With 2017 promising to provide the best smartphones we’ve ever seen, it’s time to switch our attention and take a look at the best camera phones in the UK.
The Google Pixel has attained the highest praise from photography websites such as DxOMark. The 12.3MP camera captures images with low levels of noise, under all lighting conditions. It renders vivid colours and gets a good exposure when using its flash.
Default shooting uses Google’s Pixel HDR+ feature, which captures several RAW images, almost instantaneously, and combines them to make one image with an incredible dynamic range.
The focus is fast giving accurate white balance and contrast. This is enabled through the use of laser detection autofocus (LDAF) and phase detection autofocus (PDAF). For video, the Google Pixel can shoot at 4K quality at 30 frames per second or at 1080p quality at 120fps.
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The HTC 10 has an UltraPixel 2 camera with a 12MP resolution. The pixels are larger than normal, at 1.55um, and this allows the camera to capture 136 percent more light, which is just what you need for low light photography.
Launched in just 0.6 seconds, the photography is aided by laser detect autofocus (LDAF). There is an 80-degrees wide angle lens and the camera can be switched into Pro Mode, in order to capture 12 bit RAW image files, which can be manipulated at a professional level, after the shot.
4K video can be recorded on the HTC 10, along with 24-bit hi-res audio, which is 256 times more detailed than previous audio captured on a HTC phone.
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The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge has a 12MP camera, which uses Dual Pixel technology to get better results, compared to a camera with more pixels. The two photodiodes that sit on each of the camera’s pixels allow it to focus quicker then the human eye, while catching more light photons, for better results in low light.
The camera on the Sony Galaxy S7 Edge can also do some very clever things with animation. The Motion Panorama feature takes a sweeping panoramic image and it captures the movement of people at the same time. This means that when you view the image and pan to the left or right, you can see the people moving in the scene.
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The Sony Xperia XZ has Sony’s brand new camera module. This Sony camera phone has Predictive Hybrid Autofocus and this locks onto moving objects in the shot and then predicts, faster than the human brain can, where that object will move to next. This means that the shot is always in focus.
The 23MP camera has the highest resolution around and from standby, the camera is ready to shoot in 0.6 seconds. Many existing Sony camera favourites are pre-loaded, such as 5x Clear Image Zoom, a pulse LED flash and 4K video recording.
We haven’t particularly focused on selfie cameras in this list, but the Sony Xperia XZ's selfie camera is worth a mention, with its 13MP resolution.
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The Apple iPhone 7 Plus is the best Apple camera phone, simply because it is has Apple’s dual camera lenses sitting side-by-side. There is a 12MP wide-angle lens and a 12MP telephoto lens.
This essentially means that you get a true 2x optical zoom, which is something almost unheard of until recent times. Sweetening the pot further, the optical zoom can also be used when shooting 4K video.
Apple has just released Portrait mode (beta) and this ensures that portraits look even better. Portrait mode creates depth-of-field effects automatically, blurring backgrounds in what is known as bokeh, previously reserved for dedicated DSLR cameras.
Viewing photographs is improved on the iPhone 7 Plus with a 25% brighter 5.5” display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels.
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The LG G5 sports a dual lens camera and has a 16MP lens with a 75-degrees field of view sitting next to a 8MP lens with a 135-degrees field of view. Having these different fields of view effectively means that you can zoom out with 0.5x zoom, capture photos wider than the eye can see or create effects such as Lens Blur, Pop-out Picture and Fisheye.
Like many of the other phones in our best camera phone list, there is a laser detect autofocus (LDAF) for speed. Unlike the others, you can get more from the camera if you purchase the LG Cam Plus module, which joins with the phone to give a camera styled shutter button with half press to focus and adds an extra 1,200mAh of battery power, so that you can snap for longer.
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The Huawei P9 has a fantastic camera and this is in part due to its collaboration with Leica, to bring a dual camera to market. The two Leica lenses sit side-by-side and includes a 12MP monochrome (black and white) lens and a 12MP RGB (red, green, blue) lens.
When a photograph is taken, the Huawei P9 uses a merging algorithm to combine the detail from one lens with the colour of the other. To do this effectively, there is a dedicated dual-core ISP. The result is 200% more sensitivity and 300% more detail.
Because there are dual lenses, you can add wide aperture effects to photos, which means that you can precisely focus on one object, while blurring the background. You can also change the focal point post shot because the images can be saved is their original RAW file format.
