iPhone or GoPro photo: Which has the best quality?

iPhone or GoPro photo: Which has the best quality?

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Long-haired male diver holding a black GoPro on his head.
iPhone vs. GoPro: the tug-of-war in the action camera marketplace.

You finally have more time to travel around the globe. And that is why you’re wondering if your iPhone camera is enough to capture all those stunning tourist spots and lovely strangers. iPhone or GoPro: which of these should you choose?

Should you go for a GoPro camera instead? 

With the great quality of the iPhone camera, it can be hard for users like you not to feel content with it.

Besides, you can find smartphone accessories that can help you use your iPhone as an action camera. But the truth is that it’s possible that you could be better off with using a GoPro. 

Still on the fence about buying one?

In this article, we will simply state the differences between using a GoPro camera and an iPhone.

After that, you can decide if you really want a GoPro or if you’re content with your iPhone. 

iPhone vs. GoPro photo: Which has the best quality?

GoPro HERO 7 Black on brown rocks.
iPhone vs. GoPro photo: Who has the best quality?

Both cameras are capable of giving you high-resolution photos and videos. However, that doesn’t mean the same user can benefit from both since each of them has strengths and drawbacks. 

When it comes to quality, you can never doubt the iPhone.

The iPhone X, in particular, has a dual-camera system that lets you take stunning portrait mode photos with better depth and focus.

Moreover, with the latest three-camera models of the iPhone (the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max), you can take photos with wider angles and better depth.

It’s the best camera if you want high-grade photos every day. 

However, the GoPro Hero 7 Black, for example, gives the iPhone camera a run for its money. The GoPro Hero 7 Black:

  • is lighter and less bulky
  • has a 12-megapixel camera
  • has better waterproofing capability than the iPhone
  • can also shoot at 4K/60fps

If you’re gunning for quality photos but also a rugged device, then GoPro is for you. 

The iPhone and the GoPro each have good points and flaws when it comes to quality.  However, that’s only one factor to consider if you want the right action camera.

How can you know which is the right camera for you?

It all boils down to some factors, which we will break down below. 

Is GoPro camera better than an iPhone?

The answer lies in three factors:

  • the results you want
  • your preferences
  • your activities.

Let’s face it: these two products are not perfect.

However, if you are well aware of how you shoot videos/photos, then you can easily figure out which of these two is better for you. 

1. Results

Female hiker taking photo of the scenic view at the cliff.
You have to visualize the kind of photos or videos you want.

If you have a clear picture of the output you want, then you can decide faster if you’re contented with an iPhone or a GoPro.

The iPhone camera is better at taking certain subjects and scenes because it has features that the GoPro cameras lack and vice versa.

Therefore, think hard about the results you want. This way, you can determine the camera features that can help you deliver those outcomes.

If you’re all about shooting the picturesque landscapes of your travels, then a GoPro might serve you better.

The GoPro cameras can let you snap photos with a wider Field of View (FOV). For example, GoPro Hero 7 has a 149-degree FOV, compared to the iPhone 11 Pro’s 120-degree FOV.

Related: The best iPhone camera settings for Antelope Canyon

2. Preferences

Digital nomad on his bed, taking a photo of the view outside his window.
Your taste and lifestyle will determine the right action camera for you.

Of course, your taste matters too.

Often, the iPhone just delivers convenience and quality in one product. This is especially true if you live a busy life of an adventurous entrepreneur — who loves to switch between cities and nature.

However, if you’re really committing to a digital nomad lifestyle, then a small, lighter camera such as the GoPro might be better for you. 

3. Activities

Guy taking a selfie while biking
With the right camera, you’ll make fewer adjustments, saving you time and energy in your adventures.

If you choose the right action camera, you won’t cut corners when you start taking photos or footage of your adventures.

The right action camera will have features that cater to your ventures.

So, if you want to explore deeper landscapes, tighter spots, etc. then you should definitely consider GoPro cameras. 

Take note that GoPro products are primarily rugged video cameras with in-camera stabilization and so they excel in activities with a lot of movement—hiking, kayaking, horseback riding, etc.

Although, don’t dismiss the iPhone yet. Some newer models of the iPhone are also water-resistant such as the iPhone 7. 

Related: How to Take iPhone Pictures of Fireworks

Comparing the features of the iPhone camera and GoPro

The iPhone camera and GoPro models have plenty of similarities and differences. To know which of them is right for you, we have listed some of their features here.

Find out which of these features matters the most to you, so you can make an informed buying decision. 

1. Wide Field of View (FOV)

Wide Field of View of mountain, lakes, and greenery.
GoPro’s SuperView lets you see from a 170-degree view.

