Shrinking edges: Has Apple created the design trend for 2017?

New iPhones are always a hot topic of discussion, and this holds particularly true this year, for Apple has added a radical, newly designed iPhone – the iPhone X – to its minor refreshes, the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus. This is the iPhone that Apple has always wanted to introduce. In addition to a few other features, one thing is apparent: There is hardly any bezel around the display. has Apple pushed other manufacturers in a tight spot?

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There have long been rumors and renders that showed the iPhone X with its basic features: a notch could be seen on the top edge of the nearly bezel-less display. Anyone can come up with the superlatives in Apple’s show, and people who have watched it live may still hear it as a quiet echo in their heads.

apple keynote iphone x 10 The greatest iPhone of all time – at least, according to Apple / © Apple

Now, this is where people like to interject and say that Apple was not particularly innovative: Sharp, Xiaomi, LG, Samsung and, lately, Essential have already introduced smartphones with next-to-no bezels. Xiaomi and Essential were the biggest contenders: The former positioned the selfie camera below the display and, to compensate, reduced the upper bezel to one or two millimeters. On the other hand, Essential left the selfie camera at the top, but settled for a small bezel in exchange. Curiously, it remains below the display, but in an unused area.

AndroidPIT samsung galaxy S8 vs xiaomi mi mix comparison 5602 Xiaomi Mi Mix and the Galaxy S8 / © AndroidPIT

Apple has opted to follow the Essential route: A small notch above the display provides room for a selfie cam and sensors; otherwise the display stretches to the edges – even on the bottom. It looks great and may not look big in many apps – for example, you could hardly guess that the small notch would lead to problems when surfing and messaging. On the other hand, there may be some unpleasant surprises in landscape mode – The Verge published some interesting screenshots regarding this. For instance, the Safari browser shows two white areas on the side so that the website does not disappear behind the selfie cam area (ostensibly, it does not protect the scroll bar from disappearing).

However, this neglect is already gone in videos: Videos in Apple’s presentation always ran in full-screen mode. One thing was apparent, however: The videos were always very dark on the left near the selfie cam. Was this intentional? I would lean toward a yes, because in a half-second, you would recognize how the video looks when you see a bright background – in this case, a sunset; not very sleek.

Of course, there are always two opinions for such matters.

Samsung and LG have found another solution to remove the small edges. The display edges are reduced by approximately two millimeters on the side and a few more at the bottom. These efforts resulted in displays without a bezel and yet, smartphones that are easy to handle.

AndroidPIT glaxy note 8 vs lg v 30 vs s8 9994 LG V30, Samsung Galaxy Note 8 and Galaxy S8 / © AndroidPIT

The intention to fully remove bezels around the display actually seems questionable. On the one hand, one or two millimeters always remain; on the other hand, the practical use seems doubtful. Either it disfigures the display geometry (Essential, Apple) or questionably moves the position of the components (Xiaomi). Perhaps this would have been the best method:

Of course, pictures of these bezel-less smartphones look great – especially when they show pictures of the camera and virtually coalesce with the environment. Lately, such pictures have also turned out well with classic smartphones. And what about Samsung’s S8 advertising campaigns? They also showed that the smartphone was supposed to be “invisible”.

Apple has finally made bezel-less displays a design trend of 2017 with the iPhone X. It’s hardly imaginable that future high-end smartphones will return to large bezels, but at least this was already the case before for LG and Samsung. It doesn’t look like we’ll be going back to small display borders. Apple’s notch solution may not be the best, but it does hint at one sign: the days of bezels are numbered.

Opinion by Hans-Georg Kluge

All phones in the future will have a notch like the iPhone X now

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But manufacturers must still find out which solution is the best: Is it a small bezel on the display? Should there be small bezels on top and/or the bottom? What do you think? Share your thoughts below!

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Apple has presented its new Samsung!

In 2015, I read a hilarious spoof article: “Samsung presents its new iPhone”; that had me on the floor with: “The feeling that it is the actual iPhone lasts about 4 minutes longer than it used to”. At that time the iPhone 6 was the leader of the pack and the satire site was poking fun at the Galaxy S6 as an obvious attempt to imitate Apple’s design.

More than two years later, it looks like Apple has lost its place as the design icon and the competition is starting to come into its own. The new iPhone X is a good indicator that Apple has stopped being innovative and has begun looking to its competition for inspiration, and I’m not just talking about Samsung.

