What is Wrong with My Phone’s Longest Lens?

The quality of modern phone cameras is really impressive.  I will often have the main camera with a longer lens and use the phone for the wider shots.  Other times, it will be the only camera I have.  Quite often I will shoot multiple images with the longest of the three lenses and then stitch them together when I get home.  This can be quite effective.  However, in playing with some images recently, I was getting very odd results from the shots.  I shoot RAW on the phone, but I understand it isn’t a true RAW file but one that Apple’s software pre-processes to some extent.  This seems to be resulting in some strange image qualities.

The shots will have the resolution that they are supposed to, and the file size is certainly large enough to suggest that is what is happening.  However, the shots look ridiculously smudgy.  Here are a couple of examples that show the problem.  The Allegiant jet I shot at Mesa Gateway is a particularly bad example.  It isn’t even the one shot. All three of them are rough.  I have had some shots with really great quality from this lens on the phone so I have no idea why this should be bad.  The odd thing is that, if I look into the file properties and compare with other shots with this lens, it shows a different focal length.  If anyone has any experience or background on this, please let me know.

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