After going through the most affordable smartphones, the best mid-range smartphones, and the best flag-ship devices available on the market, it’s time for some bonus categories. Tech enthusiasts have very specific needs for their devices so it is important to have the information required for an educated purchase. Keeping up with the trend from our previous article regarding the best smartphone devices on the market, we have created a list of best camera phones.
Besides this article regarding the best camera phone, be sure to check out our cheap cell phone plan article too.
Best Camera Phone
There were a lot of smartphones released in 2014, but which one of them has can take the title of Best Camera Phone of 2014?
Here are our top contenders:
HTC One M8
iPhone 6 Plus
Nokia Lumia 1020
Samsung Galaxy S5
Samsung Galaxy K Zoom
Sonya Xperia Z3
We’re going go through them one by one, exploring key elements, and what you need to know about their cameras. In this article we will only focus on details related to cameras and image quality.
And our first device to be analysed is…
#1 HTC One M8
The device uses ultrapixels, which are larger, and designed to better capture light than your usual device. The primary camera has five million pixels, but these ain’t ultrapixels.
You can use the volume button to take a picture, but the button is placed somewhere at the middle of the device, and it can be uncomfortable trying to reach it while taking a photograph.
Camera control is where the HTC shines. It offers the users access to controls such as white balance, exposure compensation, ISO and other cool features. Of course, you can set everything to auto, but wouldn’t be nice to manually adapt to the setting that its in front of you?
Auto-focus kicks in nicely, and fast, but I have encountered some issues when the phone stated the auto-focus was processed, when in fact it wasn’t. A quick redo solved the problem.
Digital zoom is always nice to have, and the more, the better. Unfortunately it does produce some loss of detail, blurring, and chromatic mix-ups.
#2 iPhone 6 Plus
The most expensive device in the entire list is one of the best also. Apple hasn’t bothered making huge changes to their smartphones’ camera since the 4s, and go figure, the 6Plus offers almost the same one as its older sibling does.
This doesn’t mean that it’s old-fashioned – even though it may seem so – in fact, it really stands out with its 8 million pixel iSight camera.
If you want to open the camera, all you need to do is a quick upward swipe of the camera icon from the home screen an voila. You can use either of the volume buttons to take a shot, but given the fact that the device is pretty big, your palm, or fingers, will most likely obstruct the lens. You can get used to it by constantly using it, and it doesn’t pose as such a big problem – but it’s worth mentioning.
It doesn’t offer that much control, like the HTC One M8 does, and its minimal access falls short. Well, since the release of iOS8 iPhone users have seen introduction of control over brightness, and some editing tools once you’ve taken your shot.
Focus time is quick, and only in very low light does it have problems, and you’ll have to refocus a couple of times for the camera to get it right.
Colours are warm, and lively, and the outcome is superb.
#3 LG G3
If you want to take a photo with the LG G3, you should know that by holding down the volume buttons it will prompt the camera app – it’s fairly quick to open. But be careful on what buttons you are actually pressing. The volume buttons are near the on/off power buttons, and you may close your phone if you confuse them.
The difficult part is learning how to hold the phone, more likely, it’s getting used to holding the smartphone in a certain manner. At first you’ll hold it awkwardly, and your fingers, and palm will obscure the screen.
Better to stick with the virtual, on-screen, buttons, instead of using the physical ones.
LG went on the same trend as Apple. Minimal amount of access to controls – and the native app won’t allow you to change camera’s key settings.
The LG G3’s laser auto-focus is the quickest one in this list, and it perfectly locks onto a target. It works fairly well in low light also, only with a few blurred portions of the image here and there – but re-taking the photo should solve the problem.
Its weak point lays in shooting fine detail. If you want to take a photo of let’s say a little bug slowly moving on a bench, the camera will have problems locking onto it.
All-in-all the LG G3 outputs great pictures in both good light, and low light.
