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The best portrait camera is attached to an original smartphone

The best portrait camera is attached to an original smartphone

The best portrait camera is attached to an original smartphone

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It shouldn’t surprise you that we’re big fans of photography at GSMArena. Most of us had a dedicated camera with a so-called portrait lens attached that we carried around on trips. But as smartphone cameras got better and their photos got better, those dedicated cameras slowly faded into the background and we stopped carrying them around.

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Then, around 2016, Apple made what is called Portrait Mode mainstream with the announcement of the iPhone 7 Plus and suddenly every phone was now doing software-assisted bokeh portraits. That was over six years ago, and those portrait mode shots got better, and inadvertently the camera hardware got better too (we even ventured to find the best camera phone shot for natural bokeh).

But today we decided to see if the pop-up portrait camera on a Tecno smartphone is the best portrait camera we’ve ever seen.

This is NOT a sponsored post. Like all smartphones, the Tecno Phantom X2 Pro has its positives and negatives, and we invite you to read our full review to learn more. Here we focus on a small but very intriguing aspect of the phone’s camera system.

You might have heard of Tecno, especially if you’re a GSMArena regular, but chances are you’ve never seen one in the flesh or had the opportunity to play it. get one in your home market, as it’s largely a regional player – big in Africa. , important in the Middle East and Russia, but not very active in Western or Far Eastern markets. That’s about to change as Tecno aims to release the Phantom X2 Pro more widely.

The Phantom X2 Pro is a capable flagship phone with a Dimensity 9000 chipset, 6.78-inch 120Hz AMOLED and premium design. It has a triple camera system with a unique retractable portrait lens.

It’s the world’s first such camera on a production phone (Oppo, Xiaomi and Tecno itself have had prototypes), and it’s powerful. It’s a 50MP 1/2.7-inch type sensor with 0.64µm pre-binned pixels that shoot down to 1.2µm after binning to 12MP. The lens is a premium 7P optical element with a 65mm equivalent focal length and a wide f/1.49 aperture. This is an ideal focal length for portraits and zooms.

When you open the camera app and choose the 2.5x lens option, the lens physically pops out of the camera module. You can both feel movement through the phone and get smooth sound. It evokes feelings of nostalgia for a time when phones had moving parts.

When you combine the relatively large sensor size with the bright lens and 65mm focal length, you have a camera that has a naturally shallow depth of field and can isolate subjects from the background. (and foreground) without the software-based portrait mode. At 65mm or around 2.5x, it’s also a reasonable zoom camera for non-human subjects.

It's the best portrait zoom camera and it's not on a mainstream flagship

We’ve captured some sample images to show you how good the Phantom X2 Pro’s portrait camera is, and compared it to the Galaxy S22 Ultra’s 3x camera and the main camera of the ZTE Axon 40 Ultra. We chose to use the Galaxy because at around 70mm its center zoom is very comparable to the Phantom’s 65mm camera. The Axon has a unique 35mm main camera that brings a larger sensor than the portrait camera on the Phantom X2 Pro. But since it is a shorter lens, it is obviously missing Tecno’s back end compression. But let’s look at the pictures before we get too technical.

The 65mm portrait camera of the Tecno Phantom X2 Pro and the 70mm zoom lens of the Galaxy S22 Ultra have almost identical fields of view, but the Phantom can isolate the subject better thanks to its larger sensor and brighter lens .

The larger sensor inherently brings benefits such as better detail and well-defined textures. Also, the background is more blurred and the bokeh quality is higher.


Tecno Phantom X2 Pro f/1.5, ISO 659, 1/100s

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra f/2.4, ISO 64, 1/50s

Galaxy S22 Ultra 3x vs. Phantom X2 Pro 2.5x

Let’s move on to a sample outdoor portrait where the trend continues. Our subjects stand out thanks to the better isolation of the portrait camera. The Axon’s wide camera has an advantage in fine detail (it is a larger sensor), but at 35mm it’s far too wide to offer the same portrait look. Our subject’s features are distorted and the background looks sharper.


Tecno Phantom X2 Pro f/1.5, ISO 50, 1/335s

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra f/2.4, ISO 50, 1/658s

ZTE Axon 40 Ultra f/1.6, ISO 129, 1/863s

Phantom X2 2.5x vs Galaxy S22 Ultra 3x vs Axon 40 Ultra 1x

All three cameras benefit from a closer composition. Our subject is even better isolated from the background. The Tecno has a textbook portrait look – facial features aren’t distorted like in the Axon shot, and the background is further away and blurrier.


Tecno Phantom X2 Pro f/1.5, ISO 50, 1/351s

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra f/2.4, ISO 50, 1/644s

ZTE Axon 40 Ultra f/1.6, ISO 129, 1/850s

Phantom X2 2.5x vs Galaxy S22 Ultra 3x vs Axon 40 Ultra 1x

Foreground separation is also superior on the Tecno, compared to the phone’s other two cameras. Just look at the yellow triangle and the ground texture at the bottom of the images below.


Tecno Phantom X2 Pro f/1.5, ISO 57, 1/100s

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra f/2.4, ISO 50, 1/272s

ZTE Axon 40 Ultra f/1.6, ISO 585, 1/640s

Phantom X2 2.5x vs Galaxy S22 Ultra 3x vs Axon 40 Ultra 1x

But the Tecno’s pop-up camera can do more than just portraits – it’s a close-focus zoom. The benefits of the camera’s larger sensor and longer focal length are emphasized in close-ups or macro. In this example, the lens and sensor combine to capture a “dedicated camera look” with ample foreground and background defocus that neither Galaxy nor Axon can match.


Tecno Phantom X2 Pro f/1.5, ISO 491, 1/100s

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra f/2.4, ISO 100, 1/50s

ZTE Axon 40 Ultra f/1.6, ISO 227, 1/50s

Phantom X2 2.5x vs Galaxy S22 Ultra 3x vs Axon 40 Ultra 1x

This dedicated camera look is noticeable in other examples. Tecno tuned the 2.5x camera to be a bit heavy with sharpness, but still, it can get better texture detail than larger sensor cameras like the main one. ‘Axon 40 Ultra. Just look at the detail in the beer glass below.


Tecno Phantom X2 Pro f/1.5, ISO 1487, 1/25s

ZTE Axon 40 Ultra f/1.6, ISO 2381, 1/25s

Phantom X2 2.5x vs. Axon 40 Ultra 1x

Tecno has chosen a large focal length to combine it with a large sensor. The 65mm field of view is great for human faces, objects, landscapes, and just about anything you can think of. This focal length does not suffer from distortion and can produce beautiful images with naturally blurred backgrounds when paired with a large imager. It’s a good base for the software-assisted Portrait mode, which the Phantom X2 Pro also offers. This takes the already good bokeh to another level.

It's the best portrait zoom camera and it's not on a mainstream flagship

Let’s see if other phones add a big-sensor zoom camera. That might be the next big thing. We hope!

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