How good are smartphone cameras

Harry Guinness is a photography expert and writer with nearly a decade of experience. His work has been published in newspapers like The New York Times and on a variety of other websites, from Lifehacker to Popular Science and Medium’s OneZero. Read more.

How good are smartphone cameras

Smartphone cameras have never been better. The technology has come a long way. They’ve been used by professional photographers to shoot magazine covers. Apple has built a billboard advertising campaign around photos taken with the iPhone. Obviously smartphone cameras can be used to take good photos in the right circumstances, but how good is the actual camera? Let’s find out.

The Spec Sheet

Before digging in to any comparisons, let’s have a look at what we’re working with. For this article, I’m going to use the camera in the iPhone 7 as the base for a smartphone camera. It’s one of the best available, although most high end Android have cameras that are as good, or almost as good. Mid-tier Android phones are only a year or two behind.

The iPhone 7 has a 12MP camera with a fixed focal length lens that’s equivalent to 28mm on a full-frame camera, with an aperture of f/1.8. The camera has a shutter speed range of 1/3rd of a second down to 1/8000th of a second. It’s got an ISO range of between 34 and 1500. The sensor is 6.25mm by 5.16mm.

We’ll come to what those specs really mean in a moment, but let’s set a baseline to compare them to. Compact cameras are pretty much dead, so we’ll use an entry level DSLR. This DSLR is obviously going to be better, but that’s the point: we’re just interested in how much better it is.

The Canon EOS 80D has a 24.2MP sensor and can use any of Canon’s EF and EF-S series of lenses. It has a shutter speed range of 30 seconds (even longer with Bulb mode) to 1/8000th of a second. The ISO range is 100 to 25600. The sensor is 22.5mm by 15.0mm.

Your Smartphone Is Great…If Conditions Are Great

In the right conditions, smartphone cameras are great. To anyone who’s not a professional or zooming in incredibly close to inspect every, they’ll be difficult to tell apart. Look at the two photos below, can you tell which one was taken by a $5000 camera and lens and which one was taken with an iPhone 7 Plus? I can barely tell, and I took them! There are obviously some slight differences in color and framing, but that’s just in how the cameras handled different things. Neither photo is clearly superior to the other.

How good are smartphone cameras

How good are smartphone cameras

(Answer: the first one is the iPhone with the white balance set to daylight and everything else on auto. The second is a Canon 5D MKIII with a 17-40mm f/4L lens set to 28mm at f/11 in aperture priority mode with the white balance set to daylight.)

That’s because these photos were taken in pretty ideal conditions. There’s lots of light, no really deep shadows or bright highlights, and I’m not looking for a shallow depth of field.

The DSLR file is about twice the size of the iPhone file, in pixels, so I can zoom in closer and see more details, as you can see below.

How good are smartphone cameras

Megapixels, however, really don’t matter that much. The iPhone image is still large enough to be used on a billboard. If I needed to crop a little tighter, I’d have more flexibility with the DSLR photo, but as long as you get the shot you want in camera, it makes no difference.

Your Smartphone Has Harder Limits

The problem with smartphone cameras isn’t that they take bad photos all the time, it’s that they struggle at the extremes. The most obvious one is in low light.

While megapixels don’t really matter, the size of the photosites on the sensors—each one of which is responsible for a single megapixel—do. The 80D has twice as many megapixels on a sensor roughly ten times the size of the iPhone 7’s, which means each photosite is about five times the size. This means five times more light fall on each one. This makes a huge difference in low light.

Let’s compare two photos again. Rather than try to match things exactly, I took the best possible picture with each camera. For the iPhone, this meant 1/30 a second at f/1.8 and an ISO of 1250. For the DSLR, this meant 1/20 a second at f/3.5 and ISO 1600. Both were shot as RAW files. I tweaked the exposure and white balance a little in Photoshop to make them easier to compare.

How good are smartphone cameras

How good are smartphone cameras

With all that done, it’s pretty obvious that the first one was shot with a DSLR and the second with the iPhone. The iPhone photo is a lot rougher and grainier, even though it used a wider aperture and lower ISO. I didn’t even use a modern DSLR for the comparison; I shot this with my four year old Canon 650D, a predecessor of the 80D. With a newer camera, the difference would be even starker.

Your Smartphone Camera Is Less Flexible

Smartphone cameras are also a lot less flexible. Pretty much everything about the iPhone 7’s camera is more limited than on a DSLR.

The maximum shutter speed on both the iPhone and the 80D is 1/8000th of a second, but the minimum on the iPhone is only 1/3rd of a second. This means you can’t take nice long exposure shots—like the one below where I used a shutter speed of 30 seconds.

How good are smartphone cameras

Similarly, the 80D has a much wider ISO range. Although the iPhone can go lower to 34, which means the fixed aperture f/1.8 lens is still usable on bright days, it’s maximum ISO is 1500, and the photos you get, like the one below, are noisy and practically unusable. An 80D will take decent images at ISO 3200, and usable ones even higher.

How good are smartphone cameras

Finally, the biggest difference is that a DSLR allows you to change lenses. If you want to take portraits you can use a telephoto lens with a wide aperture. For landscapes, you can go with a wide-angle lens. If you’re not sure what you’re going to shoot, grab a nice zoom lens that gives you a huge amount of flexibility. Although the iPhone 7 Plus makes some move to fix it with it’s dual cameras and portrait mode, you’re always going to have more options with a DSLR.

What Does This All Mean?

My iPhone 7 Plus is one of my favorite and most used cameras. I take a few photos with it most days. I’ve taken plenty of photos I love and that are as good as the ones I’ve shot with my DSLRs.

How good are smartphone cameras

As long as you work within the limits of your smartphone, it’s got an incredible camera. Even smartphones that are a year or two old have great cameras. You might hit a few rough spots if you’re working in low light or just can’t get close enough to your subject, but otherwise you’ll be good. The days of having to slap an over the top Instagram filter over every image to make them look good are well gone.

Are todays smartphone cameras capable of taking good quality photos?

I carry lots of tech when I ride ’cause this is my thing, and my motorcycle has plenty of capacity for carrying all my stuff! I’ve always considered that the quality of my photos is improved by using a Digital SLR (DSLR). I did go for a compact DSLR, choosing the Sony NEX-5, and have always been happy with the results with a little less bulk. Most of the photos that appear on this site have been taken by me on the NEX-5 with just a bit of basic editing (mostly cropping and to adjust levels).

But do you need to take a DSLR with you on every ride? Or at all?

I’ve often wondered if the extra cost and effort of a DSLR was worth it, but never done any sort of comparison of the photos produced by smartphone cameras against a DSLR.

Just as I was leaving the Classic Motorcycle Show at Stafford yesterday I thought I’d frame up the same photos using the various “toys” I was carrying for the day, just to see how they each stacked up against each other.

First up is my oldest smartphone, a HTC Desire. It’s getting on a bit now but I still use it as my primary mobile/cell phone and it goes fine. I’ve not really ever used it for photos though. It has a 5MP colour camera with auto focus, digital zoom and flash. Here’s the photo taken with the HTC Desire:

How good are smartphone cameras

Next up is the Samsung Galaxy S2. Being slightly newer is has an 8MP camera also with auto focus, flash and digital zoom. Here’s the photo taken with the Samsung Galazy S2:

How good are smartphone cameras

I think you will agree this is a big improvement over the 5MP HTC Desire.

My final smartphone photo is from the 8MP iPhone 4S (also with flash, digital zoom, auto focus etc):

How good are smartphone cameras

For me the photo taken with the iPhone 4S looks the best, but we don’t all see things the same way.

Let’s now look at the same scene photographed with the Sony NEX-5 (14.2MP) using a 55-210mm F4.5-6.3 telephoto zoom lens:

How good are smartphone cameras

Just one last piece of technical information about the editing process. Each photo was edited using Adobe Photoshop Elements 10, purely to crop them all to a common size that best suits this website (600 pixels x 314 pixels and a resolution of 72 pixels/inch) and then Saved for Web as a jpeg file with a High Quality setting adjusted to 75. No other adjustments to light, colour, shade etc were made. The resulting file sizes are relatively small:

  • HTC Desire – 67KB
  • Samsung Galaxy S2 – 94KB
  • iPhone 4S – 90KB
  • Sony NEX-5 – 94KB

This last photo probably is the best, but is it worth the extra cost and hassle associated with a DSLR?

For many, maybe not. In most instances a smartphone (minimum 8MP) will probably do the job. Maybe I won’t take the NEX-5 with me all the time now and will just rely on the iPhone or Samsung, which require much less preparation, planning and effort.

There are some instances though where only a DSLR will do for me, especially when used in conjunction with the 55-210mm F4.5-6.3 telephoto zoom lens. I really like the NEX-5 and enjoy admiring the photos I’ve taken with it on my recent European tours. I know there are better or professional quality cameras out there but the Sony does all I need it to and its compact size works well on the road.

The most important thing is to use what you’ve got. Get into the habit of taking a few photos of where you’ve been so you can share your adventures with others. Riding with tech does not have to be expensive!

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These picks give digital cameras a run for their money

Erika Rawes has written for Digital Trends, USA Today, and and has tested dozens of consumer technology products for multiple tech sites.

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With every passing year, phone manufacturers continue to boast about how their latest models have the best smartphone cameras. The newest phones offer multiple lenses, high MP sensors, and the latest technologies. From Instagram to Snapchat to TikTok, having a better camera is a prime selling point for modern smartphones because mobile photography is important to just about everyone.

Our experts reviewed the latest smartphones to find out which devices offered the best cameras. Read on to see our picks in different categories and price ranges. And if you’re looking to master the ins and outs of phone photography, check out our tips for mobile photography.

Best Apple: Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max

How good are smartphone cameras

Night mode is awesome

More zoom on the telephoto lens

Works well with AR applications

Apple’s iPhone 12 Pro Max delivers some pretty impressive specs for serious mobile photographers, and while some may pan the triple-lens camera system as something that’s already been done by other smartphones, Apple continues to improve its rear-camera system, adding more and more perks with each passing generation.

The iPhone 11 Pro already had an impressive camera, but 12 Pro Max offers the best camera system yet. It incorporates a LiDAR sensor for better low-light photos, better performance with AR apps, and better overall pictures.

Compared to the already-impressive iPhone 11 series, the 12 Pro Max has more zoom on the telephoto lens, and a larger wide-angle sensor to allow in more light. The three-lens rear camera employs a main f/1.6 wide-angle, an f/2.4 ultra-wide, and an f/2.0 telephoto lens. In our testing, our reviewer, Andrew Hayward, noted that he was able to see more detail in nighttime photos with the 12 Pro Max.

