The Best Smartphone Cameras in 2017 | Hint: The New iPhone 7

Smartphones with the best camera

The new iPhone 7…

…And 6 More Great Smartphone Cameras

Recently Released and Best Smartphone Cameras

Smartphone Cameras become better with every new release (like the recent new iPhone 7 launch). For many hobby photographers, these new smartphones start replacing point and shoot cameras.

Smartphones for Photographers

The Best Smartphone Cameras in 2017: 
  1. Apple iPhone 7
  2. The iPhone 6s Plus
  3. Google Nexus 6P
  4. HTC Desire Eye
  5. Samsung Galaxy S6 and the S6 Edge
  6. Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+
  7. LG G Flex 3

1. Apple iPhone 7

New iPhone 7 sold on Amazon.com

The new iPhone 7: The best smartphone camera in 2017, now available on Amazon.

Apple iPhone 7 Unlocked Phone 128 GB - US Version (Black)
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Apple iPhone 7 Unlocked Phone 128 GB - US Version (Black)
  • Keep everything you love about iPhone up to date, secure, and accessible from any device with iCloud.
  • Multi-Touch display with IPS technology.
  • With just a single press, 3D Touch lets you do more than ever before.
  • The 12-megapixel iSight camera captures sharp, detailed photos. It takes 4K video, up to four times the resolution of 1080p HD video.

Here’s the big news of the week, and the biggest of the year if you are an iPhone fan.

The iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus were announced today after months of speculations. That means there’s one new addition to the bucket list of things to purchase before Christmas.

The iPhone 7 looks a lot like the older iPhone 6. That being said that’s the first impression. When you flip it over, however, the first thing you notice is the prominently larger looking camera at the rear. Larger, meaning more pronounced. Yes, the camera seems like it’s having an out of body experience. You’d wonder why that could be. Well, Apple has provided optical image stabilization on the new camera.

Flip it back and the home button doesn’t feel quite right. Well because it is not clickable anymore. The home button is a solid state. Meaning, it does no longer give you the same kind of feeling when you click it. It will do the job, though. We are thinking it could take a while before getting used to.

Related Post: Best Point and Shoot Cameras under $200

Did we mention that the new iPhone 7 is water resistant? That’s a first for the iPhone. Could you take it to a pool party? Or maybe go scuba diving with it in the Bahamas? No, not quite. Apple rates it water resistant to a depth of 1 meter only (sorry folks). And that too for 30 minutes. So, if you accidentally drop it in the loo you may still be able to use it.

There are no headphone jacks for the new iPhone 7. Meaning you have to rethink how you are going to listen to your favorite tunes. Meaning, you will have to fork out extra cash for Bluetooth headphones (Airpods) or buy something wired that can plug into the Lightning port.

There are some other smaller changes, like the antenna, which has been given a new look. There are some pretty cool colors, we happen to like the black one very much. Though it could be a problem keeping it clean.

The Camera of the iPhone 7

What will make the iPhone 7 a big hit with smartphone users is the new camera.

Resolution remains at 12 megapixels. But, the lens gets an upgrade. It is now f/1.8 allowing 50% more light to be taken in. That in itself means a considerable advantage when shooting in low light conditions. Plus the rear camera gets optical image stabilization.

You can now shoot more steady images with less image blur in most lighting conditions. Plus, the rear flash gets a quad-LED flash which is an upgrade from the dual-LED flash we saw previously. And finally, you can shoot in RAW.

PRO & CONS of the iPhone 7

icon
  • Apple A10 Fusion Quad-core processor which is supposed to be 40% faster
  • Water resistant
  • Better battery which Apple states will last 12 hours on LTE
  • Better wider 6-element lens with f/1.8 aperture and optical image stabilization
  • 7 MP front-facing camera
  • Stereo speakers, iPhone 7 gets an additional speaker
Minus
  • No default wired headset
  • Solid-state home button
  • Water resistance is limited
For more details on the iPhone 7 click here.

