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Can you tell these photos were taken with a budget phone?

The Alcatel Idol 5S has a 12-megapixel rear camera that takes decent photos for a budget phone.

Patrick Holland
Patrick Holland has been a phone reviewer for CNET since 2016. He is a former theater director who occasionally makes short films. Patrick has an eye for photography and a passion for everything mobile. He is a colorful raconteur who will guide you through the ever-changing, fast-paced world of phones, especially the iPhone and iOS. He used to co-host CNET's I'm So Obsessed podcast and interviewed guests like Jeff Goldblum, Alfre Woodard, Stephen Merchant, Sam Jay, Edgar Wright and Roy Wood Jr.
Patrick Holland
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1 of 15 Josh Miller/CNET

The Alcatel Idol 5S has a 12-megapixel rear camera that takes nice photos for the price, but they aren't comparable with pictures from more expensive phones like the Galaxy S8, Google Pixel or iPhone 7. It's fine, though, because the Idol 5S is a third of the price.

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2 of 15 Patrick Holland/CNET

It's hard to take a bad picture of a red Corvette. Here, colors are nice with the red Corvette popping out from the background.

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3 of 15 Patrick Holland/CNET

Despite the low resolution, this shot of a Four Barrel cappuccino has some decent detail in the foam.

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4 of 15 Patrick Holland/CNET

Another close up shot, this one of a slice of pesto avocado toast from Nourish Cafe. Notice the contrasting textures of the bread and pesto drizzle.

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5 of 15 Patrick Holland/CNET

The camera app opens quickly and allowed me to catch my colleague CNET Senior Reporter Rich Nieva as he laughed.

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6 of 15 Patrick Holland/CNET

Here, the camera did well handling the dynamic range of some silverware on a table at sunset.

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7 of 15 Patrick Holland/CNET

In good lighting situations, the Idol 5S is capable of capturing good photos -- especially of Taco the dog.

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8 of 15 Patrick Holland/CNET

Here's another situation where soft bright light yielded a good photo of Stella the cat.

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9 of 15 Patrick Holland/CNET

This photo and the next are of an Incredible Hulk piggy bank. This one was taken without the flash.

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10 of 15 Patrick Holland/CNET

And here's the same Hulk bank taken with a flash.

11 of 15 Patrick Holland/CNET

One of the most impressive parts of the Alcatel camera is the electronic image stabilization for video. The top video was shot with the feature turned off, the bottom with it turned on.

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12 of 15 Patrick Holland/CNET

Karl the fog rolls in over the hills of San Francisco. The extremes in lighting and textures of this moment really pushed the Idol 5S's modest camera.

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13 of 15 Patrick Holland/CNET

Dynamic range (the difference between the brightest and darkest parts of a photo) isn't great. Here, the highlights of the cloudy sky are blown out.

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14 of 15 Patrick Holland/CNET

The Idol 5S didn't do too well in low light situations. Noise reduction made this image look more like a painting.

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15 of 15 Josh Miller/CNET

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