A recent update for the Alcatel Idol 3 — one of our favorite budget-friendly Android phones of 2015 — came in to address some minor issues like double-tap to unlock sensitivity, and general performance. Like many minor (this one was only 46MB in size) updates, it also told us to expect "refinements to camera performance."
I'm usually pretty skeptical when it comes to mystery updates that claim to make the camera better. But this time, I was pleased to be wrong. The update really does make the Idol 3 camera better.
The Idol 3's camera isn't as good as some of the top of the line phones that cost hundreds and hundreds of dollars more camera's are. It was always "good" but not really great. If you snapped a picture with the goal of sharing it on Facebook or Google+, it was perfectly fine.
It's still not as good as what you'll find in the Galaxy S6 or the LG G4, but the update has made a pretty dramatic difference.
The camera handles color much better, focuses and snaps the picture faster, and most importantly, gets the focus right when taking a picture of things in front of and behind other things. We're not talking any Depth of Field effect here, just getting the focus right so all of the picture looks good. That picture above (see the original here) is a tough one to get right. Plenty of colorful things, plenty of not-so-colorful things, and things behind a fence that are also in front of a fence. All taken around sunset to add the weird yellowish glow. The Idol 3 did a great job at capturing the scene exactly as it appeared. I might be able to take a better picture with a much more expensive phone, but I'm pleased with the Idol 3's camera here. Very.
The update doesn't turn the Idol 3's camera into a DSLR replacement, but it does make one of the best phones you can buy under $300 a bit better.
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