Best camera phone: 6 handsets tested

What's the top cameraphone on the market?

There's a real sense here that the latest smartphones represent evolution rather than revolution in terms of their user interfaces, ease of use as cameras, feature sets (in terms of selectable functions) - and end image quality.

Physical concerns are obvious: the narrower or glossier the phone, the trickier it is to hold steady - particularly when shooting one-handed. In this respect the Nokia accessory grip comes into its own, as does the subtle built-in grip of the Samsung S4 Zoom.

Unsurprisingly the latter feels most like shooting with a dedicated camera. Even so, if you choose one of the S4's Expert modes, the narrow size and width of the virtual on-screen lens barrel (via which adjustments such as ISO and exposure are made) makes it all too easy to select an option either side of the one you wanted.

The handsets on test's compact dimensions also means fingers often stray in front of the lens. Only the Samsung S4 Zoom avoided this issue, owing to the fact that the lens sticks out from the body, when both active and inactive.

In terms of how easily it takes pictures - and the results - we were pleasantly surprised by the LG G2, which runs out the winner here - just.


If your key handset priority is simply the performance of its camera, the Nokia 1020 delivered some of the most well rounded and realistic output, with its bright aperture lens enabling shallow depth of field effects that ape those of a digital SLR.

Sony's Xperia Z1 joins the LG and the Nokia in our top three: again it offered strong and bold images in good lighting conditions, as well as actually being a handset and offering an array of image creating options that are fun to use.

Despite being the most camera-like, the S4 Zoom excels more for the increased framing options its optical zoom provides than the end quality of its images, perfectly adequate though they are - which leaves it in fourth place this time out.

Taken purely on its own merit, the iPhone 5S doesn't quite measure up in this company. It's fine when viewed in isolation as an image capture device, but allows little built-in user control when taking pictures (of course, the contents of the App Store can go some way to remedying this).

The HTC One meanwhile, despite being easy and straightforward in operation thanks to an intuitive user interface, proved too much of a frustratingly mixed bag to prevent it finishing in last place.

Of course, it depends on what you want to use the camera for - if you want the best point and shoot option with the best chance of getting a decent picture on the off-chance, then the last two (HTC One and iPhone 5S) are probably the best for this.

Conversely, if you're after really great shots and an array of effects, and don't mind too much about build and overall performance, then the Z1 and 1020 both stand out as well.

But we've plumped for the LG as while it's not the standout winner in any category (battery life aside) it performs very well in terms of picture quality, ease of use and functionality, as well as post processing.

So we're awarding the LG G2 our best cameraphone award - but the good news is that even down to sixth place on this list, we've got some truly great options and none of them are going to heavily displease anyone looking to just take a decent snap on their phone.