2. The iPhone 6s Plus

Apple’s current flagship model the iPhone 6s Plus is a winner from every possible angle. Apple has for years set the benchmark when it comes to a perfect symbiosis of looks and functionality. Thus, it is no wonder that it is the top choice not only as a symbol of perfection but also as a phone that can shoot photos.

The 12-megapixel camera in the iPhone 6s Plus is powered by a sensor which has 1.22-microp pixels. Small, true, but there are smaller pixels in the industry. Anyways, the sensor is very capable of capturing high contrast, true colors and sharp noise free images in most lighting conditions thanks to backside illumination technology, auto HDR and better noise reduction features introduced.

Morro Rock Sunset

Photo Shot with iPhone 6s by Rick Derevan

“Wow, with an iPhone; great detail and texture in the foreground and of course superb light; great composition Rick” Flickr Comment by Don Henderson

The iPhone 6s Plus has phase detection autofocusing. Phase detection uses two images coming from dedicated pixels from the sensor and uses that to compare and lock focus. The mechanism is faster than contrast detection autofocusing available in Point & Shoot cameras.

Apart from that, the camera has a True-Tone flash for better color temperature guess in multiple and a variety of lighting situations. The fast lens has a wide f/2.2 aperture. It basically allows you to have a blur-free image in most lighting situations and also get a decent shallow Depth of Field effect in your images.

The iPhone 6s Plus also has image stabilization, something that should come handy especially as you would be shooting hand-held a majority of the time. Optical image stabilization is slowly becoming a standard in smartphone cameras.

The secondary front facing camera is a modest 5 megapixel and can shoot at full HD at 30 fps. It has face detection, HDR and panorama modes.

PRO & CONS of the iPhone 6s Camera

icon
  • The screen now doubles as the flash for the front camera
  • Video capabilities with 4K video
  • “Deep Trench” technology to deal with the increase in noise level
  • Minimal shutter lag
  • Fast Exposure
Minus
  • Some luminance noise visible in low light
  • Some color shading visible in indoor conditions
  • Slightly yellow cast visible in outdoor conditions
  • Occasional ghosting and other artifacts
For detailed reviews on the iPhone 6s click here.

3. Google Nexus 6P

The Google Nexus 6P, designed by Huawei, isn’t going to make too many heads turn on the basis of the aesthetics of the device. If nothing else the prominent bulge at the rear of the camera, which incidentally houses the camera and the dual tone flash, isn’t something that’s pleasing to the eye.

Huawei Nexus 6P  unlocked smartphone, 32GB Silver (US Warranty)
1892 Reviews
Huawei Nexus 6P unlocked smartphone, 32GB Silver (US Warranty)
  • All-metal design Unlocked, LTE smartphone with a powerful 2GHz Snapdragon 810 V2.1 Processor and the newest Android software, Android 6.0 marshmallow.
  • A 5.7-Inch, high-resolution WQHD AMOLED display and front-facing stereo speakers to experience your photos and videos in cinematic Quality.
  • The powerful 12 MP Camera was built to capture your world in true-to-life detail. Larger 1.55 µM pixels absorb more light¹ in even the dimmest conditions to make your photos Brighter.
  • Quicker access and more security with a fingerprint sensor placed on the back to complement the way you naturally hold your Phone.
  • Long lasting 3,450 mAh battery with quick charging USB Type-C plug. it's reversible, so there's no more guessing which way is up.

But if there is one single piece of technical detail that is going to excite fans it is the 1.55-micron pixel sensor that promises exciting days shooting with it. Just for the record, the pixel size is larger than the iPhone 6s Plus that we just glorified.

The 12.3-megapixel main camera is ably supported by a dual-LED (dual tone) flash. Dual-tone flash is also becoming a standard in smartphones. It allows for a better white balance performance due to the presence of dual LED lights, one amber and the other white, to account for the different types of light sources and therefore color temperatures in a scene.

Huawei has also packed in touch focus, HDR mode and the usual bits like panorama and face detection for the avid photographer. The secondary / front facing camera is a respectable 8 megapixel, with f/2.4 aperture and is powered by a sensor that has 1.4-micron pixels. This one also shoots full HD videos @ 30 fps.

