OnePlus 5 vs iPhone 7 Plus: Battle of the telephoto lenses


The OnePlus 5 is one of the hottest phones of the season. High spec'd and aggressively priced to give the current top flagships a run for their money, the OnePlys 5 manages to impress with great all-around performance and sleek, albeit familiar, design. But the phone's main selling point—or at least one of its biggest selling points—is the new, iPhone-insiperd dual-camera system on its back.

We've already taken a look at how the primary 16MP camera of the OnePlus 5 compares to some of the best shooters currently on the market, but what about the larger, 20MP camera next to it, that's actually responsible for all the cool photo tricks the phone's capable of?

Similarly to the iPhone 7 Plus, the OnePlus 5 features a telephoto lens that has a longer focal length than the main camera, which allows you to zoom in on a scene without compromising quality. However, unlike the iPhone 7 Plus, which can do true 2x optical zoom, the OnePlus cannot. Its optical zoom is instead limited to 1.6x, but the phone simulates the full 2x zoom digitally.

That's not that big of a margin that the OP5 has to cover for digitally, and besides, its telelens is powered by a 20MP Sony IMX 350 sensor that has a much greater resolution than the one in the iPhone 7 Plus. So, by extension, it must surely be better, right? Well, let's see!

Scene 1: At the swimming pool





Both phones do a commendable job here. The photos coming from the OP5 have slightly more contrast as a whole, but more importantly, they are sharper than the ones taken with the iPhone. The OnePlus 5 manages to produce seemingly sharper shots with and without zoom in this scene, although when examining the pictures taken with the telephoto lens up close, it becomes clear that the the OP5 photo is by and large sharper due to the more aggressive unsharp masking that the phone's software applies to the image after its taken.

Scene 2: At the beach





The results we get here are very similar to what we got in the previous scene. The OnePlus 5 benefits from the added color punch in some areas of the photo (like the water, for example), although the sky in the OP5 photo looks surprisingly dull, and manages to produce a somewhat sharper image over the iPhone. When examining the photos from both devices side-by-side and up close, the differences between the two become more apparent. The greater sharpness of the OnePlus picture is especially visible in uniformly colored areas of the image, such as the sand and water, and these areas do look clearer in the photo from the OP5.

Scene 3: Bike lane




One of my favorite spots for taking photo samples! But anyway, in this scene, the OnePlus 5 manages to set itself apart with a sharper, brighter, and more vibrant image than its rival. The photo coming from the iPhone 7 Plus is not exposed correctly and is too bright as a result. It is also a bit softer, although not by much. In this case, the larger sensor in the OP5 is not contributing much to image quality, as the photo taken with the iPhone's 12MP looks almost just as sharp, even when blown up to 20MP to fit next to the bigger image.

Scene 4: The port at sunset




In this scene, apart from the obvious differences in the white balance and exposure of the images, the OnePlus 5 and iPhone 7 Plus are neck and neck. The iPhone 7 photo has less contrast, but it also has more accurate colors. The image from the OP5 is warmer, with some strong greenish hues in the midtones, which seems to be a recurring theme with this year's flagship killer.

As we can see from the crops above, the OnePlus 5 again produces a marginally sharper image than the iPhone. We can also see a faint halo around the fisherman's torso, caused by the software sharpening that's applied after taking the picture. The same "effect" is also visible in the iPhone photo, although to a much lesser extent.

Conclusion


I think that having a second telephoto lens on your phone is one of the better uses of a dual-cam setup out there. It lets you easily zoom in on a scene, without compromising quality, and it can also be used to simulate a shallow depth of field effect (a.k.a the mighty BOKEH), which is... fun, if that's your kind of thing.

But let's get back on topic – the OnePlus 5 vs the iPhone 7 Plus. Although this year's flagship killer takes higher resolution pictures than the iPhone 7 Plus, its telephoto camera fails to achieve something substantially better than what we've come to expect from last year's iPhone Plus model. Although OnePlus' solution is not bad by any means, as it manages to produce marginally better results than the iPhone most of the time, it is also not "next level" either. OnePlus touted the "5" as having the "highest resolution dual-camera system on any smartphone", and although this may be technically the case numbers-wise, we all know that more megapixels don't necessarily mean huge improvements. I was expecting a bit more from the OnePlus 5. As it is, it's just marginally better than the iPhone 7 Plus when it comes to its telephoto camera.

