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OnePlus 6T review: Making affordable unbeatable

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The camera hardware themselves might not have changed, but the software algorithms that process the images has. OnePlus tells me it has incorporated a bunch of AI scene-detection and image-processing algorithms to get more accurate and lifelike photos.

These work kind of like the AI scene detection in Huawei and LG phones, but also completely differently, too. Simon Liu, OnePlus’s head of imaging, explained to me though the phone’s using AI to recognize people, objects, and scenes, they’ve tuned it to produce images that are more true to what your eyes see instead of exaggerating colors or contrast to create a more visually-appealing image (*ahem* Google *ahem*). Liu said the motivation behind the AI is to help preserve memories as you remembered them. As such, there’s no way to turn off the AI because it’s working invisibly in the background.

It’s a bold claim I was eager to test. And you guys know me and my comprehensive smartphone camera comparisons (If you haven’t seen them, you should check out our iPhone XS, XR, and Pixel 3 reviews), I literally went to town to see if the OnePlus 6T’s pictures are any good.

For the first test I shot a big pile of pumpkins and gourds. Shooting with multiple phones and comparing the shots is the only way to see which one has the best dynamic range. The OnePlus 6T took a brighter photo, but there seems to be just a little more detail and dynamic range on its predecessor, the OnePlus 6.

I usually side with an iPhone’s photos for its realistic colors, but in these shots both the iPhone XR and XS flattened all the oranges making them look like one big mass of round objects; you lose a lot of the subtle greens in many of the gourds. As expected, the Pixel 3 took the crispiest photo, but look at how dark it is — it looks nothing like what it did IRL. The Galaxy Note 9 camera actually did a good job splitting the difference between too bright and too dark.

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