FOV or Field of View is the space captured by the lens, which you can see on the camera display screen.

Now, despite the high-quality cameras, the previous iPhone models just can’t win when it comes to FOVs.

GoPro cameras can let you have a 170-degree view. They also offer multiple FOVs for photos and videos:

  • SuperView
  • Wide
  • Medium
  • Linear
  • Narrow

So, if you’re into capturing spacious landscape and greenery, taking selfies, or action shots, GoPro can do the job for you.

Although, take note that not all GoPro cameras (ex. The HERO series) provide those five FOVs in one camera. 

2. Focus

iPhone taking photo of mushrooms.
If you like bokeh backgrounds, GoPro is not for you.

In GoPro cameras, you don’t get too many options when it comes to focusing.

Pretty much everything the GoPro sees, whether they’re far or up close, is in focus.

That just makes sense because GoPros are intended for spontaneous usage and shooting scenes with a lot of movement, hence the limited focus settings. 

Meanwhile, if you’re running and recording yourself, the iPhone’s autofocus might not be up for that task.

However, if focus and depth are important to you when taking still photos and close-up video clips (interviews of people), then you can rely on your iPhone for that. 

Related: Complete guide to capturing depth in iPhone photography

3. Low-light photography

Light the candles! The iPhone is a beast in low-light photography.

The latest iPhone models won’t let you down if you like taking night scene photos.

In the new iPhone 11 alone, shooting in low light—or almost no light—won’t be a problem at all.

And the same goes for videos at 4k60fps—you can see more details despite the limited lighting and the subjects are more pronounced. 

On the other hand, GoPro cameras are not too exceptional in low-light photography. However, their white balance is a bit better than the iPhone camera, as the latter tends to be a bit warmer.

Although, you can enable low light mode and then adjust the frames per second (FPS) to record or capture better low-light scenes.

For example, if you’re at a fireworks show, you can set your GoPro to 24-30fps and then change the ISO by clicking on ProTune. 

Related: iPhone Photos in Low Light: Practical Tips and Brilliant Hacks

4. Stabilization 

GoPro in the dark taking photo.
Stabilization is not an issue for the iPhone and the GoPro.

Both products have great image stabilization but it all depends on the activity—taking a picture while you’re running, walking, or driving may not give you the same smooth photo.

The iPhone 7 and later models have Optical Image Stabilization (OIS), which helps you take photos with less haziness and blur.

This is made possible by the gyroscope system inside the phone, which helps the camera sync with your hand’s movements. 

In the GoPro Hero 5 and later models, their excellent electronic image stabilization (EIS) easily lets you avoid shakiness or jerkiness when you’re filming.

The GoPro Hero 5, apparently, has near-perfect stabilization when used by people who cycled and drove. 

Related: 9 hacks to stop iPhone camera from shaking

5. HDR/sharpness

iPhone taking photo of sailboats.
HDR is a beast you must tame.

The iPhone and the GoPro don’t disappoint in sharpness. The images in the videos and photos are crisp.

However, the iPhone’s focus adjustment, so that the image can become sharper, is a bit of a roadblock—especially when you’re filming a moving object.

Add that to the fact that switching on the HDR on your iPhone will require you not to move too much. 

With the HDR turned on, your iPhone rapidly captures multiple photos of a single scene or subject. After that, it compresses those photos into one image.

GoPro camera, however, has a fixed focus lens. That means it won’t need to adjust its focus just to record a moving subject, except when it’s very close to the camera. 

Related: Do HDR photos use more memory?

More about GoPro and iPhones 

Now that you know the drawbacks and strengths of each camera, maybe you’ve decided which is right for you.

If you already own an iPhone but still want a GoPro—or if you’re buying an iPhone—here’s the creams of the crop from each product line.

What is the best GoPro camera?

GoPro Hero 7 Black
The GoPro HERO 7 Black is the best in the product line so far.

Since its release, the GoPro HERO 7 Black has been impressing seasoned action camera users and newbies.

The next product in the line, GoPro HERO 8, is yet to prove itself.

That’s why it’s safe to say the HERO 7 is your best option—if you have the budget and the need for a professional action camera.

Now, all the GoPro cameras are mountable anywhere, light, and slim. You can easily mount them on a mini tripod or a head strap. So, we’re not going to discuss those traits anymore.

Here’s why people particularly like the GoPro HERO 7 Black: 

The benefits

1. Built-in HyperSmooth technology. 
HyperSmooth is a powerful built-in stabilization technology.

Almost a year ago, the HyperSmooth blew away the minds of action camera enthusiasts.

The built-in EIS of the previous GoPro models were already excellent. However, HERO 7’s HyperSmooth tech was even more powerful. 

