Mid-range smartphone cameras evolved along with their high-end counterparts, but while the flagships upped their megapixel count, their mid-range siblings focused on tuning the output to cater to a wildly enthusiastic audience. That means saturated colours, myriads of unique camera features – such as astrophotography, cinema modes, kaleidoscopic effects, and portrait filters made testing these affordable smartphones good fun. The quality of output has also improved over the past year, with the ultrawide cameras now performing almost as well as their primary counterparts. With short videos taking over the internet, the selfie camera got special attention. Night Mode is now common, and some can even do 4K recordings! The macro cameras, however, are still a spoilsport.
It’s not that the OnePlus Nord brings anything new to the mid-range segment, except how well everything works together, including the camera. The OnePlus Nord’s photos are not over-processed, rather they look quite natural. There are enough details in the shadows and low-lit areas, and the JPEGs are sharp and crisp. The Night Mode isn’t anything to swear by but produces competent results. But it’s the phone’s video capabilities that take it the extra mile. The autofocus motor is always on point, and the details come out quite natural, even when you’re shooting in 4K at 60 FPS.
The POCO X3 almost won the race with the sheer number of features in the camera app, and the astoundingly sharp output from the primary 64MP camera. We tried everything from shooting in tricky lights to capturing sunsets in the hills to plonking it on a tripod and shooting the night sky. And in all cases, the POCO X3 produced vibrant photos with excellent colours. For some, it might be a bit overprocessed, but you can simply turn off the AI mode to keep things natural. The POCO X3’s ultrawide camera is very capable, and the sheer number of workable features it has gives this an edge. There’s a dedicated vlog mode, a movie mode, a fleshed-out Pro Mode with focus and exposure peaking, and more. It also makes smart use of the Snapdragon 732’s AI capabilities in baking in features like light trail captures and astrophotography. Alas, it loses out to the OnePlus Nord purely on consistency. The algorithms that improve the colours and details are a bit unpredictable – you never know how things will change with a slight modification of angle or lighting.
The Realme 7 Pro also has the same hardware as the POCO X3, but the tuning is completely different. Where the POCO X3 makes photos come out a lot more vibrant and dramatic, the Realme 7 Pro tones it down a lot and keeps things completely natural, with some results looking bland. Then again, there are a lot of details when you shoot from the primary 64MP camera. And because of lower contrasts, the dynamic range may seem a bit lacking. But this camera excels in its low-light capabilities, sur- passing even the POCO X3 in the Night Mode performance. The camera offers a dedicated Pro Mode for the Night Mode, where you can tweak everything and still get the Night Mode treatment, opening up a wide range of possibilities from a mid-range smartphone camera.
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