Rear Cameras: 12MP Ultra-wide, wide, telephoto system | Front Camera: 12MP TrueDepth camera system | Video Recording: 4K resolution and 60 frames per second

“With its larger battery, enormous screen, and camera enhancements, the iPhone 12 Pro Max is the ultimate iPhone, but ultimately more than most people probably need.” — Andrew Hayward, Product Tester

How good are smartphone cameras

Lifewire / Andrew Hayward

Best Android: Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

How good are smartphone cameras

Courtesy of Best Buy

Excellent night photos

Advanced camera system

Most smartphones today come with (at least) dual-lens camera setups. These generally include a primary sensor and a telephoto lens for achieving optical zoom. While that’s great, an ultra-wide lens is usually better, since it lets you capture more detail into every photo. Samsung’s Galaxy S21 Ultra takes it a step further, adding another ultra-zoom camera alongside.

The front selfie-cam is 40MP, while our testing showed that the rear camera system of the Galaxy S21 Ultra uses a 12MP primary sensor with dual pixel auto-focus, as well as a 108MP ultra-wide module with an f/1.8 aperture, a 10MP telephoto camera with f/2.4 aperture, and another 10MP telephoto lens with f/4.9 aperture. Plus, with Super Resolution Zoom up to 100x and optical image stabilization, you get a clear image no matter how close-up you want to get.

Our reviewer, Andrew, noted that he was able to take hyper-detailed photos with the 108MP main sensor, and the ultra-wide and 3x telephoto lenses delivered exceptional photos, as well.

Rear Cameras: 12MP Ultra Wide Camera (F2.2), 108MP Wide-angle Camera (F1.8) 10MP Telephoto Camera (F2.4), 10MP Telephoto Camera (F4.9) | Front Camera: 40MP Selfie Cam | Video Recording: 8k resolution

“In head-to-head comparison shooting with its closest rival, the iPhone 12 Pro Max, I couldn’t pick a clear winner between them.” — Andrew Hayward, Product Tester

How good are smartphone cameras

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Friday November 2, 2018

By Angela Nicholson

We often hear lamentations about the impact of the rise of smartphones on the camera market. And it’s true, the compact camera market has shrunk radically since smartphones became ubiquitous. Now that everyone carries a camera phone everywhere, fewer feel the need for a dedicated camera.

But is that bad news for photography? I don’t think so.

Let’s think back a bit. When I was a little kid, we had one family camera. This was produced on special occasions like Christmas, birthdays, holidays and the occasional trip to the zoo. Most of those photos made it into an album, if not a frame. They were treasured and pulled out for occasional viewing and reminiscing.

Today, every member of the average family has a camera that they carry all the time. And what’s more, it gets used a lot. Many people take photos on a daily (if not more frequent) basis. They also post their images online for their friends and followers to see.

Okay, there are only so many shots of fancy dinners and cleared plates that you want to see, but the point is that people are using photography as a means of communication and connection. They’re documenting their lives.

In the process of taking these everyday, ordinary shots, more people are learning more about composition. They’re finding out which images connect with people more than others, how to convey a message and how to take better photographs.

How good are smartphone cameras

Training Ground

In some respects, smartphones like the Huawei Mate20 Pro and Huawei P20 Pro enable photography in situations that are just not possible with a dedicated camera. You can get decent results when hand-holding the phone near darkness, for example. And thanks to their multiple camera set-up, you can replicate the effect of shooting with a wide aperture on a camera with a large sensor. As you can see from the image below, the results are pretty impressive.

How good are smartphone cameras

This means that in the process of using the smartphone controls, non-photographers have the opportunity to learn about things like the impact of aperture and depth of field. And if they decide to get more serious about photography, they already have an understanding of some the creative decisions that they need to make and the key controls. That’s going to make using a ‘real camera’ easier.

How good are smartphone cameras

There are still plenty of advantages to using a dedicated camera that offers control beyond that of an old ‘point-and-shoot’ model. Larger sensors, larger pixels, bigger optics, tilting screens and viewfinders all help deliver high-quality images in a wide range of situations. Recent sales data also indicates that high-end, more advanced cameras are an increasingly important sector of the market.

So while the entry-level camera market may have been decimated by them, smartphones are a great training ground for budding photographers. And that’s good news for photography and camera manufacturers.

By the end of next year, five cameras will be standard on flagship smartphones. Because AI and AR.

Contributing Columnist, Computerworld |

Who knew that the camera in your phone would turn out to be the most popular, useful and important technology in your life?

The human race will take 1.3 trillion photos this year, according to Keypoint Intelligence/InfoTrends. Smartphones will be used for 87% of them.

Most of these pictures are useless and frivolous — not only selfies, but bad selfies that will never even be posted. Don’t even get me started about videos. Smartphone cameras are responsible for the biggest waste of storage space in history.

But a huge number of these photos are valuable for business or professional uses.

Businesspeople of all kinds are increasingly using smartphone cameras as all-purpose sensors for harvesting data from the environment, augmented reality, quick data entry and far more.

Personally, I use my smartphone camera for quick reminders. I take pictures of my hotel room number, the sign that tells where my car is parked, the license plate of my rental car, and anything that will later jog my memory about some task I need to do.

A smartphone app called CamFind lets you take a picture of anything and find information about that object via search. A typical use will bring up places to buy the exact same or similar products, a list of related images and videos, and a web search. It also brings up websites associated with barcodes.

Google Photos offers a similar feature with a newish Google Lens button. The feature will put business card data into your Google Contacts, add a flyer for an event into your calendar and do other useful jobs.

Google’s Translate app will translate foreign languages in real time when you point your camera at any sign or menu.

Another app, called Photomath, will solve any math problem you take a picture of.

As new apps and features proliferate, it’s becoming obvious that smartphone cameras are incredibly important. And to prove next-level use cases, we’re going to need more cameras.

Get ready for the smartphone camera explosion

If one rear camera is good, then two are better, right?

iPhone X, Galaxy S9 Plus, LG G7, OnePlus 6 and pretty much every expensive smartphone now has two rear cameras. These provide depth of field, which is useful for “portrait mode” bokeh effects, and the ability to separate the foreground from the background for photo editing. For example, a feature coming from Google will soon enable you to take a color photograph and make only the background black-and-white. Dual cameras also potentially provide better data for AI processing.

Now how about three?

The Huawei P20 Pro, already on the market, has three rear lens and one front-facing selfie camera, for a total of four built-in cameras. One rear lens is a 40-megapixel color camera. The second is a 20-megapixel monochrome camera that provides depth information and also improves the dynamic range of the photos. And the third provides 3x optical zoom.

One standout feature is coming to the phone soon in the form of a software update, which will allow ultra slow-mo video at an incredible 960 frames per second. (That’s impressive, but it shoots at 720p; the Sony Xperia XZ2 has the same frame-rate slow mo, but at 1,080p.)

A total of four cameras is nice. But not as nice as five.

LG’s next phone, probably shipping next year and possibly called the V40, will contain three rear cameras and two front-facing cameras. The two selfie cameras will likely facilitate face-recognition unlock and other features. The three rear cameras will sport a wide lens, an ultra-wide lens and a “mystery” lens.

The Samsung Galaxy S10+, which is expected to ship next year, will have five cameras as well. One of them is expected to function as an ultra-wide-angle lens, with a 120-degree field of view.

By the end of next year, five-camera smartphones will be standard kit for flagship phones.

And if you think five cameras is extreme, you should know that a company called Light is expected to announce later this year a smartphone (shown above) that will have nine cameras.

The purpose of all these cameras is identical to the company’s non-phone L16 camera, which has 16 cameras: to enable DSLR-like quality in a pocket-size device. (Critics slammed the L16 camera for flawed software, a high price and poor results.)

The camera is expected to shoot 64-megapixel photos and will probably enable you to take photos now and focus them later.

It’s a great concept. Let’s see if the company can do it right this time.

How to understand the multi-camera craze

Obviously, multiple cameras enhance photos and make smartphones more DSLR-like.

But more importantly, they provide higher-resolution data to AI and AR applications.

One stellar example comes from Silicon Valley-based Lucid, which you may know as the maker of the VR180 LucidCam and the brains behind the possibly revolutionary Red 8K 3D camera.

Lucid recently announced a new focus on a software licensing model, where the company will supply the software brains to power advanced smartphone features. The opportunity that enables Lucid’s entry into this market is the advent of dual- and multi-camera smartphones.

Lucid’s 3D Fusion platform uses machine learning and historical data to quickly measure depth in real time. That ability enables features that aren’t possible with today’s smartphones, such as advanced augmented reality object tracking and high-resolution in-the-air gestures.

The Lucid technology is just an example of what’s possible with additional cameras in smartphones.

The reality is that cameras are sensors, and the most useful kind — especially when built ubiquitously into pocket computers that run apps and are connected at all times to the internet.

Already, smartphone cameras can identify and provide additional information about whatever we point them at. They enable us to harvest visual data from, and see augmented reality objects placed in, the real world. Front-facing cameras can improve security through face recognition.

If you’re like me, and like to use those sensors as data-harvesting machines, strap in. The coming world of many-camera smartphones is going to transform what’s possible with a smartphone.

While the photo nerds will get excited about smartphone photography approaching the quality of DSLR photography, the data nerds should be even more excited. Because smartphones were already far superior to DSLRs for capturing usable data for AI and AR, and multiple cameras are about to make them the most useful business tools ever.

Cameras have become one of the major selling points for modern-day smartphones. As a result, brands are always trying to cram in as many megapixels as possible to lure consumers and photography enthusiasts. Over the past year, we’ve come across phones having 48MP and 64MP cameras. And now, the limelight is on 108MP sensors, seen on phones like Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, Mi 10, and the freshly-unveiled Motorola Edge+.

So, what’s the reality behind the 108MP smartphone cameras, and what are their advantages and disadvantages? Let’s have a quick look at the same below. Read on.

The Truth of 108MP Smartphones Cameras

What does 108MP mean?

How good are smartphone cameras

50MP vs 108MP vs 12MP | Courtesy: MrWhoseTheBoss

You may already know that a camera consists of a sensor that captures light to create photos. These sensors are divided into millions of pixels to capture light individually, making up for each megapixel.

So, just like a 12MP camera has 12 million pixels, a 108MP camera’s sensor boasts a whopping 108 million pixels onboard.

The 108-megapixel camera’s larger pixel count allows it to capture more information, compared to 64MP, 48MP, and traditional 12MP cameras. Hence, you get a more detailed image that can be zoomed in digitally or printed on a larger scale without becoming blurry or grainy.