Apple isn’t what it used to be

For the tenth anniversary of the first iPhone, Apple couldn’t come to the table empty-handed, and so it launched a new device. It’s the first time that Apple has presented two different models at the same time, the iPhone 8 and the iPhone X. The iPhone 8 could have been named iPhone 7s, but Apple decided to go up a number. Maybe it’s good for marketing.

OLED display like on Samsung

The iPhone X is the most innovative phone in the Apple ecosystem, but it actually doesn’t look all that new. It comes with a new OLED display, something that has been the calling card of Samsung Galaxy phones for generations. The name is also kind of funny since Apple has inaugurated it as their Super Retina Display and Samsung has always called their display technology Super AMOLED. Super coincidence?

samsung galaxy note 8 s8 plus front The new iPhone X has a display just like Samsung’s/ © AndroidPIT

Borderless display like on Xiaomi

Another display update on the iPhone X joins the new fashion of borderless displays or rather, displays that use up the maximum amount of front surface possible. The first launch this year with the new format and a display that took up more than 78% was the LG G6, next came the S8 (~83.6%), Essential Phone (~84.9%), Note 8 (~83.2), V30 (~81.2%), Mi MIX 2 (~80.8%) and lastly the iPhone X (~82.9%).
 

Lowest price: Xiaomi Mi MIX

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However, this feature of lengthening the screen to the edge of the frame became relevant for the first time in a modest range of smartphones, the Aquos Crystal from Sharp (2014). In 2016, Xiaomi took up the baton with its first Mi MIX, which improved on but kept the lines of Aquos Crystal. I still think it’s the best ambassador for this trend after seeing the second edition. It looks like Apple has also been inspired by the competition and discovered that it’s the best thing for their customers.

AndroidPIT Xiaomi Mi Mix 2123 Mi MIX: this is what borderless means / © ANDROIDPIT

Facial recognition from Android

The biggest gamble on the iPhone X is how it’s unlocked. In the past, iPhone has always been unlocked with a PIN and starting with the iPhone 5s, a fingerprint reader. On the iPhone X, forget about your finger, because they’ve joined the facial recognition game, or Face ID. Facial recognition has been on Android devices for a while now and since the failed Galaxy Note 7, the iris scanner is becoming increasingly important. Apple was the last to sign on to this tech, gambling hard on it even as it applies its own twist on the format.

Back covered in glass just like the rest

From the iPhone 6 to the new iPhone 8 and 8 plus, Apple has repeated the same design. The last two have a glass back just like the Galaxy S line has had since the S6. The excuse seems to be the new wireless charger that the latest generation of iPhone comes with. We all know that neither the iPhone 8 nor the iPhone X are the first to have a glass back. They’re not even the first ones from Apple. At this point, the construction seems less like an update and more like an adaptation based on the market’s needs. A way to put themselves on the same field as the competition.

u11 xzp s8 g6 Who doesn’t have a glass back nowadays? / © AndroidPIT

Intuitive system gestures like in Sailfish OS

Throughout the entire presentation for the new iPhone X, I felt like I had seen it all before. When it got to the part about software and new gestures for iOS 11, I thought “they copied this.” Apart from swiping on the status bar to bring up quick settings, which is taken from Android, opening multitasking and going back to the start is a copy of Sailfish OS. Let’s take a quick stroll down memory lane. Sailfish OS, developed by the independent Finnish company Jolla, and derived from the old Nokia Maemo project, is soon to be available on Sony Xperia X. Honestly, I think all mobile operating systems should copy Sailfish OS.

AndroidPIT sailfish os 3256 Sailfish OS: move through the system with gestures, without a back button or having to break your fingers. / © ANDROIDPIT

The recipe for success: improve on what you imitate

All these new features on the iPhone seem like a logical evolution, but it’s also unavoidable to think that the iPhone looks more than ever like a Galaxy. But Apple has a huge ace up its sleeve: Apple doesn’t test things, they sell them.

Anything that Apple releases is usually very finely tuned. Honestly, if one of the most profitable tech companies in the world can’t do the R+D, nobody can. Apple has always grabbed ideas that were around floating around and made them a reality. Facial recognition is a perfect example of that.

apple keynote iphone x price 5 Despite the price of the iPhone X, I’m sure they’ll sell a ton. / © Apple

With an S8, if you’re completely in the dark neither the iris scanner nor the facial recognition work very well. The iPhone X still needs to be tested in the dark, but it looks like there’s hope for it.