The laser detect autofocus (LDAF) ensures speed, while in low light large 1.25µm pixels work with IMAGEsmart 5.0 technology to bring great results.
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Written by: Michael Brown
Are you still looking for a good camera phone? Here is what we recommended last year:
Sony Xperia Z6
Sure, we might have to wait a while for it – with a release date lingering around September or October, if last years’ Z5 launch was anything to go by. But the camera could well prove to be the best we’ve ever seen.Sony always brings its A-game with its smartphone cameras, most recently with the Z5 and its 23mp goliath of a rear-facing lens. Obviously, this means that barring some disastrous tinkering, the Z6 will most likely be showing off an even better (or at least equal) mobile camera this year.
Word has it that we could well see an improved 25mp rear lens, whilst serial selfie snappers might be able to take advantage of an 8mp lens on the front of the phone. Neither of these would be complete without Sony’s own UI running the show, whilst ridiculously fast focusing and a bright LED flash are also certainties.
Simply enough, the Z6 already has the best chance of being a phenomenal camera phone, all Sony needs to do is stick to what it does best…
iPhone 7/7 Plus
Almost the opposite style to Sony, Apple really favours its software over the number of megapixels it has in its cameras. In fact, this was no more evident that with the iPhone 6, which despite only boasting an 8mp and 1.2mp duo, still outgunned many reportedly stronger camera phones.
Its successor, the iPhone 6s did take a pretty big step up, and it looks as though that could well be the case once again. The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are both tipped for big things this autumn, and the camera could well be seeing big changes as well.
A dual lens system has apparently been brought in, totalling 21 megapixels. This wouldn’t just mean sharper pictures, but also pictures with a never before seen level of zoom on a smartphone, with each lens doing work behind the scenes to make for an optical zoom styled performance.
As always, Apple is staying quiet regarding rumours, but if they’re on the mark, the iPhone 7 might be the best camera phone we’ve ever seen.
Samsung Galaxy S7/S7 Edge
Another big name manufacturer that is well-known in the camera phone racket is Samsung, and the Galaxy S7 is the next phone coming off its conveyor belt. With a new set of lenses and a host of user-friendly features, it could well be in with a strong shout for the best camera phone in the business.
Compared to the S6 which launched back in 2015, the S7 could see megapixels popping up all over the place, with a 20mp rear lens supported by an expected 8mp selfie snapper. Both of these are notable jumps from the S6, so if we’re grading the device on improvement it’s sure to get an A+.
Of course it’s not just improvement which makes a camera phone tick though, with quality and performance also major areas. Thankfully, with Samsung’s software and knowhow behind it, we’re sure that the S7 won’t be letting us down.
LG often goes out of its way to impress smartphone fans with fancy camera features, the most recent of which being the Laser Autofocus feature which practically revolutionised how fast our mobile phones can take pictures.
With this kind of creativity behind the scenes, we’ve seen a number of strong cameras crammed into LG devices, with the G Flex2 and G4 both coming well recommended. However, with improvement all-round, the LG G5 is due to be one of the better camera phones of the year.
If you’re after specs, then the G5 is likely to impress with a dual 20mp rear lens and an 8mp front facing camera. Meanwhile, the inclusion of Laser Autofocus, OIS and an LED flash should also have you waving cash in the air when the handset does launch.
Finally, with LG’s unique design in tow, it’s likely that the camera will also prove incredibly easy to use, which is great for those who aren’t quite Pulitzer Prize winning photographers just yet.
HTC One M10
Sure, this one might be considered a left-field option, but HTC has more than enough camera phone experience to make the One M10 one of the better camera phones of the year. Mind you, given its track record, it could also throw up a real stinker. Here’s to hoping it’s the former, eh?
HTC has long tinkered with camera technology on its flagship phones. First UltraPixel tech was the next big thing, then it was something which is better for selfies, now it seems like it could be best left on the shelf.
Given these failed UltraPixel experiments, the HTC One M10 may finally ditch the feature for a more user-friendly batch of camera software (and hopefully one which doesn’t take forever to get to work).
The HTC One M10 boasted a 12mp rear snapper. Expect this to grow almost two-fold with the M10, whilst the selfie snapper may well keep the UltraPixel styling it previously had, for better or worse.
Either way, the One M10 could prove to be a dark horse on the camera phone market, or another failure…
Written by Luke Hatfield