OnePlus 5 vs iPhone 7 Plus: Portrait modes compared


Dual cameras are all the rage in smartphones these days. Different companies have different ways of approaching the setup – Huawei, for example, last year started employing a monochrome shooter alongside the main camera in some of its phones, while LG has opted for a wide-angle lens as a supplement since the G5. And then there’s Apple and OnePlus who use telephoto lenses instead.

Whether you like the stunning black and white shots of the Huawei P10, or how much of a scene you can fit into one photo using the wide-angle camera of the LG G6, is entirely up to personal preference. While I appreciate both options, I’ve found myself making very good use of the telephoto lens on the iPhone 7 Plus, as it allows you to zoom in on a scene without compromising quality, which has always been problematic for smartphones for obvious reasons.

But aside from offering lossless optical zoom, a telephoto lens can also be used as a tool for measuring depth when it's paired with a camera with a shorter focal length. Case in point: the iPhone 7 Plus and its Portrait Mode feature that aims to simulate a shallow depth of field (better know under the almost viral term “bokeh”) when taking portrait photos. It's been a hit and miss in our experience, but Portrait Mode has come a long way since it launched back in 2016.

Similarly to the iPhone, the new OnePlus 5 also has a telephoto lens on its back (although it offers 1.6x optical magnification instead of 2x) and it also uses it in a similar way to simulate a shallow depth of field. The question is, which one's better? There's a standard 12MP sensor behind the second camera of the iPhone 7 Plus, while the OP5 has a larger, 16MP sensor that makes its telephoto shooter tick. The OnePlus may have the upper hand when it comes to resolution, but is image size alone enough to win a portrait shootout? Let's find out!

Scene 1



The OnePlus 5 is a mixed bag when it comes to photo quality, delivering both good and bad results almost back to back, and under almost identical conditions. It’s almost as though it does it on a whim, and the first scene in this test is a good example for a situation where the OP5 just refuses to take a good (or even acceptable) picture. The results speak for themselves, really, no need for an in-depth analysis, but let me just say that I tried taking this picture 4 or 5 times with the OnePlus 5 in hopes of getting an acceptable result, but alas, it wasn’t meant to be.

The iPhone 7 Plus, on the other hand, keeps the model sharp in focus, while pleasantly blurring the environment behind her. It isn’t perfect either, as there are some “seams” left around her hair, but it’s an all-around much, much better photo than the one from the OnePlus.


Scene 2



The OnePlus 5 fares much better here than in the previous scene. The image it produces here is much sharper, with better separation between model and background. When examined up-close and side-by-side with the photo from the iPhone 7 Plus, the OnePlus 5 image is ever so slightly softer, although not by much.

The iPhone picture has a higher contrast and warmer tones than the OnePlus 5 shot, although whether you’d take one over the other color-wise, largely comes down to personal preference.

All in all, the two phones fare similarly in this scene, both in terms of subject separation and blur quality, with the OnePlus 5 producing a slightly softer image than the iPhone, which is not all that problematic in this case, especially since it's not apparent unless you blow up the photo.


Scene 3



This is another tough one, as both devices produce very similar results in this scenario. The iPhone photo is yet again sharper as a whole, although the OnePlus 5 isn’t that far behind in this regard.

Since this scene has a busier foreground than the ones before it, we can see that both contenders become equally confused by the more complex geometry, failing to properly blur the background visible through the openings in the chairs.

Other than that, the iPhone photo has cooler colors this time around, whereas the OnePlus 5 picture is warmer and seemingly more vibrant as a result.



Scene 4



A general rule of thumb for taking a portrait picture with a creamy background is to have a lot of space between your model and background, and, of course, to have the aperture of your lens as wide open as possible. That said, we still decided to see what we’d get out of a more cramped scene, without much breathing room between subject and background.

As you can see yourself from the results above, the iPhone 7 does not fare well exposure- and color-wise in this scene, likely due to the stronger backlighting. The iPhone photo is dull and grainy with skin tones that are unnaturally dark. As far as the actual depth of field simulation goes, it is there in the iPhone 7 shot, but it is very, very subtle, which is to be expected considering the cramped scene.

