Digit Zero 1 Awards 2019: Best performing mid-range smartphone camera

Digit Zero 1 Awards 2019: Best performing mid-range smartphone camera

Subhrojit Mallick | 09 Dec 2019

Here's our winner of this year's Zero1 Award in the category of Best Performing mid-range smartphone camera

Most of the major smartphone camera innovations happened in the midrange segment this year. We’re talking about things like camera sensors half an inch in size, inside a smartphone costing under `15,000. An array of choices in lenses including high-res, macro, ultrawide, and even action cameras were made available. However, we solely evaluate the camera performance for our Zero1 awards. No other parameters, such as the MP count or a pop-up selfie are taken into consideration. Therefore, you will not see our Zero1 award being given to a smartphone with a 64MP camera over a smartphone sporting well-tuned 48MP camera. Having said that, most of the mid-rangers we got throughout the year fared considerably well in our comprehensive testing processes. If you are willing to spend around 20k on a smartphone this year with a competent camera, you’re spoilt for choices. Let’s look at the mid-range smartphones in the that have the best performing cameras.

2019 Zero 1 Award Winner: Realme 5 Pro

The Pro series for Realme has always pushed the boundaries of what a mid-ranger typically offers, and the Realme 5 Pro is no different. Armed with a massive 48MP primary lens in its quad-camera setup, it proved to be one of the most reliable cameras within this segment. Surprisingly, it is even more reliable in comparison to some of its more expensive peers. The camera is responsive, mostly consistent and has the most palatable colours out of all the mid-range camera phones we tested. The camera algorithm processes images to have a  crisp, vivid and a tad saturated look. You also have 960 fps slo-mo videos, stabilised 4K videos, a nicely fleshed-out pro-mode, macro lens and 119-degree ultrawide. And surprisingly, most of these features work well with good lighting. However, the company needs to work on the auto-focus performance a little more. The Realme 5 Pro the most consistent camera you can get in this segment, and so, the winner.

2019 Zero 1 Runner-up: Xiaomi Redmi K20

It’s rare to find a more expensive smartphone finishing as the runner up, but the Redmi K20 lost out by only a few decimal points. We docked a few points primarily for the aggressive sharpening used on the photos to make them appear sharper. Focusing was also an issue and the Redmi K20 also lacks the macro camera you get in the Realme 5 Pro. Having said that, the K20’s low light performance is much better than the Realme 5 Pro with more details in the darker regions, primarily because of a more advanced ISP. It’s also better at taking videos. Although it missed out winning by a small margin, it is still a great camera for the price and hence the runner up.

2019 Zero 1 Best Buy: Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro

The Redmi Note 8 Pro’s camera setup is far superior to the Realme 5 Pro on paper, but in performance, it’s only slightly behind the Realme 5 Pro. The Note 8 Pro’s images come out a little bland, requiring a round of editing to enhance the colours before posting online on social media. The dynamic range of the 64MP camera is also slightly lesser than the one on the Realme 5 Pro, but everything else like the ultrawide camera, macro lens and the portrait mode are more or less at par with the best. We’re hoping Redmi keeps issuing updates for the camera and over time, it can become even better.

Subhrojit Mallick

Eats smartphones for breakfast.

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