OnePlus 7 vs Google Pixel 3a: Which Phone Has the Better Cameras?

Are the cameras on the new OnePlus 7 any match for the Google Pixel 3a?

Share on Facebook Tweet Share Reddit Comment
OnePlus 7 vs Google Pixel 3a: Which Phone Has the Better Cameras?

The OnePlus 7 has a 48-megapixel sensor, but is it any match for Google's AI prowess?

Highlights
  • The OnePlus 7 has a 48-megapixel primary sensor
  • The Pixel 3a sticks with a single rear camera
  • Both phones have optical stabilisation and single front cameras

The OnePlus 7 (Review) is here, and like last year, OnePlus is using this device to raise our expectations of a mid-range flagship device. With a starting price of just Rs. 32,999, the OnePlus 7 offers a true flagship-level processor and new features borrowed from its more expensive sibling, the OnePlus 7 Pro (Review). While this is the first phone to offer this level of power at these prices, it certainly won't be the last. Upcoming devices such as the Asus ZenFone 6, Redmi K20 Pro and perhaps the next generation Poco phone might try and undercut the OnePlus 7 when it comes to pricing, but there's simply no denying its popularity.

This new model also boasts of includes a brand new 48-megapixel primary rear camera, which replaces the 16-megapixel sensor on the OnePlus 6T. The OnePlus 7 even has a new 5-megapixel depth sensor and an upgraded 16-megapixel Sony IMX471 selfie camera. We've detailed the specifications of the sensors in the table below, but essentially, the OnePlus 7 promises better image quality than its predecessor. Still, will all of this be enough to take on Google's new budget camera king?

    OnePlus 7 Google Pixel 3a
Primary Sensor Resolution 48-megapixels 12.2-megapixels
Sensor Sony IMX586 Sony IMX363
Aperture f/1.7 f/1.8
Autofocus Dual Pixel PDAF PDAF
Stabilisation OIS + EIS OIS + EIS
Pixel size 1.6 micron (4-in-1) 1.4 micron

Depth Sensor
Resolution 5-megapixels None

Selfie Camera
Resolution 16-megapixels 8-megapixels
  Aperture f/2 f/2

 

The Pixel 3a (Review) starts at a price of Rs. 39,999, and while it's not directly comparable to the OnePlus 7 in terms of features and specifications (and even price for that matter), there's no denying the fact that it's currently the camera phone to beat in the mid-range space.

So, if your top priority for your next smartphone is its cameras, should you pick the OnePlus 7 or pay a bit more and go for the Google Pixel 3a? That's what we're here to find out.

 

OnePlus 7 vs Google Pixel 3a camera comparison: Daylight landscape

In our first daylight landscape test, both phones deliver similar colour characteristics. The OnePlus 7 bumps the exposure up a bit more for a slightly brighter image. Looking at a 100 percent crop, we can see that the text on the signboards is clearly legible in both photos, and the exposure on the white pillars is handled well too. The Pixel 3a does a slightly better job at sharpening the image, but only just. Looking at the two towers looming in the background, once again, both phones manage to reproduce very good detail. We also didn't find any visible noise at the sides of the frames. We'll call this round a tie.

Tap to see full-sized image

Winner - Tie

 

In our second test, we have a wider shot of the city skyline and plenty of varied textures and colours. The OnePlus 7 once again has a slightly brighter photo but ends up blowing out the whites a bit. Looking at the buildings in the distance, the OnePlus 7 actually has slightly better sharpness compared to the Pixel 3a. However, looking at objects that are not in direct focus, such as the trains in the yard, it's the Pixel 3a that produces better details. It's a close call and we'd have to call this one a tie too.

