The ultimate guide to replacing your smartphone battery

Is your smartphone battery running out in just a couple of hours? If you find yourself reaching for the charger multiple times a day, it might be time to replace your battery. Even with the days of removable batteries behind us, there are still are a lot of options. In this guide we will show you how and how much it costs to install a new battery on your phone.

If you’ve owned your smartphone for more than two years, you might have noticed its battery life is just not the same. The lifespan of a battery is typically defined by how many charge cycles it will last. A charge cycle is a period where a battery’s whole capacity is used, then it is charged back to full (companies like Apple define it as using 50 percent, then charging it back to full, then using 50 percent again). After 500 charge cycles, most lithium-ion batteries’ performance starts to degrade, regardless of how you use the device. It is one of the main reasons you should consider cell phone battery replacement on an aging device.

Common signs you need to replace your smartphone battery

google pixel 3 battery details

Of course, the most obvious sign you might need a cell phone battery replacement is drastically reduced battery life. If your phone barely makes it past the 10-hour mark, and you don’t do anything too intensive like streaming or playing games, consider replacement.

Random shut offs are also a common symptom. If your smartphone turns off at 30 percent or even 50 percent, the health of your battery has likely deteriorated significantly. Boot loops are also a common sign. If you have an older smartphone that restarts constantly after hitting a certain battery threshold, this is usually due to an aging lithium-ion battery.

The easiest way to recognize the source of the issue is to note when the problem occurs. If you have a newer device and it boot loops after an update or when closing apps, it is most likely a software issue.

accubattery

If your case is not that extreme, you still might want to check your battery’s health. We recommend using AccuBattery. It compares the design capacity of your battery to its estimated current capacity, showing you how much has been lost overtime. Just charge your phone after installing it and the app will do the rest.

AccuBattery also offers plenty of other features such as measuring charging speed, how much power apps use, how long your device will last on standby, and much more. If the capacity results are not great, it might be time for a battery replacement. The good news is you can do this even if you have a smartphone with a non-removable battery!

How to replace your smartphone battery

The days of easy to replace batteries are mostly over now.

Replacing your smartphone battery used to be as easy as turning off your phone, removing the old battery, and putting the new one in. If your smartphone still has a removable battery, that’s all you need to do.

Most current Android smartphones come with non-removable batteries, so the task has gotten more difficult. It’s by no means impossible, but it’s no small feat either.

If you want to go the DIY route, you will have to take your smartphone apart, detaching the screen and other parts before getting to the battery. Since most parts are glued together, you would also have to remove and then reapply adhesive. Do not attempt this if you do not have the right tools. The basic ones you need are a suction handle, flat opening tool, tweezers, heat gun to melt adhesive, and a screwdriver. Replacement adhesive is also a must.

Don’t use just any tools lying around in your house — you can damage your phone.

(iFixit)Replacing a battery requires a bit more work than it once did.

Unfortunately, buying an official battery from an OEM is almost impossible, so we advise you stick to proven battery retailers with good ratings for repair kits and batteries, like iFixit. They also provide detailed battery replacement guides on their website.

If you already have the necessary tools and have found the appropriate tutorial for your smartphone model, it’s important to first have your battery below 25 percent. Charged lithium-ion batteries can catch fire or explode if accidentally punctured. If your battery is swollen when you open your device, you shouldn’t proceed with the replacement, especially if you are inexperienced. Take the phone to an authorized repair shop instead.

Even if that’s not the case, you have to be careful. Take the Samsung Galaxy S7 for example. Battery replacement can be quite difficult thanks to plenty of adhesive, all of which will need to be reapplied. You will also have to disconnect and reconnect the loudspeaker assembly. If you are not careful when doing so, you might need to take your phone apart once again to reconnect it. Other phones require you to disconnect even more parts. DIY battery replacements also usually void waterproofing.

So, if you feel like you don’t have the patience or skill, it’s best to take or mail your smartphone to an authorized service center. For most manufacturers battery replacement costs under $100 out of warranty, and the process takes around five to seven business days when you mail in your cell phone.

Here are links for popular Android manufacturers (and Apple) that will point you to the nearest authorized service center or give you instructions how to mail in your device for a battery replacement:

Google

Samsung

HTC

  • You will need to email or live chat with HTC support, who can then point you to authorized centers or assist you in mailing your phone. You can do so here.

LG

Motorola

Sony

Nokia

Apple

  • Walk in and make an appointment at any Apple Store
  • Mail in.

When is battery replacement not worth it?

If you’ve grown attached to your smartphone and just can’t stand current devices, it makes sense to try to prolong its lifespan, but whether replacing the battery is worth can depend. If you have an older flagship device you would like to continue using for a while, it can be a good investment. If you have a lower-end device, the price and hassle might outweigh the benefits. Most battery replacements at authorized service centers are relatively cheap, but so are new budget phones with updated specs and software.

