Redmi Note 5 vs Honor 7X vs Xiaomi Mi A1: Mass Camera Comparison
The mid-range segment is possibly the most crowded place for a smartphone to be in. Of course, the idea is to create a Jack-of-all-trades device and today, there are many that qualify.
We have been reviewing and comparing a lot of such smartphones lately and this time too, we are back with an interesting mass comparison where we are pitting the Honor 7X, the Xiaomi Mi A1 and the yet-to-be-launched Redmi Note 5 (sold as Redmi 5 Plus in China) against one another in terms of the camera performance.
Camera Specifications – Redmi Note 5
Main camera: 12 MP with f2.2 aperture, Phase Detection Autofocus, HDR, Portrait mode, 4k video at 30 fps.
Front camera: 5 MP
Camera Specifications – Xiaomi Mi A1
Main camera: Dual camera with both lenses of 12 MP (f2.2 aperture for the primary lens and f2.6 aperture for the secondary lens), Phase Detection Autofocus, 2x optical zoom, HDR, Portrait mode, 4k video at 30 fps.
Front camera: 5 MP
Camera Specifications – Honor 7X
Main camera: Dual camera having 16 MP primary lens with f2.2 aperture and 2 MP secondary lens, Phase Detection Autofocus, HDR, Portrait mode, 1080p video at 30 fps.
Front camera: 8 MP
Camera technology has advanced enough to ensure that megapixels alone do not dictate the quality of the images captured. It is like a teamwork and everything matters – lens, quality of the sensor, the processing of the software, the aperture etc. Even the ambient lighting conditions make a hell lot of difference in the output. And especially for cameras that do not come with Optical Image Stabilization (which none of these three phones get), one needs an absolutely stable hand (or better yet a tripod) to capture the sharpest images possible.
Let’s take a look at the Daytime samples.
In the above set, the Xiaomi Mi A1 maintains the closest accuracy of the colours. For example, the red and blue colours in the image from the Mi A1 have better saturation. In comparison, especially the red colour in the images from the Redmi Note 5 and the Honor 7X appears slightly pinkish. As far as the details are concerned, there is less perceptible difference between the three phone cameras. For the Exposure, the 5 Plus goes on to overexpose the sky and the top portion of the building.
In the above set, the table turns in favor of the Redmi Note 5. The Honor 7X overexposes the image by displaying more than required lighting in the brighter areas in the image. Compare this aspect with the images from the Note 5 and the Mi A1 and it can be seen that both handsets do a visibly better job at keeping the Exposure under control. Images from the Note 5 and the Mi A1 are closer in detail and colour accuracy as well and it is hard to arrive at a conclusion. Having said that, the Note 5 displays a touch better detail on the floor tiles and the fat cemented pillar on the extreme left in the images.
The cameras in the Redmi Note 5 and the Mi A1 continue to do a better job than the one in the Honor 7X. And here again, the Note 5 displays the best details and colour accuracy which is almost matched by the Mi A1. The 7X on the other hand, clearly lacks in terms of detail and colour saturation.
Winner: It is an extremely close call between the Redmi Note 5 and the Xiaomi Mi A1, but we go with the Redmi Note 5 in the Daytime category.
HIGH DYNAMIC RANGE (HDR) IMAGES
HDR, by its function, is supposed to make any image look better than its normal version. This is because HDR brings out the detail in the dark or the shadowy parts in an image while bringing down the Exposure in the most bright areas. Hence, it tends to create a perfect balance of the Exposure throughout the image while retaining all the detail.
Let’s take a look at the few HDR samples below.
In the HDR samples above, the Redmi Note 5 manages to do a better job at controlling the spread of the Exposure throughout the image while also highlighting most details. This is closely followed by the Xiaomi Mi A1 who probably displays a slightly better colour accuracy in the HDR image. The Honor 7X falls behind the two smartphones and fails to bring as much changes in the Exposure and detail.
Winner: Redmi Note 5 by the smallest margin from the Xiaomi Mi A1.
Night conditions are extremely challenging for any photographer and more so for someone who carries only a smartphone to click pictures. Due to their miniature lenses, smartphones generally struggle to capture the required amount of light thereby increasing the risk of noise or the grain effect in the images.
Below is an example from each smartphone in the night conditions.