Tap to see full-sized image

Winner - Tie

 

OnePlus 7 vs Google Pixel 3a camera comparison: Daylight close-ups

So far, both phones are neck-and-neck, but the differences become very apparent in our close-up tests. The OnePlus 7 exhibits a more appealing colour tone in our first test, whereas the Pixel 3a defaults to its characteristic cooler tone. However, in terms of sheer detail and colour accuracy, there's no beating the Pixel 3a. Without zooming in, it's very apparent that the Pixel 3a captures sharper and better-defined macros. The edges of the flower have excellent sharpness and definition.

Tap to see full-sized image

Winner - Pixel 3a

 

In our second test, you once again don't have to be an expert to tell that the Pixel 3a captures the better shot. It handles exposures a lot better, black levels are very good, and the sharpness of the cat's eye is unmatched. In comparison, the OnePlus 7 offers a hazy image, the blacks look murky, and details on our subject are a little soft.

Tap to see full-sized image

Winner - Pixel 3a

 

OnePlus 7 vs Google Pixel 3a camera comparison: Portrait

When shooting portraits in Auto mode, both phones do a good job with skin tones. The OnePlus 7 smoothens skin a bit, which is not necessarily a bad thing, especially if you want to get rid of minor skin blemishes. The colour and texture on our subject's t-shirt is handled very well in both photos too.

Tap to see full-sized image

Winner - Tie

 

However, it's a different story when shooting in ‘Portrait' mode. Both phones do a good job with edge detection, and this is commendable for the Pixel 3a which doesn't have the benefit of a second depth sensor. Colours are equally vivid and saturation is good too. However, looking at our subject, the OnePlus 7 applies aggressive smoothening, which takes away some of the depth from the photo. We had to take a step back to compose a similar shot with the Pixel 3a, since it does a 2x digital zoom in this mode. The end result is a more vivid shot, with a better sense of separation of our subject from the background. While some might prefer the softer image of the OnePlus 7, we'd pick the Pixel 3a for its more dramatic look.

Tap to see full-sized image

Winner - Pixel 3a

 

Using Portrait mode on objects is a challenging exercise for the OnePlus 7. It's very picky about how and where you need to position the phone for it to successfully apply background blur. You can't adjust the level of blur before or even after you've taken a shot, whereas the Pixel 3a lets you adjust it afterwards. Edge detection is also hit-or-miss with the OnePlus 7.

We did manage to get one usable shot, but even here, the base of this miniature tree is blurred and details are a little soft. The Pixel 3a on the other hand gives us a more striking image, although it does mess up the edges slightly on the top. However, our subject is in sharp focus here.

Tap to see full-sized image

Winner - Pixel 3a

 

OnePlus 7 vs Google Pixel 3a camera comparison: Low-light landscape

In low light, both phones do a decent job of exposing this first scene. The Pixel 3a has a slightly brighter image, which lets you clearly see the plants at the left of the frame. The OnePlus 7 does a slightly better job with colours, especially the yellow, which has a hint of green in the shot captured by the Pixel 3a. Noise is suppressed very well on both phones too.

Tap to see full-sized image

Winner - Tie

 

With fewer light sources in our second scene, the OnePlus 7 has a slightly brighter image with less noise in the sky at the side of the frame. The level of detail is equally average on both phones, which is noticeable with a 100 percent crop. Even though both photos are pretty close in terms of image quality, we'd go with the OnePlus 7 for having a bit less noise.

Tap to see full-sized image

Winner - OnePlus 7

 

OnePlus 7 vs Google Pixel 3a camera comparison: Low-light close-ups

In a more close-up shot, with incandescent lighting around our subject, both smartphones manage to capture good detail, but the OnePlus 7 gets the yellow shade correct, whereas the Pixel 3a tends to add a slight greenish hue to the paint job.

Tap to see full-sized image

Winner - OnePlus 7

 

In our macro test, the Pixel 3a pulls ahead a bit as it captures better detail. The OnePlus 7 ends up shooting a slightly softer image in comparison.