The OnePlus 5 leaves us with a brighter, more vibrant image, with much better-looking and more realistic skin tones. The background here is also more aggressively blurred, which you may or may not like, but from a distance at least, it looks a lot better than the iPhone 7 shot. However, when we take a closer look at both images side-by-side, it becomes clear that the one taken on the OnePlus 5 is again substantially softer.

Unfortunately, both the iPhone 7 Plus and the OnePlus 5 leave us with undesirable results in this scenario. Whether you’d take an incorrectly exposed shot over an out-of-focus one is entirely up to you. One can be fixed to a degree with post-processing, while the other – cannot. The question is, should you even bother with fixing (not enhancing, fixing) a photo from what is essentially a point-and-shoot camera?


Scene 5



This is a similar scenario to the one in the previous scene. Even without going in-depth, there’s a night and day difference here – the iPhone 7 Plus photo is underexposed, with a much cooler white balance, which makes it appear dull and lifeless. When examined up-close, it is also undesirably soft.

The OnePlus 5 fares better in this scenario, as far as exposure and white balance are concerned, producing a much more vibrant-looking photo. However, when comparing it to the iPhone 7 shot in full size, it is just as soft and just doesn’t look that good.

Both phones fail this test, although the OnePlus 5 does arguably better in terms of all-around color representation and exposure.


Conclusion


As you can see for yourself, neither the iPhone 7 Plus, nor the OnePlus 5 can perfectly simulate the creamy shallow depth of field that’s so sought-after in digital photography these days. Whether you’d take sharper but duller-looking pictures that you can fix in post, over vibrant and well-exposed images that are, however, very soft most of the time, is entirely up to your personal preference.

One thing that’s clear is that the technology still has ways to go until it’s capable of reproducing a more natural and more believable shallow depth of field in smartphone photos. In the mean time, if you can’t live without copious amounts of bokeh in every picture you take, you should probably consider investing in a dedicated camera with a fast lens and an ND filter to go along with it, because how else are you going to take photos at f/1.4 in broad daylight?

Also, don't forget to check out our other camera comparisons involving the OnePlus 5:

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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31 Comments

1. Zylam

Posts: 1817; Member since: Oct 20, 2010

Nice comparison Millen! But so far nothing can beat the Lumia 1020. Mine has been sitting inside a box in my cupboard for two years and every now and then I come across a few photos I took with it and just get blown away. It's so unfortunate Elop destroyed Nokia, had they gone down the Android route sooner, things would have been so different.

3. peace247 unregistered

Ive always noticed that the skin tones on iPhone shots have ugly green tint.

20. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

blue-green tint on main camera, and yellow tint on front camera.. and yet, some people said it have great color accuracy, lol..

2. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

The iPhone 7 Plus messed-up scene 4 pretty bad. Hey Milen, is the blonde woman in the first scenes your girl or wife? She's hot bro!

4. SYSTEM_LORD

Posts: 1168; Member since: Oct 05, 2015

Scenes 4 and 5 were absolute trainwrecks for the iPhone. I'd be ashamed to own a $800 device that produced those pictures...!

7. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

Yay, the iPhone's overdose of green tint in scene 4 and 5 made the OnePlus 5's scenes look like a miracle.

9. Finalflash

Posts: 4063; Member since: Jul 23, 2013

"Whether you’d take sharper but duller-looking pictures that you can fix in post, over vibrant and well-exposed images that are, however, very soft most of the time" Don't worry guys, you can fix it in post, buy an iPhone (this message brought to you by iPA).

12. Milen_Y

Posts: 113; Member since: Jun 09, 2016

Ah, conveniently glancing over "the question is, should you even bother with fixing (not enhancing, fixing) a photo from what is essentially a point-and-shoot camera?" Thanks, guy, I expected no less!

13. Podrick

Posts: 1285; Member since: Aug 19, 2015

Off topic but whats up with so many bugs nowadays on PA? The site used to be really stable(other than ads). Now its a buggy mess. One bug gets fixed, another one appears.

