OnePlus admits camera woes, and 10 things you need to know in tech today

Here’s your daily tech digest, by way of the DGiT Daily newsletter, for Monday, August 5, 2019!


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1. OnePlus admissions point to big problems with DxOMark

OnePlus 7 Pro

OnePlus has admitted it has camera woes with its flagship, the OnePlus 7 Pro. This device was set to be the moment that OnePlus reached true flagship status: along with performance and power, it was now going to have a top-of-the-line camera as well.

That didn’t quite work:

  • The new OnePlus 7 Pro did get top-of-the-line camera specs, with new triple camera setup, including Sony’s 48MP image sensor on the main camera, plus ultra-wide and telephoto lenses.
  • It seemed like it worked: the phone was given a score of 111 from DxOMark, noted as the leading camera benchmark.
  • That score left it just one point off the Huawei P30 Pro and the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, which currently hold the top spot together. But “real” reviews from 7 Pro owners and reviewers alike condemned the camera.
  • Android Authority’s recent OnePlus 7 Pro camera review noted that while the camera has good exposure and colors, it has poor dynamic range, an odd hazy effect in some images, terrible low-light performance without Nightscape, and Landscape performance is lacking.
  • That review gave the camera a middling 7.74/10 with a ton of examples showing where it fell short.

OnePlus is now publicly talking about it:

  • OnePlus’ product manager, Zack Zhang, told The Next Web that customers expected better results:
  • “When people started getting the device, software which gave us really good grades, didn’t match their expectations. The photo needs to be natural and good in [theory], but visually appealing as well. We didn’t do a good job at balancing those two aspects.”
  • “Even by our own standards, the camera is not where we want it to be. We’re trying to improve our image quality to match the best in the market.”
  • Zhang did try and defend OnePlus, though:
  • “We are a very young company. And when we launched the OnePlus 5 and 5T, the dual-camera had just arrived in the market. So we were trying different approaches to see where the trends are going and where we should be.”
  • (The “very young company” excuse really rubs me the wrong way, I’m not sure about you.)

So now the question must be asked: what do DxOMark scores mean? What happens when the benchmark doesn’t match the reality in your hands? Is this DXOMark review process now just a non-factor, given that the company makes money helping phone manufacturers increase scores?

I asked Android Authority’s Lead Technical Writer, Rob Triggs, to pass on some thoughts for DGiT Daily:

  • “OnePlus’ camera tech still clearly has its problems, most noticeably in low light and noise, and this isn’t always picked up by reviewers,” wrote Rob, over Slack.
  • “These problems are compounded by over-promising features that often fall flat, such as the “lossless zoom” cropping shenanigans and night shot performance issues. This then appears dishonest and rubs consumers the wrong way. High scores from reputable testers like DxOMark compound this issue of overselling.
  • “DxO could be doing a better job at highlighting these issues that its testing clearly shows, and its scoring could probably do a better job at reflecting these differences between devices.
  • “Take a look at the noise shots of the OnePlus 7 Pro versus the P30 Pro in their own review for some insight into what DxOMark seemed to catch, but didn’t class as a big issue.”

We expect OnePlus to tell us the OnePlus 7T, a likely late-2019 release, will further tackle the camera with even more hardware and software updates and improvements.


2. Galaxy Note 10 ‘Superfast Charge’ feature confirmed by Samsung’s website (XDA).


3. Google Pixel 3a vs Pixel 3 camera comparison: What do you lose by saving $400? (Android Authority). The Pixel 3a series misses out on Google’s Pixel Visual Core processor which has some minor effects.


4. Huawei’s Android-replacement Hongmeng OS could be revealed this week (The Verge).


5. Key Apple analyst says Apple will absorb any added cost of any Chinese tariffs, invest further in production outside of China (9to5Mac).


6. Google Assistant can now read out text replies on WhatsApp and Telegram and more (Android Authority).


7. Video streaming services forgot their foe was piracy, not each other (Android Authority).


8. Cloudflare cuts off extremist site 8chan after multiple shootings (Engadget) plus more detail: almost no one can stop 8chan. So Cloudflare is (The Slate). The right move, way too late.


9. French inventor hoverboards across the English Channel, manages not to crash this time (Gizmodo).


10. Shared E-Scooters aren’t always as green as other transport options: The full lifecycle doesn’t look good because they need picking up to charge and redistribute (NC State).


11. Alabama teen wins PowerPoint World Championship. Yes, that’s a thing (al.com).


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