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Google tests and plays with the tech, Apple sells it

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At the end of the day, it’s all a question of trust and fulfilling promises. Apple can sell, and it knows how to market. But when it comes to design, at least where smartphones are concerned, it looks like Apple has hit a wall.

Do you think that the new iPhone X looks a lot like a Samsung? Do you think that next year every smartphone will have that notch in it?

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Poll: Did Apple or Samsung have the best flagships of 2017?

Apple just revealed its new smartphones, the iPhone 8 and iPhone X (“Ten”). How do they compare to the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Note 8, the cream of the crop in the Android world? We want to know what you think!

Samsung vs Apple: battle of the top manufacturers

Samsung’s high end offerings are the most coveted among Android users, and this year’s additions to the Galaxy S and Galaxy Note series have left a very good impression on us so far. The Galaxy S8 and S8+ introduced a modern, luxurious design with all glass and curves. The Note 8 follows suit with the same style and top of the line hardware, plus a few tricks of its own like the S-Pen.

Just days ago, Apple had its big unveiling of the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X. These devices seem to have taken some inspiration from cutting edge Android smartphones. The tenth iPhone takes a big step forward in terms of design, ditching its iconic bezels and home button for a trendy bezel-less design with a notch at the top of the display for the sensors. The iPhone 8, on the other hand, probably should have just been called the iPhone 7S, as it wasn’t so revolutionary. The finer points of the devices are the new A11 Bionic chip, facial recognition, wireless charging thanks to glass backs and augmented reality capabilities.

With their latest smartphones, both Samsung and Apple offer top shelf hardware, design and high prices to match. To refresh your memory, here’s how much each is going for in the US right now:

  • Samsung Galaxy S8: $ 724
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+: $ 824
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 8: $ 929
  • iPhone 8: $ 699
  • iPhone 8 Plus: $ 799
  • iPhone X: $ 999

Which manufacturer’s offerings excite you most? Which has the best value for your money? Vote below for the device you’d choose, and we’ll see which side wins!

Let us know what your deciding factors were in the comments!

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Apple Watch Series 3: the future of the Apple Watch is here

Apple has just presented the new generation of the Apple Watch alongside the three new iPhones. This version will come with watchOS 4, LTE support and an antenna that works through the display.

Apple Watch Series 3

The third generation of the Apple Watch can work independently of a smartphone. For this to work, Apple provided it with a faster chip so that apps could work on their own. The new dual core processor has an Apple-designed Bluetooth and Wi-Fi chip which has low power consumption. In spite of all these changes, it’s the same size as the Apple Watch Series 2. Apple has incorporated an electronic SIM card, though its unclear whether it’s an Apple SIM or an eSIM. With the third Apple Watch, the Cupertino firm has come up with a refined solution for the antenna: it’s built into the display.

The new Apple Watch has other exciting new features as well. For example, Siri is able to speak to you directly through the watch. Apple Music will be available as an app on the Apple Watch this year, meaning you won’t need a paired smartphone to listen to music. With integrated LTE, users will always be connected.

apple keynote iphone x 6 Apple Watch Series 3 / © Apple @AndroidPIT

The Apple Watch Series 3 will be ready for pre-order from September 15, and available from September 22. It will cost $ 329 without LTE and $ 399 with LTE. It will work with all major carriers in the US: AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon. A wide range of colors and bands are available, and you can check out the Apple website for details.

If you’re not convinced by the newer Apple Watches, the Apple Watch Series 1 received a price reduction and is now just $ 249. Let us know what you think of the Series 3 in the comments!

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ARKit: How Apple is quietly reinventing the smartphone

ARKit is the new iOS11 feature that could potentially revolutionize the platform. As of today, anyone owning an iPhone 6S or later will be able to run augmented reality apps. In one fell swoop, Apple will create the largest AR platform.

What makes ARKit so powerful?

In short: ARKit takes a lot of work away from the app developers. With ARKit, Apple has released a programming interface that allows developers to insert digital objects into real-world images from the camera. ARKit assumes the task, in order to supplement the depth information of the two-dimensional image of the camera. This is necessary, for example, so that a digital figure appears to actually stand on the street and not just float over an image. This kind of spatial recognition is complex and requires additional sensors – much like Google Tango. ARKit on the other hand, does not.

