Birchtree
By Matt Birchler
I've been writing here since 2010! Back when personal blogs were all the rage. Kids, ask your parents.

Low Light Christmas Trees on 2019’s Best Phones (and an iPhone SE)

We have a little tree my wife and I put up every year and it’s a thing that is kinda hard to take good pictures of. There is quite a bit of dynamic range which typically means photos look overly darkened to compensate for the bright lights.

2019 has been a very good year for smartphone cameras, so I gave a few of them a shot last night to see how they’d do.

Samsung Galaxy S10e

Pixel 4

iPhone 11 Pro

And for fun context, the 2016 iPhone SE (with the 2015 iPhone camera)


Overall, I’m pretty impressed! Especially when you look at what we were using just 3-4 years ago, the differences in color and clarity are striking. Outside of the SE clearly being worse than the newer phones, the Pixel 4 is the outlier here in terms of color; it’s much cooler than the other images and is not an accurate representation of what the tree actually looked like. I think this has to do with Google’s new smart white balancing feature, which usually makes great choices, but sometimes results in crazy decisions1.


  1. Supposedly this was fixed in a previous update, so maybe this is a choice and not a bug, but either way I’d say this is not right. 
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Hey there, I'm Matt!

I'm a UI/UX designer at NMI and I make videos over on A Better Computer, which I think you'll love.

Hey there, I'm Matt!

I'm a UI/UX designer at NMI and I make videos over on A Better Computer, which I think you'll love. You can also check out my side projects, Quick Reviews and Quick BIN Lookup.