The latest trend in marketing marketing smartphones is to focus on their photo and video capturing capabilities. For example, phones as big and popular as the iPhone recently advertised their products as having cameras suitable to make professional-seeming, commercial grade short films. A large part of smartphone use nowadays is sharing pictures or other media captured by the user, be it on social media, texting apps or video calling services. Needless to say, customers are eager to use only the best cameras, and are happy and willing to pay more for a smartphone with the better camera. But, is there really a standard or absolute spectrum to place phone cameras on?
Unfortunately, there isn’t. Cameras have ten factors influencing how well they perform in different conditions. Low light photography, for example, requires high exposure and a proportionate aperture, which many otherwise acceptable cheaper smartphones struggle to provide. The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 seems to get the combination of features just right to click photos in dimmed illumination, though acceptable nighttime photography would still require a pro’s standard implements like a reflector and a tripod stand.
Other smartphones like the HTC U11 click great photos on account of their small aperture. The smartphone revolution has sprouted hundreds of amateurs and tens of content creators, helped by services like Twitch and YouTube, all of which are forces to reckon.
The pinnacles of camera capability still lie with established brands like Google’s Pixel and the iPhone. Pixel and Pixel 2 for example have been praised in high terms for their OIS (great for video recording) and camera builds. The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, the most recent models to arrive, are pioneers in their own right. iPhone 8 introduced HDR-only recording, while the 8 Plus brought with itself the impressive dual lens feature which clicks and renders photos much more detailed and balanced.
How do you determine what can be expected of a smartphone camera? There are rankings and objective scores like the DXO score to follow. You can find individual and comprehensive evaluations of cameras and their features, compare them with other cameras and pick the best for yourself. Here is an infograph comparing the current top smartphones and based on their DXO scores.