Smartphone cameras have improved drastically over time. Long gone are the days of soft, blurry images with hardly any detail. Now smartphones are cable of taking detailed macro shots, recording videos in stunning 4K definition and even capturing shots in extreme low light situations.
The days of point and shoot cameras are long gone. In fact, smartphone cameras are now reaching a point where they can even take on dedicated professional cameras (albeit in well lit situations).
Here are the top 5 camera phones of 2016:
Note: We have only included smartphones that have been released in India and are available as of 23rd December 2016
1/6 Samsung Galaxy S7
The Galaxy S7 comes with a 12MP ISOCELL and a 5MP front camera.Both front and rear cameras have an aperture of f/1.7 and the rear camera features dual-pixel technology for faster auto-focus in low light conditions.
The Galaxy S7 has one of the best cameras on any smartphone to date. The rear camera is great for low-light photography and excels in well-lit situations. The smartphone is lightning quick when it comes to focusing and image processing and even holds it’s own in extremely low light scenarios.
In terms of specifications, the Galaxy S7 is equipped with a 5.1-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED display, the Exynos 8890 octa-core chipset and a 3,000mAh battery.
The device runs on Samsung’s own TouchWiz UI running atop Android 6.0 Marshmallow and also brings back water resistance and microSD card support which was missing from the Galaxy S6.
Those who want a larger display, you can consider the Galaxy S7’s older brother - the S7 Edge, which also comes with the same camera setup.
2/6 Apple iPhone 7
The Camera on the iPhone 7 received a complete overhaul and now comes with a new 6-element lens, a wider aperture of f/1.8 that absorbs 50 per cent more light, and an all new high speed 12-megapixel sensor that is 60 per cent faster than the iPhone 6S.
The device also features a Quad-LED True Tone Flash, a flicker sensor and an Apple designed image signal processor that uses machine learning to look for bodies and objects in the image and then adjusts the photos by choosing the best exposure and white balance.
The iPhone 7 Plus takes things up a notch and comes with not just one, but two 12 MP cameras! The above details are of the primary wide angle lens, but the device also comes with a secondary Telephoto lens. These two together dramatically improve Zoom capabilities on the iPhone 7 Plus.
With the dual camera setup, you get a 2X optical zoom plus a 10X digital zoom, which Apple claims is better than digital zoom on most smartphones thanks to the second telephoto lens.
The dual camera setup allows for depth of field adjustment. The ISP scans the screen and uses machine learning to create a depth map of the image using the two lenses.
Apart from the camera, Apple has upgraded its A-series processor to the A10 Fusion. It's a quad-core setup that is said to be 40% faster than the A9 and two times faster than the A8 seen in the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6, respectively. The GPU looks to triple the performance of the A8 and will be more battery-friendly than previous iterations.
3/6 Huawei P9
The distinguishing feature of the Huawei P9 is its dual 12MP rear camera setup, developed in collaboration with imaging legend Leica. The dual camera setup comes with Leica SUMMARIT lenses and a pixel size of 1.25 microns.
The much hyped camera setup is touted to deliver fantastic image quality even in dimly light situations. The rear cameras are accompanied by a dual tone LED flash and on the front there is an 8MP shooter.
The dual cameras are quite unique with the P9. While one is a regular colour sensor, the other is monochrome. This is to allow better contrast and brightness on your pictures and videos.
Moving on from the camera, the Huawei P9 comes with a 5.2-inch fullHD AMOLED display with a resolution of 1080x1920, 3GB/4GB of RAM, 32GB/64GB internal storage, microSD card support (up-to 256GB) and a 3,000mAh battery.
The device runs on Huawei's own Emotion UI running atop Android 6.0 Marshmallow. It is powered by the HiSilicon Kirin 955 octa-core processor, developed by Huawei itself.
On the connectivity front, the handset supports 4G LTE, 4G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, NFC, USB-Type C for charging and data transfer and a fingerprint sensor on the back.
4/6 Sony Xperia XZ
The XZ comes with an all new 23MP camera unit on the back which has a 24mm wide angle lens, an aperture of f/2, phase detection auto-focus and an LED flash. What sets the XZ apart from the crowd is what Sony calls a triple image sensing technology.
There are three sensors in the Xperia XZ - a laser auto-focus sensor for measuring distance, an RGBC-IR sensor for accurate colour reproduction and an imaging sensor for movement. All these together help the device take crisp, detailed and in-focus shots lightning fast.
The focusing speeds are genuinely staggering, one of the best I have seen in an Android smartphone to date. In well lit situations, the images produced are crisp, vivid and full of detail. The image sensing technologies really help in capturing fast moving objects as well as locking in focus in even the most difficult scenarios.
The front camera is a huge upgrade from the Xperia X and Xperia Z5, and has been bumped from 5MP to a 13MP unit with a 22mm wide-angle lens. The images are crisp, vivid and detailed and because of the wide angle lens, you can pack in all of your friends in one selfie.
The Xperia XZ’s spec sheet reads similar to most flagships of 2016 - the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 SoC, a 5.2-inch full HD display, 64GB of internal storage, 3GB of RAM and USB Type C for charging and data transfer.
As with most Xperia flagships, the XZ is also waterproof, with a rating of IP68.
5/6 Google Pixel
The Google Pixel and Pixel XL are the most exciting Android smartphones in years. On the camera front, they don’t disappoint. They come with a 12MP rear camera with an aperture of f/2.0, phase detection auto-focus, a dual LED flash, electronic image stabilisation and a sensor size of 1/2.3”. The front camera is an 8MP affair with an aperture of f/2.0 and a sensor size of 1/3.2”.
In fact, According to DxOMark, an industry standard camera test, the camera on the Pixel performs better that the iPhone 7 and the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge!
They are packed to the gills with exactly what you would expect of a flagship smartphone in today’s day and age - A 5.0-inch/5.5-inch AMOLED display protected by Gorilla Glass 4, 4GB of RAM, 32/128GB internal storage, big batteries, a fingerprint reader, Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 821 processor and a fantastic design to match.
While HTC has built the Pixel, Google has designed it from scratch, in and out. The Pixel has an all new design that looks extremely sleek, especially in the striking ‘Really Blue’ colour.
6/6 Special Mention: Asus ZenFone 3
The 16MP rear camera on the Zenfone 3 comes with laser autofocus, as well as phase detection autofocus and is an extremely capable shooter. Asus has also packed 4-axis optical image stabilization to ensure shaky and blurred shots are history.
The camera performs extremely well in outdoor situations with adequate light, producing vivid, detailed, well balanced images with meager amount of noise. What surprised me is the fact that even in low light situations, the camera is more than capable and produces clear and crisp images, albeit with a little loss of detail and some noise.
The 8MP front camera is also great and will suffice for most selfies.The camera application itself is intuitively laid out and the camera is blazingly fast when it comes to focusing and taking photos.
The Asus Zenfone 3 comes with the octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor clocked at 2GHz paired with 3GB of RAM, a 3,000mAh battery and 32GB of internal storage. The higher end variant comes with 64GB of internal storage and 4GB of RAM with the processor being the same.