Update 3/20/2014: The stated calendar day has expired, and so the answer to our third monthly smartphone guessing game lies below! Scroll down and be amazed (or not, depending on your guess).

Update 3/19/2014: added additional hint.

When it comes to analyzing the quality of a smartphone’s camera, there are two main approaches. There’s the guided style:

“We had a gander at the new [Smartphone] from the fine folks at [Smartphone Manufacturer], and we took its camera out for a spin to see how it performed under a variety of lighting conditions. When it comes right down to it, this camera is [excellent][great][good][not so good][horrendous] … and here’s why.”

And then there’s the choose-your-own-adventure method:

“We took [Smartphone] for a test drive to see how its camera performed, and rather than taint the results with our own prejudices, we thought we’d dump the raw material here, so that you can make up your own mind.”

Both approaches are certainly valid, but if you’re familiar with our typical review style, you know we at Pocketnow tend to go for the former method. While we do provide the raw photos for your viewing pleasure, we like to tell you what our experience with the camera was like, to lend context and to explain away any anomalies. After all, even the best camera can take a horrible shot under adverse conditions, and even the worst shooter stumbles across some gold on occasion.

… like the one that took this gem.

But what if we took this out of the context of a review? What if we stripped all or most of the “tells” from a bunch of photos taken with the same smartphone and asked you to identify the device? Would you be able to figure it out, or might you be surprised by our little smartphone guessing game?

Let’s find out.


The evidence

The photos below were all taken with the same smartphone. The pictures have been resized, renamed, and their EXIF data has been stripped – but they’re otherwise unaltered. You can click each one to see the full-size shot and download it here:


The clues

the clues

“This is no fun if there aren’t any clues,” said a frustrated Taylor Martin after I stumped him with a similar photo set the first time we tried this. So here’s a few nuggets of truth about the Mystery Smartphone to guide your journey:

  • It’s a device we’ve reviewed within the past 18 months.
  • It’s not the device in the title image (that’s an HP Pre 3, if you’re wondering), nor is it the background picture in the title image.
  • It takes its power from a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Plus.
  • Its camera features a 5-element lens.
  • It’s not any of the devices we’ve featured in earlier guessing games.


The answer

… lies just a few lines below, so if you’re still looking to guess, scroll no further! But if you really want to know …

[Danger: spoilers below]

… then feast your eyes …

[Really – that can’t be stressed enough]

on the smartphone responsible for those shots!

[The answer is mere pixels away!]



blackberry q10

That’s right! The camera responsible for the images above belongs to none other than the BlackBerry Q10, one of the most under-celebrated devices ever released by our Canadian friends.

Just as with the previous two installments of this series, the guesses of the community spanned a wide range of devices and manufacturers. Of the 137 total comments received, only 5 contained the correct answer, making for an accuracy rate of just 3%. Even if we count the BlackBerry Z10 guesses, that’s still less than 10% correct. This game is tough!

Don’t feel badly though, folks: the game is difficult for a reason. Smartphone photography has come such a long way that it’s become nearly impossible to tell the differences under most lighting conditions, even for those with a keen eye for such things. We hope to continue this experiment over the next few months to shed some light on just how minuscule the variances in camera quality can be when context is removed. And maybe we’ll all learn something in the process.

In the meantime, thanks for playing, and please join us in congratulating Diogo Filipe, ganesh, Nikhil M.P, Heath Ethridge, and guest for guessing correctly. Tune in next month for another round!

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