If you can settle for this, then the 2x zoom of the OnePlus 5 will not disappoint you. It won't wow you either, mind you, but it is what it is. The larger resolution does not offer any meaningful improvements over the iPhone 7 Plus in terms of image quality, with the greater sharpness coming from software processing, rather than hardware improvements. In fact, you can take a photo with the iPhone 7 Plus, scale it up, sharpen it a little bit, and you'll get something very, very similar to what the OP5 is capable of with its 20MP camera. Of course, the OnePlus does this for you, which is the entire point.

All said and done, OnePlus 5's telephoto lens takes images that are comparable in quality to what we've come to expect from the iPhone 7 Plus, albeit in a larger resolution. If you're looking for an all-around stellar Android smartphone with optical zoom, look no further! However, if you're interested to see how well OP5's main 16MP performs against the best smartphones out there, don't forget to check out our previous shootout, in which we pit the OnePlus 5 against the Galaxy S8, the Google Pixel, and the iPhone 7 Plus to see how their cameras fare during the day and in low-light conditions! 

Related phones

5
  • Display 5.5" 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Camera 16 MP / 16 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, Octa-core, 2457 MHz
  • Storage 128 GB
  • Battery 3300 mAh
iPhone 7 Plus
  • Display 5.5" 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 7 MP front
  • Processor Apple A10 Fusion, Quad-core, 2340 MHz
  • Storage 256 GB
  • Battery 2900 mAh(21h 3G talk time)

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37 Comments

1. dubaiboy78

Posts: 446; Member since: Sep 19, 2014

Ip7 wins!!! - iphonearena

2. kiko007

Posts: 7493; Member since: Feb 17, 2016

I mean, it does, so...???

8. maherk

Posts: 6879; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

No it doesn't. Even by their own words under each scenario, the OP5 won in all of them, yet they somehow managed to make it sound in the conclusion that the OP5 lost this battle.

10. kiko007

Posts: 7493; Member since: Feb 17, 2016

The way 1+ hyped it, I expected better than what was shown here. Honestly, if someone switched the name on the samples, no one would be able to tell the difference.

11. maherk

Posts: 6879; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

You could easily see the difference, the iPhone overexposed in one scene, and was darker in another, that's without talking about the extra sharpness you get from OP5. And all companies overhype their features, from Samsung to Apple and every other OEM. That's how marketing works.

13. Nathan_ingx

Posts: 4769; Member since: Mar 07, 2012

Hype or not, you have got to agree on here the OP5 wins. "if someone switched the name on the samples, no one would be able to tell the difference" you seem unhappy OP5 did better.

32. audibot

Posts: 634; Member since: Jan 26, 2017

what kind of screen are you seeing this on i am on a 50 inch led samsung and one plus is 5 times the quality and zooms a little bit more

4. magnanimus

Posts: 565; Member since: Mar 29, 2013

The article mentioned that pictures from the OnePlus are marginally better than the iPhone pictures

5. cmdacos

Posts: 4209; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

The actual pictures and each individual summary announcing op5 as having done better is completely irrelevant in phonearena. phonearena often loses in the guts of the article and then wins the overall comparison. We just take PA comparisons as comedy these days.

6. cmdacos

Posts: 4209; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

*iphone often loses...

9. Milen_Y

Posts: 113; Member since: Jun 09, 2016

Hey, glad I made you laugh! Anyway, if you read the article, there's a plot twist at the end! *Spolier alert* The OP5 performs better, albeit not by much, in almost every test, and *gasp* wins the comparison! Too bad it performs just a bit better and not a lot better. Otherwise I would have showered it with praise!

12. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

So, you're concluding that the OnePlus 5 performs marginally better than the iPhone 7 Plus? That doesn't seem accurate to me.

