Motorola, still not very present in a French market largely dominated by Samsung, Apple, Xiaomi or Oppo, is struggling to climb to the front of the stage. For the start of the school year, the Lenovo brand is betting on an Edge 30 series carried by an Edge 30 Ultra, whose main asset, at least on paper, is its main photo sensor. The smartphone is equipped with a main photo sensor of 200 megapixels. A first on the market, which earned him an invitation to our photo lab.
A sensor produced by Samsung
The Motorola Edge 30 Ultra sensor is none other than Samsung’s Isocell HP1, which became official last year. Pixels measure 0.64 µm, the sensor has a diagonal of 1/1.22”; combined with 16 in conjunction with pixel binning, they show a total area of 2.56 µm. Enough to collect a greater amount of light and therefore of information suitable to deliver a particularly detailed image.
This sensor is connected to a stabilized wide-angle lens with an aperture of f/1.9, identical to the main module of a Pixel 6 Pro. It should be noted that the current trend is towards increasingly large apertures (f/1.5 on the Apple iPhone 14, for example), often when the sensors show more limited definition.
Opposite Google Pixel 6 Pro
Google’s algorithms are always ahead
As standard, the Edge 30 Ultra therefore delivers 12.5 megapixel images, on par with one of the tenors of mobile telephony, the Google Pixel 6 Pro. Keep in mind that the Google smartphone doesn’t take full-resolution images – 50 Mpx in its case – and therefore only uses pixel binning for its 12.5 Mpx images. We notice a softer treatment with the Edge 30 Ultra in the center of the image. The smartphone manages to offer a level of detail almost as high as the Google model, and the accentuation, decidedly less natural, gives great legibility to the images.
The difference is more noticeable in the periphery of the image, probably due to better optics or more efficient processing. The black-and-white pattern or Sigma sensor visible at the top left of our scene clearly benefits from the brand’s algorithms. The recordings of the Motorola smartphone show a more pronounced noise.
Shame about night mode
At night, the Edge 30 Ultra doesn’t rise to the level of the Pixel 6 Pro. Despite a pixel binning that should collect four times more information than Google’s, the Motorola terminal delivers an image that is too accentuated and lacks accuracy. The finer details disappear in the fight: the result is therefore disappointing.
A 200 megapixel Ultra-res mode
The 200 megapixel mode, available in the smartphone settings (Camera > More > Ultra resolution), makes it possible to utilize each sub-pixel of the sensor individually. This mode generates images of at least 40 MB, versus around 5 MB for images using pixel binning. In addition to the inevitable overload of the smartphone’s internal storage that it generates, this mode requires a rather long capture and processing time (about two seconds), and ignores the “night vision” mode. ” available the rest of the time.
A better quality of the day…
The fact is that the image quality, at least during the day, increases significantly. The sharpness is particularly satisfactory, and the study of our entire pattern makes it possible to appreciate the precision of the rendering. Patterns with colored dots or black and white lines are particularly well reproduced, and the smartphone manages to offer more precision than the vast majority of its competitors.
This second crop allows you to better appreciate the level of detail achieved by switching from 12.5 megapixel mode to 200 Mpx mode:
… but a condition to avoid at night
At night, however, the extreme increase in sensitivity (ISO 12,672) on the smartphone results in a very present noise. The details are completely smoothed out and the image becomes difficult to use. We note that between the 200 Mpx and 12.5 Mpx modes the difference in sharpness is imperceptible… while the absence of pixel binning results in a less well-exposed image. Also note that the areas in the outermost periphery of the image are slightly blurred.
Below we have isolated parts of the image of a similar size to those isolated above on our Pixel 6 Pro: in the daytime, the reproduction is eloquent, as can be seen from the inscriptions on the front of the book. We nevertheless perceive that, in the absence of software processing, the black-and-white pattern does not offer really accurate colorimetry.
Not so obvious difference
How about comparing the 200-megapixel mode to the results of the Pixel 6 Pro, which doesn’t offer a 50-megapixel mode? The fight is quite close, each wins on certain elements. Forget low light conditions, where the Edge 30 Ultra is far from shining.
During the day, however, we notice that the details are richer in certain areas, such as the colored pieces of fabric. The book cover shows a similar level of detail, but the Pixel 6’s improved contrasts make them pop more to the eye. The colorimetry is also slightly softer and more realistic with the Edge 30 Ultra.
But the strength of Google’s software processing is evident elsewhere: noise disappears, and on elements that the algorithms detect should be even, solid colors are sharp. Take a look at the photo sensor.
In short, a lot of pixels are needed for the Motorola smartphone to provide an alternative to the best camera phones on the market, while the low-light performance clearly leaves something to be desired. But one question remains unanswered: What use is actually intended for a 200 megapixel mode, if images weigh heavily on the smartphone’s memory? Apart from a few cases of cropping or large format printing, it seems to us to be ill-suited to everyday life, where the goal is often to capture the moment in a moment and as efficiently as possible.