The Moto G Play, for example, costs only $199. This is why the better and more convenient option for some is to simply buy a new smartphone, but at the end of the day it’s down to personal preference.

Cell phone battery replacement is not nearly as easy as it used to be, but hopefully now you know there’s hope for your expensive flagship even after years of use.

What is your opinion on smartphone batteries nowadays? Have you attempted a DIY battery replacement before? Share your experiences with us in the comment

Win an exclusive piece of Google and Android history!

Every year at Mobile World Congress, the Android Garden is where Google presents its best products and services, from Android (obviously) to Google Assistant, Maps, and Photos. However, Google and its partners also provide one of the biggest challenges for all attendees who want to participate in something super fun: the Android Partner Walk. Specifically, the challenge to collect two exclusive pins per company, which are only available on certain days.

These pins have become the unofficial trade of MWC, with everyone from attendees to Googlers themselves vying to complete their collection of pins unique to that year’s show. I’ve witnessed trading so intense it resembles a bazaar, and have been forced trade several duplicate pins to secure one pin that’s been eluding me.

That brings us to this year’s contest. For one lucky Android Central reader, we’ve got a full collection from this year’s MWC to give away!

That’s not all — with Google I/O kicking off tomorrow with the expected announcement of the Pixel 3a, Nest Hub Max and of course, Android Q, we have an amazing top prize for one lucky winner. Each year, Google launches an I/O-specific figurine that can only be acquired during the conference.

We’re privileged to be able to experience events like MWC and Google I/O, and it wouldn’t be possible without you, our loyal readers. To say thank you, we’re giving a few of you the chance to have your very own piece of Google and Android history.

Our top prize features:

  • Collection of exclusive Android pins from MWC
  • One Google I/O 2019 figurine
  • A $200 Google Store gift card

Nine lucky runners up will win a Google I/O 2019 figurine.

So how do you enter? The widget below has the entry options, but we’re doing things a little differently this time. Alongside the usual options, you can gain extra entries by finding entry codes on content we publish over the next few days.

We’re not going to tell you which posts have the entry codes but here’s a big clue: they’re all related to Google I/O. Bookmark this page, and once you find a code, simply come back here and enter it alongside the corresponding number in the widget. To get you started, here’s your first code:

#10: GoogleIO2019

Good luck and stay tuned for an exciting week of announcements as they happen!

Win an exclusive piece of Google and Android history!

By entering you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions.

The Linux Power User bundle is just $19 today (deal ending!)

Linux Power User Bundle

Looking to bolster your career in software development? Or would you just like to try your hand at a new operating system? If so, we may have just the thing for you.

The popular Linux Power User Bundle is part of a massive promotion right now. It’s on offer for only $19.

Linux operating systems have become increasingly popular in commercial computing environments, which means systems administrators have also become very in-demand. Adopters include tech giants such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, and Amazon.

What’s in the Linux Power User Bundle?

Over 22 hours of expert-led instruction, that’s what. The bundle is made up of five specialized learning kits designed to teach Linux to even a complete noob. Here’s a summary:

Linux Power User Bundle

The bundle is currently rocking a five-star rating. At only $19 instead of the cumulative $600 value, you get each hour of training for under $1.

The deal ends very soon, so don’t miss out. Tap the button below to find out more.

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OnePlus 7 Pro confirmed to feature UFS 3.0 flash storage

OnePlus 7 Pro is one of the first phones to offer UFS 3.0 flash storage.

OnePlus isn’t waiting around for its May 14 launch event to reveal details on the OnePlus 7 Pro. In a tweet, Pete Lau has confirmed that the OnePlus 7 Pro will feature UFS 3.0 flash storage, making the device one of the first in the world to be based on the new standard. Samsung’s Galaxy Fold foldable phone also uses the same standard, but with its recent setbacks it’s unlikely the phone will go on sale before the OnePlus 7 Pro.

Samsung revealed at the end of last year that UFS 3.0 would deliver more than double the bandwidth as its predecessor (UFS 2.1), going up to 2.9GB/s. UFS 3.0 modules also consume less power, making it a win-win.

With the OnePlus 7 Pro also set to sport a 90Hz display, the device is going to break new ground for buttery-smooth interactions. The QHD+ display also has HDR10+, and the phone will offer stereo speakers. The OnePlus 7 Pro is turning out to be quite an upgrade, and we’ll undoubtedly hear more about the device in the coming days.

Deal: Name your price for project management certification training

Pay What You Want Project Management Mastery Bundle

You could be making six figures right now as a certified project manager. Almost every professional industry needs highly efficient team leaders who guide important projects from start to finish.