In addition to spatial environment, ARKit also detects lighting conditions. This is indispensable for realistic, seamless integration of digital objects. ARKit recognizes horizontal surfaces like floors or tables, as well as feature spots (such as objects that stand out).

IMG 0700 ARKit in action / © AndroidPIT

ARKit makes all of this information accessible to developers. With the help of Unity or other 3D engines, an app can then insert objects, and thus supplement reality – that is, create an augmented reality world. In order to minimize latency, your iPhone or iPad must be equipped with an Apple A9 or A10 chip or later. In other words, you’ll need an iPhone 6S or newer, a current generation iPad, or an iPad Pro.

wwdc ar2 ARKit live demo on the WWDC stage. / © Apple, Screenshot by AndroidPIT

ARCore is Google’s solution

ARKit and ARCore are technically quite similar. In the run-up to the ARKit launch, Google was already working on a similar technology – drawing on their previous work on Tango. This rarely uses time-of-flight cameras (i.e. depth sensors) within an AR session. When using a Tango-enabled app, typically only motion and acceleration sensors are used to determine exact positions. Thus, Google was able to quickly adapt the Tango technologies into ARCore. How will things progress with Tango? ARCore is probably the heir and Tango may disappear.

google arcore taco ARCore could be an ARKit competitor. / © Google

That’s why ARKit for augmented reality is also important to Android: key toolkits will support both ARKit as well as ARCore, so the porting effort for the developers will probably be minimal. And the most successful ARKit apps will also be available in 2018 on Android with ARCore.

Great demos with ARKit

Because ARKit is part of the beta version of iOS11, there are already lots of demos that show what ARKit can do. The first major demo event was held more than a week ago in the US. There, media outlets like TechCrunch were able to examine complex AR apps. IKEA and TV channel AMC presented AR apps there, for example. Even well-known children’s book The Very Hungry Caterpillar has made the leap into AR. According to TechCrunch, many of the complex demos took just two or three months to create. This shows how fast content can be provided for ARKit.

Below are some trailer videos of the ARKit apps, both for augmented reality as well as for virtual reality: words are good, but videos are better.

The Walking Dead: Our World

Video: Apple / IKEA (via Techcrunch)

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Augmented reality changes our smartphone usage

ARKit is impressive but the technology is still in its infancy. However, it’s already clear that augmented reality will become an important part of smartphone features in the coming years.

Practically all of the applications shown here have been developed for iOS11 only. Android users should not despair. With ARCore, they’ll soon get an alternative. Successful apps will find their way onto Android quickly, thanks to the technical similarities. If ARCore proves to be a stark competitor, Google will also be able to make tens of millions of smartphones AR-capable within a short time. We can expect to hear a lot about ARKit apps in the next few months, but in half a year, Android will also receive the most successful apps.

Opinion by Hans-Georg Kluge

Augmented reality will advance smartphone development over the next few years

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These major changes are coming to both platforms. The camera will become a tool for perceiving our environment in a new way. Google has brought together machine learning and AR with Google Lens. Some AR apps will be fun, others will help us stay oriented in foreign cities. Others will open up new horizons for smartphones.

What features would you like to see with AR? Looking forwad to it? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Android News + App Reviews + Hardware Reviews – AndroidPIT

How to watch the Apple iPhone 8 livestream

On September 12, Apple will launch its next flagship phone: the iPhone 8. Apple may also announce a few other of its products at the eagerly anticipated event – we’re hoping and expecting to see something of the Apple Watch 3 and potentially also something about iOS 11. It’s also the 10th edition of this event, which marks a special day in Apple’s calendar, so we can expect something pretty special this year…

When is the iPhone 8 launch event?

The launch event will be on September 12 at 1PM ET (10AM PT or 6PM in the UK).

Apple’s event will take place at the Steve Jobs Theater in California, where we’re expecting to see several products announced: the iPhone 8, hopefully the Apple Watch 3, Apple 4K TV and maybe even AirPods 2 as well as news on iOS 11. The tenth anniversary iPhone could be called either the iPhone X or the iPhone 8 according to rumors. Plus, two more phones have been rumored which may be dubbed iPhone 7S and 7S Plus, or even iPhone 8 and 8 Plus. We’ll have to wait and see.

