Smartphones are a big part of today's mobile-driven world and the camera department often has an important role in one's decision to choose one smartphone over another.
With the great technological advancements, smartphones are increasingly replacing point-and-shoot cameras, allowing users to capture quality photos on the go, without needing an additional device. Smartphone cameras have come a long way, and many consumers nowadays prefer to invest in a smartphone with a powerful camera instead of purchasing a phone and a camera separately.
A number of high-end smartphones are now capable of delivering high-quality photos, so we've compiled a brief list of top smartphone cameras currently available on the market.
Samsung Galaxy S6
Samsung's latest-generation flagship has one of the best cameras around, outperforming many rivals in this department. Samsung has retained the same 16-megapixel count of its previous Galaxy S5, but the new Galaxy S6 boasts notable improvements in terms of image quality. The new iteration features an infrared sensor that can deliver more accurate colors, particularly in low-light conditions.
At the same time, the Galaxy S6 also has an f/1.9 aperture, which means it's roughly 30 percent larger than the Galaxy S5's f/2.2 aperture. In turn, this allows the Galaxy S6 to achieve brighter photos in low light, while also increasing the shutter speed.
The new-generation flagship also marks a first for the Galaxy S lineup by including optical image stabilization (the Galaxy S5 has Digital Stabilization, not OIS). OIS, combined with phase-detection auto focus, a fast startup time and other powerful features make the Galaxy S6 one of the best camera smartphones out there. Its 5-megapixel selfie cam is an added bonus.
LG's latest flagship banks big on camera, rocking a 16-megapixel sensor, manual control options, an f/1.8 aperture and the option to shoot raw. Widely considered to have one of the best smartphone cameras currently on the market, the LG G4 can definitely deliver high-quality photos.
The 16-megapixel shooter with an f/1.8 lens aims to obtain superior low-light photos and achieves its goal with flying colors. The LG G4 camera also sports an infrared color sensor designed to analyze and measure the visible light in a given environment before taking a picture. LG touts that this advanced color spectrum sensor allows the LG G4 to capture photos with vivid and natural-looking colors even in low-light conditions.
Moreover, the LG G4 also has a manual mode, which should appeal to photography enthusiasts, and it also allows users to take shots in raw format, aka DNG. Other neat features include blazing-fast laser autofocus and optical image stabilization.
The Motorola-made Google Nexus 6 may not boast the best smartphone camera out there, but it's an arguably good contestant. The Nexus 6 camera can deliver fairly accurate colors, albeit it may go a bit overboard with saturation at times. Another highlight is image clarity with impressive detail.
In low-light conditions, however, the Nexus 6 camera doesn't really shine. Low-light images contain quite a lot of grain and noise, and the flash doesn't deliver the best experience. Using HDR+ may be a better solution, as it combines several different exposures for a higher-quality image. It may not be ideal to rely on HDR+ in low light, but it can provide some decent shots. Bottom line, the Nexus 6 doesn't really keep up with rivals in low-light conditions, but can capture some quality photos otherwise.
Panasonic Lumix CM1
This device is more of a hybrid combination between a camera and a phone, making it difficult at times to determine whether it's a smartphone with a heavy focus on camera or a compact digital camera with some smartphone functionality.
Either way, one thing's for sure: the CM1 goes further than typical smartphones in the camera department. The handset boast a 20-megapixel CMOS sensor paired with an F/2.8 Leica lens, offering an impressive focal length for a phone. Moreover, the Lumix CM1 allows users to manually adjust a number of settings including aperture, focus, ISO, shutter speed and white balance, as it comes with a click-wheel mounted around the lens. The handset also boasts 4K video recording capabilities, as well as the option to shoot RAW images.
Sony Xperia Z3
The Sony Xperia Z3 could not be absent from this list, as it clearly rocks one of the best cameras currently available in smartphones. We chose to include the Xperia Z3 and not the newer Xperia Z4/Z3+ because the latest iteration has the same main camera as its predecessor.
The Sony Xperia Z3 borrows a number of high-end tech specs from the company's camera division, resulting in a powerful smartphone camera able to deliver top-notch shots.
Highlights include an Exmor RS sensor, Bionz processor and G Lens technology, along with wide lens and enhanced low-light sensitivity. The Xperia Z3 allows users to play around with the camera and try out different settings to obtain the best images.
On the other hand, the Xperia Z3 is not as fast as other smartphones when it comes to taking a photo, as it can take longer to load. In many cases the ability to start the camera and snap a shot quickly is very important, and the Xperia Z3 may miss out on the action if it loads too slowly. At the same time, rivals such as the LG G4, Samsung Galaxy S6, and even the iPhone 6 may outperform the Xperia Z3 when it comes to autofocus and clarity.
Nevertheless, the Xperia Z3 is quite capable of capturing top-notch photos and it has plenty of neat features on its side. A high-level ISO mode, for instance, can outperform other cameras in low-light environments. Moreover, the Xperia Z3 camera also offers an impressive background de-focus that remains unrivaled in terms of image quality
Plenty of other smartphones currently available on the market are also capable of capturing high-quality photographs, and things are only expected to improve with newer generations and upcoming iterations. This is just a brief list of current options, merely scratching the surface, but smartphone cameras are getting increasingly better.