Smartphones have revolutionised photography. More people than ever before are taking pictures, and as phone camera capability increases, the entry level budget camera has more or less been killed off.
That means that the camera on your phone is no longer a bonus feature for taking quick, shareable snaps. Instead, it could well be your sole means of taking pictures – and if you're trusting your phone with your fondest memories, you really need it to be up to the job.
On paper, the specifications of many smartphones still don't compete with the standalone camera, although we're beginning to see some phones with sensors as large as those in compact cameras. Lenses with a large number of elements that are capable of shooting at wide apertures are fairly common, and some phones even allow you a good degree of control over the image you're taking.
While it's true that cameras are becoming ever more connected, if you don't want the hassle and expense of buying and carrying around a separate device, then you're going to want to know which is the best smartphone for photography.
Here we compare seven top smartphones currently on the market (many of which are targeted towards those who want to take better pictures), putting them through a range of tests to find out which is best for photography.
Each phone has its advantages, and while they have a range of specs, we'll be comparing like-for-like in terms of how easy or intuitive it is to use the cameras, whether the design makes sense for photography, and – most importantly – the results each returns.
The following phones will be pitted against each other:
- HTC One M8
- iPhone 6 Plus (most expensive)
- LG G3
- Nokia Lumia 1020 (joint cheapest, and oldest)
- Samsung Galaxy S5
- Samsung Galaxy K Zoom (joint cheapest)
- Sony Xperia Z3
(Prices quoted are for the cheapest storage capacity.)
Before making any kind of decision about which smartphone you're going to buy, you'll probably take a look at how the specs stack up on paper. Here we'll compare the different specs from a camera or photography perspective.
We've chosen these phones because we believe them to be the ones that best represent the needs of someone who wants a decent camera in their phone. The Samsung Galaxy K Zoom is very much targeted as a cameraphone, rather than phonecamera, while the Nokia Lumia 1020 and HTC One M8 have both been very much marketed around their camera capabilities.
It's a similar story for the iPhone, often quoted as the world's most popular camera, and the Z3, which uses a "proper" sized sensor and a Sony G lens.