Use of Pixel Binning Technology

Now, cramming in more pixels into a camera sensor means the pixels get smaller. And that’s primarily because of limited space for the camera module inside a smartphone’s body, especially when you already have about nine times more pixels than a regular camera.

Since each pixel is required to capture light information, the smaller size results in lesser clarity and more color noise in dimly-lit conditions. To tackle this issue, smartphone companies deploy special pixel binning techniques. The main idea behind binning is to combine data from neighboring pixels into one, to enhance the overall image quality.

Galaxy S20 Ultra | Credits: Danny Winget

The Galaxy S20 Ultra’s primary camera has 108-megapixels laid out in a 1/1.3-inch sensor, with each pixel having a size of 0.8µm. The Nonacell pixel binning used here combines 9 pixels to 1 make a super-pixel with a resulting size of 2.4µm. The final picture bears lower 12-megapixel resolution but looks better in reality. In the image given above, you can clearly see the better dynamic range in the binned image.

Similarly, the Xiaomi Mi Note 10 uses Tetracell technology in its 108MP camera to combine four pixels into one, yielding 27MP images with a resultant pixel size of 1.6μm. The 4-into-1 binning technique is present on almost all 48-megapixel and 64-megapixel camera smartphones.

Pixel Binning helps the camera compensate for smaller pixel sizes, especially in low-light. As a result, it gets to deliver brighter and clearer pictures with better clarity, dynamic range, and lesser noise. Though the overall resolution may be compromised, that you won’t mind giving up for the smaller image size.

Advantages & Disadvantages of having a 108MP Camera

The high-resolution 108MP cameras come with certain positives and negatives. To start with, they let you capture amazing shots in daylight with high levels of details that won’t pixelate on zooming in. And then comes low-light photography, where the software processing has to compensate for smaller pixel size through pixel binning.

Note that the high-resolution images often result in slow-processing times and extensively large files. For example, an average 12MP picture would measure about 2-5MB. At the same time, the image clicked at 108MP resolution will give you an approximate size of 20-30MB. That’s why most smartphones with a high megapixel count employ pixel-binning by default to capture lower resolution images.

S20 Ultra’s Thin Plane of Focus | Danny Winget

That’s not it—the huge sensor size, coupled with a fixed wide aperture, results in a narrower plane of focus. You get a limited area to focus during close-ups, resulting in premature isolation of objects from the background. It may look good in some instances while bad in others, and this can’t be rectified using pixel binning. The use of variable aperture in future phones should mitigate such limitations, though.

Is it a Gimmick?

108MP cameras aren’t pure gimmicks, counting in the fantastic performance of Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra. But it’s important to note that more megapixels don’t necessarily mean better colors, better dynamic range, or better low-light performance. For instance, a Pixel 4 or an iPhone 11 Pro would still be my choice for everyday camera use except for when I want insane zoom or super-high-resolution images.

Moreover, most flagship smartphones these days come equipped with telephoto lenses for optical zoom. This rectifies the need for a high-resolution sensor in many scenarios except for when you want to zoom after taking a picture. The Huawei P40 Pro would be an ideal example as the company went with a 50MP sensor, which has by far larger pixels than its 108MP competition.

Wrapping Up

In the end, having more megapixel on offer is indeed useful for attaining extensively high levels of detail. But then again, factors like image processing, sensor size, pixel size, aperture, and more are equally important in deciding image quality. You might’ve seen phones with 12MP outperforming the ones with 48MP cameras, haven’t you? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Do you have a camera phone but know nothing about its camera? Perhaps it was given to you as a gift and you’d like to know if it can take good photos or not. Is there a way to check the quality of your phone’s camera even if you don’t have the box or manual? Sure, there is.

Whether or not a mobile camera can take good photos is determined by things such as the size of the sensor, the number of pixels, and other factors that you can read about in this article that highlights the differences between a good mobile phone camera and a bad one.

There are, basically, two ways to check the quality of a smartphone camera– on paper by looking up the specs, and visually by taking test photos.

Let’s start with the specifications.

Look up the specs online

The quickest and easiest way to check the quality of your smartphone’s camera is to search for the specifications online. By having a look at these, you can get an idea of the performance you can expect from a mobile camera.

How good are smartphone cameras

Huawei P40 Pro specs as seen at GSM Arena.

If you visit websites such as GSM Arena, DxOMark, Epey, or any other in-depth mobile camera review website, you’ll find camera specifications for thousands of phones. These specs include things like megapixels, focal length, image stabilisation, optical zoom, and much more.

However, if you don’t know anything about cameras and have no idea what you’re looking at, the mobile camera specifications can be confusing with all the numbers, letters, and fractions. So, to check your phone’s camera quality by reading the specs, you need to first understand them.

Remember, a camera’s quality is not only determined by the number of megapixels it has. It’s a combination of different factors.

Use an app

If you happen to have one of those system information apps on your phone, you can use it to view your phone’s camera specs. For those of you who don’t know, a phone info app is an app that gives you all the information regarding your phone such as the chipset details, CPU clock speed, RAM, and much more.

Most phone info apps will give you details about all the cameras. The information may include the resolution of each camera, the focal length, and a few others. The information might not be as extensive as the information you would find online, but it can give you an idea of what you’re working with.

If you don’t have a phone info app and would like to have one, you can easily download any phone info app of your choice from your device’s app store.

Check EXIF data

A bit of a less-than-obvious way to check some of the specs of your phone’s camera is to look at information from photos you have already taken. Every time you take a photo with your mobile camera, not only does it save the image, but it also saves a lot of information relating to that image.

This information is commonly known as EXIF data. EXIF stands for Exchangeable Image File Format and can include anything from the date, GPS location, and even some camera settings.

You can view this information easily from your phone, mobile device or computer. All you have to do is navigate to any image captured with your smartphone camera and open it to look at its EXIF data.


To view a photo’s EXIF data on an android device, you can use any file manager or photo explorer app of your choice. For this quick walkthrough, I will use Google Photos since it’s available on pretty much every Android device.

  • Launch Google Photos
  • Complete the setup process (for first-time users)
  • Open a photo that you shot with your mobile camera
  • Click on the “i” with a circle around it.
  • The image’s EXIF data should appear on the screen


When it comes to your iPhone or iPad, viewing the metadata for a picture can be quite a pain, as you’ll need to jump through a few hoops. The reason for this is that Apple made the assumption that the everyday person doesn’t need to see the EXIF data, so why would they include it in the Photos app? Typical.

The first easiest way for you to view your Photo’s metadata is with the Files app. What you will need to do is:

  • Open the Photos app on your iPhone.
  • Navigate to a photo and tap the ‘Share’ button in the bottom left-hand corner.
  • Scroll down until you find the “Save to Files” prompt with the folder icon on the right side.
  • You will be prompted to save the image to a specific folder within the Files app, so pick or create your folder and save it.
  • After the photo has been saved, open the Files app and navigate to where you saved the picture.
  • Perform a Force Touch on the picture until a menu appears.
  • Tap ‘Info’.
  • At first glance, you won’t see too much information here, but there is a menu button to “Show More”. When you tap on that, all of the EXIF information will appear for that specific photo.

Windows computer

  • Open the folder where your image is located
  • Right-click on a photo taken with your mobile camera and then select Properties
  • Click on the Details tab
  • The image’s EXIF data should now be displayed

How good are smartphone cameras

Windows EXIF data

Apple computer

  • Open Photos for macOS
  • Open an image captured with your smartphone
  • Tap the ”I” button on the top-right
  • You can now view the EXIF data for the photo

Typically, EXIF data will give you the following information pertaining to your camera:

  • Camera maker
  • Camera model
  • Aperture
  • Shutter speed
  • ISO value
  • Flash
  • Focal length
  • 35mm focal length equivalent
  • File size
  • Resolution

The information found in the EXIF data relates to the particular picture you’re looking at. So, it is possible that you will get different readings for settings such as ISO and shutter speed, particularly if you were not shooting in manual mode.

But even though the shutter speed and ISO values may be different from photo to photo, things like aperture and focal length don’t change on smartphone cameras unless you switch between cameras on a phone with multiple cameras.

Granted, mobile photo EXIF data will not give you all the information you need regarding your camera’s specs such as sensor size, pixel size, AF, OIS, etc. However, the little bit of information that it does provide gives you an indication of the camera’s abilities.


EXIF data is readily available on original photos that were captured with your camera. Once you put an image through a photo editing app and save it, chances are the EXIF data will be removed.

Whether you want Apple’s iPhone, a Samsung Galaxy, a Google Pixel, OnePlus or another phone, these are the top options you can buy.

Lead Editor, CNET Advice, Europe; Lead Photographer, Europe

Andrew is CNET’s go-to guy for product coverage and lead photographer for Europe. When not testing the latest phones, he can normally be found with his camera in hand, behind his drums or eating his stash of home-cooked food. Sometimes all at once.

Patrick Holland has an eye for photography and a passion for everything mobile. He is a colorful raconteur who will guide you through the ever-changing and fast-paced world of phones. He also is one of the hosts of CNET’s I’m So Obsessed podcast.

Phones like the iPhone 13 Pro , the Pixel 6 Pro and the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra offer everything you could want in 2022; incredible performance, amazing camera skills and much more. The sheer amount of smartphone competition means you get great options at whatever price suits your budget, regardless of whether your biggest concern is an AMOLED display, high-speed 5G data or a cracking camera. Opting for a more affordable phone doesn’t mean compromising on usability, with even budget handsets like the Google Pixel 5A offering big, vibrant displays and quality cameras.

To help you figure out the best of the best, we rounded up our picks for the best phone to buy in 2022. Every phone on this list has been thoroughly reviewed and tested, from its battery life to camera performance. Each link is to an unlocked phone, and the phones should run on most of the big four US wireless carriers, unless otherwise specified. We update this list regularly.

For more info, read our guide to help find the best phone for your needs and take a look at our tips on how to buy a new Apple iPhone or Android phone .

Apple iPhone 13 Pro

The all-around best phone

The iPhone 13 Pro is the best phone Apple produces and it received a stellar score in our review. The new smartphone adds a third rear camera with 3x optical zoom (up from 2x on the iPhone 12), a stainless steel body and a ProMotion screen with refresh rates up to 120Hz for smoother scrolling.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

Best Android phone

Samsung’s latest flagship superphone, the Galaxy S22 Ultra has an impressive lineup of specs, including a quadruple rear camera, a big, vibrant display and the S Pen stylus you might remember from the Galaxy Note series. It comes with a high price, but those of you looking for one of the best Android phones around should have this on your short list.

