There are two phones that come to mind when shopping with a $500 budget: the Honor View 10 and the OnePlus 5T. Both phones boast impressive build quality with powerful specs inside, offer great features like face unlock, and ship with Android 8 Oreo. They also both benefit from dual camera arrays that help them take some pretty impressive photos.

The biggest difference is in how each phone utilizes a dual camera system. Both are a bit unconventional; you won't find a telephoto or wide angle lens on either phone. Instead, the View 10 features a 16MP primary sensor with a 20MP monochrome secondary sensor that helps pull in more detail and reduce noise. The OnePlus 5T has the same 16MP and 20MP combo, but its secondary lens is tuned for low light photography.

We've taken some photos with both the Honor View 10 and the OnePlus 5T to see how the cameras compare.

Outdoors

The OnePlus 5T takes brighter and warmer photos, but the View 10 pulls in noticeably more detail.

I tend to think outdoor photos look best on a slightly overcast day, but the last two weeks in Indiana has consisted of snow, rain, and gray in April, so I've had no luck getting any pretty photos of scenic blue skies or budding flowers. Still, the photos I've been able to capture show some differences in the ways the View 10 and OnePlus 5T process images.

The 5T consistently shoots brighter and warmer than the View 10. Too often, I find the View 10 underexposes a bit more than I'd like, and I tend to prefer the warmer look from OnePlus. On the other hand, photos from the View 10 generally looks significantly sharper than shots taken with the OnePlus 5T, and text is far more readable — that could be the work of the View 10's secondary lens pulling in more fine details.

The View 10's main advantage is the inclusion of Huawei's Neural Processing Unit built into the Kirin 970 chipset. While neither phone features OIS, the NPU in the View 10 uses AI to help reduce motion blur in photos by predicting when you'll take a photo and compensating for hand shakiness.

Indoors

Inside, with more artificial lighting, the tables turn a bit. The OnePlus 5T still errs on the warm side and the View 10 remains more cool-toned, but I actually start to appreciate Honor's higher levels of saturation, particularly with dark subjects like a chalkboard. In the above samples, the chalkboard looks washed out in the OnePlus shot, whereas the chalkboard in the View 10's image is punchy — maybe a bit too punchy, but it looks better to my eyes. Once again, the text is significantly sharper and more legible in the View 10's photo, as well.

The View 10 also has a nice trick up its sleeve with its wide aperture mode. If you've ever used a DSLR or other professional camera, you're probably familiar with how aperture works; essentially, the wider your aperture, the blurrier the background behind your subject will be. This is a great way to bring focus to the main object in the shot, and the difference is noticeable in my latte photos. With wide aperture mode enabled, the plants behind my mug are significantly smoother in the View 10's shot than the OnePlus 5T's.

Portrait mode

Wide aperture photography is also what the ever-popular portrait mode is based on, and while both the 5T and View 10 offer a portrait mode for taking artsy photos of your friends, they go about it in different ways. I'll immediately say that I prefer the results from the OnePlus 5T overall, but it's not a sweeping win.

The 5T is pleasingly natural-looking, with surprisingly good separation around the subject. It does a great job around hair, which is usually a challenge with artificial bokeh effects, though the stitching isn't perfect — in my samples, the handbag behind my friend is a bit more in focus than it should be, given the different focal plane.

On the other hand, the View 10 produces a much sharper portrait photo, with far smoother background blur and better object separation. Interestingly, portrait mode seems to cancel out the View 10's cool-toned nature, with roughly the same warmth as the sample photo from the OnePlus 5T. However, there's significantly more smoothening on my friend's face, even with the lowest configurable beauty setting.

Low light

In low light, the OnePlus 5T's secondary camera really shines. It's designed to automatically engage in low light situations — typically below 10 lux — and more often than not, the 5T manages to pull in more light than the View 10 in the dark. Take the photos of the Emerson Shoppes sign, for instance. The image shot with the OnePlus 5T is dramatically brighter than the one from the View 10, though details like the texture in the bricks are a bit softer on the 5T.

The 5T pulls in more light in the shot of my car, as well — the photo taken on the View 10 is dark enough that my car starts to blend into the street. The View 10 doesn't have a specialized lens for low light like the OnePlus 5T, so to compensate the camera app asks you to hold your phone steady when shooting at night. Assuming a steady hand, this results in less noise and sharper detail on stationary subjects, but it also means that moving objects will be blurrier than on the point-and-shoot OnePlus 5T.

Bottom line

It's pretty clear that both phones offer very capable photography experiences, but which works best for you will depend on a couple of factors. If you prefer warmer tones and a more natural portrait mode, the OnePlus 5T may be the better option for you. If you have an eye for sharper details and punchier colors, the View 10 could be your best bet.

Given the choice, which phone would you buy? And what are your camera priorities? Let us know in the comments below!

OnePlus 5T and OnePlus 5

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