15. Milen_Y

Posts: 113; Member since: Jun 09, 2016

That would be correct. I'm saying that, in my opinion, the OnePlus 5 performs just a little bit better than the iPhone 7 Plus when it comes to optical zoom. After seeing numerous 100% crops from the iPhone 7 Plus blown up to fit against the 20MP shots from the OnePlus 5, and not detecting any substantial differences between the two, I think it's safe to conclude that OnePlus 5's telephoto camera is not substantially better than the one on the iPhone 7 Plus.

14. dubaiboy78

Posts: 446; Member since: Sep 19, 2014

Go to optometrist to have your eyes check!

16. Milen_Y

Posts: 113; Member since: Jun 09, 2016

I recently did! My eyesight is A-OK! :)

17. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

Opinion respected, Milen. But I still hold onto mine that the OnePlus 5's telephoto lens is noticeably better than the iPhone 7 Plus. Cheers.

19. Milen_Y

Posts: 113; Member since: Jun 09, 2016

Likewise. Do keep in mind, however, since you might have missed it in the article, that the crops from the 12MP photos from the iPhone have been resized (that, is enlarged) to fit next to the 20MP shots from the OP5. So you're looking at areas of a smaller image enlarged to fit next to identical areas of a larger image. Just thought I'd clarify, since some of the people in the comments might have missed that.

22. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

"So you're looking at areas of a smaller image enlarged to fit next to identical areas of a larger image." I suppose the iPhone's shots took a hit in detail during the process of enlargement (to fit next to identical areas of the OP5'S shots)... Similar to how enlarging an image causes a somewhat perceived loss of detail when zoomed in? Damn, photography isn't my strong point, you know...

36. ZombieHunter

Posts: 265; Member since: Oct 13, 2013

No... no it's not.... If everyone else says it's not, it's not...

33. audibot

Posts: 634; Member since: Jan 26, 2017

not by much are you kidding its like taking a 2mp and a 10mp and comparing it, you need a better monitor

30. audibot

Posts: 634; Member since: Jan 26, 2017

are you looking at the same pics as the rest of the world one plus just owned apple in camera quality

31. audibot

Posts: 634; Member since: Jan 26, 2017

one plus pics zoom better and image is amazing

35. ZombieHunter

Posts: 265; Member since: Oct 13, 2013

Hilarious.... EVERY OP5 pic is better than the iP7...

3. dubaiboy78

Posts: 446; Member since: Sep 19, 2014

Itroll spotted! Meeeeeh

7. maherk

Posts: 6879; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

I just hope that Samsung pulls an LG with their dual cameras setup, the wide angle camera is still the best out there. I've seen videos comparing results taken when the 2nd telephoto camera is covered and when it's not, and it didn't make lots of difference. The wide angle lens gives more of an artistic touch and is also way more useful when you want to cramp more of the scene in one picture.

18. nebula

Posts: 1009; Member since: Feb 20, 2015

O5 just cranks up contrast and oversharpens the mess created initially. By now it is obvious OP cant resolve the detail and have to compensate in post processing. Lousy clowns. Clearer photos..right!

21. p51d007

Posts: 704; Member since: Nov 24, 2013

Someone who GETS it!

20. p51d007

Posts: 704; Member since: Nov 24, 2013

Looks like the Oppo/OnePlus phone tends to SLIGHTLY over saturate the colors. Also, there have been some photographic websites that have looked into the "non hardware" image stabilization (software) on the OnePlus 5, and found that they use a faster shutter, slightly better optical lens, and higher faux ISO to achieve a faster snapshot, in hopes of offsetting the fact they purposely left out OIS. The images in pretty much anything than good lighting show that you REALLY have to hold it still to get a stable image, ie: details of the image.

34. audibot

Posts: 634; Member since: Jan 26, 2017

looks to me that you all need to get the apples out of your eyes i have 13/20 and 15/20 vision and its amazing how clean and crisp the image from one plus is apples blurred mess and soft colors

23. baibhav93

Posts: 24; Member since: May 09, 2014

I dont undertsand your intention to back Apple here instead of OP5's victory in each and every round.... common @phonearena... justice aint served...

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