How to watch the livestream

To watch the livestream, you should head to the Apple Special Event 2017 website. Depending on what device you’re using to watch the livestream, there are various requirements for compatibility:

From Android

Watching the event from an Android device is probably the most difficult way of streaming the event (hey, why would Apple make it easy?!). You’ll have to download the VLC media player app. Once it’s installed, tap on the menu icon (the hamburger) and then tap ‘Stream’. The link to add should be the one below, but if it isn’t, we’ll update it as soon as we can: http://appleliveevents-i.akamaihd.net/hls/live/222436/1609lijbsdfvoihbadfvohbsdfvljhb/master/4500/4500.m3u8?t=YWxpc2FtaXg=

From Windows PC or laptop (and Linux)

You need Windows 10 or later and the Microsoft Edge browser. Alternatively, you can use VLC media player to stream the event live. Once you’re installed the software on your device, navigate to the tab called ‘Media’ then click on “Open Network Stream…” (or just press Ctrl+N). Then insert the URL link below:

We believe the link for VLC will be: http://appleliveevents-i.akamaihd.net/hls/live/222436/1609lijbsdfvoihbadfvohbsdfvljhb/master/4500/4500.m3u8?t=YWxpc2FtaXg= but if it isn’t, we’ll update it as soon as we have the correct one.

From iPhone, iPad, or iPod

Make sure you have iOS 7 at least and open up Safari Internet browser. Head over to the Apple Special Event page and you’re good to go.

From Mac

You can use Safari Internet browser to watch the iPhone 8 launch (has to be Safari, not another browser). You need at least Safari version 6.0.5 and make sure your system is running OS X 10.8.5. Then just head over to the Apple Special Event page.

From Apple TV

You need a 2, 3 or 4th Generation Apple TV running software 6.2 or more recent. Download the Apple Events app and just tune in at 1PM ET!

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Xiaomi vs Apple: the Mi MIX could allegedly take on the iPhone

Xiaomi would like to launch a preemptive strike against Apple by rolling out their brand new Mi MIX 2 smartphone a day before the new iPhone 8 is launched. The Mi MIX successor will also follow the general bezel-less design, but albeit packing in improvements across most aspects to make it worthy of being a next generation smartphone.

The main trend that smartphones are moving toward these days would be carrying as little bezel as possible, and the likes of Samsung and LG have led the way this year. No doubt the Mi MIX 2 is going to be better than its predecessor in terms of a bezel-less presentation. So far, rumored hardware specifications of the Mi MIX 2 point to a possible Snapdragon 836 chipset from Qualcomm and Android 8.0 Oreo support right out of the box.

The Mi MIX 2’s launch is Beijing this September 11 is definitely an event that many are looking forward to, taking into consideration how its previous generation Mi MIX proved to be quite a hit when released in October last year. Apple’s grip on the China market has been slowing down, and it would take more of a revolution than an evolutionary leap for the iPhone 8 to wow users. Perhaps smartphone users are starting to suffer from “iPhone fatigue”, making them willing to try out new brands and a different operating system.

AndroidPIT Xiaomi mi mix 2122 The Xiaomi Mi MIX successor is arriving this September 11. / © AndroidPIT

Xiaomi has long been deemed to be a pretty good copycat of Apple, and this has been reflected in its product design over the past few years. While the overall quality of Xiaomi’s products has improved over time, it has not quite managed to achieve the level of desirability. You will definitely not be able to see anyone outside of China queueing up a week before a brand new Xiaomi smartphone is released. We do not expect that to be the case in the future either, but it is nice to see Xiaomi introduce more improvements to its upper range smartphones that will provide stiff competition in the value-for-money market segment.

With Xiaomi being a home-grown brand, patriotism would also be a factor in boosting the sales of the Mi MIX 2. China is the world’s biggest market for everything by virtue of their population and has an ever growing appetite for consumerism, where it would be a mistake for any company, Apple included, to overlook the trends in China.

What do you think of Xiaomi’s claims for the Mi MIX 2? Will it be able to live up to claimed expectations, or will the new iPhone continue to blaze a trail that leaves the other players behind? Or would you prefer to settle for “safer” bezel-less choices like the Samsung Galaxy S8 or the LG G6?

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Apple is so optimistic about AR, it has created its own glasses

You’re probably aware that today’s big players in the world of high-tech are no longer satisfied with our current reality, as they seek to add layers to it through augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). Apple is no exception and has become very involved in the field – in addition to preparing its devices to support AR and VR, it’s also decided to manufacture its own augmented reality glasses, like Google did with the Google Glass.