Tap to see full-sized image

Winner - Pixel 3a

 

OnePlus 7 vs Google Pixel 3a camera comparison: Night mode

Both phones have special night modes, which capture multiple shots in varying exposures in order to get a brighter shot with better detail. Google calls this Night Sight, while OnePlus calls its feature Nightscape.

In our landscape test, both phones produce brighter images when compared to shooting in Auto mode. The Pixel 3a's photo has some visible purple haze in the sky at the sides of the frame, which is not present in the OnePlus 7 image. The latter also picks up slightly better detail, which is visible when you do a 100 percent crop.

Tap to see full-sized image

Winner - OnePlus 7

 

When shooting smaller objects in extremely low light, the Pixel 3a slays with excellent detail and punchy colours. In fact, it's impossible to tell that this was shot with barely any ambient light around. The OnePlus 7 fails to capture fine details and the red colour is completely off.

Tap to see full-sized image

Winner - Pixel 3a

 

OnePlus 7 vs Google Pixel 3a camera comparison: Selfie

Pixel phones have always been great selfie shooters, and the 3a is no exception. In our first test, The Pixel 3a does a very good job of metering the image as everything is properly exposed. We love the fact that it also captures equally good detail in the objects in the background and exposes the sky very well. The OnePlus 7 shoots slightly softer selfies but we quite like the warmer skin tones it delivers. The background is exposed well too, but the details aren't very good.

Tap to see full-sized image

Winner - Pixel 3a

 

In low light, without the screen flash, the OnePlus 7 surprised us with a brighter image and better detail compared to the Pixel 3a.

Tap to see full-sized image

Winner - OnePlus 7

 

With the flash turned on, the OnePlus 7 has a brighter image with better skin tones and details thanks to the more powerful screen flash. The Pixel 3a has a comparatively weaker one but it also has an ace up its sleeve, which is Night Sight for the selfie camera. With this, the Pixel 3a captures a well-lit selfie, with very good colours and detail, even for objects way in the background.

Tap to see full-sized image

Winner - Pixel 3a

 

With ‘Portrait' mode turned on for the front camera, the Pixel 3a falters a bit when it comes to blurring edges. On the other hand, it does have the sharper and more vivid image. However, since this is a portrait test, we have to give this round to the OnePlus 7.

Tap to see full-sized image

Winner - OnePlus 7

 

OnePlus 7 vs Google Pixel 3a camera comparison: Zoom

Neither of these phones has an optical zoom lens, but that doesn't stop people from using digital zoom, which is why it's good to see which phone does it better.

With the zoom slider at 2x on both phones, we see the OnePlus 7 begin to struggle a bit with detail and noise. Comparing similar parts of both photos, the Pixel 3a maintains a clear image with good detail, compared to the OnePlus 7.

Tap to see full-sized image

Winner - Pixel 3a

 

At the maximum zoom level on both phones, the Pixel 3a manages to maintain very good detail and there's very little to no noise. Details fall apart pretty badly on the OnePlus 7, and mild grain is evident. We don't recommend ever using this extreme level of digital zoom, but it's nice to know that the Pixel 3a can deliver a usable shot in the event that you absolutely need it.

Tap to see full-sized image

Winner - Pixel 3a

 

OnePlus 7 vs Google Pixel 3a camera comparison: Panorama

With panoramas, both phones do a decent job of stitching exposures together, however, the Pixel 3a captures a better-looking shot and it even managed to render the sky on the right a bit better, compared to the OnePlus 7.

Tap to see full-sized image

Winner - Pixel 3a

 

OnePlus 7 vs Google Pixel 3a camera comparison: Video

Both phones can shoot 4K video, however the OnePlus 7 is limited to 10 minutes per clip whereas the Pixel 3a doesn't have any such restriction. On the other hand, the OnePlus 7 can shoot 4K at 60fps. In this test, we stuck to 4K at 30fps and shot samples in the daylight and at night.

