Nubia M2 VS Apple iPhone 7 Plus Camera Comparison

It is not surprising that the camera on a smartphone that we carry around in a pocket is one of the most important feature. As most of us carry one in our pocket, it is easy to get it out of our pockets and take a picture and put it back in again, all within a matter of seconds. There are lots of phones that claim to have a good shooter out there, from budget entry-level smartphones to flagship smartphones, all spending most of their advertisement on how well they can take photos. In this review, we are taking a look at a new brand from China that just landed on our shoes – Nubia and their mid-range smartphone – the M2. The M2 was given the tagline “Mobile Photography Expert” by Nubia themselves, and it features a dual-lens camera setup. So, is it that good? In this special edition of MDROID reviews, we’ll be putting the Nubia M2 against a flagship smartphone – an Apple iPhone 7 Plus which easily costs more than twice (due to the storage configuration of the iPhone 7 Plus). Let’s see.

Camera Specifications

Nubia M2 Aspects Apple iPhone 7 Plus
13MP monochrome, f/2.2 Primary Lens 12MP RGB, 28mm, f/1.8
13MP RGB, f/2.2 Secondary Lens 12MP RGB, 56mm, f/2.8
No Image Stabilization Optical + Digital
2-tone LED Flash Quad-tone
8x Digital Zoom Zoom 2x Optical Zoom, 10x Digital Zoom
Up to 4K @ 30fps Video Recording Up to 4K @ 30 fps
16MP, f/2.0, 80 degrees Front Facing Camera 7MP,f/2.2

Disclaimer: In fairness and equality, images are shot with standard mode with both phones, so you can be assured that this is the quality of the image you’ll get without the need to mess around with settings.

Enough of words and numbers, we’ll just let the pictures do the talking.

Daylight Conditions

Right off the bat, we can already see that the Nubia M2 has a slightly better colour reproduction than the Apple iPhone 7 Plus. It is not really surprising after all, due to its ability to combine both samples from both sensors – RGB sensor for colour and monochrome sensor for details, to produce a sharper image with more vivid colours. From all the photos we’ve taken under daylight conditions, the Nubia M2 presented better photos with wider dynamic range and more vivid colours. In simple terms, the colours pop more and is brighter. The iPhone 7 Plus did get better contrast and more natural colours, but in order to achieve the same quality as the Nubia M2, you had to turn on Auto Enhance in the Photos app individually to get rid of the slight annoying greenish filter that appear from time to time.

Interior Lighting Conditions

The results are pretty much the same when it comes to shooting under interior lighting conditions, although at times the Nubia M2 can come up with different results. While for most part the colours are pretty accurate, it starts losing details and have exposure issues. The iPhone 7 Plus hold on to what it does best – by preserving the same amount of details and have the right exposure and contrasts all the time, even though the colours can be slightly off.

Low-lighting Conditions

At this point, it seems that the iPhone 7 Plus might seem to be falling behind a device that costs half of its price. But this is where it starts to redeem for itself. When it comes to low-light photography, the Nubia M2 unfortunately, is just “not bad”. Despite its claims about low noise with the aperture and smarter sensor, there are still visible noise in photos in during real life usage. It’s not too terrible, but when put side-by-side with the iPhone 7 Plus, the difference is night and day. Surprisingly, even though the iPhone 7 Plus or any iPhone in general is not the best in low-light conditions, it performed rather well here. Noise level are kept to minimum, and there’s hardly any visible noise. The colour representation is rather true to life for the iPhone 7 Plus, and the biggest advantage that it has over the M2 is the speed of getting the right colours and exposure the moment you point at things, which is where the M2 really struggles. At times the M2 are unable to pick the focus point, and tapping on the subject that you want it to focus is a mixed bag. Sometimes it is too dark, and other times it tends to overexpose. In simple terms, you can see more with the iPhone 7 Plus with little-to-no noise, right colours and still maintains quick shutter speed.

