With the Nokia 808 PureView waiting just around the corner to shatter the perceived quality divide between a smartphone camera and a professional one, it’s worth taking some time to appreciate other high-end camera phones.
For the uninitiated, it’s worth remembering that it’s not always all about the damn megapixels (although having 41, as with the PureView, does help). Equally important are the aperture (the lower the number, the better) – which affects depth of field and low-light shooting – and focal length – with a higher number resulting in a narrower, more focused field of view.
Now that the novice photography lesson is over, enjoy our Top 5 Smartphone Cameras of 2012 list.
5. Nokia Lumia 900
The camera on the Lumia 900 lives up to the fairly high expectations we’ve set for Nokia phones. Featuring autofocus, dual-LED flash, it doesn’t differ much from the Lumia 800, except for a wider aperture (f2.2) and wide-angle focal length (28mm). As such, it works better in a wider variety of lighting conditions.
What makes this camera the worst of a great bunch is the miniscule amount of shutter lag, which can prevent you from taking that perfect picture. All in all though, a typically solid camera offering from Nokia
4. iPhone 4S
The 8MP offering on Apple‘s flagship device is the all-rounder of the bunch, and does a great job in auto-balancing brightness and picture clarity. Given the mediocrity of iPhone’s past cameras, this really is a huge jump.
The iPhone 4S‘s responsiveness, ease of use, and great apps to go with it (such as Hipstamatic) make this a safe bet for those looking to take high-quality snaps wherever they go. The HD video recording isn’t half bad either.
3. Sony Xperia S
The 12MP snapper – with 16x digital zoom, 2.4 aperture and Exmor R CMOS sensor – is the highlight feature of the Xperia S. The LCD display means that pics and videos sometimes look a bit too crisp on the screen, but fine once you get them on a computer.
The Xperia S doesn’t handle lighting as well as the One X, but pictures look fantastic with flash or in ordinary light conditions. It’s a little lacking on the software side of things, but the ability to take 3D Panorama shots is a nifty addition.
2. HTC One X
The One X is a formidable phone on so many fronts that you could almost overlook the fact that it sports a very capable 8MP camera.
Furthermore (and proving that it’s not ‘all about the megapixels), it stands out above the competition thanks to a combination of f2.0 aperture (the highest on any smartphone) and 28mm focal length. As such, the One X is highly versatile when it comes to lighting conditions.
1. Nokia 808 PureView
Towering heads and shoulders above the competition, the camera on the 808 PureView is truly a thing of beauty. 41MP of crispy-clear Carl Zeiss-lens goodness pretty much make this more of a camera than a phone (especially since it runs on cruddy Symbian).
The video capture is no less impressive, allowing Full 1080p HD recording at 30fps, and up to 4x lossless zoom; not to mention Dolby Rich Recording sound quality. This is the phone for the true photography enthusiast, and should be with us soon.