Still unsure about AR? Rest assured, you’re not alone. Apple, however, disagrees. It has been working not only on compatibility with this technology across the vast majority of its devices but it’s also making its own AR glasses. Remind you of anyone? Google did the same with Google Glass.

lunettes ar apple A sketch of Apple’s future AR glasses. © The Verge / Apple

Although Tim Cook, the big boss of Apple, indicated that Apple was working on an AR device a while ago, it was a few months before images from the patent were released and we could be certain that this wasn’t just a rumor. According to the latest sketches leaked, the device has a pretty simple design (at least, in theory): You pop the glasses on and you’ll be able to see a number of useful features superimposed over what it actually there. Here’s an example in a car: an iPad shows different elements of the car in detail.

apple ar glasses You should be able to interact with AR through a tablet or smartphone. © Apple / The Verge

in theory, this is very useful (or very worrying, depending on how you look at it), but in practice, it will be fairly complicated to get this technology up to scratch and equally complicated to make it useful for users. Apple is playing a long term strategy game here, placing its pawns with ARKit since it will launch an offensive with these glasses, thus ensuring it gains a large potential user base. Is that enough to appeal to you? Although Apple remains loyal to itself, the price of these glasses won’t be cheap and investing so much money in a technology that’s still so new might not be the smartest move for users.

Regardless, we hope it works out. What do you think about these galsses? Do you think the idea is good? Would you buy them?

Android News + App Reviews + Hardware Reviews – AndroidPIT

Camera comparison: OnePlus 5 vs Apple iPhone 7 Plus

The iPhone 7 Plus definitely has one of the best smartphone cameras around. The OnePlus 5 faces a gargantuan task in this comparison, being only half as expensive at $ 479 compared to iPhone 7’s $ 769. Before we dive into the test photos, let’s take a look at the technical specs:

The iPhone 7 Plus and OnePlus 5 camera module

 
Smartphone Focal length Resolution Aperture
Apple iPhone 7 Plus 28 mm 12 MP f / 1.8
  56 mm 12 MP f / 2.8
OnePlus 5 24 mm 16 MP f / 1.7
  32 mm 20 MP f / 2.6

On the iPhone 7 Plus, the focal length between both lenses differs by a factor of two – and pressing the “2x” button on the app switches the user from one camera to another, while the resolution remains the same; only the brightness is reduced in the telephoto lens due to its nature. You can also seamlessly zoom using pinch-to-zoom, and the iPhone 7 Plus then jumps back and forth between the cameras depending on the zoom level.

On the other hand, the OnePlus 5 has a somewhat more complex setting. According to the EXIF data from the photo files, the focal length of both lenses is 24 and 32 mm, which is equal to a factor of 1.33. The OnePlus’ camera app also has the “2x” button and pressing it will take you to a zoom area where the smartphone already enlarges the image, making it interpolated.

According to Carl Pei himself, the optical zoom is 1.6x – the remaining 0.4x is implemented using “SmartCapture Multiframe Technology”; it’s supposedly “lossless” but not exactly “optical” like in Apple’s case. The camera app combines several shots together, and supposedly improves image quality that way. Later on, we’ll take a closer look at how well that works.

AndroidPIT oneplus 5 0127a The iPhone 7 Plus and the OnePlus 5 pursue the same concept with the dual camera. / © AndroidPIT

Unfortunately, we cannot illustrate the divergence between 1.33x optical (using the focal lengths saved in the EXIF files) and 1.6x optical (OnePlus) at this time. Through our experiments, however, we were able to understand that the OnePlus 5 actually switches between both cameras at exactly 1.6x when seamlessly zooming in the photo app.

At this point, it’s funny how the resolution of the resulting photos — up to and including 1.9x zoom — is at 4608 x 3456 pixels, which is actually all 16 megapixels of the wide-angle sensor. At 2.0x zoom, the resolution jumps to 5184 x 3880 pixels. Although it corresponds to the tele-module’s 20 megapixels, it nevertheless takes photos in a range where interpolation is needed. At 1.6x zoom, where 20 megapixels would actually be available from the sensor, the resolution is conversely reduced to 16 megapixels.

