Instagram is without a doubt the hottest social network, recently surpassing a billion users. When you keep in mind that Instagram is completely focused on photos and videos, most of which are shot using mobile phones, it makes sense to buy a phone with a fantastic camera.
One particular trend that has emerged with photos is the “bokeh” effect, which utilises two lenses – one to focus on the subject and the second to blur the background. Take a look at this image below- the bokeh effect is applied on the right image where you can see the background is blurred.
You may have seen this kind of setup in many high-end phones, but only on the back cameras. But look through your Instagram feed and there’s a good chance that you’ll find an equal number of selfies as you would of pictures taken from the camera on the back. So why not have dual cameras on the front that create a similar effect?
For starters it’s definitely an engineering problem. With bezels shrinking on the top and bottom of phones, there’s only so much space for a phone manufacturer to cram all the required sensors, and adding two cameras in that precious space can prove to be really difficult. HTC was the first manufacturer to put two lenses on the back of a phone, so it comes as no surprise to see two cameras not only on the back of the HTC U12+ but also on the front.
Both front cameras have 8MP sensors with an f/2.0 aperture and 1.12µm pixel size. For comparison sake, the selfie camera on the iPhone 8 (and iPhone X) is 7MP with an f/2.2 aperture and there’s only one of them. Not only are both the HTC U12 Plus’ front cameras capable of taking higher resolution shots, but they also allow more light in through the front camera than Apple’s flagship with a single camera.
There’s another advantage to the HTC U12+ that HTC first introduced with the HTC U11 last year, and that’s the touch-sensing side bezel called Edge Sense. The frame of the phone can be squeezed to perform multiple actions, which include launching apps or voice assistants as well as controlling music playback.
One particular function of Edge Sense is to launch the camera app and while you’re in the camera app you can squeeze the sides again to take a picture. This makes it extremely easy to take selfies as you don’t have to worry about finding a particular button on the side of the phone or on the screen to take a picture.
HTC has also added a timer so you don’t accidentally move your hand while squeezing the phone to take the picture. Squeeze once to turn on the camera app, and squeeze the second time for the 3 second timer to kick in and take that perfect selfie.
We were interested in testing the bokeh mode in particular with the HTC U12+ and decided to test it out against the iPhone X. Here are some shots that compare the front camera on both these phones. The top picture is from the HTC U12+ while the bottom picture is from an iPhone X with both cameras set at default automatic mode.
The first thing to notice in the picture above is how the shot from the HTC U12+ is wider giving you a better story to tell from your selfie. Also notice how the iPhone just blends the hat into the sky whereas the HTC U12+ can clearly separate the two. Last, the background on trees in the picture have a lot more detail that the iPhone even with the bokeh effect.
Again, you see the bigger picture with the HTC U12+ than the iPhone but what is more striking on the HTC U12+ is that it managed to capture the hues of the sky beautifully whereas the iPhone X simply produced a flat white sky.
Our next shot moves from outdoors to indoors in a standard office environment. Again, the HTC captures a lot more around you and with more natural colors. The shirt is not as vibrant as the iPhone X is making it looks like but slightly washed up as the HTC U12+ correctly captures. You can also clearly see the texture in that shirt on the HTC U12+ image.
As you can see from the photos above, the HTC U12+ does a fantastic job at taking selfies using the dual cameras on the front. You get a natural and realistic effect and a much wider frame that looks much better than the selfies taken with the iPhone X.