The only way the Nubia M2 could win this is to play with its PRO mode, and start messing around with shutter speeds and ISO. Most of the time we keep the ISO at its minimum and the shutter speed at maximum, which is 2 seconds, and there is an increase in quality of the samples, with very low noise and vivid colours. Still, images shot by iPhone 7 Plus is still brighter, and you do need a proper place to make sure it won’t move for 2 seconds, as even a slight movement will ruin the entire image. This is by far the biggest problem with the Nubia M2. But hey, if you look from other perspective, the Nubia M2 can take some really sick shots with the pro mode, and depending on the setting that you choose, it can take better photos.

Portrait mode

Both devices does come with portrait mode support with their dual-lens setup, which identifies the shape and the distance between the subject and the lens, determining their background and apply blur effect (bokeh) to it, which makes it look like it’s been taken with a professional camera. Based on the samples, it is no doubt that the iPhone 7 Plus is more superior in this department. Even with complicated shapes or with multiple objects at different distances, it was able to apply the right amount of blur to the right subject, thus creating a more true effect.

While the M2 is not too bad, it does have difficulties determining the exact shape of the object, and more importantly, the effect just looks fake due to it having difficulty determining the distance as well. There are no point testing both out in darker conditions since both requires sufficient lighting.

On the iPhone 7 Plus however, the Portrait mode will reduce the field of view for some reason, and is the only device doing that. The field of view of the M2 in portrait mode is unchanged, and with the iPhone 7 Plus, you really had to stand back and follow the on-screen instructions to get it to work.

Video recording

When it comes to video recording, the Nubia M2 really falls behind the iPhone 7 Plus. We have shot 2 footages for each phone – 1080p at 60 frames-per-second and 4K at 30 frames-per-second. At 1080p, while the 60 fps is smooth, it is not as sharp as we would like. There are very little details in 1080p video, even after it focuses well. In similar conditions, the iPhone did way better. Not only it contains more details, it even got the colours right, where the M2 tends to under or overexpose at times.

Things are somewhat better when it comes to 4K video recording. It contains rather decent details, even though the colours are pretty much the same. 4K footages from the iPhone are sharp as well, and like most of the time, the quality is much better and more neutral colours. Audios from the M2 are recorded in stereo are loud and clear, and it sounds clearer on the iPhone.

The biggest problem with the Nubia M2 is the lack of any form of stabilization. It makes the footage shaky, causing a rather dizzy effect. You can’t avoid that effect especially when holding the phone with your hands. A slight movement will also confuse the auto focus, and it constantly goes out of focus for no apparent reason. Even tapping on the subject on screen makes it worse at times.

Front-facing Selfie Camera

When it comes to the front-facing camera, there isn’t really much of a difference. Both looks equally sharp surprisingly, even with the M2’s 16-megapixel front shooter. What’s different is that the M2 does not flip the image like the iPhone does, and it has a cooler tone compared to the iPhone.

Camera app

Rather suspiciously, the camera app on the Nubia M2 does look almost identical to the one in the iPhone 7 Plus at first glance. The camera app on the iPhone 7 Plus is simple, with toggles on the left and shutter button, modes, preview and the button to switch between the from and rear camera. It has the ability to take live photos, which is something like a very short video, but that’s about it.

The camera app on the Nubia M2 includes all the bells and whistles, and if you switch to the Camera Family mode, there’s so much other modes to play with, which we think most consumers won’t be using very often, but it is there if you need it.

Conclusion

The conclusion is easy. While the Nubia M2 features a great sensor, has great algorithms to able to let it capture good quality photos under sufficient lighting conditions, Nubia has neglected other aspects, thus making it a good camera that only works brilliantly under certain circumstances. While the iPhone 7 Plus provides a better overall experience, we’d still expect more from the iPhone is every single aspect.

More Apple iPhone 7 Plus Samples:
Apple iPhone 7 Plus Samples

More Nubia M2 Samples:
Nubia M2 Samples