It’s never too late to start your career, but you’ll need certifications. If you’re looking to launch your project management future, or even just beef up your resume, you should check out the Pay What You Want: Project Management Mastery Bundle.

The Project Management Mastery Bundle contains six courses and over 20 hours of online video instruction. It’s designed to teach you the skills you need to ace the PMP certification exam and become a professional project manager.

The Project Management Mastery Bundle:

Using the Pay What You Want model, all you have to do is beat the average price, which is displayed, to access the full bundle. Alternatively, you can drop as little as $1 and still gain access to the vital Project Management Basics course.

Normally, buying all six of these courses on their own would cost over $1,300, but with the Pay What You Want bundle, you can save as much as 99 percent.

The average price is creeping up, so click the button below to get started.

The AAPicks team writes about things we think you’ll like, and we may see a share of revenue from any purchases made through affiliate links. To see all our hottest deals, head over to the AAPICKS HUB.

OnePlus 7 Pro’s QHD+ display is certified for HDR10+

You’ll be able to stream HDR10 content on the OnePlus 7 Pro.

With the OnePlus 7 Pro launching just over a week from now, the company is starting to reveal more information about the flagship. We already know that the phone will have a QHD+ display with a 90Hz refresh rate, and OnePlus has detailed that the screen is certified for HDR10+. Calling it a “display of the future,” the OnePlus 7 Pro joins a handful of flagships that offer HDR10+:

HDR10+ provides frame-by-frame adjustments for the optimum representation of contrast from the HDR source content. HDR10+ also produces 4000 nits of peak brightness, a massive increase of 3,000 nits compared to HDR10. Being an open format, it’s license and royalty free and therefore easily adoptable by manufacturers and content producers with quality maintained through an HDR10+ certification and logo program.

The display on the device has already picked up an A+ rating from DisplayMate, with OnePlus CEO Pete Lau noting that the panel will set a “benchmark for the smartphone industry:”

HDR10+ is the future of not just television displays, but also smartphone displays as well. We hope that our newest device will set a new benchmark for the smartphone industry and open up a new world of visual fluidity for users. We’re glad we are leading the ranks in sharing quality technology with the world.

Elsewhere, the OnePlus 7 Pro will have three cameras at the back with a 3x optical zoom lens, and a retractable selfie camera that creates an all-screen front. The phone is now up for pre-booking in India, and it is slated to retail for ₹49,999 ($725) in the country once it goes on sale next week. You’ll have to shell out $749 in global markets to get your hands on the device.

Update: An earlier version of the article referenced HDR10 playback for Netflix and YouTube. OnePlus clarified that it’s not ready to share content partnerships just yet, so we’ll have to wait until May 14 to know more on this front.

Getting started with Samsung SmartThings

Your smart home journey can begin with something as simple as buying a few smart bulbs and changing the ambiance of a room, and go to a point where you can control everything in your house without physically interacting with anything. Choosing between hundreds of products and figuring out the right ecosystem can quickly get very confusing. Samsung hopes to alleviate that confusion by providing a singular point of control for all your smart home products with Samsung SmartThings. Here’s everything you need to know!


What is Samsung SmartThings?

Samsung SmartThings is actually a broad, all-encompassing brand name that covers both hardware and software. The biggest selling point of the SmartThings system is Samsung’s attempt to provide a single, unified point of control for all your smart home devices. It does so with not only its own devices, but by supporting an impressive number of third-party products that can all be managed with the SmartThings app. Samsung also makes it very easy to sort through and find the best smart devices for you.


Best Samsung SmartThings devices

Samsung has quite a few devices on offer that come under the SmartThings brand, but the biggest selling point of SmartThings is its compatibility with a slew of third-party products. Apart from ensuring that you won’t get locked into a single ecosystem, this wide compatibility also means that you won’t have a hard time trying to find devices that suit your needs. 

There are over 350 products currently listed as “Works with SmartThings.” These include everything from smart lights and switches, security cameras, doorbells, outlets, door locks, thermostats, and speakers, to smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, water valve controls, vents, garage doors, irrigation systems, and so much more. There are way too many really good options to list them all, but here are some of our favorites.

Samsung SmartThings Hub and SmartThing Wi-Fi

samsung smartthings wi-fi hub

The Samsung SmartThings Hub is now in its third iteration, and serves as the foundation of the smart home system that you’re building. This is also the one device that is essential for you to build a Samsung SmartThings system. It connects wirelessly to all your smart home devices and lets you monitor and control them using a single app. The Hub needs an active internet connection to work.

Of course, if you don’t want to deal with the inconvenience of a separate hub and Wi-Fi router, Samsung has you covered with the aptly named Samsung SmartThings Wi-Fi. This is an AC1300 mesh Wi-Fi router that doubles as a hub. A single router provides coverage for a 1,500 sq. ft. area, but you can add more for larger homes.

