The Journey and The Best of Smartphone Cameras

The best smartphone cameras out there. Images courtesy of the Verge

We have come some ways

Smartphone cameras have come a long way since the early years. The first digital camera on a mobile phone was a 0.3MP camera built by Sharp placed in the Samsung SCH-V200 and it came out in the turn of the millennium. Pixels steadily increased over time. The era of feature phones ended with the release of the iPhone back in 2007.

During the early years with Android phones the game was all about megapixels. The race for pixel numbers led us all the way to the 41MP camera that featured on the Nokia Lumia 1020. Though that is still ,arguably, the best camera on a smartphone it sacrificed design just to hump in the largest camera module in a smartphone (if you aren’t counting the Galaxy S4 Zoom and Galaxy K Zoom which were basically point and shoot cameras that hat had a smartphone patched on them and not very functional).

Throughout the journey there were three names that stuck out; Samsung, Apple and LG. You coulee throw in Nokia there but they’re not really there anymore and HTC with its UltraPixel efforts haven’t got very far.

Samsung has currently among the top five best cameras in a smartphone right now. Its known for its oversaturated and over sharpened images which produce contrasty and punchy images that are simply pleasing to the eye.

Apple have been made cameras that have been a darling to many. Their focus has been on providing the most straight forward camera experience. All you do is tap the camera icon and you’re sure that 9 times out of ten you’ll get a crispy well balanced image. There are no manual controls apart from an exposure slider but the camera does a great job all the same.

LG on the other hand, have been the overbearing ones with their cameras being among the more feature packed as in the case of the V series smartphones. The V20, as an example has a dual camera set up borrowed form the G5 but is simply more feature packed with manual controls for both the photo mode and the video mode.

Your options

These cameras are now better than point and shoot cameras and some like the Google Pixel and iPhone 7 Plus provide near DSLR quality images and videos thanks to the kind of software that manages the camera. Samsung does a fantastic job but the Google Pixel and iPhone 7 Plus just have better processing and take more true to life images than what Samsung has to offer. (So go get a Pixel 😏)

So if you love photos, its only 4 options for you:

  • The LG G6 with its dual camera set up. One 13MP camera with a normal view but has a wider aperture and a second 13MP camera with a 135 degree view but a smaller aperture and no image stabilization.
  • The Samsung Galaxy S7, S7 edge, S8 and S8+ are the next on the list with one of the best 12MP sensors out there. For images that make your eyes want to cry because of the punchy colors and vibrancy, as well as the widest aperture out there (f/1.7), they can never fail you. The image processing is top notch too
  • The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are one and the same but the 7 Plus is singled out here for the dual camera set up. It does some crazy optical zoom with the second sensor which is a telephoto lens. It uses both sensors to take images though. This means that the photos’ dynamic range and details are much better preserved especially in low light. The Portrait mode is also a killer feature; one that you can’t appreciate until you actually use it.
  • The Google Pixel is the top choice for me. It doesn’t have all the fancy specs using a 12MP camera with 1.55 micron pixels an f/2.0 aperture and no optical image stabilization which you’d think makes it a mediocre camera but this baby shoots some of the best photos I’ve seen off a camera. (I don’t own one but I’ll leave MKBHD’s blind smartphone camera test below). Google packed in the bets camera in a smartphone using basic specs. They don’t have OIS but they use data from the gyroscope to stabilize their videos making them look like they were shot on a tripod or a gimbal. Google Pixel is the best camera phone out there hands down.

So check out my other posts and heres the link to MKBHD’s video. Check it out and leave a comment about what you think:

The Journey and The Best of Smartphone Cameras was originally published in Austin Startups on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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