Tired of hauling around an extra camera? Grab one of the best smartphones for taking photos and you might find your point-and-shoot collecting dust.

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Best Android Camera Phone

Google Pixel 6 Pro

Best for Content Creators

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max

Best Midrange Camera Phone

Google Pixel 6

Best Affordable Camera Phone

Google Pixel 5a With 5G

Best Android Phone Overall

Samsung Galaxy S22+

Best iPhone for One-Handed Shooting

Apple iPhone 13 mini

Most Affordable iPhone With Telephoto Lens

Apple iPhone 13 Pro

Best Android Phone for One-Handed Shooting

Samsung Galaxy S22

Best 10x Zoom Lens

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

Your phone is the camera you always carry. If you haven’t upgraded it in a few years, you should be pleasantly surprised by how much phone camera performance (particularly low-light image quality) has improved. In fact, we’ve pretty much reached the point where you can leave your old point-and-shoot at home as long as you’ve got a good camera phone in your pocket.

But not all phone cameras are equal. We put every phone we review through a rigorous series of camera evaluations to determine the best performers on the market and gathered our top picks here. You never have to worry about carrying a separate camera if you’ve got one of these in your pocket and each is a stellar smartphone, too.

From Selfies to Portraits

One thing we’re finding frustrating right now is that many of the best cameras are on smartphones that aren’t available in the US. There’s intense camera innovation going on from manufacturers such as Huawei, Oppo, and Xiaomi, but, for various reasons, they don’t sell phones in the US, and their phones work poorly on our networks.

In the US, Apple, Google, and Samsung have the best cameras. Higher-end phones tend to perform better, but the gap is closing, especially if you primarily take photos in good light. Sony phones also have good cameras, but their latest models can be very expensive or otherwise difficult to get in the US.

Apple’s latest cameras tend to be the benchmark in the creative industries. They’re extremely simple to use, with excellent focus and balanced colors. The leap to more creative or whimsical photo modes is harder with Apple than with Samsung, though, because it usually involves learning a third-party app.

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Google’s Pixel cameras are like the Apple of Android: fast, simple, and balanced.

Samsung’s phones have more lenses, modes, and options than Apple’s or Google’s. Samsung’s top innovation right now is super-zoom: its “Ultra” models have a 10x optical zoom with decent resolution at up to 30x digital zoom. Neither Apple nor Google can match that feature. But, in our experience, Samsung phones don’t focus as quickly or intelligently as those from Apple and Google. Samsung also tends to amp up colors more than Apple does, which causes some controversy.

The most important factor in any photo isn’t the camera—it’s the photographer. No matter what phone you have, following our camera expert Jim Fisher’s tips and tricks for camera phone photos can make your images better.

Phone Camera Trends and Accessories

A few years ago we saw a blossoming trend of phones with lots of lenses, and it’s still in full bloom. Many phones now have a standard lens, a magnifying zoom lens, and a wide-angle lens. Monochrome or infrared time-of-flight sensors can help judge depth for bokeh. Less successful lenses and sensors we’ve seen include color filters (you can do this very well in software) and macro lenses (slowly improving).

Although super-high-megapixel camera phones are becoming more popular, the options are scant in the US. The 108MP sensor on the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is a notable exception. The advantage of very high megapixels is that you can zoom and crop images after the fact, or do lossless digital zooming in your camera app without having to use an extra magnifying lens. The disadvantage is that the individual pixels can sometimes be very small, creating problems for color capture or low-light photography.

Superzoom lenses are also popular. Phones are now combining zoomed-in high-megapixel images, optical zoom lenses, and software to give you 30x, 50x, or—in the case of the Galaxy S22 Ultra—100x zoom. In general, anything much higher than 10x shows heavy digital zoom artifacting. But a good 10x zoom, as you get on the Galaxy S22 Ultra, is still a big step forward from what we used to have.

Large sensors are separate from high megapixels. Unfortunately, most of the phones solid in the US fall behind their international competition. The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra’s 1/1.33-inch primary sensor and the Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max’s 1/1.65-inch sensor are among the biggest you can buy in the States. Compare those with the Huawei P40 Pro’s large 1/1.128-inch primary sensor and the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra’s massive 1/1.112-inch primary sensor and you’ll see we still have a ways to go. Larger sensors are arguably more important than a higher megapixel count because they capture more light in a shorter amount of time. That translates to less blur and sharper photos.

The most advanced night modes now combine nearly a dozen successively shot frames to brighten up photos and improve clarity. They appear to have long, multi-second exposures, but they use AI software to reduce blur by aligning the various images together. (You still don’t want to use them for moving subjects.) Google’s Pixel phones, Apple’s iPhones, and Samsung Galaxy S phones all have excellent night modes.

Bring all of that together with a good Pro mode. Most phones have manual settings that allow you to tweak virtual exposure, aperture, and the focus point to get exactly the shot you want. If you’re just getting into smartphone photography, take some time to learn how manually adjusting things like aperture, ISO, and shutter speed can improve your photos. If you need a fast shot, however, all the phones on our list use machine learning and other software tweaks to take incredible photos without any manual tweaks.

Why do so many photographers rely on iPhones? The availability of third-party camera apps plays a big role. Some are available for Android, but apps used by professionals still tend to come out first and be more quickly updated on iOS.

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One place where the advent of the smartphone has been the most disruptive is the photography industry. Only a few years ago it was laughable to think of a phone’s photo ending up on the front page of a newspaper or magazine. But this has become increasingly common.

Smartphones have been extremely disruptive in terms of what cameras are taking most photographs today. In fact, the top two spots for the number of pictures taken on Flickr are from smartphones. Traditional cameras show up in the third and fourth slots from Canon and Nikon.

How good are smartphone cameras

While it is somewhat doubtful that photography as a profession will disappear completely, it is now easier for anyone to capture a great picture.

While these cameras are good for some things, there are some areas where they just can’t compete. The following points are just a few of the pros and cons of smartphone and DSLR photography:

Size Matters

One place where smartphones always wins is in the size department. Professional DSLRs are large, bulky, and heavy, and even with the recent trend toward smaller and lighter mirrorless cameras, they dwarf even some of the largest phones, including the iPhone, on the market.

This size differential gives smartphones the advantage of being inconspicuous at an event since it is just one smartphone out of many in the crowd. Depending on what is going on, this can be a major advantage if security or demonstrators want to keep “professional” photographers away from a gathering or other event.

How good are smartphone cameras
The Canon EOS 7D DSLR

What About Bokeh?

Bokeh, or the out-of-focus areas, in a picture will always be won by the device with a larger sensor. This is just part of the physics of photography. Larger image sensors are able to create a more shallow depth of field, which helps separate the main subject from the background. Bokeh can be added in post-processing, but it is often done poorly and can ruin an image.

Bokeh is also affected by the focal length of the lens. Most smartphones have a lens with the focal length equivalent of 28 to 35mm. This is great for capturing a scene, but it makes it more difficult to get good separation between the subject and background unless you get fairly close.


Settings controls is another area where the DSLR is not going to be beat. Even the lowest-end DSLR gives a much higher degree of control than a smartphone.

The average smartphone camera app gives control to settings like the white balance and the flash whereas DSLRs allow control over most of the settings, such as shutter speed, ISO, aperture and shooting in a RAW format. Some smartphone apps do allow for this sort of control (such as the great Manual iPhone app), but the same quality isn’t always there.

Image Quality

The final quality of the image is one place where it is more subjective to compare smartphones and DSLRs. Most smartphones have between 10 and 20 megapixels, which is more than enough for the average consumer’s screen and large prints.

For this factor, who is behind the camera is more important than the camera itself. Anyone with a good photographic eye can take a good image regardless of the equipment they are using.

So, what do you use to capture photos? Do you enjoy the convenience of a smartphone? Prefer the high quality and controls found on DSLRs? Or do you prefer smaller hybrid/mirrorless cameras? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook!

About the Author: Contrastly

Our mission at Contrastly is to help photographers all around the globe improve their craft and learn new skills. We create unique Lightroom & ACR presets, Photoshop actions, ebooks, and video courses. We also publish a popular blog with instructional articles, reviews, and tutorials. Follow Contrastly on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. And make sure you subscribe to the bi-weekly Contrastly newsletter.

How good are smartphone cameras

Acclaimed Magnum photographer and judge on VISION+ Mobile PhotoAwards 2021, Martin Parr has shared his thoughts on how modern smartphone technology has shaped the documentary genre and opened up new opportunities for photographers of all levels of experience.

Earlier this year, vivo launched the VISION+ Mobile PhotoAwards 2021 in partnership with National Geographic. The competition featured six judges across different genres, Parr being one of them.

The aim of the competition is to promote mobile photography and encourage participation from everyone — professionals, enthusiasts, and ordinary mobile phone users.

How good are smartphone cameras

As the author of numerous photographic books and exhibitions and as a Magnum photographer, Parr has firsthand seen the development of smartphones throughout his career.

Not just as photographers began to use them for mobile photography but also as a documentary photographer himself, capturing the phenomenon of smartphones growing into an intrinsic part of everyday society and culture.

How good are smartphone cameras How good are smartphone cameras How good are smartphone camerasHow good are smartphone cameras

In a recent press interview, Parr revealed that with the introduction of mobile photography and image showcase apps, such as Instagram, a new generation of photographers has emerged.

Nowadays photographers are able to put their work in front of millions without being required to go through “gatekeepers”, such as a gallery or a publisher. As more people have access to create and share their work, self-publishing tools have become more accessible and affordable, too.

“Famously, someone like Alec Soth did this with ‘Sleeping by the Mississippi,’ and he got Steidl to print it, having seen one of the dummies that he created,” says Parr. “So there are these opportunities that didn’t happen before. So that to me is one of the new developments of photography, which is very exciting.”

How good are smartphone cameras How good are smartphone camerasHow good are smartphone cameras

On the flipside, Parr notes that the opportunities to earn living from working with magazines have declined tremendously but that can be offset with a growing market for prints, which can be sold by photographers across the world.

“I’m quite expensive, because I’ve been around for 50 years, so I’ve got a reputation. But you know, it is possible to actually earn a living from photography, from selling prints as much as doing anything else.”

How good are smartphone cameras How good are smartphone camerasHow good are smartphone cameras

In regards to using a smartphone as part of his photography, Parr has noticed the difference in how people perceive an unobtrusive smartphone device compared to a larger telephoto lens that he regularly uses for documentary work.

He explained that using smartphones can be handy for situations that might otherwise appear tense, such as photographing strangers in close quarters or documenting someone who is getting arrested. In a situation like this, a smartphone appears less threatening because everyone has one and are used to seeing it as part of the modern landscape.