The Samsung SmartThings Hub will set you back $67.99 while a single SmartThings Wi-Fi router is priced at $117.99. You can also pick up a three-pack of Wi-Fi routers for $249.94.

See also: The best smart hubs you can buy


Best Samsung SmartThings sensors

Samsung SmartThings multipurpose sensor

Samsung SmartThings multipurpose sensor

There are a few different types of Samsung SmartThings Sensors that Samsung has available to help you get started on your home automation journey.

The Samsung SmartThings Multipurpose Sensor is an all-in-one sensor that can detect vibration, orientation, tilt, temperature, and when something opens and closes. You can place it on doors, drawers, windows, cabinets, and more. The fact that it senses vibration allows the sensor to differentiate between when a door is being opened and if there is a knock on the door. You can set up alerts for all these activities, and anything else you can come up with.

The use of the Samsung SmartThings Motion Sensor is self-explanatory. You can set it up to receive alerts if there is any unexpected movement in your house or in a particular room. Keep children out of off-limit areas, and of course, make sure that nothing untoward is happening when no one is supposed to be at home. You can also connect it to smart lights to have them turn on or off when there is any movement.


Philips Hue smart bulbs

philips hue wite bulbs

The Philips Hue is probably the best choice for anyone looking to get into the smart lighting game. A hub is required, but that’s what the Samsung SmartThings hub is for. The wide variety of lights that Philips has on offer can all be controlled by the SmartThings app. If you have a smart speaker, these bulbs can also be controlled using the Google Home and Amazon Echo devices.

When looking at buying options, you don’t need to get a starter kit, as the Hue Bridge won’t be required. A pack of four white bulbs will set you back $40.99, but if you’re looking to add some color to your life, a single premium smart bulb (with 16 million colors) is priced at $37.

Ecobee4 thermostat

ecobee4 thermostat

If you’re a fan of the Amazon Echo, you’ll be happy to learn the Ecobee4 has Alexa built in for easy integration into your smart home. More importantly, in this case, it is compatible with Samsung Smart Things. Included with the thermostat is a room sensor (and you can buy more) that lets you check and prioritize which rooms need heating or cooling. You can control everything with the SmartThings app even if you aren’t at home. The Ecobee4 thermostat is priced at $198.99.

Schlage Connect Doorlock

schlage smart doorlock

Better home security is one of the best reasons to invest in smart home products, and the Schlage Connect doorlock is a great place to start. You can lock or unlock the door remotely using a smartphone and the SmartThings app. You can also set who can or cannot use that door by providing access codes that can be entered via the touchscreen. The Schlage Connect doorlock is priced at $199.99.

Ring Video Doorbell Pro

ring video doorbell pro

Along with a smart lock, another way to bolster your smart home security is with a video doorbell. Leading the way is the Ringe Video Doorbell Pro. It lets you see, hear, and talk to anyone who shows up at your door by using your smartphone, tablet, or even a smart TV. It supports up to 1080p video and provides crystal-clear video at night as well. The Ring Video Doorbell Pro is priced at $249.

Arlo Pro 2 wireless security cameras

Netgear Arlo Pro

The final product that should help cover most of your home security needs is the Arlo Pro 2 camera. These wireless cameras are designed to work both inside and outside your house and feature night vision and two-way audio that will let you scare off intruders. You can watch live video streams remotely and also access up to three days of recordings. Two Arlo Pro 2 cameras are priced at $349.99, but you can take advantage of significant discounts with larger multi-camera bundles.

Amazon Echo

You may have noticed that a lot of the smart devices mentioned above offer voice control via Alexa or Google Assistant. While Google is doing a great job to catch up with Amazon, the number of Alexa-supported devices is incredible, and includes everything mentioned so far. It’s not the best speaker in the world in terms of sound, but it will get the job done. If you’re looking to get some type of voice control with your SmartThings system, getting the Amazon Echo is a great way to go about it. 


Getting started with Samsung SmartThings

The SmartThings app



Samsung introduced the SmartThings app last year, that consolidates over 40 of Samsung’s various smart home and smart device apps into one. Apart from controlling your SmartThings products, the new app also lets you manage other devices like Smart TVs, smart refrigerators, smart washers, and every other smart product that Samsung currently offers. 

The SmartThings app has improved a lot since it was first released and is a lot more capable now. If you’re new to the SmartThings world, I’d recommend getting acquainted with the new app from the start. However, if you’ve been using SmartThings for a while, you probably have everything set up with the SmartThings Classic app already. It’s completely okay to continue using the older app in this case. In fact, the Classic app still has a few features that haven’t made it over to the new app yet. 

For the guides below, we’ll be taking a closer look at the new SmartThings app first. Once you download the app from the Google Play Store, you will have to sign in with a Samsung account. If you have a Samsung smartphone, smart TV, or other smart devices from the company, you should have an account already. If not, all you need is an email address and a password to create one. 