In daylight, stabilisation is very good across both phones but the colour tone from the OnePlus 7 is very warm, causing videos to look quite exaggerated. The Pixel 3a has more restrained colours in comparison, which looks better. At night, the warmer colour tone from the OnePlus 7 works in its favour as footage shot with the Pixel 3a looks a bit muted. However, the distortion caused due to electronic stabilisation is a more severe on the OnePlus 7, making the footage pretty much unusable if you're in motion. The Pixel 3a shows small signs of this but it's not a big issue.

Dropping the resolution to 1080p, both phones produce very similar image quality and detail in daylight. Colours are a bit dialled down in the OnePlus 7, which is good, and it also has slightly better audio compared to the Pixel 3a. At night, the Pixel 3a pulls ahead once again as it captures sharper and more detailed footage. The's a bit less of the distortion from stabilisation on the OnePlus 7 at this resolution but it's still present. The focus is also a lot softer compared to the Pixel 3a.

Winner (overall) - Pixel 3a

 

Verdict
The OnePlus 7 (Review) uses the exact same primary camera sensor as the OnePlus 7 Pro (Review), so it's no surprise that this phone is pretty capable when it comes to photography. The problem though is it's missing consistency. The autofocus system needs more work, as even when shooting macros under good light, we often found the focus to be soft and details lacking. Portrait mode is also a bit hit-or-miss, especially when shooting objects. Video is another area where the OnePlus 7 falters, capturing oversaturated colours at 4K and displaying some nasty motion artefacts in low light.

Things aren't all bad for the OnePlus 7, though. It manages very good landscape shots, both in daylight and at night. Portraits are handled well too and this phone manages more accurate colours compared to the Pixel 3a when shooting in low light.

However, the Pixel 3a (Review) is still the phone we'd pick under Rs. 40,000 if we're looking for a camera all-rounder, as it's more dependable in most situations. The Pixel 3a has its share of camera quirks and it did lag behind the OnePlus 7 in some low-light tests, but it also won the majority of the tests in this comparison. This phone does come at a steep premium and isn't as powerful as the OnePlus 7, but if cameras are your top priority, then the Google Pixel 3a would be the one to pick.

  • Design
  • Display
  • Software
  • Performance
  • Battery Life
  • Camera
  • Value for Money
  • Good
  • Very good cameras
  • Good software features
  • Guaranteed updates for three years
  • Stereo speakers
  • Bad
  • Expensive
  • Weak processor and low storage for the price
Display5.60-inch
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 670
Front Camera8-megapixel
Rear Camera12.2-megapixel
RAM4GB
Storage64GB
Battery Capacity3000mAh
OSAndroid 9 Pie
Resolution1080x2220 pixels
  • Design
  • Display
  • Software
  • Performance
  • Battery Life
  • Camera
  • Value for Money
  • Good
  • Excellent performance
  • All-day battery life
  • Loud stereo speakers
  • Bad
  • Below-average low-light camera performance
  • Inconsistent focus in portraits and macros
  • Poor low-light video stabilisation
Display6.41-inch
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 855
Front Camera16-megapixel
Rear Camera48-megapixel + 5-megapixel
RAM6GB
Storage128GB
Battery Capacity3700mAh
OSAndroid 9 Pie
Resolution1080x2340 pixels
Comments

For the latest tech news and reviews, follow Gadgets 360 on Twitter, Facebook, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Roydon Cerejo

Roydon has written about technology and gadgets for more than a decade now and began his career reviewing PC components. He found his calling with laptops, smartphones, and cameras and is the go-to guy at Gadgets 360 for this technology trifecta. In his spare time, he likes watching horror films, obsessively organising his cable management pouch and plotting world dominion one pixel at a time.

More
Facebook to Rethink Policies Around Artistic Nudity
Quake II RTX Free Demo Is Now Available to Download via Nvidia.com and Steam
 
 

Advertisement

 

Advertisement

© Copyright Red Pixels Ventures Limited 2019. All rights reserved.