How good are smartphone cameras How good are smartphone camerasHow good are smartphone cameras

Even though smartphone cameras make photography easy and accessible for people of all ages and experiences, Parr believes that anyone who uses a camera is a photographer irrespective of what kind of camera they have. Whether it is a discrete smartphone or a professional-grade DSLR or mirrorless — anyone who takes images is a photographer.

If anything, the ease of camera use allows people to focus more on the subject matter and the creative expression instead of being concerned with technicalities and camera settings, which can appear complex for beginners. This is even more so prevalent when comparing smartphone cameras with film cameras where technical knowledge is a must for capturing a well-exposed photograph.

How good are smartphone cameras

“So, the only thing that counts now is the quality of the story and the quality of the images that you’re taking. The technical thing is all being sorted,” he explains.

The deadline for VISION+ Mobile PhotoAwards 2021 entries to be submitted is September 30th, 2021. Finalists will be announced on October 30th, 2021. More information about the competition can be found on the Vision+ website.

Image credits: All images courtesy of vivo Vision+ Mobile PhotoAwards 2021.

Harry Guinness is a photography expert and writer with nearly a decade of experience. His work has been published in newspapers like The New York Times and on a variety of other websites, from Lifehacker to Popular Science and Medium’s OneZero. Read more.

Sometimes, you might take what you think is a great photo with your smartphone, only to see afterward it’s all blurry. If that’s happening to you a lot, let’s take a look at what might be causing it.

You’re Taking Photos in Low Light

Smartphone cameras have very small image sensors, which means they need quite a lot of light to take good photos. At night, in the evening, or even just indoors on a cloudy day, the amount of light available isn’t enough for your smartphone to easily take a decent photo. So, your phone starts to make compromises.

The first thing it does is increase the ISO (basically, how sensitive the sensor is) so it needs less light to get a photo. The trade-off, though, is that this also increases the amount of digital noise. If your photos look grainy (like the image above) instead of blurry, this is likely what’s going on.

Another compromise your smartphone will make is using a slower shutter speed. This means, it takes longer to take the photo to allow more light to reach the sensor.

Unfortunately, a slower shutter speed means other things can happen, as well.

Your Hand Moved

A slow shutter speed, like 1/4 of a second, means the camera is taking the photo long enough to also record any movement your hand makes—even if it’s just a little shake.

You can see a fairly dramatic example of this in the image above. Most of the time, however, this kind of blur is a lot subtler. However, it’s one of the most common causes of blurry photos if you shoot indoors or in poor lighting. Even just tapping the shutter button can shake your smartphone enough to blur an image.

This kind of blur doesn’t happen much when it’s nice and bright outside because your smartphone uses a shutter speed that’s fast enough to prevent it.

Something Moves as You Shoot

Even if you keep your hands completely still, if something (or someone) moves when you shoot your photo, it’ll turn out blurry. For example, the guy in the image above moved just a little as this image was shot, but it was still enough to ruin the photo.

While this is also common when you shoot in low light, it can happen at any time if the subject moves fast enough. For example, if you try to shoot a race car passing by, no matter how good the light is, it’s probably going to turn out blurry.

You Zoomed in Too Far

  • Optical: The lens physically magnifies objects that are far away. This is what a telephoto lens on smartphones does.
  • Digital: Rather than zooming in on distant objects, your smartphone crops (or performs other tricks) the photo tighter. This makes it look like you zoomed in, but it’s really just throwing away image data.

An iPhone Xs, for example, has a 2x optical zoom with the telephoto lens. However, it also has a 10x digital zoom, for which it takes a photo from the telephoto lens and crops it really close.

The problem is, since there’s no additional image data to draw on, it reduces the quality of the image. It also creates other problems, like making the blur from your shaking hand even more apparent.

There’s a Smudge on the Lens

Sometimes, the problem isn’t how the photo was taken, but rather, that it was taken with a dirty lens. If there’s water, oil from your skin, dirt, sweat, or anything else on your smartphone’s camera lens, it will affect your photos.

In the image above, some water from the mist got on the lens, which is why it’s blurry.

Your Camera Missed Focus

While it’s not an especially common problem due to how smartphone cameras are designed, your photos might be blurry because they’re out of focus.

Smartphone cameras are set up so that most of any given photo will be in focus. This is why everyone looks good in a group photo, but it’s impossible to take a portrait with a blurry background without resorting to software trickery.

However, smartphone cameras still have to focus the lens, even if they normally don’t have to adjust it too much. For example, if you previously focused on something close and try to shoot something farther away before the camera has a chance to refocus, it will be slightly out of focus.

Your smartphone camera can also misfocus if it accidentally focuses on the wrong thing. For example, say you’re trying to take a close-up of a unicorn, but the camera keeps focusing on the background, as shown above.

You Saved a Photo from Social Media

Social media platforms, like Facebook and Instagram, crush the quality of the images you upload to save bandwidth and uploading time. Unfortunately, this means if you download a photo you’ve previously posted on social media, it can look awful.

This will happen even if the original looked great on your phone.

How to Avoid Blurry Smartphone Photos

Whatever the reason your photos are blurry, there are some practical steps you can take to avoid it in the future.

Here’s what to do:

  • Shoot in the best lighting possible: Taking photos in low light introduces heaps of problems. The best way to avoid them is to avoid bad lighting whenever you can. Shoot outdoors or only in the best light you can find indoors.
  • Keep your hands steady: If your hands move, you’ll get a blurry photo. Brace your arms tightly against your body and keep your smartphone as still as possible. If you have a smartphone tripod, use it whenever you can, or just prop your phone against something.
  • Cue your subjects: If you’re taking a photo of a group of people, ask them all to remain as still as possible.
  • Avoid fast-moving subjects: Even under the best of circumstances, these will almost always turn out blurry.
  • Use burst mode: If you take more than one photo in quick succession, you increase the chances that everything will line up for at least one of them. It also prevents you from shaking your phone by tapping the shutter button.
  • Don’t zoom in too much: A little bit of digital zoom will, likely, go unnoticed, but if you zoom in too far, it’s obvious.
  • Tap your subject to focus on it: Your smartphone’s autofocus can sometimes think the wrong thing is the subject.
  • Clean the lens: A microfiber lens cloth is best, but a bit of tissue will do.
  • Take manual control of your phone: If you’re in a really tricky situation, you can set the shutter speed and ISO you need to get the best possible photo. Here’s how to do this on an iPhone or Samsung phone.
  • Be realistic: Smartphone cameras have come a long way, but they’re still limited compared to dedicated cameras. This is due to the size of the sensors, the fixed aperture of the lenses, and the more constrained designs. Given this, you can’t expect to capture the perfect image every time.

How good are smartphone cameras

Article Index

  1. The Basics of Camera Hardware
  2. Megapixel Count, Sensor, Pixel Size, Focal Length
  3. Aperture, Image Stabilisation, Focus, ISO, Shutter
  4. DSLR vs Smartphone, Final Thoughts
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One of the most important features of smartphones is the camera. Whether it’s for photographing people, landscapes, flowers or food, buyers nowadays demand a good quality camera on the back of their handset. As they get better each year, for many they’ve replaced standalone point-and-shoot cameras as the go-to device for everyday photography, as they’re easier to access and more compact to carry with you. The front-facing camera is increasingly important too with the trend of ‘selfies’ across social media and services like Snapchat.

How good are smartphone cameras

The 16-megapixel camera on the back of the Samsung Galaxy S5

But just what goes in to making a smartphone camera? What hardware do companies use? What do pixel sizes and f-stops really mean? In this article I’ll be exploring smartphone camera hardware, key terms associated with photography, and interesting comparisons along the way.

The Basics of Camera Hardware

Let’s start right at the base components that form a camera. For smartphone cameras, like pretty much all cameras available on the market, there’s two main components that form the camera module: the sensor and the lens. Without both of these crucial parts, you’ll have a hard time taking a photo, which is why they’re typically packaged together into a single unit that adds on to the smartphone’s main board through a ribbon cable.

How good are smartphone cameras

This is the camera module from the Galaxy S5; a Samsung S5K2P2XX 1/2.6″ sensor with an f/2.2 lens. Photo: iFixit.

The sensor is the part of the camera that actually ‘captures’ the image. It’s a complex integrated circuit that typically includes photodetectors – the key component that captures light – plus amplifiers, transistors, and often some form of processing hardware and power management. When the smartphone’s camera software requests an image, the sensor provides all the necessary data.

Smartphone camera sensors almost universally use CMOS (complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor) technology, which is a form of active pixel sensor I described above. The other main sensor technology, CCD (charged-coupled device), is too power consuming and expensive for use in smartphones, even if historically CCD sensors have been of a higher quality.

How good are smartphone cameras

A relatively simple explanation of how a CMOS sensor works is that the photodetectors corresponding to each pixel in the image capture analog information about the photons (light packets) hitting them. This information gets amplified and converted into a digital signal relating to the brightness of the photons. To get color data, an RGBG Bayer filter is layered over the array of photodetectors, and an interpolation software algorithm produces the final, full-color image.

The amount of megapixels a camera has refers directly to the amount of photodetectors in the sensor’s array. An eight megapixel sensor, for example, means that there are eight million photodetectors in the array.

The lens focuses light onto the sensor so the image looks crisp and clear. While it’s possible to use a camera without a lens, the resulting picture will be just a blur of colors as photons from all angles hit the sensor. Basically, you need a lens so the light from the large scene in front of the camera can be reduced and focused down to fit the small size of the sensor.

How good are smartphone cameras

A breakout of the construction of Nokia’s PureView camera

The lens is a collection of multiple plastic or glass elements, with glass usually providing a higher quality, sharper result. Each element has a specific function in focusing the light onto the sensor, whether that’s generally shaping the light to fit the size of the sensor, correcting issues, or providing the final focus point.

In a camera with autofocus, the final lens element (or collection of a few elements) will move closer to or further away from the sensor, thanks to the assistance of a motor. This allows different areas of the image to appear in focus, and is one of the key aspects of a practical camera system.

The lens elements work in conjunction with an aperture, which is a hole before the sensor, of a certain size, that the focussed light travels through. The size of the hole determines how much light passes to the sensor, and how sharp and in focus the image will be; something I’ll talk about later on in this article. Unlike professional cameras and some point-and-shoots, the aperture on a smartphone camera is always fixed, meaning it’s impossible to adjust the light gathering properties of the lens to alter the way the image looks.