Setting up the Samsung SmartThings Hub



  • Connect the Hub to the Wi-Fi router using the ethernet cable that is provided. If you get the new 3rd generation hub, you can also wirelessly connect to the router. This step won’t be necessary if you get the SmartThings Wi-Fi. 
  • Launch the app and tap on the large plus icon (Add device button) to get started. You will see a list of compatible Samsung devices and another section that houses third-party brands. 
  • In the Samsung section, tap on “Wi-Fi/Hub.” 
  • A list of hubs will pop up. Tap on your device type and follow the on-screen instructions. 

Adding a device



  • Plug in and turn on the smart devices that you want to connect to the SmartThings hub. 
  • Launch the app and tap on the large plus icon (Add device button). 
  • You can tap on the “Auto detect” button to let the app quickly find compatible devices. Keep in mind though that this doesn’t always work as expected. Until the app gets the required software improvements, the manual route may be the better way to go. 
  • On the devices page, find the brand of your product and tap on it. For example, to connect the Ring video doorbell, tap on “Ring,” then tap on “Doorbell,” and follow the on-screen instructions. 
  • Rinse and repeat for all the smart products you want to add. 

Setting up voice control

  • Amazon Alexa — Samsung SmartThings is fully compatible with Alexa and is the reason we recommend getting an Echo device for voice control. All you have to do is go to Alexa’s Skills store, search for SmartThings, and enable it. Then go to the Smart Home screen in the Alexa app and tap on Discover, which will show you all the devices that can be controlled using Alexa. 
  • Google Assistant — You can use the Google Assistant via your smartphone or Google Home. In the Google Home app, go to Home Control -> Devices, tap on the plus sign at the bottom right and tap on SmartThings. Log in to your Samsung account and tap on Authorize. 

Setting up Scenes and Automation



  • Launch the app and open the hamburger menu (three horizontal lines icon on the left side). Tap on the relevant section and follow the on-screen instructions. 
  • Scenes — Scenes lets you set up multiple devices to function together with a simple tap on your phone or a voice command. For instance, you can set up a scene where all the lights and your smart TV turn on in the living room. 
  • Automation — Automation takes the concept of scenes one step further. This lets you create “if this then that” scenarios. So, with a motion sensor on a bedroom door, you can have the lights turn on automatically in the room every time the door is open. You can set up conditions based on time, device status, user location, and more. 

Setting up SmartApps (SmartThings Classic app)



  • Launch the SmartThings Classic app. You will need to sign in with your Samsung account if you haven’t done so already. 
  • Navigation to the Automation tab to access Routines (the same as Automation in the new app) and SmartApps.  
  • SmartApps — Routines can be difficult and confusing to set up if you’re a beginner. This is where SmartApps prove to be a big help. These are common tasks that the smart devices are capable of that you can enable with a tap. A great example is “Ready for Rain,” that warns you if doors and windows are open in case there is poor weather on the way.
  • Assuming you have the right sensors, there are numerous SmartApps options created by SmartThings as well as third-party developers. Go to the SmartApps section, find the devices you have, and you’ll be able to find all the SmartApps that are available for it. 

Is Samsung SmartThings for me?

Unfortunately, SmartThings isn’t for everybody. Samsung has done a great job with trying to simplify the setup process so that everyone can do it. However, some amount of technical knowhow is recommended, especially when (not if) you have to troubleshoot problems. As great as the final result is – having multiple devices perform various functions at the touch of a button – setting everything up can be a long and tedious process. The SmartThings app isn’t perfect either, and there are quite a few bugs and glitches that need to be fixed. 

However, smart homes appear to be the next big thing, at least in the technology bubble that we live in. Samsung SmartThings certainly has a leg up in this space, courtesy of the incredible support that is available for third-party smart devices. If “smart everything” really is the future, SmartThings is offering up a great way to get there. 

Affiliate disclosure: We may receive compensation in connection with your purchase of products via links on this page. The compensation received will never influence the content, topics or posts made in this blog. See our disclosure policy for more details.

This $50 laptop backpack is just $17.99 with our exclusive promo code

Polaris Laptop Backpack

Your laptop is your workstation and your entertainment center. The Polaris Laptop Backpack offers you a way to protect this most valuable of assets on the go, without sacrificing style and comfort.

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The main compartment is spacious enough to carry your textbooks, spare clothes, or any other everyday items.