OnePlus: Why so cumbersome? The OnePlus 5 itself has a truly outstanding camera and absolutely no need for such problems, but since the OnePlus 5 receives software updates seemingly every minute, we are optimistic that the manufacturer will straighten things out soon.

Street scene

We shot the first subject at Berlin’s Winskiez in Germany, and, while doing so, first set it to 2x zoom. The EXIF data provided vastly different values: While the iPhone 7 Plus and OnePlus 5 have a relatively similar shutter speed (1/220 s and 1/190 s, respectively) and aperture (f / 2.8 and f / 2.6, respectively), ISO values differ greatly. The Apple smartphone had ISO 20 in the EXIF data, while the OnePlus 5 showed ISO 200. I assume that this is due to HDR mode.

Both smartphones have automatic HDR enabled in this very high-contrast subject. From a purely visual perspective, I like the OnePlus 5’s outcome a bit better. The shot looks brighter and clearer. However, when zooming in on the picture, you can tell that the iPhone 7 Plus has noticeably better detail reproduction – see the round detail enlargements. And this is despite the fact that the OnePlus 5 photo is saved at a higher resolution. But like I said: There is heavy interpolation here, and that doesn’t help detail reproduction.

winsstr zoom When using 2x zoom, the iPhone 7 Plus depicts greater detail. / © AndroidPIT

Interestingly, the result is exactly the opposite in a wide-angle shot. I like the visual impression in the iPhone 7 Plus better here; the shot simply has a fresher look. On the other hand, the OnePlus 5 can truly make use of its (real!) resolution advantage of 16 vs 12 megapixels and provides the image with better details – see the detail enlargements again.

winsstr ww In wide-angle mode, the OnePlus 5 takes the lead over the iPhone 7 due to its higher “real” resolution. / © AndroidPIT

Low light

In the next subject, the class difference between both smartphones will become clear. The aperture difference between both is virtually negligible at f / 1.7 and f / 1.8. However, the iPhone 7 Plus has an optical image stabilizer, which allows for long shutter speeds – in this case, 1/4 s. On the other hand, the OnePlus 5 must take shots at 1/17 s due to a lack of an OIS, and therefore greatly increases sensitivity. According to the EXIF data, this is a face-off between ISO 9600 and ISO 1000.

low light ww Optical image stabilization helps in bad lighting conditions – the OnePlus 5’s shots turned out underexposed from a certain brightness. / © AndroidPIT

Although the iPhone 7 Plus actually should have provided the darker photo based on the EXIF data, the image is significantly brighter. Obviously, Apple has more effective image processing algorithms than OnePlus – and it provides a significantly more usable result overall.

As shown in the following image, this not only applies to wide-angle images in low light but also to telephotos. Although neither the iPhone 7 Plus nor the OnePlus 5’s second sensor has an optical image stabilizer, the Apple smartphone does noticeably better here.

lowlight menu vergleich2 The iPhone 7 Plus also has the upper hand over the OnePlus 5 when using zoom in bad lighting conditions. / © AndroidPIT

Close-up shot

Now it’s on to a close-up shot in a wide angle: In my opinion, the OnePlus 5 delivers nicer details here, and iq impressive with its effective micro-contrasts and a vivid result. However, the iPhone 7 Plus delivers more lifelike color, which is particularly noticeable in the dark red flower on the far right. Apple’s image processing is simply more realistic.

tageslicht makro Even if the iPhone 7 Plus is more realistic, the OnePlus 5’s photo looks more vivid. What do you think? / © AndroidPIT

All in all, both cell phones deliver excellent results in good lighting conditions. Despite the significantly lower price tag, the OnePlus 5 definitely does not need to shy away from the iPhone 7 Plus.

Mixed light and zoom

Let’s start things off with a good example: We took a picture of our colleague cutting vegetables. In this shot, the lighting partly came from artificial light and partly from daylight. Here, the iPhone 7 Plus delivers a somewhat more accurate result and more beautiful skin tones; none of the two smartphones produces a heavy color cast.