How good are smartphone cameras

This photo was captured using a Samsung Galaxy S5 at ISO 40, 1/580s, f/2.2

The distance between the lens elements and the sensor is what’s known as the focal length. This distance determines both the effective magnification of the camera system, as well as its field of view. A short focal length equates to a wide-angle lens with little magnification, and vice versa.

How far the lens needs to be from the sensor changes depending on the size of the sensor itself, and what function you want the lens to perform. Smartphone cameras almost universally use wide-angle lenses and small sensors, meaning focal lengths are below 5mm.

So that’s a basic look at what a smartphone camera consists of. As you may have noticed, it’s very similar to a human eye, where the sensor is the retina, and the lens is the. well. lens. Now it’s time to take a deeper look.


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Smartphones are expensive these days, which makes choosing one a major decision. Aside from price and performance, features like 5G, durability, and cameras are all important to consider.

Smartphone cameras are good enough today that they can replace point-and-shoot cameras for many people. Some are even sufficient for business and work purposes. Tap or click here to see how to turn your smartphone into a webcam.

All of the top-tier smartphone brands come with great cameras, but which ones are the best of the best? This new ranking of the best-performing smartphone cameras can help you narrow down your choices.

Which smartphone cameras are the best?

Are you trying to decide on a new smartphone with a killer camera? Reviewers from “Consumer Reports” have put together a list of their favorite smartphones regarding camera quality and performance.

These phones offer cameras on the front and back sides, and many include premium features like image stabilization, telephoto zoom and wide-angle lenses. Like the iPhone 12, some phones use multiple cameras at once to produce sharper images with blurred backgrounds that look like professional portraits.

If you’re comfortable with the storage options these phones come with (as low as 64GB on the iPhone), a device from this list could be the perfect candidate to replace your digital camera. Otherwise, you may want to invest in cloud storage or memory cards.

The top 10 best smartphone cameras

“Consumer Reports” rated its 10 favorite phones based on performance, photo quality and video quality. You won’t go wrong by choosing any of these photo-friendly picks.

  • Apple iPhone 12 Pro: $999
  • Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra 5G: $1,299
  • Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max: $999
  • Apple iPhone 11 Pro: $899
  • Apple iPhone 12: $799
  • Samsung Galaxy Note20 5G: $999
  • Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra: $1,399
  • Samsung Galaxy S20+: $1,199
  • Samsung Galaxy S20: $999
  • Samsung Galaxy S10+: $849

Interestingly enough, both the iPhone SE and Google Pixel 4XL failed to make the cut. These phones are not bad choices, but their cameras failed to compete with the top 10 winners.

“Consumer Reports” even says that the differences between this group’s cameras are small enough to be variables in the test phones.

The iPhone 12 Pro remains the best choice in both still images and videos thanks to its unique multi-camera array. The previous year’s iPhone 11 models also beat most of the latest Samsung phones in video quality, but not photo quality.

Which phones are best when it comes to camera performance? Every phone on the list received top marks during individual reviews, but we’d say the iPhone 12 Pro is your best bet if you want a truly future-proof smartphone camera.

All you need to do is decide which iPhone 12 model is the best for your budget.

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There were plenty of phones announced at IFA 2018, ranging from flagships like the Sony Xperia XZ3 to midrange options like the Motorola One. BlackBerry also unveiled a “Lite Edition” of its flagship KEY2, which is meant to reach a wider audience by dropping the cost and offering more color options. When it comes to creating more affordable devices, companies often skimp on cameras, which frankly sucks for anyone who wants a midrange phone but still wants solid photo quality. Without a good camera, your phone is basically a sad little work machine with no window to your world. The $300 Pocophone F1 has an impressive list of specs for the price, like a powerful Snapdragon 845 processor and a 6.18-inch full HD+ display, but we were curious how its cameras measured up. What better excuse then, to take the phone out on a “tourist test” here in Berlin, shooting the gorgeous architecture around the city’s Konzerthaus?

The Pocophone F1 has a 12-megapixel sensor on the back with a f/1.9 aperture, paired with a 5-megapixel sensor for sensing depth. Up front, it packs a 20-megapixel camera, which also offers portrait mode, HDR and flash by lighting up the screen. It’s a pretty good combination for the price, even if it’s not the sharpest resolution or the widest aperture smartphone camera in the market.

Gallery: Pocophone F1 camera samples | 17 Photos

Gallery: Pocophone F1 camera samples | 17 Photos

I was actually surprised when I looked at the pictures on my computer (and other phones). They were bright, crisp and colorful, which is nicer than I’d expected. The images aren’t as hot as the ones from the Pixel 2 or the Huawei P20 Pro, of course, but for a $300 phone, the Pocophone’s cameras take decent photos. I also liked the selfies from the front-facer — the phone accurately applies bokeh, though colors were slightly washed out.

It’s worth noting that by default, the Pocophone applies a logo to the bottom left of your photos (shot on the rear cameras). I don’t really get why this is even a feature at all, but you can disable it. Another thing to look out for is that shooting in Portrait mode with the dual cameras seems to apply some light beautifying effects on your subject’s faces, even if you’ve turned the setting off. A zit on my colleague’s face was removed, while another coworker’s complexion was lightened and his lips seemed redder than in real life.

Videos were also unexpectedly smooth and evenly exposed, with little distortion. I didn’t mind the lack of optical image stabilization here. The quality won’t be good enough for you to shoot an amateur movie on, but it’ll certainly do for your Instagram stories.

The Pocophone F1 doesn’t deliver significantly better quality than the $250 Moto G6, though, which has a wider f/1.8 aperture and lets you adjust the intensity of the background blur after the shot. The Moto G6 is available in the US now, and has a sharper full HD+ screen, although it also suffered from similar brightness issues in sunlight. That said, the Moto has a less-powerful Snapdragon 450 chipset, so your overall experience with the phone might be slower.

All told, I was pleasantly surprised by how well the Pocophone F1’s cameras performed. Xiaomi has managed to keep an impressive amount of important features on a device this cheap, and it’s a real shame that US shoppers won’t be able to get their hands on it, at least for now. It’s something that’s true of many other phones launched here at IFA 2018, too, like the €300 Motorola One and the Honor Play.

Follow all the latest news from IFA 2018 here!

It’s no secret that the smartphone has cannibalized digital camera sales. Market research firm IDC reports that smartphone sales topped 1 billion in 2013, up 38 percent year over year. CIPA (the Camera & Imaging Products Association) shows a 36 percent drop in digital camera sales over the same period: Shipments plummeted from around 98 million in 2012 to 63 million units in 2013, with the biggest losses coming among mid- and low-priced models.

Some consumers even swear their new phones are taking better pictures than their digital cameras ever did. When you see the comparisons, the quality does, indeed, look pretty darn close.

Has the average smartphone camera eclipsed the average point-and-shoot? We’ll start by comparing megapixels. Then we’ll look at sensor sizes, and conclude by considering the numbers in real-world contexts.

The truth behind the megapixels

Megapixels have been debunked as an overhyped spec, but they still matter to a point, particularly if you’re making a giant print or cropping a small section of a larger photo. Average megapixels on smartphones have increased steadily since 2007.

The following graph plots megapixels over time for a few hundred of the most popular phones:

Megapixel growth among smartphones has been slow, but steady. Before 2009, there was hardly anything over 3MP. Soon after 2011, 8MP became the standard for most flagship models, though a smattering of sub-5MP handsets hung around until mid-2013. Meanwhile, manufacturers like Nokia, Sony, and Samsung have started making 13MP-plus phones since mid-2012—high enough to match megapixel counts on some DSLRs, let alone point-and-shoots.

To see whether the average smartphone officially caught up with the average digital camera, we also plotted megapixels for popular point-and-shoot models since 2002 below (based on a sampling of over 1,500 smartphones and over 1,400 point-and-shoots):

At a glance, the steady march toward giant pixel counts is even more obvious with digital cameras. In the early 2000s, point-and-shoots with less than 4 megapixels were common. In 2007—when smartphones were just starting to take off—the average number of megapixels in a point-and-shoot was just under 10. Now? That number is 16.5—nearly double the megapixels of the average smartphone camera today.

While megapixels in smartphone cameras have nearly tripled over the past seven years, the point-and-shoot family has done enough to maintain a distinct advantage. When it comes to pixels, you’ll still get a lot more out of most low-end digital cameras.

Sensor size matters

For most practical purposes, a large sensor is more important than high megapixels. That’s why most professional photographers ignore crazy MP counts and focus on sensor size instead. The size of a camera’s sensor determines how much light the device can capture for each photograph, which in turn allows for greater detail and more accurate images.

By far the most common sensor size for a point-and-shoot digital camera is 1 / 2.3”, which—by some surprisingly intricate photography math—works out to a diagonal of just under 8 mm and an area of around 28.5 mm. (Compare this sensor to a “full frame” DSLR camera, which is over five times larger by diagonal and over 30 times larger by area).

Meanwhile, today’s average smartphone sensor is about 1 / 3.2”, which in real-world numbers means a 5.7-mm diagonal and 15.5-mm area. To put these sensor sizes in context, see the diagram below:

Next to a DSLR, neither the smartphone nor the point-and-shoot fare all that well, but the difference is still significant enough to earn the point-and-shoot another clear victory: that 28.5-mm area is, after all, over 45 percent larger than the smartphone’s paltry 15.5 mm.

That’s why a Canon PowerShot will still almost always beat an iPhone in low-light settings, where every extra millimeter of sensor size is critical for capturing light.

A dose of reality

So if the point-and-shoot still beats the smartphone in megapixels (the trendy stat) and sensor size (the more important stat), then why are digital camera sales tanking? A closer look at real-world use finds some potential answers.

Megapixels: enough is enough

It turns out that packing in extra megapixels quickly loses value somewhere after the 5-9 MP range. Last year, photography site DPReview set out to determine how many megapixels you really need in exhaustive detail. The conclusion: Even for the highest-resolution devices—like a retina-display iPad—a 3MP photo is the largest you’ll ever need. Anything beyond that, and your screen won’t be able to render the full resolution of the photo anyway.

For actual prints, the requirements are a bit higher. For a perfectly crisp, printed photo, a 3MP shot will produce a great 5×7-inch print. For a larger print—say, an A4 (similar to U.S. letter size), a 9MP shot would more than suffice. You’d start needing the resolution of a 16MP point-and-shoot only if you wanted a 12×16-inch print—the sort of thing most people won’t need more than once or twice a decade.

Smartphones haven’t caught up to point-and-shoots, but at this point, they don’t need to. The average phone’s camera now packs in enough pixels for 99 percent of your photography needs, and thus the smartphone’s megapixel deficiency becomes a moot point.

