It’s pretty easy to get bored with a new camera. At the end of the day, it’s doing about the same thing the old one did, but without the magic of your old camera. Or so you think. But is that really the case? Probably not.
To test this theory, I dug up my old phone, the original 2009-era Motorola Droid and pit it against my (not so new, but still current) iPhone 6s. I’m frequently frustrated with my iPhone. I feel like it sometimes takes too long from shot to shot, I don’t like the image quality, and it’s a pain to get the photos off of it.
Ah, my old Droid — now that was a camera! I could shoot to a micro SD card and it was more of a purist phone-camera. No selfie-cams here. Or at least that’s the way I remembered it. Verizon didn’t have an iPhone option at the time, and so it turns out a lot of that was “Droid does” marketing hype.
So how did the Droid hold up against its 6-year-newer counterpart? It turns out my nostalgia was completely unfounded. Take a look:
In this shot, I gave each phone as much advantage as possible — the iPhone was shot in raw with the ProCam app, while the Droid doesn’t have that capability, but I still tuned the photo in Photoshop as a JPG. Even at a low ISO of 51 (the iPhone was at 25) there’s still tons of noise and the details in the photo aren’t there. It’s mostly colored mush.
OK, so perhaps that’s stacking the deck too much against the Android device. How did they both do out of the box?
Here are unretouched JPG files from each phone. The Droid has a paltry 5 megapixels compared to the 12 megapixel iPhone. Here, you can see the iPhone pull way ahead in the detail department:
My trip down memory lane was an ugly reminder about how bad things used to be in cell phone photography. Every time I think my iPhone is slow to shoot or focus, I should go back to the Droid as a reminder. If a picture looks particularly bad, I should remember it could be worse.
That said, there’s still one area the Droid still has the iPhone beat. Getting the photos off the camera was as simple as plugging the micro SD card into a card reader on my computer. No messing with proprietary cables and software.
Aside from that one small convenience feature though, this was no contest.