Smartphone photography has been a thing for a while, to an extent where camera makers have gradually started acknowledging the impact that smartphones have been making in the field of imaging. While innovation with image sensors and algorithms are tending to bring smartphones ever so closer to the imaging quality of a dedicated camera, the budget segment is not too far behind. Sure, you would not shoot a photograph that would bring out the enigma of aurora borealis in all of its glory with a budget smartphone. What you can get is commendable photograph quality that is better than the average viral feed you get on your social media feeds.
In light of this, we took out five budget smartphones out for a spin. We’ve already seen how the LeEco Le 2 and Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 performs, and even the Yu Yunicorn. The Moto G4 and Honor 5C are the new entrants, and while the Honor 5C seems to be a better performer, the camera remained to be tested. Hence, we decided to do a broad camera comparison, putting in all of these budget smartphones under similar conditions to see how the respective cameras fare in everyday environments. Some of the results were thoroughly underwhelming, and a few really impressed us. Find out in more detail, here below:
This is almost always any camera’s strong area. The LeEco Le 2 leads the pack here, rendering the best balance of colour, white balance, sharpness and saturation. There is still a slight amount of softness, because of pixel noise. The Honor 5C does better with sharpness here, although it somewhat oversaturates the photograph. The Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 and Moto G4 come third with the overall balance of colours and sharpness. Photos taken with the Redmi Note 3 lack in saturation, while the Moto G4 slightly lacks in sharpness. The overall balance of colours and saturation makes the Moto G4 the preferred camera over the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3. The LeEco Le 2 is the best balance of every element, and even with the oversaturation, the Honor 5C follows in second place. The Yu Yunicorn misses out on details, colour and saturation, giving the least favourable balance of imaging performance among the five smartphones here.
Winner: LeEco Le 2
The story somewhat changes with the change in colour temperature of the environment. At dusk, with colour temperature of 3200K, the LeEco Le 2 ends up oversaturating the photograph and adding a hue to match the ambience. The Honor 5C does not fare so well under falling light conditions, and ends up compensating on image details and sharpness in the process. It does much better in terms of the overall white balance, but is nowhere near the sharpness of photographs shot by the Le 2. The Moto G4 comes out the best of the five budget smartphones, in terms of overall sharpness, saturation, colour balance and accuracy of white balance. The Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 brightens up the entire frame to compensate for the lack of ample brightness, but makes the photograph bleak in process. The Yu Yunicorn, yet again, does the worst of the five devices, with distinct lack in detail and sharpness, and even accuracy of colour.
Winner: Moto G4
Direct LED, indoor
The LeEco Le 2 is easily the most consistent smartphone camera among these five smartphones, with the level of details and sharpness. It does tend to bias towards the warmer hues with change in lighting, but keeps photographs sharp and crisp. In brightly lit indoor conditions, the LeEco Le 2 yet again does better than other smartphones, with the Honor 5C faring better than the Moto G4 in terms of sharpness, although yet again, the overall colour balance of the Moto G4 is more likeable than the Honor 5C. Lack of details ruin the game for the Moto G4, but it still remains better than the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3. The Yu Yunicorn gives similar results here too, with lesser details and desaturated colours making for lacklustre imaging.
Winner: LeEco Le 2
Here, too, the LeEco Le 2 wins simply on virtue of sharper details and the overall composure of the camera to balance itself well in various situations. The overall frame darkens, and the Le 2 does not really do a commendable job of keeping the subject bright and crisp. The Honor 5C oversaturates photographs, but does well with overall brightness of a frame in low light conditions. The Moto G4 produces the best colour balance, but lacks heavily in sharpness and details in low light.. The Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 falls behind in details, colour accuracy and sharpness in its attempt to brighten dark frames, which leads to washed out photographs that are not entirely favourable. It is still better than the Yu Yunicorn, though, which appears bleak in comparison to the rest.
Winner: LeEco Le 2
The LeEco Le 2 is clearly the better smartphone camera within budget, offering the best sharpness of subjects, along with decent colour balance and ample vibrance. The Honor 5C is also quite likeable, although I personally prefer the overall performance of the Moto G4. The Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 surely is a well-performing device, but its camera is not one to flaunt. Similarly, the Yu Yunicorn also holds less substance for anyone looking for a decent camera performance out of smartphones within stringent budgets.
The Yu Yunicorn also performs the slowest among all of these, with the LeEco Le 2 and Moto G4 being the fastest. The Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 and Honor 5C are only marginally slower than the previous two, but in real life application, all four of these are amply fast to suit smartphone photography requirements. It is only the Yu Yunicorn that is significantly slow, and keeps you waiting by up to four seconds in focussing, shooting and saving a photograph. That is significantly slow a time, particularly when smartphone makers and innovators are claiming split second times in shooting and saving a photograph.
The LeEco Le 2 is our winner of this budget smartphone camera shootout, with the Moto G4 and Honor 5C being the next ones in preference.