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You don’t need 25 megapixels on a selfie camera

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Oppo F7 Image: Oppo

When you’re taking a selfie, there are a few specific camera qualities you’re looking for: you want it to be wide enough to feature you and a friend (and maybe a few others). Ideally, it can achieve a shallow depth of field so that you stand out from the background. And it’d be nice if it can hold up in low light since you’re likely to be taking photos in bars and at parties that aren’t brightly lit.

What you don’t necessarily want is an incredibly high-resolution sensor, since you probably won’t be cropping in, and you definitely won’t want to zoom in tight enough to see your nose pores.

But that’s exactly what you’ll be able to do with Oppo’s newest phone, the F7, which was announced on Monday. Among the F7’s highlight features is a 25-megapixel selfie camera — that’s 3.5 times as many megapixels as the selfie camera on the iPhone X.

A higher-megapixel camera isn’t necessarily a good thing or a bad thing. More megapixels mean bigger and sometimes more detailed images. But fewer megapixels mean better low-light photos, so the key is to strike a balance. To give you a sense of how many megapixels any camera really “needs,” it only takes about 8.3 megapixels to capture 4K images.

The extra detail found in a 25-megapixel capture is certainly something pro photographers find helpful; it’s great if you need to touch up an image or print it out in a really large format. But for typical use — sharing on Instagram, getting photos printed for your home — it provides way more detail than is necessary.

Putting 25 megapixels inside a selfie camera seems like the wrong spec to shoot for. While high megapixel counts have their place, it likely means that Oppo’s phone will perform poorly in low light. And since you probably aren’t printing out poster-sized images, or zooming in on some detail way in the background of your photo, the extra megapixels will likely be wasted.

Oppo F7 Image: Oppo

The F7 does offer a number of augmented reality and photo touch-up features, and it’s possible the extra resolution will help there. But taking good photos in the first place is really the priority here. So if you have an iPhone X or a Galaxy S9 with “only” 7 or 8 megapixels in its selfie camera, you’re not exactly missing out.

While the high megapixel count on the F7 may be one of the flashier specs, the whole phone has a very trendy 2018 look to it: it has a 19:9 aspect ratio, so it’s tall with slim bezels, and it, of course, has a notch. The phone has a 6.2-inch, 2280 x 1080 resolution display, MediaTek’s midrange Helio P60 processor, and runs Android Oreo. The rear camera has a meager 16-megapixel sensor.

The whole thing looks incredibly similar to Vivo’s V9, which was announced last week, and it even includes a comparably ridiculous 24-megapixel selfie camera. Vivo and Oppo share the same parent company, so we’re looking at basically the same phone here, with some market-specific adjustments.

You’ll be able to get the F7 with either 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage or 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. Those models go on sale next month in India for about $340 and $415, respectively. That’s on the pricier side in a country where the average smartphone price is closer to $150.