Today, smartphone cameras have almost replaced the point-and-shoot cameras. Our phones have become our primary cameras for day-to-day photography. It means cameras play an important role in our purchase of new smartphones. Vendors are making all possible attempts to distinguish their devices from competitors in the camera department. Are you out to buy a new phone and wondering what the best camera smartphones of 2017 are? Choosing the best camera smartphones can be a bit challenging.
In the last few years, many smartphone vendors have launched devices with dual-lens cameras that offer telephoto or extra wide angle features. Manufacturers have also improved the front camera to target people obsessed with taking selfies. There is so much variety in camera capabilities today that what is best for one person may not be the best for another. It becomes easier to pick a phone if you know what you want to shoot.
Here are our picks for the best camera smartphones of this year overall. You can’t take a bad photo with them.
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iPhone 7 Plus
Released late last year, Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus with a dual camera system delivers unmatched camera performance. It has a 12-megapixel wide-angle and a 12MP telephoto lens on the back. It offers 2x optical zoom, phase detection autofocus, and dual-tone LED flash. The iPhone 7 Plus Portrait mode photography allows users to artificially blur the background to focus on the foreground subject, similar to DSLR cameras.
Many have called the dual camera a gimmick, but the iPhone 7 Plus dual cameras take great photos and videos in all lighting conditions. Its screen accuracy, autofocus, and color reproduction are all impressive. The device has a 7-megapixel front camera with f/2.2 aperture for selfies. Camera features aside; the iPhone 7 Plus is the best phone you can buy today.
Google Pixel may not have been as successful as the iPhone 7 Plus, but it certainly has a world-class camera. Despite the lack of waterproofing capabilities, Google Pixel and Pixel XL are the best smartphones the search engine giant has ever made. The phone’s sharp photos are really impressive, enhancing both the portrait and landscape shots.
Pixel also delivers high ISO performance with a reliable white balance and exposure. The device features 12.3-megapixel primary camera with an f/2.0 aperture. It includes electronic image stabilization (EIS), phase detection and laser autofocus, and dual LED flash. Unlike Nexus 6P, Google Pixel’s HDR processing is lag-free. Its HDR+ mode makes it easier to take shots with good exposure in both the foreground and background.
Google Pixel takes superb images in daylight conditions, producing the best level of details on any smartphone. Images taken by Pixel could even be better than iPhone 7 Plus, based on your color preferences. However, the phone isn’t equally impressive in low-light conditions mainly due to the lack of optical image stabilization.
Samsung’s latest flagship smartphones Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus have made millions of customers fall in love with their edge-to-edge Infinity display. Though the phone has the same 12-megapixel main camera as last year’s Galaxy S7, Samsung has made significant improvements in the camera through software, including the new multi-frame image processing.
The Galaxy S7 already offered superb performance in low-light and HDR photography. The Galaxy S8 only improves upon that with software enhancements. The S8 camera features Optical Image Stabilization (OIS), LED flash, and phase detection autofocus. Samsung has also bumped up the front camera from 5-megapixel to 8MP.
U11 is the successor to HTC 10, which was arguably one of the best camera smartphones of 2016. The U11 competes directly against the Galaxy S8 and Google Pixel in terms of camera performance. It scored a record-breaking 90/100 on DxOMark camera benchmark. The HTC U11 has a 12-megapixel UltraPixel 3 camera sensor with an f/1.7 aperture and optical image stabilization (OIS) on the back.
The U11 camera lives up to every bit of hype around it. The phone captures impressive images with plenty of detail in each shot. The color production looks natural without being overly vibrant. It also takes photos in low-light conditions with incredible details.
It was launched only about two weeks ago. Priced at $479, the OnePlus 5 borrows a lot from the iPhone 7 Plus. It has the same design as Apple’s flagship iPhone. Just like iPhone 7 Plus, the OnePlus 5 has a horizontal dual camera system on the back. It consists of a 16MP and a 20MP lens for wide-angle and telephoto features. It also has a 16-megapixel camera on the front for selfies.