#4 Nokia Lumia 1020
Designed, and pitched, as a smartphone for photographers, the Nokia Lumia 1020 is claiming to have a 41 million pixel sensor. It’s totally misleading, because the camera groups pixels together in a method called pixel binning. Your photo won’t reside at 41 million pixels.
But nonetheless, it’s a great camera phone, and the pixel binning actually makes it better for use in low light.
Being designed specifically for photographers it has a ton of options – selection of scene modes, ISO, exposure compensation, white balances at almost anything a photographer can dream of.
Focusing is fairly quick, while it does stutter a little bit in low light, is definitely faster than its competitors.
Low light photos are pretty great, but under a thorough examination one can see smudged portions. It’s really perfect for a Facebook share, or as a web picture.
#5 Samsung Galaxy S5
Exactly like the iPhone, in order to open up the camera, all you need to do is swipe up from the corner of the lock screen and presto. You also can use the volume buttons to take a picture.
Like it’s the case with every smartphone, it’s easily to obscure the picture if you are not accustomed with said device. But no worries, time will do its work and you’ll get used to it in no-time.
There are a couple of modes to choose from before taking a shot like auto, panorama and such. You’ll most likely stick to auto, because panorama seems to be a bit buggy, and to be honest, we rarely use panorama, if at all.
Samsung offers a ton of control after you’ve taken your shot – picture stabilisation, effects, metering modes, and a lot more. If you leave everything on auto, it will take a great picture, but those options are there for a reason, and you should use them wisely.
Or, you know, play around with them until you get a feeling of how it really works.
Focusing is done quickly, and the S5 locks on a target pretty well even in low light.
It struggles a bit when taking pictures of the sky – sometimes it messes up colours – but I haven’t seen yet a camera phone that works perfectly taking shots at wide blue sky.
#6 Samsung Galaxy K Zoom
The mechanism is similar to the one found in the S5, but the photo lens needs to be extended, so the process is a little slower – you’ll risk missing certain perfectly timed shots now and then, but that’s the downside of having a camera phone with an extendible lens.
But because it has a large lens, it will be almost impossible to obscure it – meaning that you can hold the camera as you would a proper camera, and not worry about your fingers appearing in the shot.
It’s photography oriented, there’s no discussion here, and it has more shooting modes than the S5. Besides the ones that you would find in the S5, the K Zoom also sports modes like continuous shot, night, and more. Of course, the standard auto is in place, but nobody buys a camera phone only to set it in auto for the rest of its life.
Focusing in good light is done really quick, but it does encounter some problems in low light – I’m talking about it taking its time to process the scenery before giving you a thumbs up with a green square. If you see a red square flickering that means you need to re-focus the picture. It may seem a bit annoying at first, but once you’ve got the feel of it, it’ll be a bliss.
Colours are nice and warm, vivid and sharp, and you’ll be most surely happy with your results. Unfortunately, it has some problems with close-up shooting – finer details seem to be completely missed out, and focusing is a hassle. It’s mildly infuriating, but if you have patience, you can get an okay’ish photo.
#7 Sony Xperia Z3
The Sony Xperia Z3 sports a 20.2 million pixel unit, with a ½.3 inch sensor. It’s pitched for photographers.
To launch the native camera app you’ll need to press the dedicated button, and hold it for a second or two until the app pops up.
It’s the quickest app launch of a camera I have ever seen. More so, you can do it even if the phone is locked. And the lens is perfectly put on the other side of phone from the camera button, so you don’t need to worry yourself about obscuring the lens with your fingers. You can even try to hold it like a proper camera.
You can change the ISO, and metering, the balance and exposure compensation, but nothing more.
It copes pretty well in low light, and it has some of the best colours around. Pretty nifty for a camera phone.
What is the best camera phone?
To be honest, you’re the only one that can decide what is the best camera phone on the market. Try out different devices, and see what fits your style. I for one just love how Sony Xperia Z3 takes pictures. But come to think of it, I’m also in love with Nokia’s Lumia 1020 camera capabilities. It’s really tough to decide which is the best camera phone!