However, the detail reproduction in this zoom shot is also better on the iPhone 7 Plus, and it is clearly visible on our colleague’s sweater in particular. Furthermore, image noise in the OnePlus shot was noticeably worse, and the fact that the smartphone unnecessarily blows up shots to 20 megapixels definitely isn’t an immense help.

fabi essen zoom The OnePlus 5 produces significantly more image noise when using zoom. / © AndroidPIT

Bokeh mode

Both opponents in this comparison offer bokeh mode for portrait photos. In this mode, the smartphones use the offset of both sensors to calculate the subject’s depth map. As a result, the software can ideally show a blurred background, but leave the portrayed person himself/herself in focus. This function works quite reliably in both the Apple and OnePlus devices, although the transition from focused and unfocused is a bit more accurate on the OnePlus.

oneplus bokeh OnePlus 5 manages to transition well between focused and blurred. / © AndroidPIT

Since larger focal lengths deliver more flattering results in portraits, both smartphones automatically switch to portrait mode on the camera module and use whichever focal length is greater. Neither the OnePlus 5 nor the iPhone 7 Plus can zoom via pinch-to-zoom – however, the iPhone 7 Plus has the upper hand here thanks to the greater focal length of the second camera, although the greater focal length makes bokeh look more beautiful on the iPhone 7 Plus.

iphone bokeh Due to the higher focal range, the bokeh looks better on the iPhone 7 Plus. / © AndroidPIT

Software implementation

The iPhone 7 Plus has an extremely rudimentary camera app and virtually no configuration options. By Android standards, the photo app on the OnePlus 5 is extremely modest. Unlike Apple, however, the Chinese manufacturer also gives its smartphone a manual mode with numerous setting options, such as exposure time and ISO sensitivity. Which is awesome. Both smartphones take quick shots when actually taking pictures, although the iPhone 7 Plus feels a bit quicker.

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Verdict

The OnePlus 5 performs very well in wide angle. Having said that, the zoom function is somewhat chaotic with its different resolutions and focal lengths – the iPhone 7 Plus clearly provides a more well-rounded package here.

To be fair, however, I must stress again at this point that the Apple smartphone is also nearly twice as expensive, starting at $ 769. Particularly because Apple is in an entirely different league than OnePlus when it comes to units sold, it has entirely different options for having a solution tailor-made for them.


This article would not have been possible without OnePlus’ support. Of course, the manufacturer had no influence over the content.

Android News + App Reviews + Hardware Reviews – AndroidPIT

Will Apple make augmented reality mainstream with iOS 11?

Like every year, Apple took the opportunity to present new features for its devices at its developers conference. This time, Apple wasn’t content to just build upon its existing operating system or other products though. It’s now showing interest in a totally new technology: augmented reality.

ARKit: augmented reality with a slice of Cupertino?

ARKit is Apple’s framework dedicated to augmented reality, or AR. When the new version of iOS (11) becomes available, it will be found on all devices that have an A9 processor on board. Of course, that means users will have access to AR apps and games, but before that, developers have to create all these apps, which is no small task.

But, developers will be up for the challenge. Why wouldn’t they be, with Apple’s huge user base? Apple has everything to gain from ARKit: users get to discover a relatively unknown and amusing technology, and developers can gain notoriety and make money from the apps. At best, users will flock to Apple to check out AR. At worst, it won’t catch on with the masses, and the few who are very interested will enjoy it anyway.

amnh 1 Augmented reality is already on Android. © Screenshot: ANDROIDPIT

ARKit: motivated developers offer up interesting content

Developers are already off to work, and the fruits of their labor are starting to show. Some have practical uses, rather than just entertainment. With this in mind, IKEA is working on a way to put virtual furniture in your apartment to see how it looks before you buy it, thus avoiding some bad surprises.

Always practical, there’s also an AR Measure App, which allows you to measure using your smartphone for those times when a tape measurer isn’t around. Again, this will be particularly useful if you’re at a furniture store and need to measure something like cabinets against the space available in your kitchen. 

On the other hand, there are apps which aim to immerse you into the fantasy world of augmented reality, where things are half real and half virtual. You can find many examples of this online, for example, you can find the famous m,n,k board game, or watch virtual basketball players go head to head in your living room. The most impressive video is this one: 

ARKit: Does AR really have a future?

Short of having a crystal ball, it’s impossible to know. What’s clear is that augmented reality, in addition to being fun, has some very practical use cases. And while many questions are still up in the air, as with any new technology, it will find its audience. Will it one day be normal to see a skeleton passing you on the street while you’re wearing AR glasses? What will be the impact of the technology on individuals and society? Big changes pose big questions, and we’ll just have to wait and see.

What do you think of AR? Are you excited by it, or apprehensive? Let us know in the comments.

Android News + App Reviews + Hardware Reviews – AndroidPIT