Dual camera is the biggest improvement in OnePlus 5 over its predecessor. It offers EIS, 1.6x optical zoom, and dual LED flash. The dual camera system allows users to take photos with blurred backgrounds. Instead of phase detection autofocus, OnePlus has used Fast Autofocus on its latest flagship. The Fast Autofocus uses the full pixel to significantly increase the focus speed.
Numerous real-life tests have shown that OnePlus 5 takes brighter and more vivid photos compared to OnePlus 3T. Just like Galaxy S8, OnePlus 5 tweaks the images to provide a shot that is more pleasing to your eyes. It may compromise accuracy in the process.
Huawei Mate 9
Huawei’s P9 was one of the best camera smartphones of last year. Later in 2016, the company once again upped the camera game with the Mate 9. The Chinese company joined hands with Leica to enhance the Mate 9’s camera capabilities. Its dual-camera system consists of a 12-megapixel RGB sensor and a 20-megapixel monochrome sensor. The RGB sensor features Optical Image Stabilization (OIS), and both sensors have an f/2.2 aperture.
The Mate 9 dual camera takes crisp and vivid images in daylight. The photos look more realistic than those taken by Google Pixel. Huawei’s camera app includes a Pro mode to let you adjust the ISO, exposure, and focal point when taking photos. The Mate 9 also takes impressive shots in low-light conditions. Its low-light performance is on par with the Galaxy S8.
The iPhone 7 isn’t as good as its bigger sibling, but it’s still one of the best camera smartphones you can buy right now. It was the first Apple device to take RAW images that store far more data than JPEG. When you convert a RAW image into JPEG after processing, it’s still of higher quality than JPEG pictures produced by a phone. The iPhone 7’s 12-megapixel rear camera has an f/1.8 aperture, which lets in more light. It helps you take cleaner and less noisy images.
The iPhone 7 camera includes OIS, dual-tone LED flash, and phase detection autofocus. The phone’s camera does a fantastic job in low-light conditions.
LG’s latest flagship is for people who love shooting landscapes. It has a dual-camera system on the back, but it’s different from the Huawei Mate 9 and iPhone 7 Plus. It has two 13-megapixel sensors. One of them offers a standard angle of view (71-degrees) while the other one provides a super-wide field of view (125 degrees). The standard one has an f/1.8 aperture, OIS, and phase detection autofocus. The second sensor with wide-angle view lacks both OIS and autofocus.
The G6 camera has a Pro mode, which allows users to manually adjust settings such as ISO, shutter, speed, and white balance. The landscape shots taken by the phone are particularly impressive. The Square mode in G6 camera lets you shoot photos while looking at another photo simultaneously. Color production and low-light performance is similar to LG G5.
Sony Xperia XZ
Sony is not among the world’s largest smartphone vendors, but its sensors are used in many of the world’s best camera smartphones. For instance, the Galaxy S8 uses Sony’s IMX333 camera sensors. The Japanese company has put its camera expertise to good use with its flagship Xperia XZ. It features a 23-megapixel main camera with an f/2.0 aperture and EIS.
The Xperia XZ also features a 13-megapixel selfie camera. Of course, Sony’s phone trails behind the likes of iPhone 7 Plus and Galaxy S8, but its main camera doesn’t disappoint.
The V20 is aimed at power users, with 4GB RAM and military-grade durability. The V20 also features a dual camera system on the rear panel. It has a 16-megapixel main camera with an f/1.8 aperture and OIS, and an 8-megapixel wide-angle lens with an f/2.4 aperture. It also offers laser autofocus and LED flash. The phone’s wide-angle lens stands out from the crowd. It allows photos to appear more dynamic while fitting more into the frame.
LG V20 is jam-packed with camera features for manual control of almost every aspect. You can change the white balance, exposure, ISO, shutter speed, and focus. The built-in focus peaking allows users to see if the subject is in focus.
Best camera smartphones: conclusion
All the phones listed above have impressive camera capabilities. It comes down to your personal choices and budget. If you are an iOS fan, you may want to buy the iPhone 7 Plus or iPhone 7. If you are more of an Android person, you have a wide range of options from Galaxy S8 to LG G6. Budget is another factor that potential buyers consider. For instance, OnePlus 5 is one of the best camera smartphones out there, and it costs only $479.