Polaris Laptop Backpack Pockets

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2019 photography showdown: Huawei P30 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S10 vs Google Pixel 3

It’s tough to go wrong with a flagship smartphone camera these days, but if you’re after the crème de la crème, just a handful of names stand out. The Google Pixel 3 and its machine learning-enhanced camera continues to be the tech enthusiasts goto handset for consistently great pictures. Likewise, recent Huawei handsets have built a solid photography reputation for the company, The new P30 Pro takes low light and zoom capabilities another step further. Samsung also scores consistently well in all photography tests and the Galaxy S10 remains a great shout if you love taking pictures.

But which one is the best? That’s what we’re here to find out with today’s comprehensive shootout. We’re going to look at everything from landscape and macro shots, to HDR, low light, and zoom capabilities. Images have been compressed and cropped in the article for the sake of bandwidth, but you can find uncompressed images in this Google Drive folder. I hope your bandwidth is ready for all these pictures.

Detail, exposure, and color

Huawei P30 Pro camera sample of a street and houses
Google Pixel 3 camera sample of a street and houses
Samsung Galaxy S10 camera sample of a street and houses

This first picture gives a good overview of how these cameras handle a scene with a range of details and colors. At 10MP, 12MP, and 12MP respectively and minimal noise in this scene, all three cameras offer a very similar level of detail. None of them present any major issues with post-processing, such as oversharpening, or exposure either.

The biggest difference here is color saturation and white balance. The Huawei P30 Pro takes on a slightly warmer tint with more natural, subdued colors on this overcast day. The Pixel 3 has a more neutral white balance but boosts colors such that the clouds take on a blue hue. Nice looking but not strictly true to the scene. The Samsung Galaxy S10 offers a similar white balance and a small boost to color that’s closest to how the scene actually looks.

Huawei P30 Pro camera sample of a post box
Google Pixel 3 camera sample of a post box
Samsung Galaxy S10 camera sample of a post box

Roles reverse in this second snap. Here the Huawei P30 Pro has the better color and white balance accuracy. Although it verges on overexposing the window. The Galaxy S10 attempts to make the colors pop a little too much, erasing subtle highlights and details from the post box and over-pinkening the brickwork. Meanwhile, the Pixel 3 is a tad darker than its rivals, reducing the pop of the shadow.

Huawei P30 Pro camera sample flower close up
Google Pixel 3 camera sample flower close up
Samsung Galaxy S10 camera sample flower close up

This indoor flower example highlights this trend further. The P30 Pro is notably more exposed, compensating for darkness on the left by blowing out the light on the right. The result is a slightly over brightened subject. The Pixel 3 is the polar opposite, darkening the flowers too much in an attempt to keep the highlights in check. The Galaxy S10 wins in terms of exposure and color vibrancy. The flowers are perfectly exposed and the phone’s auto-HDR effect (which doesn’t seem to switch off regardless of the toggle) balances out the dark and bright backgrounds perfectly. You can even see the blue of the sky.

Huawei P30 Pro painting camera sample
Google Pixel 3 painting camera sample
Samsung Galaxy S10 painting camera sample

Let’s return the focus to colors for a moment. Again the P30 Pro is subtly warmer than the other two. I quite like the look, but it’s not entirely accurate. The Pixel 3 ramps up the colors, particularly the yellows, and darkens the blacks a little too far. It pops, but isn’t very accurate. The Galaxy S10 again clocks in the more balanced color presentation.

As expected, all three of these cameras produce excellent pictures in good lighting.

This last general comparison shows off the wide-angle lenses on the Huawei P30 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S10. The Pixel 3 lacks this shooting option. The S10 has a wider lens to fit more in the scene and again its colors pop more than the P30. However, the P30 boosts the highlights to produce a more textured look on the grass and trees. Both are pretty good but suffer from a lack of detail and blurring at the edges of the lens.

Samsung Galaxy S10 wide angle Huawei P30 Pro wide angle Samsung Galaxy S10 wide angle

Huawei P30 Pro wide angle

Generally speaking, the Huawei P30 Pro produces a warmer white balance and more subdued colors. The handset also prefers a slightly brighter exposure than its rivals. The Pixel 3 is almost the opposite, often producing darker looking pictures with a lot more color saturation. The Samsung Galaxy S10 is somewhere in between, although occasionally boosts colors even more than the Pixel 3.

All three are clearly very capable shooters, but there are key differences between their main sensors and image processing algorithms.

High Dynamic Range

High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography is a helpful tool for balancing exposure in tough shooting environments. These often include scenes with a bright light source behind the subject or low light scenes with a single light source. Good HDR improves over and underexposure when compared to regular photographs.

This shot below might not look tricky because all the results are surprisingly good. But without HDR on, the foreground cactus looks completely black or the window becomes blown out.

Huawei P30 Pro cactus HDR camera sample
Google Pixel 3 cactus HDR camera sample
Samsung Galaxy S10 cactus HDR sample photo

The Huawei P30 Pro provides a good all-round HDR look. The background overexposure is kept to a minimum, while the foreground is lit up enough to ensure that all the small details are discernable. Galaxy S10 is even better in this regard, further reducing the overexposure in the clouds while maintaining foreground balance.

