Vic Gundotra, Google’s former Senior Vice President of Social, wrote in a Facebook post today that, in his personal opinion, Android is years behind iPhone in terms of photography, adding that his iPhone 7 Plus’s dual-lens camera prompted him to replace his DSLR camera.

“I left my professional camera at home and took these shots at dinner with my iPhone 7 using computational photography (Portrait mode, as Apple calls it),” reads the post. “Hard not to call these results (in a restaurant, taken on a phone with no flash) stunning. Great job Apple.”

Gundotra criticized the slow pace of Android photography innovation, blaming Android’s fragmentation and Google’s lack of vertical integration for the fact that the company’s mobile platform “has fallen back” in terms of mobile photography.

He called into question claims by some reviewers that Samsung’s single-lens Galaxy S8 smartphone has a better camera than the iPhone 7 series, or at least on par with it:

Here is the problem: It’s Android. Android is an open source (mostly) operating system that has to be neutral to all parties. This sounds good until you get into the details.

Ever wonder why a Samsung phone has a confused and bewildering array of photo options? Should I use the Samsung Camera? Or the Android Camera?

Samsung gallery or Google Photos?

It’s because when Samsung innovates with the underlying hardware (like a better camera) they have to convince Google to allow that innovation to be surfaced to other applications via the appropriate API. That can take YEARS.

On the other hand, Apple controls the entire stack—including the operating system, apps and camera hardware, even designing its own image signal processor built into its A-series chips.

Gundotra commented:

Also the greatest innovation isn’t even happening at the hardware level—it’s happening at the computational photography level. (Google was crushing this five years ago—they had had ‘auto awesome’ that used AI techniques to automatically remove wrinkles, whiten teeth, add vignetting, etc… But recently, Google has fallen back).

Apple doesn’t have all these constraints. They innovate in the underlying hardware, and just simply update the software with latest innovations (like Portrait mode) and ship it.

“If you truly care about great photography, you own an iPhone,” he concluded. “If you don’t mind being a few years behind, buy an Android”.

Portrait mode is about to become even better when iOS 11 releases this fall, with support for optical image stabilization, True Tone flash and HDR modes when taking depth-of-field photographs along with a new technology called High Efficiency Image File Format that reduces the file size of every photo taken with iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.

  • Rowan09

    Now the Samsung S8 and S7 guys and girls will say he’s just mad. Portrait mode is amazing, I can’t argue that. The same issue he’s saying with Android is the same reason I believe Samsung should have years ago developed Tizen for commercial usage. They are hands down the most popular Android brand, so they should have got the balls to move away slowly a long time ago. They aren’t competing with Apple as much as they are competing with Android on their own device. Good luck to Bixby.

  • Brad

    I do think that much Android camera hardware is superior, especially in low light. I’ve been to a lot of concert venues lately, and what I can see on my 6s screen doesn’t compare to the photos I see people taking on their Samsungs and Nexuses (I think). This is largely because those phones have a much larger aperture, allowing for much more light to get onto the sensor. But at some point, if “the best camera I have with me” can’t take a photo of my friends performing on an indoor stage, why am I even bothering to try to take the pictures they asked me to take?

  • Iskren Donev

    From what I have seen other phones have better hardware but Apple more than makes up for it with stellar software.

    • john snow

      Really better HW? Please show me the Android phone which can beat iPhone 6S’s A9 Single Core result

      • Iskren Donev

        I was speaking in terms of camera hardware. When it comes to overall hardware the iPhone is crushing it. Currently the only phone that is faster than the iPhone 7 Plus is the OnePlus 5 which packs really serious hardware – I’m talking about 8GB of RAM in a phone.

  • Mark S

    If you truly care about great photography you own a real camera and not some phone with a camera.

    • Cadger Knowes

      I’m not so sure that is the argument: I think this is more from the point of view that the best camera you have is the one that is with you, and for most folk, that is their phone. I have a really good SLR, with several great lens options. They mainly sit at home, as the photos I take on my phone generally are easily good enough. Night shots, long exposures and such – all phones do generally suck though.