In the night samples above, the Honor 7X once again produces most dull results of the trio. The sharpness is simply lacking with virtually zero detail. We would like to point out here that none of the three smartphones are impressive in the night conditions looking at the above images. It is just that the 7X is the most unimpressive of all.
On the other hand, the Xiaomi Mi A1 produces darkest images but it highlights decent detail on the floor while the sharpness is better which eventually makes it easier to isolate various motorcycles in the image. Lastly, the Redmi Note 5 appears to strike a better balance between the Exposure and highlighting the detail.
Winner: Xiaomi Mi A1. Considering the night images above, we would say that the Mi A1 produced a decent image given that the motorcycles (primary subject) were the clearest through its camera with the default autofocus.
PORTRAIT MODE or BOKEH or DEPTH-OF-FIELD IMAGES
With the arrival of a plethora of dual camera smartphones in 2017, the Portrait mode (or Bokeh or Depth-of-field) has garnered a lot of attention even though the cameras, in general, are capable of creating varying levels of depth-of-field effects depending on the placement of the subject.
The Xiaomi Mi A1 and the Honor 7X have a dual camera setup at the back and they both sport Portrait modes. Adding to this, the Honor 7X also has a separate ‘Wide Aperture’ option which gives the option to change the aperture size from as big as f0.95 to as small as f16. However, the Wide Aperture mode is a complete gimmick and a total failure when it comes to mimicking the actual effects of different aperture sizes. Even the Redmi Note 5, with only a single-lens camera at the back also gets a Portrait mode. Although, one has to dig a little deeper in the ‘Options’ to find the Portait mode.
Let’s take a look at the various depth-of-field images using the default autofocus.
From the Portrait mode samples above, we can tell that the images from the Redmi Note 5 and the Honor 7X look more similar while the one from the Xiaomi Mi A1 is distinct. The 5 Plus and the 7X do blur the background and we would say it is a matter of personal opinion of what one prefers more. As far as we are concerned, we like the Portrait image from the Mi A1 most. Also, a little harder observation also reveals that the Mi A1 tries to progressively blur the background, which means, things that are farther from the camera are blurred more than the ones that are nearer. This is the basis of a depth-of-field effect. And while it is far from being as good as any DSLR camera out there, it didn’t do a bad job for a phone camera in mimicking the said effect.
Winner: We would say the Xiaomi Mi A1 purely because its dedicated Portrait mode didn’t do a shabby job.
Both the Redmi 5 Plus and the Xiaomi Mi A1 come with a 5 MP front camera while the Honor 7X has an 8 MP unit. Below is a selfie image from each smartphone.
The Redmi Note 5 captures more detail by the tiniest of margins from the Xiaomi Mi A1, even though the image has some noise. However, there are visibly more detail on the blue colour of the t-shirt and the things in the background. The Honor 7X clearly produces a totally unimpressive selfie.
Winner: Xiaomi Mi A1. Even when the Redmi Note 5 appears to display better detail, I would personally prefer a selfie with lesser noise while relatively compromising on the detail. This is more of a personal preference.
A Panorama allows to capture a much larger area into one image. The camera software stitches multiple images together to create one final image. Let’s take a look at the samples.
The Panoram results are consistent with the rest of the categories – the Honor 7X is least impressive here with overeposed lighting while the Xiaomi Mi A1 managed to produce an image with the most seamless stitching. The Redmi Note 5 comes a close second here. Please note that the stitching wasn’t hugely impressive through the Mi A1 either, it is just that it is the best in this group.
Winner: Xiaomi Mi A1 followed closely by the Redmi Note 5.
From the first few images one thing became clear, that the competition was mostly going to be between the Redmi Note 5 (also a Xiaomi phone) and the Xiaomi Mi A1. The camera results from these two phones have been really close and it has been a tough decision to declare a winner. Also, both phones are capable of recording videos up to 4k quality. And in this kind of a situation, personal preference plays a larger role in picking a winner. Thankfully though, the votes are in favor of the Xiaomi Mi A1 in this mass comparison, and so, we declare it the winner. But as far as camera performance goes, the Redmi Note 5 is also a fine choice between the three handsets. Unfortunately, this handset hasn’t been launched in India yet and so far, there is no concrete info on the same. Hence, the Xiaomi Mi A1 remains the top choice between itself, the Redmi Note 5 and the Honor 7X.