The Pixel 3 is a little different. The background is more overexposed than its competitors and the foreground a little darker. However, the phone has done a better job than the other two at enhancing the details and lighting between the cactus spines and the body. The color of the plant pot is also more pronounced. Perhaps the best way to describe this is that the Pixel 3’s HDR is more subject-focused, while the other two are frame focused. Unfortunately, the Pixel 3 takes longer to snap HDR shots than its rivals.

Low-light performance

Low-light performance and HDR often go hand in hand, as is the case when shooting in low light with the Google Pixel 3. The phone takes a few seconds to gather multiple exposures and stitch them together for a brighter, less noisy picture. Although as you can see in the example below, the result is still rather noisy, a little dark, and color saturation is dialed up a notch too far.

Huawei P30 Pro low light camera sample
Google Pixel 3 low light camera sample
Samsung Galaxy S10 low light camera sample

The Samsung Galaxy S10 produces a similarly passable result, but there are clear issues. The image is still a little noisy, the phone struggles to focus in the dark, and the colors are a little washed out. The obvious winner in this example is the Huawei P30 Pro. The enhanced low-light capabilities of its new SuperSpectrum sensor produces results that are low in noise and offer well-balanced colors and dynamic range. The focus is also spot-on, likely thanks to the time-of-flight sensor.

In this next example, we turn the lights off and switch to the phones’ various Night Mode options. Put bluntly, the Samsung Galaxy S10’s night mode is not in the same league as the technology offered by Huawei and Google. It’s overly noisy and focusing took too many retries to count. Samsung’s implementation is fine in better lighting conditions, but it can’t handle ultra-dark environments as well as its competitors.

The Galaxy S10’s low light capabilities fall well short of other flagships.

Huawei P30 Pro Night Mode camera sample
Google Pixel 3 Night Mode camera sample
Samsung Galaxy S10 Night Mode camera sample

The Google Pixel 3 does a phenomenal job by comparison, capturing plenty of detail and color. If there’s one drawback it’s that the result is still too dark and noisy in the shadows. Furthermore, the white balance is a bit too cool.

There isn’t a huge amount of difference between toggling Night mode on and off with the P30 Pro, that’s just how good the new sensor is in ultra-low light. Although using it captures a bit more light and reduces the red tint to the color balance. Huawei’s Night mode captures even more light than Google’s, resulting in very low noise. However, detail capture isn’t perfect and the image is a tad little too yellow. You can fix this in post-processing for a great result, but it’s a shame Huawei can’t get this right out of the box.

Zooming in

With a 5x telescopic lens dedicated to zooming, the specs heavily suggest that the Huawei P30 Pro is going to come out on top in any zoom test. However, the Samsung Galaxy S10 offers a 2x telephoto lens and Google touts its own Super Res Zoom technology too. So let’s find out just what level of decent zoom quality is achievable on each handset.

Our first example is a picture of text in a book taken in so-so lighting conditions. At 2x, the Huawei P30 Pro’s Hybrid Zoom technology makes out the text well enough but produces a somewhat soft result. By contrast, the Pixel 3’s zoom algorithm dials up the sharpening filter, which introduces artifacts in the book edge. The text is legible, but the image isn’t pretty. The Samsung Galaxy S10 provides by far the greatest clarity and sharpness at 2x. There’s a little bit of noise in the darker areas, but it’s hands-down the winner.

Huawei P30 Pro 2x zoom crop camera sample
Google Pixel 3 2x zoom crop camera sample
Samsung Galaxy S10 book 2x crop sample photo Huawei P30 Pro 3x crop sample photo
Google Pixel 3 3x crop sample photo
Samsung Galaxy S10 shed 3x crop sample photo

The Pixel 3 begins to deteriorate at a 3x zoom. White balance has shifted well into the reds in the above example and the denoise and sharpening algorithms produce a muddy painted look. Overall, detail capture is very poor even in great light. The Galaxy S10 and P30 Pro are vastly superior and a tough to tell apart. The P30 Pro pulls slightly ahead on texture detail, as seen in the wood around the window and the branches on the roof. This is due to the phone pulling data from its 5x zoom camera and stitching that together with the main sensor’s Hybrid Zoom.

Huawei P30 Pro 5x zoom crop camera sample
Google Pixel 3 5x zoom crop camera sample
Samsung Galaxy S10 5x zoom crop camera sample

The Huawei P30 Pro pulls far ahead at 5x, where the periscope camera kicks in. Details, white balance, and exposure are all exceptional. The Galaxy S10 holds up OK at 5X, although we can clearly see blurring and lack of details at this long range. I don’t even think I need to mention the Google Pixel 3’s capabilities at 5x. They’re simply non-existent.

