Google's HDR+ mode is widely regarded as the current benchmark for computational imaging on smartphones, but Chinese manufacturer Vivo wants to unseat the champion. Earlier today, Vivo announced its AI-powered Super HDR feature—a direct competitor to the Google system found in Pixel devices.

Super HDR is designed to improve HDR performance while keeping a natural and "unprocessed" look. To achieve this, the system captures 12 exposures (Google uses 9) and merges them into a composite image, allowing for a fine control over image processing.

Additionally, AI-powered scene detection algorithms identify different elements of a scene—for example: people, the sky, the clouds, rocks, trees, etc.—and adjust exposure for each of them individually. According to Vivo, the end result looks more natural than most images that use the simpler tone-mapping technique.

Looking at the provided sample images, the system appears to be doing an impressive job. That said, these kind of marketing images have to be swallowed with a pinch of salt; we'll see what the system is really capable of when it's available in a production device we can test.

Speaking of which, as of now, we don't know which device Super HDR will be shipping on first, but there is a chance it might be implemented on the upcoming Vivo V9, which is expected to be announced on March 22nd. The V9 is currently rumored to feature a Snapdragon 660 chipset and 12+8MP dual-camera.