Related Post: Smartphone Portrait Photography Tips

4. HTC Desire Eye

With the HTC Desire Eye, the company has finally taken the selfie bit and with it the importance of the rear camera more seriously. After all, a majority of the images snapped happens to be glorifying one’s true self (thanks to Instagram and Facebook).

So it does really throw this question to all smartphone manufacturers, why isn’t the front camera as robust and powerful as the rear one? HTC seems to have answered this question with a rear camera that’s just as powerful as the front one.

In fact both the cameras are 13-megapixel with dual-tone flash and HDR mode. The camera has a wide f/2 aperture (compared to the iPhone 6s Plus which has f/2.2) and has a 28mm lens. The sensor in the phone is powered by back-side illuminated technology and comes with a dedicated camera button.

Overall the camera isn’t something that is worth going overboard with but the 13-megapixel front camera does make it an exciting proposition for those who love making selfies.

Read more about the HTC Desire Eye on their official website.

5. Samsung Galaxy S6 and the S6 Edge

Both the Samsung Galaxy S6 and the Galaxy S6 Edge phones are identical in many ways and since we are only concerned with the aspects that govern with making photos we shall delve with only those here. Both these phones have a 16 megapixel rear / main camera. Add to that optical image stabilization and a fast f/1.9 aperture 28mm lens and you have a good mix in your hands.

The front / secondary camera is a 5-megapixel, an ok shooter also with a f/1.9 lens, but a 22mm angle of view.

Related Post on ForbesSamsung Galaxy S6 smashing Apple iPhone 6s camera

6. Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+

The Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge + is not a big jump in terms of shooting prowess. It has the same camera as the Galaxy S6 and the S6 Edge. It has the same 1.12-micron pixel sensor. Thus, overall performance and image quality are likely to be indistinguishable from each other.

However, the one thing that would make serious shooters happy and I mean the ones who love the Samsung brand is RAW support. Now you would be able to shoot in RAW and take full advantage of what your smartphone camera can do and make further adjustments to your images in post. RAW support is, however, not something new in phones.

Apart from that you now have the ability to do nifty things like live YouTube broadcast. The Note 5 which debuted alongside the Galaxy S6 Edge + also has the YouTube broadcast feature.

Under the Pro mode, which is a repository for serious shooters, you have features like manual focusing, exposure compensation, ISO and manual white balance.

7. LG G Flex 3

Still to be released

The LG G Flex 2 was an innovative design. If for nothing else then the curved body that made it turn heads whenever you held it up. It also featured a powerful 13-megapixel camera that has OIS+. Call it by whatever name you may but optical image stabilization is a feature that is a must have for any camera.

Both the smartphones we have discussed thus far have this feature and so does their predecessors. LG learned its lessons from the first Flex that they launched and those lessons trickled down into the much improved Flex 2.

With the Flex 3, it is only logical that LG will up their game even further. The Flex 3 is rumored to be launched sometime in 2017 and is already being tagged to have a 20.7/8 megapixel main camera and an 8-megapixel front camera.

It will also sport a fingerprint scanner. It is also rumored to have a 6” screen, a tougher metal body and will be powered by Qualcomm 820 chipset with 4GB of RAM. A higher resolution sensor means definitely more details.

However, the thing that should be a worrying factor is the tightly packed photodiodes and their performance in low light situations.

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Rajib

Rajib's love for the road is second only to his love for photography.
Wanderlust at heart and a shutterbug who loves to document his travels via his lenses; his two passions compliment each other perfectly.
He has been writing for over 6 years now, which unsurprisingly, revolve mostly around his two favorite pursuits.

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Rajib

Rajib's love for the road is second only to his love for photography.
Wanderlust at heart and a shutterbug who loves to document his travels via his lenses; his two passions compliment each other perfectly.
He has been writing for over 6 years now, which unsurprisingly, revolve mostly around his two favorite pursuits.