There was a time when Sony grabbed the top position as sales leader in cell phones. Besides the well-known innovation that Sony brings to their devices, their early phones were also extensions of other product lines. There were cell phones which were more like Sony media players with their great sounds. Of course, there were also their cell phones which were scaled down Sony Cybershots.
Nowadays, with cell phones acting more like Swiss knives of electronic devices, there is the need to have a great looking phone with either great music or images. The Sony Xperia XZ is aiming to make a dent in the market with a 23MP back-facing camera. They are up against great cell phone cameras like the Samsung S7, Google Pixel and the iPhone 7 Plus.
Google Pixel and Samsung S7
The Samsung is not having a great year with the S7. The cell phone had battery problems which can cause explosions while it is being recharged. What made the situation worse was that the replacement batteries which it sent to its customers also had the same problems. The company is hoping that they do a great job with the S8 which is expected to be released early next year.
Bad rep notwithstanding, it was reported that the S7 had a better camera than the Xperia XZ and the iPhone 7 Plus.
Google released the Pixel and Pixel XL as the first cell phones with their name on it. These two phones were also the blueprint for the Dreamview VR. Besides the VR capability, these two cameras also had the best scores from dxomark.com, a website dedicated to camera image quality. Google, of course, has not had much of a history in cell phones, and it would be a while before consumer feedback becomes a factor to its success.
Sony Xperia XZ
The recently released Sony Xperia XC has an improved camera with video capabilities. It runs on Android 6 with a 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, a Quad-core processor running at 2.1GHz processor, coupled with an Adreno 530 graphics processor. It has 3GB RAM and 32GB internal storage. It also has a microSD slot for additional secondary storage. Its screen is a 1080×1920 pixel 5.2-inch display with Corning Gorilla Glass 4 noted for its scratch resistant quality. It is IP68 water and dust resistant. Xperia XZ runs on Android 6.
Apple iPhone 7 Plus
The Apple iPhone 7 Plus has a proprietary Apple A10 Fusion processor. According to Apple, this is a different kind of 4-core processor because it only uses two processors at a time. During ordinary use, two processors are running. The A10 Fusion is a 64-bit 2.34GHz and comes with 3GB RAM. Depending on the model, it has up to 256GB secondary storage, with no option for expansion. It has a 5.5-inch 1080×1920 display with scratch-resistant glass and an oleophobic coating. Unlike the Xperia XZ, the iPhone 7 Plus is IP67 for water and dust resistance. The iPhone 7 Plus runs on iOS 10.
These two cell phones have different approaches to their cameras. The Xperia has packed a 23MP back-facing camera with a 13MP front-facing camera. The iPhone has a 12 MP and a 7MP camera combination.
Most people have this wrong impression that a camera which captures more pixels is a better camera. This has been proven false with DSLR and other high-end cameras. For the best cameras, the real choice has been to use the largest sensors or to use sensors with large pixels. Large pixels capture more light, however for a given sensor size, you would have fewer pixels overall. With Apple’s larger pixels, they end up with only 12MP, which also happen to have better low-light capabilities. This is also the reason for the better color rendition on the iPhone.
Besides the pixel count and pixel size, there are other technologies which can be used to improve the picture quality. Both Sony and Apple make use of high dynamic range (HDR) in their cameras to take better quality pictures. HDR uses three shots of the same object with different light qualities to come up with images which have high color qualities. In addition, Sony employs digital image stabilization to help create sharper images.
Apple, on the other hand, uses optical image stabilization. This is a mechanical solution where the image is made steady by keeping the lens steady while the shutter button is being pressed. This technology is used in most high-end cameras, either as a feature within the body or inside the lens. Typically, there is a separate motor just OIS in high-end camera lenses.
Among other features, Sony uses phase detection and laser detection autofocus (PDAF and LDAF) as well as manual focus. Besides OIS, Apple has autofocus with a back-illuminated sensor, touch to focus and face detection. The lens also has a sapphire crystal cover. The iPhone 7 Plus supports RAW format.
No matter what improvements are included in the iOS and Android, there are only so few valid comparisons. The first one is that Android requires twice the memory of iOS because of its operating system’s garbage collection in memory. This distinction, however, is lost on the regular user. There are other differences, of course, however, what consumers can grasp is either using the cell phone as a music player or as a camera.
In this case, comparing cameras is something that any user can do. The ease of taking pictures will at some point make the user able to discern the difference between different cell phones. The strength of Sony is that they are one of the few cell phone makers who also make top-of-the-line cameras. Even Samsung cameras are hard to match up with Sony cameras. However, when it comes to cell phone cameras, they have not been trying to keep up with the rest of the industry.