In summary, the Galaxy S10 is best when zooming to just 2x. Beyond 2x, the Huawei P30 Pro is the clear winner and it’s lead greatly increases as you up the zoom factor. I should also mention that the P30 Pro’s 40MP main camera produces better results than its 10MP zoom at 2x. It’s often worth shooting in this mode if you intend to crop in.

The Galaxy S10 offers a decent zoom, but Huawei’s 5x periscope camera takes the crown.

Bokeh blur (portrait mode)

Bokeh blur, or portrait mode, has become a staple of the smartphone photography experience. These three handsets offer unique ways to calculate the necessary depth map and edge information to add in software bokeh. The Huawei P30 Pro offers a dedicated time-of-flight (TOF) sensor that physically measures distance using infrared light. Meanwhile, Google relies on a combination of multiple-image, object/face detection, and sharpness to gather data from normal photos.

Huawei P30 Pro bokeh blur camera sample
Google Pixel 3 bokeh blur camera sample
Samsung Galaxy S10 bokeh blur camera sample

With solid objects, all three cameras do a pretty decent job at detecting edges. The quality of the blur is nice on all the handsets too. Although Google’s is perhaps overly strong and dramatic, with a very sharp cutoff between the foreground and background. This produces some harsh edges and a few errors along the wooden table edge and at the back of the skull.

The P30 Pro and Galaxy S10 do a better job at gradually blending in and out of focus, as we can see small amounts of bokeh creep in at the foreground edges. Their results are certainly more realistic. However, both do seem to encounter an error at the top of the skull.

Huawei P30 Pro glass bokeh camera sample
Google Pixel 3 glass bokeh camera sample
Samsung Galaxy S10 glass bokeh camera sample

Edge detection errors are more pronounced in this second shot due to the transparent glass. This type of issue persists with hair in portraits too. Note that the Huawei P30 Pro blurs the foreground on the upper left side of the bulb. Likewise, the Pixel 3 struggles near the top of the bulb and we can see sharp edges along the sides as well. The Galaxy S10 is excellent around the bulb but seems to have confused the background picture frame with the foreground. Sadly, all three cameras have clear detection issues, although you often have to pixel peep to find them.

Despite Google’s good level of detection, you can’t go back and change the focal point or adjust the amount of blur once you’ve hit the shutter. Both Huawei and Samsung allow for this, and also offer a range of additional effects. Huawei’s bokeh is the most pleasing to look at, as its strength realistically increases further into the background. The P30 Pro’s ToF sensor also detects edges much more consistently and at greater shooting distance than the Pixel 3 and Galaxy S10.

Backs of the Huawei P30 Pro, Google Pixel 3, and Samsung Galaxy S10

The verdict

Clearly, all three of these flagship smartphones are very capable shooters. I don’t have any major qualms about the image quality provided by any of these smartphones, although each still has its own distinct set of pros and cons.

The Google Pixel 3 aims for consistency and simplicity. Quickly point and shoot and you’re guaranteed a decent, if not always excellent picture virtually every time in nearly any shooting environment. There’s minimal messing about with settings and lens toggles, and if you need a small zoom, bokeh, or to shoot in low light, the Pixel 3 can handle it. The trade-off is a lack of flexibility compared to its multi-camera rivals.

The Samsung Galaxy S10 is more capable in terms of zoom and wide-angle shots than the Pixel 3, yet still clearly offers a phone-optimized camera experience. The handset also has probably the best HDR implementation out of any phone I’ve used so far. Color saturation can sometimes be overdone, but this isn’t a bad thing if the picture’s destination is social media. The phone’s tradeoff is that the S10’s low light capabilities are notably behind the curve.

Pick the Pixel 3 for consistency, the P30 Pro for flexibility, or the S10 for something in between.

This leaves us with the Huawei P30 Pro – by far the most flexible shooter out of the three. It offers superior zoom, low light, wide-angle, bokeh, and even a high-resolution shooting option that we haven’t touched on here. Better still, the oversharpening and heavy post-processing from last year’s P20 Pro is a thing of the past. The only drawback is that its white balance regularly shifts too warm and it can tend towards overexposure in well-lit scenes. But this isn’t a problem if you plan to edit most of your pictures.

In summary, pick the Google Pixel 3 if you’re after a consistent, simple smartphone camera. The Galaxy S10 is excellent if you want a bit more flexibility without an overload of options. Finally, the Huawei P30 Pro is simply fantastic if you’re an adventurous photographer happy to line-up the perfect shot and make the odd crop or adjustment in post.

The Crowtail IoT Kit is a noob-friendly way to build gadgets

Crowtail NodeMCU Internet of Things Kit

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30 different modules to indulge your curiosity.

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