Vic Gundotra, former VP of social at Google and, before that, general manager of platform evangelism at Microsoft, got a new iPhone complete with Portrait Mode, Apple's first step towards computational photography, and he was so impressed he started raving about it on Facebook:
The end of the DSLR for most people has already arrived. I left my professional camera at home and took these shots at dinner with my iPhone 7 using computational photography (portrait mode as Apple calls it). Hard not to call these results (in a restaurant, taken on a mobile phone with no flash) stunning. Great job Apple.
He went on to elaborate, in response to a question, on the advantage Apple has over modular software (Android) and hardware (Samsung) competitors:
Here is the problem: It's Android. Android is an open source (mostly) operating system that has to be neutral to all parties. This sounds good until you get into the details. Ever wonder why a Samsung phone has a confused and bewildering array of photo options? Should I use the Samsung Camera? Or the Android Camera? Samsung gallery or Google Photos?
It's because when Samsung innovates with the underlying hardware (like a better camera) they have to convince Google to allow that innovation to be surfaced to other applications via the appropriate API. That can take YEARS.
Also the greatest innovation isn't even happening at the hardware level - it's happening at the computational photography level. (Google was crushing this 5 years ago - they had had "auto awesome" that used AI techniques to automatically remove wrinkles, whiten teeth, add vignetting, etc... but recently Google has fallen back).
Apple doesn't have all these constraints. They innovate in the underlying hardware, and just simply update the software with their latest innovations (like portrait mode) and ship it.
Bottom line: If you truly care about great photography, you own an iPhone. If you don't mind being a few years behind, buy an Android.
Anecdotally, I haven't picked up my Canon 5D Mark III since I got the iPhone 7 Plus. It may not have the lens assortment or the lack of noise in low light of all that glass and that huge sensor, but it has every bit of the emotion in a package that slips into my pocket.
And, ultimately, that's what I care about.
Can't wait to see what Apple does with A11 and the next-generation iPhone.
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