These days you can hardly find a cell phone in the market that doesn’t have a built-in camera. Over the years, the quality of the included camera has become as important as the phone’s primary function. In the vast sea of devices, each with unique specs, you might have a tough time deciding on just one.
What makes mobile photography so attractive?
We rarely leave our cell phones out-of-sight these days. They are our lifeline for communication, photos, games and more. This means that your phone (and your phone camera) is with you at all times. Even amateur photographers can produce creative pictures with image filters and all the different apps available for Android and iPhone. In a matter of minutes, you can share your works of art on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, as hundreds of millions of people actually do every day.
So, what is the best phone camera to take these stunning images? Read on through this mobile phone camera comparison to see what’s essential and what isn’t when it comes to taking a great pic. If you’re like most, when looking at phone specs, the first thing you probably check for is the number of pixels. But, is that really a good metric of photo quality? Well, not necessarily.
To give you a somewhat over-simplified analogy, let’s look at automobile size. Is a larger car better? Well, typically yes, the more luxurious cars tend to also be larger. However if one car is bigger than another, it doesn’t automatically mean its the better of the two. The same applies to the number of pixels a digital camera has. More pixels isn’t always better.
Pixels are the fundamental units of digital imaging. The more pixels the image contains, the more details it can describe (in theory). However, higher pixel count doesn’t necessarily mean better picture quality.
Rather, it’s the relationship between the number of pixels and the size of the sensor that matters. Also, having the same pixel count on two cameras doesn’t always mean an identical pixel size.
Why is pixel size important, you ask? Well, larger pixels gather more light, making the signal stronger over a given time interval. This, in turn, improves the signal to noise ratio (SNR), resulting in a smoother image. Also, the luminance range of the photographed scene (dynamic image range) increases with pixel size.
The sensor quality and size is equally important. Think of it as the digital camera film. Here, size does matter. The larger the sensor area, the larger the pixel. The larger the pixel, the better the image. The role of the sensor is to capture light. As light passes through the lens to the sensor, that sensor converts the information into an electronic signal.
Smaller sensors give the phone a slimmer appearance. However, limiting the sensor size and merely increasing the pixel count actually degrades image quality by reducing the amount of light that gets in. Backside-illuminated sensors are now being used more and more, as they improve low-light performance by increasing photosensitivity. Keep in mind thought that in bright light, it can blow out the image.
Optics – When shopping for a camera phone, make sure to check the lens and the size of the aperture (the lens opening). Apertures of f2.2 or f1.8 are becoming more common even in smaller cameras. This means better images in a low-light environment.
Image processor – one of the key components. Most high-end phones have hardware accelerated graphic processors which quickly render images, whether they are photos, videos, or games. The image processor also helps achieve a zero shutter lag. This results in instant capture and freezing of the exact moment the photo is taken (with zero delay).
Here’s our phone camera comparison for 2015
So, you’ve decided it’s time for a new camera phone. What you need is a good cell phone camera comparison. Take a look at some high-end phones with cameras to match.
Apple iPhone 6 Plus
If you have money to spend, this is the phone for you. One of this phone’s best features is the OIS optical image stabilizer function. It helps increase exposure time in dim lighting and reduces noise.
iPhone 6 Plus has fast focusing time, great color sharpness under wide-scale illumination and noise control.
Another attractive feature is the 5.5-inch IPS display screen (1920×1080 pxl resolution) with a wide viewing angle, making it easy to browse or edit photos while traveling.
The iPhone 6 Plus features an 8MP iSight camera , a relatively low pixel count compared to the other similar devices on the market. This makes it the best evidence that “number of pixels is not a measure of camera quality” – seeing that it wins most photographic tests out there. Also, the camera interface is simple and intuitive to use and master.
The front camera does a good job in good light. Videos are smooth and the optical image stabilization helps keep them steady and clear.
Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge
The Android competition and a true match for the iPhone 6 is the impressive and Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge. It is a match for even the top-notch Samsung Galaxy S6.
Edge features an excellent 16MP camera, a 5MP front camera, QHD display and fast image processing. You can launch the camera at any moment. Just double click the home button and the app loads instantly. The images are crisp and detailed.
You can choose between auto, pro, selective focus, panorama, virtual shot, slow motion and fast motion modes, so feel free to experiment.
If you’re a beginner, you can stick to the auto mode and let your Galaxy S6 Edge recognize your surroundings and adapt the settings for the best image possible.
Samsung Galaxy S5 Active and Sport
These phones feature some of the best phone cameras (16MP) available on the market, wrapped in a waterproof, dustproof and shock-resistant case.
Both have excellent image quality and useful photo apps, just like Galaxy S5. However, unlike S5, they can survive up to 30 minutes under 3 feet of water, thanks to their IP67 certification.
What’s even more impressive, Galaxy S5 Active can actually snap pics underwater, thanks to its mechanical shutter button.
HTC One M8
If you’re new to mobile photography, check the HTC M8 out. The phone has a “modest” 4MP camera, but it’s based on “ultrapixels”, which means they are larger and capture more light. This results in great pics even when they’re taken in low light, making a scene appear brighter than it actually is.
The camera app launches with a quick swipe. You can use any volume button to take a shot, just be careful not to obscure the lens, since the volume buttons are located in the middle of the device.
The HTC One M8 has a great set of camera controls, including white balance control, exposure compensation, ISO, etc. If it’s easier for you, you can set everything to auto.
The auto-focusing speeds are generally good and accurate. The phone includes HTC’s Eye Experience software, adding some new selfie-focused features.
Once you select your ideal phone, you should be ready to get creative, take some snaps and capture life around you.
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