Sensor size: there for those who need it

Yes, the average smartphone has a smaller sensor than the average point-and-shoot. But increasingly, the flagship models have matched—or exceeded—their digital camera rivals. The latest iPhone still falls just shy of a point-and-shoot, but handsets like the Nokia Lumia 1020 and 808 Pureview actually beat the low-range digital cameras, and by a fair margin.

So for the truly picky amateur photographer, there are a dozen smartphones that boast solid sensors—yet another problem for the dying point-and-shoot camera.

But what about optical zoom?

It’s the final, “gotcha” argument for any point-and-shoot apologist: Digital cameras have built-in, zoom-enabled lenses, while smartphones must rely on digital zooming, an inferior technique that produces less accurate, lower resolution photos.

For bird enthusiasts and whale watchers around the world, it’s hard to deny this point. An old-fashioned digital camera is still best for capturing subjects from a thousand feet away. But for the flower-picking, baby-snapping, spaghetti-eating masses, optical zooming is simply unnecessary.

And so it is that the smartphone has cannibalized the point-and-shoot camera, despite its inferior specs. Sometimes, it’s better to be convenient than good.

Behind the Spec Sheet seeks to draw new insights based on hardware data. Produced by FindtheBest, a company that aggregates specs and features in a centralized database,guest column will share data-driven discoveries and surprises, and attempt to expose common misconceptions.

How good are smartphone cameras

How good are smartphone cameras

How we choose the best smartphone camera

  • Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max
  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
  • Google Pixel 6 Pro
  • OnePlus 10 Pro
  • Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra
  • Huawei P40 Pro Plus
  • Sony Xperia Pro-I

What are the phones with the best camera?

iPhone 13 Pro Max

How good are smartphone cameras

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max

The Good

  • Amazing battery life
  • Super bright display with great colors
  • Fastest performance of any phone
  • Improved camera
  • Best video quality of any phone

The Bad

  • Lacks fast charging
  • Size is a bit extreme and it is a heavy phone
  • Cinematic Mode needs some more polish
  • No USB-C makes life more complicated

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

How good are smartphone cameras

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

The Good

  • S Pen in a flagship, great for creatives
  • Industry-leading screen quality
  • Faster charging than before
  • 10X zoom camera is improved significantly
  • Video recording gets smoother stabilization
  • 4 years of major software updates!

The Bad

  • Battery life has gone down from the S21 Ultra
  • You get less RAM than last year
  • No microSD card slot, no headphone jack
  • Loudspeaker quality could be better
  • Jittery swiping, microstutter with gesture nav in One UI

Last year, the Galaxy S21 Ultra impressed us with its versatile camera and especially with the incredible, high-quality 10X periscope zoom lens, and the Galaxy S22 Ultra camera mostly keeps that successful formula and gives it a fresh coat of paint. The camera specs of the S22 Ultra haven’t changed much at all, they are virtually identical to the ones on the S21 Ultra, but there’s tons of improvements in the camera. Still, you can’t have the good without some bad, and in this case, we’re a bit put off by the aggressive sharpening, revamped dynamics, and bleaker colors.

How good are smartphone cameras

Over the past few years we’ve watched smartphone chipsets go from having a lonely CPU core to having ten. Display resolutions broke the HD barrier and currently top out at 4K. But progress has slowed down on both the chipset and display fronts. High refresh rate displays made things exciting again for a while, but that excitement is dying down too.

Cameras, however, seem to keep getting better and better (and more numerous). And more often than not they are the reason to upgrade before your old phone is on its last legs. A Snapdragon 855 may be a couple of years old at this point, but it’s still pretty zippy. However, a 10x periscope lens will crush any phone camera from 2 years ago in a zoom shootout.

So, let’s rewind the tape and pay tribute to the phones that introduced revolutionary camera technologies.

We should start at the beginning. The first phone with a built-in camera was the Kyocera VP-210 from 1999. It had a 110,000 px sensor (yes, 0.1MP), and could take photos. You could store up to 20 photos on the phone and send them over email. The phone supported video calling too, transmitting video over Japan’s PHS network at 2 fps.

This was a front-facing camera, by the way, making it the first selfie camera too.

How good are smartphone cameras
The Kyocera VP-210 was the first camera phone and it had the first selfie camera too

The first 10MP or higher phone camera belongs to the Samsung Pixon12 that hit the market in August 2009. As the name suggests, it had a 12MP sensor. As did the Sony Ericsson Satio that arrived a few months later, but we’re only looking at the first to make it to the market.

It took a full decade to add another zero to the resolution number – the first 100MP or higher phone camera was mounted on the Xiaomi Mi CC9 Pro, which was launched as the Mi Note 10/10 Pro in the West. It packed a massive 1/1.33″ Samsung HMX sensor with 108MP resolution and quad binning technology.

How good are smartphone cameras How good are smartphone cameras How good are smartphone cameras
Samsung M8910 Pixon12 • Xiaomi Mi CC9 Pro • Xiaomi Mi CC9 Pro

We’ve seen bigger, though. The Nokia 808 PureView from 2012, which did have a larger sensor at 1/1.2″ optical format. Its reign was short-lived, however. The largest sensor on a phone ever was inside the Panasonic Lumix Smart Camera CM1 from 2014. It had a 1″ 20 MP sensor and a Leica lens with f/2.8 aperture.

How good are smartphone cameras
Panasonic Lumix Smart Camera CM1

The Nokia 808 PureView was the first phone to use pixel binning, however. Nokia’s whitepaper called it ‘oversampling’, but the idea is the same – several tiny pixels can be better used as one big pixel. Besides offering stunning per-pixel detail, this technique enabled lossless digital zoom, something that is quite common today.

How good are smartphone cameras How good are smartphone cameras
Nokia 808 PureView • Details on 808’s amazing sensor

The first phone with optical zoom came many years earlier – the Sharp 902 had lens that offered up to 2x optical zoom for its 2MP camera. As far as we can tell this was also the first periscope lens on a phone. It had a single camera, so that periscope had to adjust its focal length, that is true zoom. You can read more about the early days of optical zoom on mobile, if you’re curious.

A fun fact for Flashback regulars: yes, of course there was a Sharp 902 Ferrari edition.

How good are smartphone cameras
Sharp 902

We have a tie for the first dual camera – the LG Optimus 3D and HTC EVO 3D both came out in July 2011. These two were failed attempts to capitalize on the 3D craze that Avatar started in 2009. The phones had two identical camera modules so that they can shoot stereoscopic photos and videos that could then be viewed on the paralax barrier screens.

How good are smartphone cameras How good are smartphone cameras
LG Optimus 3D P920 • HTC EVO 3D

Update: Actually, the Samsung SCH-B710 from 2007 predates both with stereo 1.3 MP cameras, also used for 3D shooting.

The first useful dual camera came later with 2016’s LG G5. It was equipped with the first ultrawide angle camera. The main 16MP camera had a 75º field of view, the wide lens stretched out to 135º FoV. That’s actually quite impressive as if you check recent ultrawide cameras, you’ll find many of them have 120º or so lenses.

How good are smartphone cameras How good are smartphone cameras
LG G5 • A comparison in the field of view captured by LG G5’s wide and ultra wide cameras

Another dual camera first came in 2014 with the HTC One (M8). It had two 4MP sensors – one shot in color, the other acted as the first depth sensor. The phone used the depth information for various effects, none of which were exactly impressive.

How good are smartphone cameras How good are smartphone cameras How good are smartphone cameras How good are smartphone cameras
HTC One (M8) • Effects enabled by HTC One (M8)’s depth sensor

This is the end of Part 1. Having looked at the important milestones of still cameras on phones, we’ll focus on the video recording side of things next week.

Imagine that it is 1990 and you are out for a fun night with friends at the bowling alley. Everyone is dressed adorably and for once you are all in one place at the same time. This is a Kodak moment, but no one remembered to bring a camera. In 1990, if you forgot the camera, then you did not get a picture. This was a common issue, and most people were not all that infatuated with picture memories as we are now.

Sometimes it is hard to remember a time when you had to remember to pack a camera if you wanted to capture the moment Our photography culture has been forever changed by the invent of the smartphone. Some of these changes are considered definite positives, but others may have a bit of a negative stigma attached to them.

A Brief History of Photography
In 1835, William Henry Talbot developed the first process for creating reproducible photographs as we know them today. This process involves taking a negative image on special paper and producing multiple copies of a positive image through a process known as contact printing. Since then, this process was refined and underwent several major developments leading up to the invention of the digital image.

It was not until 1900 that the first camera became available for purchase by the general public. Known as the Kodak Brownie, the camera was limited to black and white prints and was affordable to middle-class families.

Although color photographs were available much early to specialized photographers, it was 1907 before the first color photograph camera became available to the general public.

In 1948, Edwin Land created the Polaroid camera. This was the first camera to ever spit out instantly available photos. Aside from the Polaroid, the only other option for regular families was a camera that used film and the pictures had to be developed by a professional.

Technology for the modern digital camera actually began to emerge as early as 1969, but it used a cassette tape rather than a memory card. However, the first digital camera to be sold to consumers came about in 1990. It costed a pretty penny at $600 and was not widely used due to the cost. It was not until 2004 that digital cameras became more popular than cameras that use film.

More often than not, we now use cell phones to capture our precious moments in life. How has this recent development changed photography? You may be surprised by some of the answers.

Instant Gratification
One of the biggest changes that has been brought about by the invention of the smartphone, is the ability to instantly gain access to a picture every single time. Of course, there was a Polaroid camera for many years, but Polaroid film was not known for its high-quality pictures. For the most part, people had to wait to view and to share the pictures that they had taken. This is because they had to take the film to a store to be developed.

Another major development in photography since the invention of the smartphone is the ability to share these photos with a large crowd of people instantly. Years ago people had photo books where they would store their precious memories. These books were only brought out for special occasions and usually were not shared with random acquaintances. Now, we share our photos with anyone who give them a like.

Mounds of Pictures
In the time before digital cameras, there was not a habit of taking and retaking pictures to get the perfect pose. Because you did not know what the picture looked like, it was far more likely for you to snap one or two shots and call it a day. The photos were not always perfect, but they were much more candid.

Thanks to our smartphones, we take the same picture thousands of times to get the perfect pose. People now have unlimited storage, unlike with film cameras where only a certain number of photos could be snapped before the roll of film was done for.

Formerly known as the “Self-portrait” the first selfie was technically taken by a landmark photographer in 1839. He probably did not call it a selfie, though, and he definitely did not post it to his story. The modern version of the selfie came about in 2002 with a group of Australians who dedicated a website to the concept. This of course, was built using digital cameras.

