Is There Really A Difference Between 64MP Smartphone Cameras?

Updated: Aug 19, 2021

Written by Cheryl Tan

 

For a while, 48 megapixels (MP) was the biggest smartphone camera resolution on the market. Now, 64MP phones have been released and a jaw-dropping 108MP phone is on the way. But do you really need a 64MP smartphone camera? Are there really differences between the images these cameras can produce?


For the purpose of this article, I brought the Redmi Note 8 Pro and the Vivo Nex 3 on a trip to Hokkaido to see how they compare to each other.


The images below are all straight out of the phone’s camera with no editing done by me.

Here we have a shot of a beef bowl from the Vivo Nex 3, resized and zoomed in. You can see that when zoomed in, while the detail on the beef slices isn’t quite there due to my own shaky hands, the demarcation between the meat and the fat is still visible. The saturation and contrast are a little too overdone for my taste though.


The Redmi Note 8 Pro takes it the whole other direction. All the beef slices seem to be the same shade of brown, and you can barely tell whether it’s fat or meat. Not quite as appetising to look at.


Without scrutinising the details too much however, it’s clear that the saturation and exposure levels are higher on the Nex 3. This is dependent on software since the sensors that both phones are using are the same.


We can clearly see that the 64MP sensor plays a part, but how the unedited image comes out is still reliant on the phone brand’s image processing software. Some people might enjoy editing their images and in that case, the Redmi phone might be a better bet since it’s not as processed.


For people who enjoy just snapping a quick picture to send to friends or post on Instagram however, the Nex 3 works fantastically and without a hitch.


Badly taken photos aside, you’ll be able to see that while both phones had the setting sun overexposed, the Nex 3 still retained a bit of the sun’s glow around the edges. But that’s not the point of these photos. I wanted to see exactly how much detail they could both capture.


This is where it gets fun. We can clearly see that the words on the blue billboard are clearer, with the “North Pacific Bank” below still somewhat legible in the image from the Nex 3. The words in the Note 8 Pro’s image however, are pixelated and not that clear.

The issue, however, is that the Nex 3’s image has a lot more noise while the Note 8 Pro’s image is smoother, albeit less detailed.


That about wraps it up for this comparison, and I think this really shows one thing. As plenty of people have said before, megapixels aren’t the end all be all of good photos. 64MP cameras do offer a unique point where plenty of detail can be captured, but ultimately, the image processing that a brand has is the real differentiating factor between whether an image is decent, or great.


Just look at the Google Pixel phones, iPhones and more. They stuck with 12MP and 16MP lenses, but their photo modes and quality are what really elevate the images from these phones.

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