the stock camera app on the Poco M3 and the GCam app is staggering. We’re used to seeing an improvement in dynamic range and low light photograph due to the way that the camera app stacks multiple exposures to create a single image, but we definitely weren’t expecting GCam to deliver dramatically sharper images and fix issues we had previously associated with cheap lenses and bad sensors.

Capturing images with the selfie camera using GCam shows how much better Google’s camera app is. In our Poco M3 review, we mentioned that the selfie camera on the smartphone was practically unusable, but with GCam you’d have a hard time telling the images apart from a mid-range smartphone from 2020 or even a flagship device from a few years ago.

With the main camera, the M3 delivers much better photos with GCam as well. Overall, the images and slightly brighter, but the app manages to pull more light into the scene without blowing out the highlights, revealing more details in the foreground and background.

If you own the Poco M3 and want to get more out of its camera hardware, I definitely recommend installing GCam. You’ll still need to reply on the stock camera app for capturing video, but GCam will deliver substantially better photos.

Poco M3 GCam comparison

The images below feature a side-by-side comparison between the stock camera (on the left) and photos captured with GCam (on the right).

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