Don't buy Android if you care about mobile photography, says former Google SVP

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Flagships like the Apple iPhone 7 Plus, Google Pixel and Samsung Galaxy S8 all have such great cameras that it can be really hard to definitively say which one is the best option for mobile photographers. Reviews, comparisons and blind tests all point to different winners, but, more often that not, you will usually find an Android smartphone at the top.

Vic Gundotra, who lead Google's mobile efforts for a couple of years, helped create Google+ and is an avid photographer, has a rather different opinion, claiming that Android is actually "a few years behind" the iPhone for mobile photography, and that, if you really care about photography, you should get an iPhone 7 Plus.

Here is the problem: It's Android. Android is an open source (mostly) operating system that has to be neutral to all parties. This sounds good until you get into the details. Ever wonder why a Samsung phone has a confused and bewildering array of photo options? Should I use the Samsung Camera? Or the Android Camera? Samsung gallery or Google Photos?

It's because when Samsung innovates with the underlying hardware (like a better camera) they have to convince Google to allow that innovation to be surfaced to other applications via the appropriate API. That can take YEARS.

Also the greatest innovation isn't even happening at the hardware level -- it's happening at the computational photography level. (Google was crushing this 5 years ago -- they had had "auto awesome" that used AI techniques to automatically remove wrinkles, whiten teeth, add vignetting, etc... but recently Google has fallen back).

Apple doesn't have all these constraints. They innovate in the underlying hardware, and just simply update the software with their latest innovations (like portrait mode) and ship it.

Bottom line: If you truly care about great photography, you own an iPhone. If you don't mind being a few years behind, buy an Android.

The iPhone 7 Plus is not widely regarded as having a superior setup compared to its rivals, but it does shine in one area: its dual camera allows it to perform extremely well when it comes to portraits. And it was two portraits shared by Gundotra on Facebook which kickstarted the discussion that gave us the aforementioned remarks.

The iPhone 7 Plus' main rivals do not have a dual camera, so they clearly cannot perform as well when it comes to these types of shots. However, in most other areas it can be hard to understand where Apple's two-year advantage lies. No Android smartphone is (that far) behind, objectively speaking, no matter how much Gundotra might like the iPhone 7 Plus and Apple's approach to mobile photography.

Photo Credit: olly/Shutterstock

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