Cameras are an increasingly important part of smartphones and as specs start to level out they’re one of the main ways that manufacturers try to make their handsets stand out.
Whether it’s a high megapixel count, a laser auto focus, an optical zoom or any number of other things there are a lot of interesting and powerful smartphone cameras around and these are the five best.
LG really packed everything it could think of into the G4’s camera. It has a 16 megapixel sensor, which is a good start, as that’s a high enough count to snap highly detailed images.
It also has optical image stabilisation (OIS) to counteract camera shake. In fact it uses OIS 2.0, which is more effective than the version found in most phones.
Then there’s its laser autofocus and the ability to snap a photo with a double tap of the rear key, even when the screen is off, which makes it super speedy at taking pictures.
An f/1.8 aperture lets it take in more light than almost any other smartphone snapper too, so it’s a great option even when the lighting isn’t ideal and it’s packed full of options you can tweak, from ISO to shutter speed and plenty more besides.
It really is one of the very best smartphone cameras on the market, powerful enough for those serious about photography and simple enough to point and shoot. The 8 megapixel front-facing camera is pretty good too.
The Samsung Galaxy S6 has a 16 megapixel snapper, just like the LG G4 and the core camera module is every bit as good, taking incredibly detailed shots with great colour reproduction and contrast.
It also has optical image stabilisation to help you avoid blur and better capture poorly lit scenes. It lacks some of the bells and whistles of the G4, but you wouldn’t know it from the photos it snaps.
It’s fast too and has a 5 megapixel wide-angle selfie snapper, so you won’t be left disappointed if you’re a fan of your own face.
The Samsung Galaxy S6 is a great all round camera phone then, adept in almost all situations. In fact according to DXO Mark the Galaxy S6 Edge (which has the same camera) is the best camera phone in the world, though it’s yet to test the LG G4 or Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+.
As incredible as the Samsung Galaxy S6’s camera is the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ has perhaps an even better one, though the difference is marginal.
Like the Samsung Galaxy S6 it has a 16 megapixel rear snapper with optical image stabilisation and a 5 megapixel wide-angle front facing camera. The results when shooting are every bit as good as they are on the Samsung Galaxy S6, but Samsung has added the ability to save files in RAW format and live stream video to YouTube.
They’re minor additions but they give the Edge+ the edge. We reckon there’s a good chance Samsung will bring them to the standard Galaxy S6 as a software update, but for now if you want the best Samsung snapper this is it.
The iPhone 6 Plus is Apple’s best camera phone yet. This is still an 8 megapixel camera, which might sound disappointing but it’s the first iPhone with optical image stabilisation, which makes a huge difference, especially in low light, where it enables you to capture more light without images becoming blurred.
That’s not the only thing Apple’s added though. There’s also ‘Focus Pixels’, which increases the speed of the autofocus and various other under-the-hood improvements that help your photos come out better than ever.
Plus it has all the same things that made Apple’s cameras great to begin with, such as a dual-LED True Tone flash and a simple, intuitive interface.
The Sony Xperia Z3+ has much the same camera as the Xperia Z3, but it’s a better phone overall and while some rivals have now topped its camera skills it’s still a pretty slick snapper.
There’s a 20.7 megapixel camera on the back and a 5 megapixel one on the front, meaning you can take high quality photos whether they’re selfies, landscapes or anything else.
It’s also capable of shooting video in 4K, making your home movies better than ever and there are a wealth of camera modes and options, plus a dedicated shutter button, which makes snapping off photos as painless as possible.
Hopefully Sony will add optical image stabilisation to the Xperia Z5, but other than that omission this is a great camera phone.
The Nokia Lumia 1020 has the honour of having just about the highest megapixel count of any smartphone out there at 41 megapixels.
That alone is just about enough to get it on this list as it can take more detailed photos than most of the competition and they can stand to be blown up to A3 and above while retaining an impressive level of quality. All those megapixels also mean that it supports up to 3x lossless digital zoom, but there’s more to it than just megapixels.
The Lumia 1020 also has optical image stabilisation, so the effects of camera shake are minimised, avoiding blurry shots even in low light. Plus it has a dual flash, with both a Xenon and LED unit, so there’s a lot of power there, allowing it to brighten up even the darkest scenes.
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