Ask an average specimen group to comment or review any product, and you get wildly divergent “opinions”. Due to this, reading a lot of reviews on any product often confuses you more. This is especially true of something like cameras. Ask anybody to comment on or make a comment on a mobile cam, and you will get wildly diverging opinions. Comment about the pathetic cameras on Moto G or the Moto X (for the price!), and you will get at least a few people defending even these cameras. And when one says, for eg. that the Moto X camera is bad, the statement has to always take into the account the price of the product, and its performance with other similar priced cams, in similar conditions, which many more often than not omit to take into consideration.
So I’m not going to give my opinion on the Mi3 camera. Rather I’m going to place some hard facts (comparative pictures) in front of you, so you can see and quantify the difference yourself.
I have put up some sample/comparative pictures of probably the most sought after phones currently and a 2011 Xperia Ray.
This is meant to be a comparison between the low light performance of these two cams. It obviously does not take other parameters into consideration. However, I feel low light performance is one of the most important parameter of any camera, if not the most important. A good flash is NOT a good substitute for good low light performance by any means. Pictures taken with flash usually look unnatural and glare is induced, esp. on reflective surfaces, which can degrade, if not ruin the picture. Also, if you need to take a picture on the sly, using a flash is out of the question. Lastly a flash cannot reach beyond a few feet from the source, so its utility is pretty much limited anyway.
Note that the sensors of both these phones are made by sony, and both are Exmor (BSI). However, the Xperia has a 8 MP sensor and the Mi3 boasts of 13 MP with other impressive specifications like 28mm lens with f/2.2 aperture. I am not aware of the aperture size, etc., of the Ray’s camera. But the most important consideration is that the Ray is a much older device that was announced in 2011. The Mi3 is was announced in 2013.
Despite the superior (on paper) specifications of the Mi3’s camera, and its much newer origin, the Xperia’s camera completely decimates the Mi3’s camera.
Xiaomi should be ashamed of putting such a pathetic sensor on its (ex) flagship device. And either Sony’s cam quality has declined horribly, or they are supplying low grade (and cheaper?) sensors to Xiaomi.
Enough said. Just check out the huge difference yourself. In each case, the dimmer, barely usable photo with much lesser details is from the Mi3. You can also see the superiority of the Ray’s camera in dealing with text in relatively lower light. The text is clearly readable, and you can even see that it has been automatically transcribed in the right column. The Mi3 camera’s text is unreadable.
The pictures have been clicked at the same time and by holding both phones right next to each other. So all factors can be considered to be almost constant. Tried to play with the exposure and other settings on the Mi3, but still what you see in the pictures is the best it could do. Default settings were used in the Ray. Also, I had the opportunity to check out more than one Mi3 camera, so don’t assume that the individual Mi3 cam module was defective in any way.