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An in-depth review of the iPhone 7 Plus’ dual cameras

By Alvin Soon - 22 Oct 2016

Is the iPhone 7 Plus a better camera?

Is the iPhone 7 Plus a better camera?

More than 1,300 photos shot and eight pages of exposition later, is the iPhone 7 Plus a better camera than the iPhone 6s Plus and the Samsung Galaxy S7?

Here’s the short answer: The S7 has a better UI with far better auto-focus, and shoots better stills in good and low light than the 7 Plus. However, the 7 Plus is better at horizontal panoramas and videos than the S7. The 7 Plus shoots better stills than the 6s Plus, but with less detail than the S7, and colors still tend to wash out in low light. So while I’d pick the Samsung Galaxy S7 for better stills, the 7 Plus is a better all-rounder for both stills and videos.

So, unless you shoot a lot of video, you’re going to love shooting with the Samsung Galaxy S7 for still images. If you want something that does both stills and images well, you’re better off packing the iPhone 7 Plus. 

But wait. There is one more thing.

It’s just more fun to shoot with the 7 Plus

While I’m disappointed that the 7 Plus’ image quality is only one step and not one level better than the 6s Plus’, the shooting experience with the 7 Plus is far better. Because of the 2x zoom, I could get shots I’d normally have missed. While 56mm isn’t really a telephoto/zoom lens, the ability to get 2x optical zoom on a smartphone opens up twice the shooting possibilities as before.

With the 28mm camera, I’ve missed this shot.

With the 56mm, I’ve nailed it.

So here’s how this review ends: grudgingly. I wish Apple would have shipped the 7 Plus with better image quality, with details in good and low light to match or better the Galaxy S7’s. Perhaps it could have shipped the 7 Plus with a single, but improved camera, with a larger sensor for fuller details and less image noise.

But I have to admit that the decision to have 2x zoom is, for most people, the better option. I don’t agree with sneakily swopping digitally enlarged 28mm crops with real 56mm shots, but most likely won’t notice anyway.  And 2x is a fun enough option that I’m considering switching to the bigger Plus iPhone, even though I’ve hated the larger size in the past (my colleague did too, but he’s already switched for the sake of the dual cameras).

It turns out that yes, two is better than one, at least when it comes to the dual cameras on the iPhone 7 Plus.