The internal stabilization intelligently analyzes movement and eliminates the shakiness—making it almost non-existent but without compromising the movement.

The result is hyper smooth footage.

It’s just similar to using a gimbal; however, you don’t need to physically do anything. The camera does it all for you!

2. HDR photography.
GoPro’s HDR gives the iPhone a run for its money.

The HDR feature is available in GoPro HERO 6, 7, and 8. Before that, since GoPro has no HDR, it has always been more of a “back-up”, since the iPhone is a better alternative with its powerful HDR.

Now, with the HDR feature on the latest HERO models, you can capture or record crisper photos and videos—whether you’re exploring a dark cave or soaking the mid-noon sun on the beach.

The bright lighting and the dark shadows won’t overpower your subjects. 

3. SuperPhoto.
two young men biking in the forest road.
If you wanted to take a photo of this action scene, SuperPhoto has you covered.

With SuperPhoto, you can easily take photos with your GoPro.

In situations where it’s difficult to take a quick photo, the SuperPhoto takes care of you with its “screen-intelligent auto option”. 

If you turn on the SuperPhoto before you start cycling, you won’t need to tinker with the camera settings—in case you want to take a picture later.

For example, if you’re biking, HERO 7 will sense what kind of settings it should provide so you can take the best photo.

If it’s dark, it will automate the HDR for you and minimize the noise.

Meanwhile, if you don’t have your hands full, you can always rely on the ProTune to adjust the camera settings such as the white balance and ISO. 

The drawbacks 

Of course, there are some. None of these gadgets will be perfect, after all.

If you don’t have the budget, you can relax knowing that you can find many cheaper alternatives to HERO 7.

And if you’re nitpicky with the voice command, HERO 7 might also disappoint you.

What is the best iPhone camera today? 

The relatively small but powerful iPhone 11 Pro.

Have you decided to buy an iPhone instead?

Well then, if you have the moolah, then you should definitely look at the water-resistant, stainless-steel iPhone 11 Pro.

So far, the three-camera phone has been impressing people left and right—yes, the hesitant but loyal enthusiasts and even the staunchest critics of Apple.

We already know the iPhone camera is great, but these special qualities make the iPhone 11 Pro and its camera even more special. 

Related: iPhone Photo Settings: The Essential Guide for Beginners

The benefits

1. Two powerful cameras and one added Ultra-Wide camera
Girl holding a cup of coffee and the iPhone 11 Pro.
The new Ultra-Wide camera is like having a mini-GoPro on your iPhone.

The previous models that came before it (iPhone 11 and the others) have already two powerful cameras:

The Telephoto camera and the normal camera.

Apple decided to push the limits and gift the world the Ultra-Wide camera.

Although it’s still far from GoPro’s 170-degree FOV (the SuperView FOV), the iPhone 11 Pro’s UW camera can still compete.

With its 120-degree view, it’s now closer to the GoPro’s 130-degree FOV, which is the Wide FOV.

This will already work if you want more subjects in your shot and then upload it to your social media immediately.

2. Better improved Smart HDR
girl taking a landscape photo of the street.
The Smart HDR is now even smarter.

Compared to the older models (iPhone X, XS, etc.), Apple seems to have fixed the bugs in the Smart HDR with the iPhone 11 Pro.

The photos taken with the Smart HDR on the iPhone 11 Pro have crisper details even as you zoom in the photo afterward.

Moreover, the highlights are now more well-adjusted, the colors are more vibrant, and the subjects more lifelike.

Users also noticed that the images are not having the typical flat look anymore (a.k.a reduced contrast and matte texture in a photo). 

Related: How to Photograph Moving Water on iPhone: Complete Guide

3. Video capture – 4k at 60fps
hiker guy recording a video of the mountain using iPhone on a stick.
The iPhone 11 Pro is meant to be used especially by mobile filmmakers.

Finally, Apple takes a few steps ahead of the crowd with its video capture.

The iPhone 11 Pro also competes against the GoPro HERO 7 Black’s 4k at 60fps video capture.

Using the rear camera, you can film buttery smooth footage, thanks to the built-in cinematic video stabilization.

Add that to the slow-mo feature, highly improved dynamic range, and better color grading, and you have a tool for recording cinema-quality clips.

You don’t even need third-party apps like FiLMic Pro, which is the famous app used by mobile filmmakers to record their movies. 

Conclusion

Choosing the right action camera boils down to where you’re going to use it.

If you own an iPhone 7 or later, then you might already have something great in your hands.

With its quality alone in low-light environments, you can relax knowing you’re going to take sharp and crisp photos anywhere.

However, if you do have a few hundred dollars to spare, then the latest GoPro is something worth considering.

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