The best camera phones – top five [Update]

by , Technology Researcher Phones 20/07/2014
Camera-Phones

As we found in our recent compact cameras vs smartphone photography test, your mobile is capable of taking some great pictures. The latest models can even outperform some compact cameras from big names like Canon, Nikon and Fujifilm. So what phone should you get if you want to save on buying a standard point-and-click camera?

From the iPhone 5s to Nokia’s Lumia 1020, we’ve rounded up the top five camera phones available. Read on to find out which handset will give you the best snaps.

Smartphone reviews – all the latest handsets rated

LG G3 – best for autofocus

LG_G3

Phone-based cameras are best used for point-and-shoot snaps, meaning they need a quick autofocus (AF) to take accurate photos. LG’s G3 is especially well-suited to this thanks to its laser-guided AF, which uses a laser beam to calculate the distance between the 13-megapixel camera and its subject. Sadly for sci-fi fans, this beam is entirely invisible – so it’s not like you’re carrying around a smartphone phaser.

As for the camera’s actual photos, they’re sharp and well-saturated with colour. It’s easy to take a shareable shot.

Read how the LG G3 fared in our first look hands-on with the flagship phone.

Nokia Lumia 1020 – best for quality

Nokia Lumia 1020

The Lumia 1020’s 41-megapixel sensor is its main selling point, allowing you to take super-detailed shots on your mobile. The sensor is particularly handy in low light conditions with the phone picking out a lot more detail than rivals like the iPhone 5s. For those who still like a photo for their mantelpiece, the Lumia 1020 usefully produces two images when you take a photo – a low res image for sharing and high res alternative that you can print out and frame.

As good as the Lumia’s photographic functions are, they can be difficult to find and use. Plus, it can’t print wirelessly.

Read our full Nokia Lumia 1020 review to find out how the battery life, screen quality and other key features measure up.

iPhones 5s – best for flash

iPhone 5s

One way of improving a phone’s performance in low light is to make sure the flash works well. too much white light from the flash will ‘wash out’ the faces of those you’re trying to photograph – a common smartphone complaint. Apple’s iPhone 5s nimbly navigates this problem with its dual-LED flash, which helps give a better colour balance for shots. Combined with quality image processing software, you’ll generally get a good photo from the iPhone 5s.

Unfortunately, this 8Mp camera’s digital zoom lacks finesse – so you quickly lose detail when cropping into shots.

Read the iPhone 5s review to see how it stacks up against the competition.

Sony Xperia Z2 – best for 4K

Sony Xperia Z2

The 4K TV explosion kicked off in earnest at this year’s CES with Sony and Samsung both launching sets designed to display Ultra HD video. Since there’s so little content available for viewers to watch, it’s no wonder that Sony gifted the Xperia Z2 with 4K video abilities. This means you can relive those home movies in unsparing detail.

As for the Z2’s 20.7Mp camera, it’s pretty much the same as what was offered by last year’s Z1. Despite this high megapixel count, the Z1 failed to take a great photo – you can find out whether the Z2′s camera remedies the situation in our full review.

Samsung Galaxy S5 – best for speed

Samsung Galaxy S5 main

When you want to capture a memorable moment on camera, speed is often of the essence. Step up the Samsung’s Galaxy S5, which claims to be able to take a photo in just 0.3-seconds – focusing in on your subjects in double-quick time. The 16Mp camera is also an improvement over the 13Mp sensor on its predecessor, the Galaxy S4.

That said, the Galaxy S4 didn’t quite match the iPhone 5s and Lumia 1020 in taking a good photo. You can see if Samsung’s new flagship phone has improved on its predecessor in our full Galaxy S5 review.

More on this

Mobile phone reviews - read our verdict on the latest models
How to buy the best mobile – our expert verdict
Best Buy cameras - the best cameras money can buy

27 comments

Add your comments

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gadgetandpc

how about samsung galaxy s3 ? Is it also recomended right. aint it?

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Eddie

Its there, the second phone listed in the article…

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Karen

I have the nokia 808 pureview and find it far better than my husband’s s3 or the upholds 4s I sold to buy it. I’m surprised it doesn’t even get a mention.

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Tim Gee

Hi Karen,

The 808 Pureview does have a very impressive camera and would definitely be a candidate for the best camera phone available. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been made widely available through the networks so we have decided not to include it.

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Karen

Upholds? Iphone!

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Shahul

How about Lumia 920 and Nexus 4?

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Paku

Online reviews have already proved Nokia Lumia 920 is definitely the best camera phone.

It has no mention in your post. Surprising.

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Tim Gee

As the Lumia 920 has only just gone on sale we haven’t been able to put it to the test in our labs. But, we are looking forward to putting it to the test and hope it will be able to challenge the others we have covered.

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quentin

Again you’ve ignored the Nokia 920 which is sold for its camera phone as its main differentiator. Come on Which – you need to be more up to date.

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Tim Gee

Hi Quentin,

We’re currently trying out the Lumia 920 at the moment so depending on how it does we may include it in the next update.

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Aaliyah

Where is Nokia N8 & Nokia 808 Pureview? Those are obviously the 2 best camera phones ever made!

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Adity agnihotri

How about samsung galaxy note 2

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Kunal

Nokia n8 superb especially when camera is concern neither iphone nor samsung …..old but gold

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Taz

I know the xperia t is there, have to say though, my xperia s has a superb camera and the multiple focus modes make it brilliant for any situation, be it photographing my little person running around or taking pictures of stock for my ecommerce site. Would definitely recommend it

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Anupam

All time greatest camera phone ever is undoubtedly Nokia 808 PureView

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moaner

HTC one : ‘Its ‘lesser’ sensor also means the HTC One can – (TAKE) ? – photos more quickly while you’re out and about.’

also I read on a different review site that the sony camera was terrible. who to believe ?

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moaner

the posted times are also one hour late , spring forward – 1 hour

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Mikek

I think that Nokia N8 could face any of these contenders…

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Fernando

This is so wrong!
These are the best overall smartphones of the moment, but not the best camera phones.

The best camera phone EVER is the nokia 808 with 42mpx. Then at distance it comes the N8, then the Galaxy S4.

Sorry about HTC one but shouldn’t be in the list at all, it has a poor camera.

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Bigbig

Hey guys don’t worry if your phone is not on listing because this website just help the phone company to promote there product !

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Teganorton

What a complete insult to “Which” they are the longest running and down to the bone truthful of any “standards” based business serving the public.. They test this stuff for us not themselves, if your phone is not on here there would be a reason for that.

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anon chulo

Nokia 808

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Hank

No mention of the optical image stabilization in the Nokia, HTC etc? That’s the single most important factor imho. Megapixels and aperture, yeah, sure. But OIS makes the difference.

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tembo

Dual shot is not useless!!

You can use it to show both your face and what you’re looking at at the same time. This is useful in a lot of ways:

1) Recording an interview
2) Making a video to teach someone how to converse in a different langauge
3) Attach to your bike for stunts
4) Attach to car dashboard for a drive in a nice place etc…

The applications of dual shot are endless

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Aparna

Is the xperia m camera any good?

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Krish

What about MySaga M2? It has 18 Megapixel rear camera and 13megapixel front! :) I think can beat many of listed here…

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Konark

I m going to buy lumia 925 so pls tell me sir is
It right choice to buy ????pllsss tell me

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