Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders Review: Qualcomm & ASUS Set The Bar


Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders: Camera Samples And Experience

Qualcomm has long been extoling the virtues of the imaging and camera-related technologies of its Snapdragon mobile platforms for many years, and has worked closely with ASUS to optimize all of the cameras on the Smartphone For Snapdragon Insiders to showcase its tech.

The device supports a number of useful computational photography features -- as you would expect -- like Night Mode, Portrait Mode, and AI Zoom, which seamlessly switches through all three of the rear-facing cameras to zoom in or out while tracking a subject.

Smartphone For Snapdragon Insiders Camera Experience

snapdragon insiders phone camera app

The Smartphone For Snapdragon Insiders also has an unusually high-resolution 24MP front-facing camera, with a 27mm (FF equivalent) focal length. The front-facing camera captures higher-quality images than most other smartphones with lower-resolution sensors and it’s capable of FullHD video capture as well, so it looks great for video conferences, etc.

snapdragon insider phone cameras

The rear-facing camera array is much more extensive. It consists of three shooters, a standard main camera, an ultrawide camera, and a telephoto with optical zoom. The main camera is powered by a 1/1.73” Sony IMX686 64MP image sensor with a 0.8 µm pixel size. And its lens features a wide f/1.8 aperture. The main camera offers 4-axis optical image stabilization, dual LED flashes, a 78.3° field of view, and 2x1 on-chip-lens phase detection autofocus. Pixel-binning, Quad Bayer tech is used to produce high-quality 16MP images, similar to other flagship smartphones, which feature super-high-res image sensors like the IMX686.

The f/2.2 aperture ultrawide camera, which supports 4 cm macro photography, uses a 1/2.55” Sony IMX363 12MP dual-pixel image sensor with 1.4 µm pixel dimensions. And finally, the telephoto – which also features 4-axis, optical image stabilization -- uses an 8MP sensor, and adds 3x optical zoom, with up to 12x total zoom.

Big Changes Are Inbound Via An OTA Update

All of that said, we must point out that the camera software and firmware on the Smartphone For Snapdragon Insiders as we tested it, is pre-production. Updates coming for the camera will drastically improve performance according to Qualcomm. In fact, with the upcoming updates installed, the main camera on the Smartphone For Snapdragon Insiders will reportedly receive a score of 133 by DXOMARK, which put it in first place in the U.S. and sixth place worldwide in the smartphone camera rankings.

The list of tweaks coming with the device’s upcoming OTA camera updates include:
  • OTA will provide best autofocus experience, better texture/noise performance, and improved night shot quality
  • OTA will enable Video Super Resolution
  • OTA will add full resolution mode to improve snapshot performance
  • OTA will add Cascaded Noise Reduction in video mode for cleaner video capture
  • OTA fully optimizes:
    • Ultra wide/Tele HDR– tone/artifact
    • Low light and night modes– noise/brightness and stability
    • Multi-frame noise reduction - snapshot noise reduction
    • HDR snapshot – tone and stability
    • Ultra wide camera – HDR will be better in viewfinder for this camera
With the OTA update likely to change the camera experience and image quality dramatically, we’re not going to dwell much on our image samples here, but are still compelled to tell you about our experience.

The Smartphone For Snapdragon Insiders camera application is straightforward and uncluttered, like Google’s Pixel devices. Users of all skill levels will be able to navigate all of the menus and easily to tweak camera settings or bounce between modes.

yogi stairs snapdragon insiders phone
Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders

yogi stairs OnePlus 9 Pro
OnePlus 9 Pro

Although there are many options available, auto-mode takes relatively good shots with minimal fuss. Once you’ve taken a shot, the phone also offers a wide array of editing options. There are simple, one-touch auto-enhance and white balance buttons available, in addition to a myriad of sharing options. As you tunnel deeper into the adjustments though, everything is available from shadow / highlight tweaking, to skin tone, tint, art filters, saturation and everything in between.

st michael statue snapdragon insiders phone
Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders

st michael statue OnePlus 9 Pro
OnePlus 9 Pro

In practice, we found the Smartphone For Snapdragon Insiders’ camera performance -- even with its early implementation -- to be good, but perhaps not quite on-par with some other flagships. You can see a direct comparison to the OnePlus 9 Pro above. When there is adequate lighting, the phone is capable of capturing excellent detail, with pleasing sharpness and color reproduction that is mostly accurate in our opinion, which is to say things to don’t look overly saturated or processed. Under less than ideal conditions or when using some of the more advanced features, however, image processing can introduce some unwanted artifacts.

yogi bright mode shot
Bright Mode

night mode shot
Night Shot

There’s only so much dynamic range you’re going to get out of a tiny smartphone sensor, but even with window backlighting in less-than-stellar overcast conditions, the Smartphone For Snapdragon Insiders’ camera performed admirably. Nothing appears to be blown out and detail is visible in the foreground and background.

In some of the worst type lighting conditions the Smartphone For Snapdragon Insiders is still able to resolve fine detail and it handles exposure relatively well, but here you can see that noise begins to creep into the shadow regions in the background.

portrait mode snapdragon insiders phone

Like most other devices, Portrait Mode works well on the Smartphone For Snapdragon Insiders, with some caveats. The faux background bokeh is smooth and mostly pleasing to the eye, but the simulation results is some artifacting in the fine details around the subject’s edges – notice the issues in the lowest leaves in the vase, where it goes from sharp to blurred and back to sharp again.

In terms of video recording, we found the Smartphone For Snapdragon Insiders to also perform well. Slow motion, normal, and time lapse recording are available (along with adjustments for each mode). Video quality is on par with – or better – than just about any other smartphone currently on the market, and users have extensive control over the video modes they’d like to use. The device is capable of capturing video at resolutions up to 8K30 or 4K60, with various FullHD and HD modes available as well.

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