15. Milen_Y

Posts: 113; Member since: Jun 09, 2016

Hi Podrick, if you ever notice a problem with the site, don't hesitate to shoot us an email using the contact form at the bottom of the page! https://www.phonearena.com/contacts

29. Michigan

Posts: 246; Member since: Nov 19, 2016

yeah why fix? i want it the way it is en wait PA, can you do overall phone comparison between iPhone vs ioneplus 5.#9

31. Nopers unregistered

Well not really, Scene 4 on the OP5 lost a lot of detail in the hair and look at the guys neck in scene 5. Neither did particularly well with those scenes. I would like to know if they used iOS 10 or iOS 11 beta for this because portrait mode has been enhanced in iOS 11 as well as using HEIF.

5. skyline88

Posts: 697; Member since: Jul 15, 2013

OP5 has brighter output but blurry at some point, while 7plus is exactly the other way around.

6. Plasticsh1t

Posts: 3108; Member since: Sep 01, 2014

Good to see that oneplus stepped up their cam game. They're almost there.

8. Manny0122

Posts: 32; Member since: Jan 16, 2017

Girl looking like E.T

10. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

What I can say is the iPhone 7 camera makes you both look older and ugly, while the One Plus makes you both look nicer. The iPhone is missing the fact she has on makeup, whiel the One Plus is over saturating the makeup, but at least it sees it.

11. Shangri-La

Posts: 76; Member since: Oct 04, 2011

Is iPA suggesting this comparison a tie?? OnePlus 5 wins this convincingly.

14. Milen_Y

Posts: 113; Member since: Jun 09, 2016

Hey, thanks for sharing your opinion! If we are talking about "winning", then the OP5 "won" in two scenes by delivering undesirably soft, but properly exposed photos, whereas the iPhone produced images that we're both too soft and dark. However, the other three scenes are a different story. Neither phone is particularly good at simulating shallow depth of field and they both have their shortcomings. It all comes down to which you personally are willing to tolerate.

16. Charlie2k

Posts: 133; Member since: Jan 11, 2016

Chocker... try checking the images with a photo forensic-tool and prepare do be disappointed. They are all heavily post-edited. Guess the author just wanted to have something to write about, so he faked images.https://29a.ch/photo-forensics/

17. Milen_Y

Posts: 113; Member since: Jun 09, 2016

The only editing done on these images, apart from cropping the close-ups, is done by the phones themselves - that is, when the DoF effect is applied.

21. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

of course those are edited photos.. potrait mode on any phone is literally an automated post processing of combining 2 photos from 2 camera sensors.. even HDR photo got tons of inconsistency when checked with that tool

18. poptart574

Posts: 223; Member since: Feb 29, 2016

I really appreciate the honesty of this article. Nice to see stuff like this on PA.

19. p51d007

Posts: 704; Member since: Nov 24, 2013

The LACK of a hardware based, gyro stabilization in the OP5 shows itself in the smaller details. Blur. Unless you hold it absolutely still, camera shake int he OP5 can destroy the photo. Also, you can see lack of depth in some of the OP5 shots, where the colors don't "pop" as much with the OP5, as the iPhone. Oppo went the cheap route with the camera. My guess? They had the OP3, then shortly after the OP3T. Wanna bet they do the same thing with the 5 and have a OP5T in about 4-5 months? Oh, with a better camera ;)

22. dorian827

Posts: 161; Member since: Jul 28, 2012

The model is she single ?

23. Pureviewuser1

Posts: 153; Member since: Mar 28, 2016

My nokia 808 is takes way better pictures if only it had a larger screen and selfie camera.

24. S4NDY

Posts: 245; Member since: Mar 14, 2016

Easy win for OP5

25. kanagadeepan

Posts: 1260; Member since: Jan 24, 2012

Oh no.. Honestly I didn't expect iP7+ to be this bad...

26. therealestmc

Posts: 679; Member since: Jul 23, 2012

The iPhone was clearly the better camera by a mile.

28. tommy_vercetti

Posts: 34; Member since: Oct 10, 2016

you're kidding, right?

30. tokuzumi

Posts: 1907; Member since: Aug 27, 2009

Seems like both phones have their camera advantages in different situations. But you will probably get more consistent photos overall with the iPhone. I'm sure we'll see OnePlus update the camera software over the coming weeks/months.

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