The Umidigi S3 Pro smartphone arrived for me today from Banggood – and very nice looking it is. This large (6.3” FHD – 2340x1080px) phone is inexpensive but sports some great features such as 48Mpx camera images. But here’s a point – it is common to get maximum resolution out of phone cameras at the old-fashioned 4:3 format, for reasons beyond me, whereas most modern screen are 16:9 format or wider. Sadly this usually means using less of the sensor area – a typical 16Mpx phone camera might use 12Mpx in 16:9 format – a waste to be sure but what, 25% waste at most?
So here’s what I don’t understand about the S3 Pro – 8000x6000 images in 4:3 format using 48M sensor…. MARVELOUS? So WHY is the next setting down a relatively basic 12M – 4808x2592 at 16:9, or 12M again 3068x2976 4:3 - on the one hand they’ve done what others have failed to do, make efficient use of the sensor at 12M offering both 16:9 and 4:3 options – but then TOTALLY BLOWN the camera at 48M resolution with NO 16:9 oOPTIONS until you come all the way down to 12M. This was one of the features I was most interested in – and assumed I’d see at least 40M for 16:9 – but no. I DID find HDR mode after the updates on one of two present camera apps (why not both – indeed why two cameras?). 16:9 resolution still not fixed September 2019 and they are pushing new models. No thank you. I want my S3 Pro fixed first. I see no reason why we can't have 16:9 photos at decent res. In fact most of the time I take a 48Mpx photo at 4:3 I seem to end up in "photos" with an image 16Mpx in size, NOT 48Mpx. They usually pop up as 48Mpx with a "file size" of 7.8Mpx or similar then next time I look at them, they are 16Mpx with a file size of 8.9Mpx or thereabouts. Nothing NEAR 48Mpx - and of course the camera does not allow storage of PNG files, just lossy JPEGS. All in all this feels like a con.
And as if my magic - I've just taken a picture of my wall, 48Mpx 4:3 mode and what are the properties? Details: File Size 8.22MB. I wanted a 48Mpx image. It looks like there is no way to achieve this.
The Umidigi EU site specifically states panorama mode as does https://gadgetstripe.com/umidigi-s3-pro-full-specs/. Panorama indeed DOES appear in one of the camera apps (NOT the one with HDR).
While pondering that, let’s have some details – the camera comes in a solid box, battery looks like it is good for up to 3 days of light use, the phone supports a 48MP Sony dual camera, a 12MP telephoto lens (2x optical zoom – better than nothing), a 20MP Sony selfie camera, a 5150mAh battery,has 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, a “luxury” 4-sided curved ceramic design and an aerospace-grade aluminium alloy frame. Big sensor size should improve night shots and “superb low light performance” is claimed. I’ll come back to you on that. Up to now, with limited 16:9 resolution for the back camera, I’m wondering if the designer has only one eye?
The black model sports the text Umidigi in gold metal flash on the back. The phone supports fast charging and comes with it’s own 18w fast charger. If it means anything to you, the phone has an Octacore CPU and Mali-G72 MP3 GPU.
Operating system is stock Android 9 Pie and the phone started to wireless update itself as soon as I opened the box and set up the WIFI. Storage is expandable to 256GB (by microSD) – and size is 157mm by 74.64mm by 8.5mm thin. Weight is 216.6g
Video recordings are a slightly disappointing 1080p only (1920x1080) – no sign of 4K even with latest updates but then I’m comparing this with the more expensive Pocophone F1 which is possibly unfair.
Unlike many phones, multi-function NFC is catered for. So nothing really wrong with the phone up to now but I had higher hopes for the 48MP camera than seem to have been realised. I’m sure this is all down to software and I will go digging.
If you want pretty stock photos of the Umidigi S3 Pro – check out the Banggood link above and if that doesn’t do it for you – they are here on the Umidigi site.
The unit started an update when I first opened it, then stopped at 65%, I figured it was done but no, it continued after a while, that was the March update, then there was another – I believe I’m now fully up to date. Oh, battery, the phone came 93% charged, has been working since yesterday lunchtime and updated/tested and it still at 62% – at 7pm the next day - not bad.
So, is the Umidigi S3 phone for you? Well, if you are interested in it’s general features – I would say “give it a go”. If you are specifically interested in the 48Mpx camera, then you might want to first consider the message that Umidigi just sent directly to me after a discussion which had it’s usual share of language-related issues.
“Thanks for your valuable suggestion. And we have none latest program for this item. Certainly, it is a good ideal in improving next model”
I take that to mean they are not planning to fix the lack of mode options in the current phone camera apps – i.e. inability to use 16:9 format above 12Mp, something I would have thought was trivial to sort out and somewhat essential given the headline claim for the phone. But then, if high-def images are not that important to you, just ignore my griping on the subject, The phone as such looks just fine and Banggood’s pricing and general support is good.