Now, even grandmothers of millennials have begun to take selfies. It is a cultural phenomenon that a lot people argue represents an obsession with ourselves. Either way, the selfie is not likely to go away any time soon.

Professional Photography
The professional photography world has been mildly inconvenienced by the smartphone. Wedding photographers complain about the guests who ruin professional photos with their amateur cell phone shots. Filters may cause some families to think their photos look professional. Also, cell phone cameras are becoming increasingly powerful.

Further, apps like Adobe lightroom have created the ability to significantly enhance the visual appeal of a cell phone photo at no extra cost. Still, most families will want to hire a professional for update photos every now and again. The big milestones like newborn photos and weddings will also be a draw for paying money on a photographer.

Overall, professional photographers still have the upper-hand over the cell phone mom taking amateur shots in the park. Although, that could change in the future and professional photographers are going to have to adapt to keep up with the demand of ever-evolving technology.

Final Thoughts
Smart phones have impacted our view of photography in monumental ways. There was a time when we could have never imagined carrying a powerful camera around in our pockets. Further, we could not have imagined editing photos in the palm of our hands and instantly sharing them with our friends. Technology has done amazing things for the world of photography, that is without a doubt true.

The camera on your smartphone allows you take photos and videos with ease. You can also use different camera modes such as Live Focus, Night Mode or Super Slow-Mo to customise your shot or video for the occasion. Find out more about the different camera modes. The conditions and light in which you take your photo can also affect the image. For assistance, find out why lines, dots, or lights are appearing in your photos after using the camera. You can also share your photos or videos with your friends. Find out how to use the Gallery app to share a photo via text message.

There are two ways to launch the camera on your Galaxy smartphone.

How good are smartphone cameras

How good are smartphone cameras

With the camera app open, press the capture button to take a picture.

How good are smartphone cameras

Open the camera app on your smartphone before following these steps:

How good are smartphone cameras

If there isn’t a record button, swipe left to select video mode, then press the record button

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How good are smartphone cameras

We believe that all drivers should have a backup camera, both for safety and convenience. If your vehicle doesn’t have a built in backup cam, you’ll need to add an aftermarket one. And typically, that involves also installing a display unit somewhere on your dash – which can create some clutter in your vehicle. But, what if you could just use your smartphone? In this guide, we’ll help you select the best smartphone backup camera for your needs.

How do Smartphone Backup Cameras Work?

When you purchase a backup camera for smartphone use, you’ll install it on the rear of your vehicle – typically above the license plate. The camera itself will be equipped with WiFi that can be used to send a live video signal directly to your smartphone. You can then mount your smartphone on your car’s dashboard, and use it as a monitor for your camera.

Most smartphone rear view cameras will include a smartphone mount to help attach your phone to your dashboard. If not, you’ll need to buy this separately.

The cameras listed in this guide work for both Android and iOS. We also have more specific guides for each operating system – see the best Android backup cameras and the best iOS backup cameras for more info!

What is the Best Smartphone Backup Camera?

To make our selections, we examined several different models and utilized a combination of manufacturer specs, customer reviews, and our own experiences. These models are our top picks.


How good are smartphone cameras

  • High quality construction and durability
  • High quality construction and durability
  • Top quality products to enhance the style, comfort and functionality of your vehicle

The Swift Hitch SH04 is meant for use with RVs, trailers and other large vehicles, but it can also be used for standard vehicles. It’s equipped with WiFi, and includes a smartphone mounting device. The device comes with a smartphone app – both for iOS and Android – which allows for wireless viewing of the camera footage from your connected smartphone. It’s perhaps the best smartphone backup camera on the market today.

  • Includes camera and smartphone mount
  • iOS and Android compatible
  • Sends live video feed to your smartphone via WiFi
  • Up to 200ft range
  • Installs easily with a magnet base
  • 1 year warranty
  • Excellent reviews
  • Click here to learn more

This unit is one of the best backup cams for trailer use, and one of our top picks overall.

2. EsiCam EH-05-B

How good are smartphone cameras

  • Easy connectworld first simple battery powered backup camera hd solution for smart phone.use your phone
  • Easy install: strong magnetic base with mounting hole for screw, easy mount on metal surface of vehicle
  • Powerful hardware function: built in rechargeable battery for 7.5hrs working, built in super bright
  • Powerful app:support ios/android/windows device(phone/pad), flip/mirror ,guide line show(swift wifi

The EsiCam EH-05-B is another camera designed primarily for use with RVs/trailers, but again – it’s a good choice for most vehicles. It transmits live video feed wirelessly to your smartphone. It consistently earns great reviews from customers, and is a quality product overall.

  • Supports iOS, Android and Windows Phone
  • Sends live video via WiFi
  • Easy install
  • Good reviews
  • Click here to learn more

This is a good wireless backup camera for everyday use. Check it out today!


How good are smartphone cameras

The SVTCAM is a new product that was recently launched. It features a somewhat smaller design than the others on this list. It’s also quite a bit cheaper. But, fair warning: since it’s a new product, there isn’t much data on how the camera performs long-term since nobody has had it for very long. Also, some of the reviews on Amazon are less than stellar. Regardless, it’s a pretty decent cam, and if you’re looking for a cheaper route, it’s a good option.

  • Supports iOS and Android
  • Transmits video via local WiFi
  • Bright LED lights for backup
  • Waterproof camera
  • Easy to use
  • Click here to learn more

This is a cheap backup camera, but to be honest it may be worthwhile to spring for a bit nicer model in this case! For other options, see our guide to the best backup cameras overall.

Since all new cars are now required to have backup cameras, you won’t need to worry about one if you’re planning to purchase a new car soon. However, if you have an older vehicle, it’s well worth the small investment to get a backup camera. Have questions about smartphone backup cameras? Leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you!

Table of Contents

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How good are smartphone cameras

A new Samsung release for 2020, the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE has been designed with two brilliant cameras on the front and back. When it comes to ultra-clear video calls, vlogging and picture-perfect selfies, the 32MP front camera has it covered, while the triple-lens rear camera system offers everything you could need to take professional-looking … which android phone has the best camera

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How good are smartphone cameras

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How good are smartphone cameras

Best camera phones 2021: 8 top smartphone cameras Trusted Reviews rates and ranks the top smartphones to give our definitive verdict on which phone has the best camera for you. Max Parker Contact … best samsung galaxy phone camera

Galaxy S21 Ultra: All the cool new camera tricks (and how

How good are smartphone cameras

Andrew Hoyle/CNET Samsung’s Galaxy S21 Ultra has already proven to pack a formidable camera, full of features to help novices and pros alike take brilliant shots when out and about. samsung phones with great cameras

How to master the camera on the Samsung Galaxy S7

How good are smartphone cameras

The Samsung Galaxy S7 has an amazing f/1.7 lens aperture that gives it among the best shallow depth of field effects I’ve seen from a phone. All you need to do is to make sure your subject is …

The best camera phones in 2021 | Tom’s Guide

How good are smartphone cameras

Past OnePlus phones have usually been a step or two behind the rest of the best camera phones. But that’s changed with the OnePlus 9 Pro, thanks to a partnership with camera specialist Hasselblad.

The best Samsung phones of 2021 — here are our top picks

How good are smartphone cameras

Samsung’s latest foldable phone is the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2.Samsung has gone out of its way to address the problems that plagued its predecessor, and there are also some enticing upgrades.

October 21, 2016

Steve Jobs, the founder and former CEO of Apple, is credited as a visionary for the advent of the iPhone and the smartphone device in general. Truly, in less than ten years’ time, the smartphone has changed the fabric of our society. Huge swaths of our population now carry the internet wherever they go and have the ability to communicate in an endless number of mediums and channels with others around the globe. It’s hard to exaggerate the impact smartphones have had on our daily lives and our culture at large.

But, as with any cultural shift in our society, there is both the good and the bad. Our smartphone culture is here to stay. Here we take a look at what we’ve gained and what we’ve lost in the last ten years.

How good are smartphone cameras

The Positives of Smartphone Culture

Where once our backpacks and purses were filled with CD players, cell phones, cameras, video cameras, calculators, laptops, GPS devices, e-readers, and more, we now only need a carry a small, light-weight smartphone to accomplish all those tasks. Smartphones are powerful, little devices, and they have done much for our society.

Here are just some quick stats on smart phone usage.

  • 80% of internet users own a smartphone (Smart Insights)
  • By 2019, mobile advertising will account for 72% of all US digital ad spending (Marketing Land)
  • 48% of millennials view video exclusively on their mobile devices. (Contently)

Clearly, smartphones are tremendously popular with multiple generations and demographics, and their use has had wide-reaching effects on our culture.

  • Cameras Everywhere: When everyone has cameras in their pocket, we are digitizing and immortalizing the era. From cute GIFs of cats to videos sparking national debates, a whole population with video cameras at their disposal is something we have never seen before.
  • Use in Education: Students can snap pictures of their notes to send to classmates, answer quick online quizzes and polls created by their teachers, and even record full lectures with their smartphones. The potential applications for smartphones in educational settings is only just being explored.
  • Use in Business: Business professionals can more easily access their business communications, more quickly respond to an urgent needs, and do more with less time. For small businesses, smartphones can give quick access to banking functions and allow you to manage your social media accounts on the go.

The Negatives of Smartphone Culture

  • Fear of Missing Out (FOMO): There’s a phenomenon that has occurred due to society’s constant connections to social media called the “Fear of Missing Out.” When one is constantly seeing the noteworthy, exciting, or glamorous events of the lives of one’s social media connections, people feel as though their own life is drab and dull by comparison. They fear that they are missing out on their own life. Darlene McLaughlin, M.D., assistant professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine describes the problem in a Science Daily article, “The problem with FOMO is the individuals it impacts are looking outward instead of inward. When you’re so tuned in to the ‘other,’ or the ‘better’ (in your mind), you lose your authentic sense of self. This constant fear of missing out means you are not participating as a real person in your own world.”
  • Nomophobia: Nomophobia is a new diagnosable disorder in which the subject has an irrational fear of losing or being without their smartphone. As we become more and more dependent on these devices, our ability to cope without them dwindles. According to a survey by SecurEnvoy, 77% of teens had anxiety about spending their day without their phone.

The Good and Bad

There’s an old adage that applies here, “everything in moderation, including moderation.” While our dependence on smartphones may incur some social and psychological challenges as we adapt to this new society, these issues can be mitigated by a healthy balance. Overindulgence in our smartphones can cause problems, but their benefits to our culture, education, and businesses greatly outweighs the cost.

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