One of the reasons people love their cell phones is the cameras that capture life into snapshots for future remembrance. Cameras are worth studying whether you are to find the best picks or just to gather substantial understanding about the ways cellphone cameras work to yield varying degrees of results.

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Performance always matters

Although your choice is in your hands, performance sits atop your preference. Some cameras are known for low light clarity while others are for recording 4k videos. Again, some are preferable for offering compensation for shaky hands. The components and software used determine what cellphone cameras can do.

Basic components and features

Despite the differences in outputs and features, all cellphone cameras have a few things in common.

Lens

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Consisting of wide-angle lenses put into multiple layers, it enables cameras to see things, correct inconsistencies and provide the final focus point.

Sensor

Sensor

It takes the things seen by the lens and turns them into digital data. For smartphone cameras, “the bigger is the better” is a theory that is true in most cases. If your camera’s sensor is bigger than that of your friends, you can get better shots than your friend can. Typically, a sensor can be one-third of an inch. However, some cameras may have sensors as big as even an inch.

Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO

These three components work seamlessly to affect photos.

Aperture

Light passes through aperture which is the opening of the diaphragm of a lens. The function of aperture is quite similar to that of the iris and pupil of your eye. In conditions with proper light, you need a bigger aperture while a smaller aperture is great for quality images in low-light conditions.

Calculated on the basis of the focal length of lens to the diameter aperture, F-number is used to describe the size of aperture. As users move along the F-stops like F1.8, F2, F2.8, F4, F5.6, F8, etc., the aperture typically halves on each stop. So, the technical equation can be:

A larger F-number means a smaller hole, indicating that less light will get through.

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So, it is understandable why smartphone vendors often boast larger apertures equipped with smaller F-numbers.

ISO

ISO-200-and-ISO-3200

ISO measures how sensitive your phone’s sensor is to the light. The lower the ISO number is, the less sensitive a camera should be to light.

Shutter Speed

Shutter Speed

In order to take snapshots, a camera keeps its lens open for a particular amount of time which is called the shutter speed.

Nowadays, there are cellphone cameras that let users adjust both ISO and shutter speed.

Megapixels (MP)

MP measures the number of pixels an image contains, whereas, one megapixel equals to one million pixels. Practically, the more pixels your smartphone camera has, the better quality you can expect for the images taken with it.

Camera Mega Pexel

Software and image stabilization

Analyzing the digital data, software turns the data into images that are appropriate for use or productivity.

Techniques used by cellphone cameras to stabilize images are of two kinds, such as optical and digital. Optical technique relies on mechanical techniques to make the lens still while the latter uses the power of software integrated.

Formats

For a typical smartphone, JPEG images are common. However, some flagship phones can record in RAW format which is desired by professional photographers. In addition, JPEG images pose more difficulties than RAW images when it comes to editing

Which smartphones have better cameras?

Smartphone-Camera-Shootout-early

Sure, not everyone will feel interested in learning the science behind smartphone cameras. For those who have already got a great understanding, the choice might become easier. Those with little to no understanding are not out of luck, though.

Smartphones Front (MP) Rear (MP) Aperture Other features
Sony Xperia Z5 5.1 23 f/2.0 (rear)

f/2.4 (front)

0.03-second autofocus
LG G5 8 16 f/1.8 (rear)

f/2.4 (front)

Cam Plus (Modular Accessory)
HTC 10 12.1 f/1.8 Superb glass and sensor
iPhone 6s/6s Plus/SE 1.2 8 f/2.2 (both) HDR (photo/panorama), cinematic texture
Samsung Galaxy S7 5 12 f/1.7 (both) simultaneous 4K video, fastest autofocus
Huawei P9 8 12 f/2.2 (rear)

f/2.4 (front)

HDR, black-and-white sensor, better grayscale image options

In no specific order, the above ones are the most popular smartphones, especially known for their high-end cameras.